Valley of the Sun Welcomes Aggie Track Teams

Veronic Smart will compete in the shot put this weekend.

April 4, 2013

TEMPE, Ariz. - The UC Davis men's and women's track and field teams will crank up the competition gears even higher this week when they travel to one of their largest meets of the season, the 34th Annual Sun Angel Classic at Arizona State.

The Aggies, after enjoying highly successful performances at the Stanford Invitational and the San Francisco State Distance Carnival last weekend, will send 13 women and seven men to Arizona State. The Sun Angel Classic, one of the biggest meets in Arizona, will spotlight high school as well as top collegiate and post-collegiate competitors in a three-day event that begins on Thursday with the high school portion.

UC Davis will have hammer throwers Praise Adesida and Matt Bender in action on Friday with the bulk of the Aggies' competition taking place throughout the day on Saturday. UC Davis will have several competitors in the "premiere" events - mostly held in the evening and analogous to "invitational" events - which will feature some of the best competition.

"The premise is to take potential regional qualifiers who either have a mark standing that will get up to the regional level, or ones that are right on that cusp and ready to do something, and to put some folks in a position to see some really good competition," said head coach Drew Wartenburg

The Aggie women will be well-represented throughout the events, particularly in the sprints where 100-meter school-record holder Melanise Chapman - who lowered her mark by going 11.61 seconds at Stanford last weekend - is entered in both the 100 and 200 premiere events. Sprinter Ashley Marshall, whose 24.02 in the 200 three weeks ago is another Aggie record, will race in the 200 premiere as well as the open 100.

Cekarri Nixon and Leslie Reed, both in the 200 and 400 open events, will join Chapman and Marshall for the 4x100 on Saturday, an event the quartet set a school record (45.26) in earlier this season.

Hurdlers Kellie Grigg and Kayla Carter will compete in the 100- and 400-meter versions of their specialties while Shanie Landen will participate in the open 800. UC Davis will also have a 4x400 relay at the end of the meet.

Middle-distance standouts Raquel Lambdin and Lauren Wallace will see top runners in the 800 premier, scheduled for just after 8 p.m. on Saturday. Katie Barber (high jump), Adesida (discus), Veronica Smart (shot put) and Emily Bush (pole vault premiere) will take part in field events on Saturday.

Senior Ethan Ostrom, co-school record holder in the pole vault, is the only Aggie from the men's side to compete in a premiere event on Saturday. Corey Hobbs (100, 200) and Trevor Ehlenbach (800) are entered in running events while Maurice Spikes (high jump), Michael Peterson (pole vault), Bender (discus) and Ben Parodi (shot put) will also compete.

Several 2012 Olympians are entered in this year's meet as well as USA and NCAA champions. 

"One of the things we talked about coming off of Stanford, and its one of our points of emphasis, is to continue to look to our left and our right here at home in the practice format, competing on the practice track (with each other) and then taking that to meets knowing that we're prepared well coming out of high-level practice situations," said Wartenburg. "We want to take that attitude into competition and produce some results that are going to be conference, regional and national type marks. 

"Thus far, we've been able to come away doing just that," he added. "Part of the key now is to not just sit back, having put up a (regional) mark and sort of coasting, but continuing to push; and that's something we've talked about."

Combined, the Aggie teams own 31 marks ranked among the top five in the Big West so far this season.