Men and women hit the ground running at Big Sky Championship

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Dominique Whittington competes at an event held at Sac State in 2013.

State Hornet Staff

Sacramento State track and field will travel to Northern Arizona University to compete in the Big Sky Conference Championship today through Saturday, in Flagstaff, Ariz.

The women’s team is the winner of the last six Big Sky Conference finals, while the men won their last title in 2011.

This go-around, however, won’t have a championship feel to it.

The team is going into the meet with bigger goals in mind as this season has been determined a rebuilding year.

“Our goal is to come together and compete. We’re not really vying for a title,” said head coach Kathleen Raske. “We’re looking to be the best team we can be and build for the future.”

Although some of the program’s top athletes like Zach Coniglio and middle distance runner Morgan Dampier have been redshirted this season, Raske said she still has big expectations for the remaining members of the team.

“I expect the athletes that have been performing to have peak performances and be very competitive,” Raske said.

Senior sprinter Morgan Pope feels she has a lot on the line heading into this meet, after topping the podium at championships last year with a 200

meter time of 24.13 seconds.

“I have a 200 meter title to defend,” Pope said. “ I have to go out with a bang and make a name for myself.”

The women’s sprinters are heading into the meet with a lot of momentum. The 4×400 relay finished first at the Causeway classic, breaking a meet record in the process. The 4×100 team also broke a meet record, finishing second in the race.

The Hornet women also found individual success. Junior sprinter Dominique Whittington won the 400 meter dash and was named the women’s Big Sky Athlete of the Week for her performance against the Aggies. Junior sprinter Caprice Powell also found success at the Causeway Classic, setting personal records in the 100 and 200 meter dashes.

“I think we’ve had some good performances,” Raske said. “Our women’s sprinters have been really dominant.”

For the seniors on the team, next week’s meet will be a bag of mixed emotions. It will be the last time they will compete donning the green and gold in the Big Sky.

“It’s bittersweet, but very exciting,” Pope said. “Not only is it my last conference meet, but it’s at my old school. I’m so excited to just go to work.”

Elevation will play a role this weekend in Flagstaff. It’s one of the main reasons Raske decided to redshirt athletes for the outdoor season. It’s a detriment to long distance runners. However, it can provide some benefits.

“Our main factor we have to consider is altitude,” Raske said. “It will help our jumpers and throwers and will be an enhancement for them.”

For the men, the throwers are performing well heading into next week’s meet. Senior Alberto Millan finished first in the shot put and hammer throw at the Causeway Classic, and was named Big Sky Athlete of the Week. Senior James January finished second in the discus throw with a personal best of 164-11, which made him eighth place all time in the Sacramento State record books.

“Our men’s team has been firing on all cylinders,” said throws coach Jeff Magley. “We have all our men who are in uniform competing qualify for all of their events at the meet this weekend.”

Freshman Garrett Jacobs also contributed to the throwers success at the Causeway Classic, finishing first in the javelin throw to sweep the event with fellow teammate Emily Kersting.

“We’re getting into that championship mentality,” Magley said. “We still want our athletes to compete.”