WICHITA, Kan.- After two months on the road, the Wichita State Track & Field Team will host its first outdoor meet, the KT Woodman Classic, beginning Friday night and running through Saturday evening.
As the Shockers host their first meet of the outdoor season, they will also celebrate the final home meet of one of the fastest distance runners in NCAA history.
Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton will compete in her final home meet as a Shocker this weekend at the KT Woodman Classic. The senior will travel to a meet in California during the Track-It-Buster Invitational in two weeks.
“It’s really sad,” Tuliamuk-Bolton said. “It’s going to be my last meet here. It’s exciting, but I don’t want it to end just like that.”
Tuliamuk-Bolton holds the Missouri Valley Conference record in both the 5,000m and 10,000m run. However, this weekend she will pursue the only outdoor distance record that she does not have.
“I would like to have a good 1,500m,” Tuliamuk-Bolton said. “I ran one this last weekend and it wasn’t good. It was four seconds slower than the last one I ran so I would like to have a good last meet.”
Earlier this outdoor season, Tuliamuk-Bolton ran the seventh fastest 5,000m run in NCAA history (15:18.86). Currently ranked second in the country, Tuliamuk-Bolton will also pace the 5,000m race to help her teammates.
“I would like to see them run a fast time,” Tulaimuk-Bolton said. “If I can help and be that person that makes them run fast, and makes them happy, then it makes me happy too.”
The last time Tuliamuk-Bolton competed at Cessna Stadium she won the MVC 5,000m and 10,000m Championships.
“It was here that I ran a PR for my 1,500m,” Tuliamuk-Bolton reflected. “My best memories are the times that I ran here, I’ve done really good. At conference, I did really good and everyone was there to watch me run. Those are the times that I will remember.”
An 11 time NCAA First-Team All-American, Tuliamuk-Bolton has impressed her coaches at every turn.
“Her races are incredible. She’s got one of the strongest minds I’ve ever seen,” said distance coach Kirk Hunter. “Watching her at Boston, I’ll never forget how sick she was that day and she was able to run one of the most spectacular races I’ve ever seen from her.”
Hunter sometimes jokingly refers to Tuliamuk-Bolton as a diva. However, once she hits the track she wows her coach.
“I’ve seen some mental toughness from her that I can’t compare to anyone else,” Hunter said. “She’s just been amazing. I hope other athletes that come after her at Wichita State will learn from her and have that same type of toughness.”
Tuliamuk-Bolton has won 11 MVC Championships in her career with the Shockers and looks to win three more at her final conference meet later this season.
“It’s the last chance you’ll get to see her run at Cessna Stadium,” said Assistance Coach, John Wise. “I think anyone, anywhere around Wichita needs to be there. This is a truly special athlete that you don’t see come along ever. We’re just lucky to have her here.”
While Tuliamuk-Bolton will appreciate all the fan support she will receive this weekend, some fans will mean a little bit more to her.
“My family wants come over and watch me and it’s really exciting,” Tuliamuk-Bolton said. “It’s a lot of support and a lot of excitement and it really means a lot to me to have my family supporting me and cheering me on.”
In addition to her family, Tuliamuk-Bolton will enjoy the home meet support of her fans and teammates one last time.
“I’ll also remember everybody from the team being here and cheering,” Tuliamuk-Bolton said. “We have a really amazing team and whenever we have a home meet it’s really awesome to them cheer for you. That is something that I will miss a lot. I don’t know what I’m going to do without it.”
As Tuliamuk-Bolton competes in her last home meet, the next Shocker great, Mariah Garcia will make her Cessna Stadium debut. Garcia currently ranks fifth in the country in the discus throw and has set the WSU discus record (179-3) as a freshman.
“It’s a home meet, so I definitely want to do way better than the last two,” Garcia said. “I’m going to try and break 180 this time. I’ve been getting closer and closer so hopefully this time I can break it.”
Watch Tuliamuk-Bolton, Garcia and the rest of the Shockers as they compete in one of their two outdoor home meets at Cessna Stadium. Wichita State will begin competing at 6:10 p.m. Friday with Tuliamuk-Bolton’s 1,500m run.Watch it live on the Shocker Track U Stream account.
The KT Woodman Classic continues on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. with running events beginning at 1 p.m. Get tickets for the KT Woodman Classic by phone at 316-978-FANS or in person at the Cessna Stadium box office on the west side of the facility.