WICHITA, Kan.- With five returning Missouri Valley Conference Champions, the Wichita State Track & Field team looks to secure both a men's and women's MVC Championship after winning the MVC Women's Outdoor Championship in 2012.
"That's the focus of our season, the Missouri Valley Conference Championship for both men and women," said Head Coach, Steve Rainbolt "We are excited about our prospects to battle for the championship, and I know that our women are determined to win an MVC Championship. "
After earning four NCAA first team All-American Honors in 2012, Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton hopes to win her first NCAA Championship. Tualiamuk-Bolton, a senior, finished second in the 10,000m race at the NCAA Outdoor Meet in June.
"She has to be one of the finest athletes history of this athletic department in any sport," Rainbolt said.
Tuliamuk-Bolton finished in the top seven nationally in the Indoor 3,000m, and top five in both both the Indoor and Outdoor 5,000m. She captured MVC Championships in each race a year ago.
"If she finishes this year the way she did last year," Rainbolt said. "She would finish her time at Wichita State with 13 NCAA Division I All-American designations. This would be a remarkable accomplishment."
The men's team also returns several strong distance runners, including returning MVC Steeplechase Champion, Tomas Cotter and fellow senior, Jake Wike, who claimed All-MVC Honors in 2012.
Senior Tanya Friesen looks to add to her list of accolades in her final season. Friesen qualified for the NCAA Championship meet and won the MVC Heptathlon Championship last season.
Junior J'Lynn Ledesma won the MVC Indoor High Jump Championship in 2012. After jumping at the NCAA Outdoor Meet, Ledesma has proven that she has what it takes to sweep both titles in conference, according to Rainbolt.
Natalie Morerod, the reigning MVC Women's Outdoor Most Outstanding Athlete, looks to continue her success in 2013. Morerod won the MVC Outdoor Championship in the 400m hurdles.
"Natalie Morerod was at the US Olympic Trials last year, and won a championship in the 400m Hurdles with a very fast school record," Rainbolt said. "This fall, she appears to have taken another step up to where she is ready for a really special junior and senior year."
Morerod's dominating performance at the WSU Intrasquad Meet, where she won three events, proves that she can continue the momentum she had at the end of the 2012 season when she became an NCAA second team All-American.
Wichita State returns 14 all-conference athletes. Many of them want to take the next step and capture an individual conference championship.
"It's hard for me to imagine that Alex Reed is not ready for a breakout season," Rainbolt said. "This fall in training, Alex showed signs that he could be a really special athlete in our program."
Toby Boese earned All-MVC honors in the indoor heptathlon, while Reed culminated his freshman year by claiming all-conference honors in the outdoor 400m as well as the 4x400m relay.
"Toby is just blowing it up every day," said Pole Vault Coach, Pat Wilson. "I understand his other events are going very similar. When I see him in the vault, he is having nothing but good days."
While the Shockers will return 14 All-MVC student-athletes, they did lose some strong performers, including NCAA 2nd team All-American hurdlers, Todd McKown, and Lawson Montgomery.
In addition, Wichita State graduated former conference champions Dylan Hartnett, Danielle Walker, and Audacia Moore. Though talented Shockers have departed, a new class of Shockers looks to make an impact.
"We've got some terrific freshmen right now that want to show themselves that they are the best group of freshmen in the Missouri Valley Conference." Rainbolt said. "We've got good athletes that have come to our program in every event area. This group of freshmen is really going to be special, and I'm excited about it.
The Shockers kick off their 2013 campaign with the Herm Wilson Invitational Jan. 9-10 at the Heskett Center. Come support WSU Track& Field as they begin their indoor season.