WICHITA, Kan.- Wichita State Track & Field will compete in its second and final home meet of the 2013 indoor season this weekend as it hosts the Varsity Apartments Invitational starting Friday, Feb.1 at 10:30 a.m. in the Heskett Center.
"Our program is really fired up," Head Coach Steve Rainbolt said. "We feel like we're moving into the championship season at this point. We have a big home meet this weekend. "
Doane College, Iowa Central, Nebraska-Omaha, Oklahoma, Sam Houston State, Texas Arlington, and conference foe Missouri State will all send athletes to the Heskett Center to battle the Shockers.
"Both the men and the women have great meets lined up," Rainbolt said. "Sam Houston State and UT-Arlington out of Texas have really good track & field teams. You'll see a bunch of fine athletes from those schools."
Ethan Pearson vaulted 16-1 ¼ (4.91m) in the Shockers first home meet this season, the Herm Wilson Invitational. This performance set the benchmark in the Missouri Valley Conference this season, but Pearson wants to raise the bar a little higher.
"My goal is to jump over five meters," Pearson said. "I've done it outdoors, but my indoor PR is 4.90m, which is 16-1, so my goal is to keep my spot as number one in conference and get above five meters."
After matching the Heskett Center record in the weight throw earlier this season, Jeff Conner wants to write his name in the WSU record books once again.
"The meet record for the weight throw is 17.75m," Conner said. I've been able to throw that a couple of times this year in meets. As long as I get a little bit farther than that, I'll be happy and if I can get a personal record, maybe 61 feet, that would be great."
Conner has set a new personal best in the weight throw in each meet this season and is less than three inches away from his goal of 61 feet. Competing in the facility he trains in daily may help him reach this objective.
"I'm comfortable here," Conner said. "There's a lot more people from the Wichita area chanting my name. I definitely love throwing here."
The Varsity Apartments Invitational will also mark the first opportunity that the Shocker multi's will have to compete in the Pentathlon/Heptathlon. WSU has five returning All-MVC athletes in these events.
"We're all pretty excited for it," multi athleteAustin Bahner said. "Everything's been going good in each event that we've been practicing so I'm feeling confident."
Tanya Friesen set a new Heskett Center and meet record in the women's pentathlon in 2012. "A really good week of practice" has her ready for her first five-event meet of 2013.
"I'm really excited about the first one this season," Friesen said. "We're going to get to see where all our hard work has paid off and where everyone is standing as far as the Valley is concerned."
For Bahner, Friesen and the rest of the Shocker multi's this will be their best tune up before competing in the heptathlon/pentathlon at the MVC Championships at Northern Iowa.
"This our only multi that we have before conference and conference is three weeks away so hopefully it's a good confidence booster for everybody," Friesen said.
The Shocker distance athletes will also look to help add to WSU's team score on both the men's and women's side. Tomas Cotter and Jake Wike will both toe the line in the men's 800m run.
Kaitlyn McLeod will compete in the women's 3,000m run. The sophomore has set a new personal best in each race she has entered in 2013.
Coming off of a WSU and MVC record performance last week in Seattle, Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton will battle the field in the women's mile run on Saturday.
"It's a special thing to have her on our team so come out and watch Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton in her final home indoor meet as a Shocker," Rainbolt said. "It's going to be great track and field and I hope everyone will come out to watch the Shocker Track & Field team."
The Varsity Apartments Invitational begins Friday at 10:30 a.m with the women's pentathlon, the men's heptathlon and some field events. Saturday's action begins at 9:45 with more heptathlon events, the gun will fireto begin running events at 2 p.m.
Click here for a full schedule of events. Watch the above video for additional insight from Rainbolt and his team as they look ahead to this weekend's meet.
Wichita State Track & Field will also honor their alumni this weekend in a ceremony before the running events on Sat., Feb.2. Any former Shocker Track & Field competitor that wants to attend should contact Heidi Yost by email at email@example.com.
To get tickets for the Varsity Apartments Invitational and future Shocker Track meets, call 316-978-FANS (3267), click on the following link, or visit the Shocker ticket office in person at Koch Arena.