Mandie Rowell was one of five Utes to regionally qualify for the NCAAs.
July 16, 2007
SALT LAKE CITY - On the surface, the University of Utah track and field program is still a work-in-progress. But, second-year head coach Kyle Kepler is quick to point out that last season was a telling marker for how far his program has come in such a short span of time.
"The 2006-07 season was a solid year for our program," said Kepler. "We either improved our maintained our standing in the Mountain West Conference. We finished sixth at all three championships (cross country, indoor track and outdoor track), but our athletes made great individual strides. We return a lot from this team next year so we are confident that this program will continually grow towards our ultimate goal."
The teams finished sixth at all three championships but those finishes were buoyed by some stellar individual performances. Amanda Feigt (long jump, pentathlon) and Becky Riddle (weight throw) chalked up all-conference efforts at the indoor championships while Feigt (heptathlon) and Chelsea Shapard (400m hurdles) won all-conference nods at the outdoor championships.
Feigt and Shapard were also conference champions, both at the outdoor meet. Feigt won the grueling heptathlon title while Shapard bested her competition in 400m hurdles. Most impressive, though, is that both won titles with school-record performances.
The outstanding efforts at the conference level were only eclipsed by the team's effort on the national stage. Five Utes (Alyssa Abbott, Susan Atwater, Feigt, Mandie Rowell and Shapard) all qualified for the NCAA Regional meet, with Feigt and Shapard making an appearance at the NCAA Championships in Sacramento, Calif.
"We lose a great senior class in terms of depth and quality," Kepler points out. "They showed up, led this team and scored points for our program. Our returning athletes have big holes to fill."
"Amanda was a first-time conference champion and had to have a lot of belief in herself to persevere like she did," Kepler said as he reflected on his seniors. "Jen came in and improved her 100m hurdle time by one second, which takes a lot of effort and is hard to do.
"Susan dislocated her ankle late in the season and came back 29 days later to jump in the NCAA Regional meet. That showed a lot of will and fortitude to come back one month later to compete after such an injury. Candice worked hard and was a leader on this team. She also performed very well for us on the relay teams.
"Becky Riddle stepped it up for us last season too," continued Kepler. "She got after it in the offseason and became a consistent performer for us. She was a reliable part of this team."
With the 2007 season in the books, Kepler is excited to point to the program's solid support and the potential for its continued growth.
"We couldn't have accomplished what we've done thus far without the support of our administrators," said Kepler. We've been able to create a solid foundation and move forward.
"We've garnered a lot of local attention with the direction that our program is heading. This staff has brought a new attitude here and they have created an environment where our kids can reach deeper and expand on their talents. We merely try to provide the structure and it's up to our athletes to be creative in reaching their ultimate goal."
Below is list of everything the 2007 Utes accomplished.
11 new school records (Outdoor: 400m hurdles; 4x100m; 4x400m, heptathlon. Indoor: 60m; 200m; 400m; 60m hurdles; 4x400m; long jump; pentathlon.). That means that Utah athletes have set new marks in almost one-third of the events.
242 new personal records between indoor and outdoor seasons
Two Mountain West Conference Champions (Amanda Feigt, heptathlon; Chlesea Shapard, 400m hurdles)
Susan Atwater is only the second pole vaulter in University of Utah history to clear 13 feet
In the last two years, Utah track and field athletes recorded 92 new all-time top-10 times out of 380 total (24 percent)