June 18, 2013
DES MOINES, Iowa - UC Davis will continues its track and field season this week when five Aggies, along with alumnae Kim Conley, participate in the USA Outdoor Championships this week at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa.
Lauren Wallace (800 meters), Sarah Sumpter (10,000), Katie Fry (steeplechase) and Ashley Marshall (100 meters) will compete in the USA Senior Championships while freshman Matthew Bender (discus) will compete in the USA Junior Championships. All of the Aggies will be competing in their UC Davis uniforms, bringing further prestige to a program that continues to grow at the NCAA Div. I level.
"With the NCAA Championships and academic year recently concluded, drawing the 2013 track season to a close at the USA Outdoor Championships presents a special opportunity for our athletes that have earned the right to compete Des Moines," said Aggie coach Drew Wartenburg. "After a season that saw our women athletes achieve at a high level individually and as a team, having four athletes with the USA 'A' qualifying standard allows us to place a group on the highest national competitive stage possible in the sport of track & field.
"The addition of Matt Bender, one of our standout frosh, to the junior men's competition also allows us to see how one of the future cornerstones of our program will fare on a national level."
Each of the Aggies will open competition on Thursday: Bender (12:15 p.m.), Fry (1 p.m.), Wallace (1:30 p.m.), Marshall (4:25 p.m) and Sumpter (6:20 p.m.). Conley will race on Sunday at 1:22 p.m. All times listed are Pacific timezone.
Conley, an Olympian in the 5,000-meter run at last summer's Olympic Games in London, will continue her elite post-collegiate career this week as well. This week's senior championships are used to select the United States' team to the World Championships in Moscow in August and Conley is a strong contender to earn a spot on the American team.
The four Aggie women that will take center stage this week are coming off standout seasons highlighted by the program's second straight Big West season and a program-record three individuals advancing to the Div. I championships where each earned All-America honors. Additionally, all four captured individual Big West titles this season.
Wallace, a senior from Ukiah, led the way by earning All-America first-team honors after advancing to the 800-meter national final where she finished eighth. She broke her own school record in the final, crossing in 2 minutes, 2.91 seconds, nearly five seconds lower than what the Aggie record was prior to the season.
Fry, a sophomore from Lemon Cove, Calif., become the first UC Davis woman to break 10 minutes in the steeplechase during her third-place finish at the NCAA West Region Prelim Meet at the University of Texas in May. She owns the school record (9:58.97) and has run the two fastest times in Aggie history. Fry gained second-team All-America honors in 2013.
Marshall was a double-winner in the 100 and 200 at the conference championships, and continued to excel at the regional level by becoming the first UC Davis sprinter to advance to the Div. I championships. Marshall, a sophomore from Moreno Valley who is an All-America honorable mention, has the school record in both sprints, including the 100 (11.34) which she will try and lower this week in Des Moines.
Sumpter, a senior from Cloverdale, set the UC Davis 10,000 mark at Stanford's Payton Jordan Invitational this season, crossing in 33:18.51. That beat her previous of 33:19.77 from last season when she eventually earned All-America second-team accolades after being named the Big West Female Track Athlete of the Year. Marshall earned that same honor this spring.
The Aggie men will be represented by Matthew Bender, a freshman from Shafter who earned his spot in the junior national championships with a mark of 167 feet, 4 inches in the discus during April's Mondo Mid-Major at Sacramento State. That places him eighth on UC Davis' all-time chart.
Conley, who serves as a volunteer assistant coach for the Aggie program, runs for New Balance/SRA Elite, and has vaulted into the international limelight where she has become one of the country's top distance runners. Her come-from-behind third-place finish in the 5,000 at the Olympic Trials provided a stirring memory from the meet.
Conley finished second at the USA Cross Country Championships, qualifying for a spot on the U.S. team to the world championships in Poland this spring.
"The USATF meet blurs the line, in a positive way, between the amateur and collegiate athlete, as our country's best compete shoulder to shoulder this summer for spots on the US delegation for the World Championships in Moscow," Wartenburg said. "A year after UC Davis track and field put an alum on the Olympic team, Kim Conley now aims for a spot on the world team, and in doing so she continues to play the part of a trailblazer for Aggies that follow closely in her footsteps."
This week's meet will be broadcast online on a combination of both internet and television at www.usatf.tv as well as ESPN2, NBC Sports Network and on NBC.