The Idaho State men’s and women’s Indoor Track and Field teams combined for 13 top-five finishes during the Big Sky Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships at Holt Arena last weekend.
Justin Franz was the lone overall champion as he won the Big Sky title in the shot put with a thrust of 17.87 meters.
The winning throw came prior to the finals, enabling Franz to take some chances and try to muster a throw that would give him a spot at Nationals.
“I knew I won it,” Franz said. “I was trying to throw a personal best and maybe a mark that could get me into Nationals. Got a little sloppy, had a lot of adrenaline and didn’t throw as far as I wanted.”
Idaho State finished fifth in team scoring on the men’s side with a team score of 58.5 while the women finished seventh with 44.5 points after being predicted to finish 11th in the preseason polls.
Northern Arizona won both the men and the women’s championships with scores of 129.5 for the men and 114 for the women.
Steven Beck finished second in the pole vault while Daniel Garz and Jenica Dodge both ran personal bests to place second in their respective events.
Dodge beat her personal record by 18.01 seconds in the women’s 5,000-meter run and didn’t realize how close she was to finishing in the top three until there was a mile left in the race.
She was informed of this information through the public address announcer as girls passed and lapped each other, making it nearly impossible to tell who was on what lap – let alone who was winning.
“I had no idea what place I was in and before I knew it I heard that I was in third,” Dodge said. “Sometimes it is hard to tell because there are so many girls and you’re lapping. Go from there and create a plan.”
Dodge’s plan helped her to a time of 17 minutes, 7.64 seconds, a mark that is now third in the ISU record books.
“I’m pretty excited,” Dodge said.
“I came into the event ranked third, so finishing higher than what I was seeded is pretty awesome.”
Dodge placed 5th in the 3,000-meter run the following day.
Garz’s personal record came in the 800-meter dash as the junior had the fourth fastest preliminary time coming into finals, shaving almost three seconds off his prelim time and finishing at one minute 49.87 seconds, .53 seconds off of the winning mark by Southern Utah’s George Espino.
“I wanted to win,” Garz said. “But all the guys in the 800 are really close in the Big Sky.”
The mark is something Garz says he can build off of moving into the outdoor season.
“Medal or no medal, if I’m throwing my guts up after this race, I’m happy,” Garz said. “It does make it a little bit nicer when you have something.”
Bailey Woodbury placed third in the pentathlon and finished fourth in high jump while Maisie Larabee finished her ISU career with a third place finish in the 400-meter dash, describing her final open event as emotional, sad and exciting.
“You have to give it everything you have now,” Larabee said, following her medal ceremony. “All your training has been working up to this points. If you don’t leave it out now, you’re never going to have a second chance.”
Larabee set a lifetime personal best during her 400 and was ranked 5th coming into finals.
“The girl next to me in lane four was seeded first so my goal was just to hang with her,” she explained, “Not let people get that position in front of me.”
Robert Counts placed fourth in the 400-meter dash with a time of 48.38 seconds and Wyatt Didrickson crossed the finish line at the four minute 11.15 second mark of the men’s mile, also finishing fourth while fellow distance runner Sasha Kent clocked in her mile time at four minutes 59.65 seconds, good enough for a fifth place finish.
“The competition is individual,” Garz said on his team’s performance. “But it is nice to come back and look back be able to compete with your teammates. The people you work hard with. It’s a team-wide thing.”