Jan. 30, 2014
SEATTLE, Wash. - The track season officially begins for the UC Davis women's indoor track and field team this weekend when the Aggies travel to the Pacific Northwest for the UW Invitational, hosted by the University of Washington at Dempsey Indoor.
Sixteen Aggie competitors will compete this weekend, most of the action coming on Saturday. Veterans Ashley Marshall, Cekarri Nixon and Leslie Reed will lead a quartet of 200-meter runners for UC Davis on Friday afternoon with the balance of the squad competing on Saturday.
For the Aggies, the meet serves as an opportunity to gauge winter training and get key experience facing tough competition. Washington hosts several indoor meets each season, each of them attracting some of the top collegiate and open athletes in the country.
"This is probably one of the stronger groups, across all events, that we've taken up there in recent years," said head coach Drew Wartenburg. "We've gotten placed in some really competitive fields at the meet which gives the women going up there a great opportunity to put up early season and early year marks as a place to build from."
A half-dozen Aggies who saw 2013 indoor marks find their way onto the program's all-time top-five lists, will debut their seasons this weekend. Ashley Marshall, the Big West Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year last season, leads a strong sprint corps. She went 7.35 seconds in the 60 at the Husky Classic last year - one of two school records she set in 2014 - and will return to that event this weekend, along with the 200.
Leslie Reed, third all-time in the 60-meter dash (7.79) and fourth in the 200 (24.99), will race in those two events while Cekarri Nixon, who is third in the 200 (24.99) and second in the 400 (55.87), will also compete.
Shanie Landen, fifth in the 400 (56.42) and third in the 800 (2:10.30) will focus on the latter of those two events at this weekend's meet while Raquel Lambdin, who is second in the 800 (2:09.01) will compete in the mile, an event rarely run outdoors. Distance specialist Alycia Cridebring has a personal-best of 9:26.13 in the 3,000, set at the UW Invitational last season, and will open her year in the same race on Saturday.
"We're really fortunate that we have access to some good marks from last season that got us into some great heats," Wartenburg said. "Now, the only thing we have to worry about is going out and performing and not 'are we going to be in good, competitive situations.' "
UC Davis will also have athletes spread throughout field events. Praise Adesida, who vaulted to No. 2 (48-11.75) in the shot put and No.5 in the discus (154-07) during her freshman outdoor season last year, will look to keep the momentum going with the shot put in Washington.
Katie Barber, who is seventh all-time in the outdoor high jump at UC Davis, opens her competitive season as does Catherine Li (triple jump) and Diamonne Mitchell (long jump). Li and Mitchell are both ranked in the top 10 in their respective events on the Aggies' outdoor ledgers.
Other Aggies scheduled to compete include veterans Erika Barr (3,000), Kellie Grigg (60 hurdles) and Christine Hoffmann (3,000). Newcomers Holly Miller (200, 400) Rochelle Nadreau (200, 400) and Holly Tokar (pole vault invite) will make their UC Davis debuts.
Wartenburg said indoor track provides great focus on competition for the athletes, primarily because of the size of the track.
"It teaches folks to be aggressive and takes you a little bit out of your normal rhythm and markers that we often use on the outdoor track, which is good in a way because it's just about competing," he said. "It just takes those things out and thrusts you into a competitive situation."
There is also a benefit to competing indoors for the field athletes, as well, he said.
"It's fully climate-controlled, which if you're a vaulter or a jumper, you're not jumping into a wind which can be an advantage."
The meet is the first of two regular-season indoor meets for UC Davis which will return to Seattle in two weeks for the UW Husky Classic.
UC Davis will use the indoor season as an impetus for a strong outdoor season which has seen the Aggies win the last two Big West Women's Track and Field Championships.
UC DAVIS ENTRIES FOR UW INVITATIONAL
Praise Adesida (shot put)
Katie Barber (high jump)
Alycia Cridebring (3000m)
Erika Barr (3,000m)
Kellie Grigg (60m hurdles)
Christine Hoffmann (3000m)
Raquel Lambdin (Mile)
Shanie Landen (800m)
Catherine Li (long jump, triple jump)
Ashley Marshall (60m, 200m)
Holly Miller (200m, 400m)
Diamonne Mitchell (long jump, triple jump)
Rochelle Nadreau (200m, 400m)
Cekarri Nixon (200m, 400m)
Leslie Reed (200m, 400m)
Holly Tokar (pole vault inv.)
Aggies host All-Comers
Track & Field Meet on Jan. 28