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The Orion

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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Track and field team springs into action

The Chico State track and field team warms up for pole vaulting practice. Photo credit: Cam Lesslie

Chico State men’s and women’s track and field team has dominated the CCAA conference, and they’re looking to do it again in 2016.

“We always want to win our conference, that’s always a goal of ours,” said long distance coach Gary Towne. “Our women have won a number in a row, and our men lost a nail-biter last year.”

The ‘Cats have a longstanding history of being a top Division II school for track and field. The program sends athletes from many different events to regionals and some even travel to nationals.

First-year discus thrower Kelsey Short winds up before heaving the discus. Photo credit: Cam Lesslie

One athlete who is hoping to make his mark on the track this year is Will Reyes, who is also on the cross country team. Reyes was the CCAA individual champion in cross country this fall, and hopes to continue this success in the spring.

“Will was a redshirt for us last year, but he made the transition very well and will do big things in track this year,” Towne said.

This is his first year officially competing at this level, but he already has big goals set for himself. These goals include running the 5k race in under 14 minutes and placing high in every race that he runs.

“I like track season a bit more because it feels more competitive. I like being right next to my opponent. We’re running in a circle with no scenery and fighting to win. I love the competition,” Reyes said.

First-year Jessa Gansberg prepares to leap during a practice. Photo credit: Cam Lesslie

Another key returner is sophomore long distance runner Alex Burkhart. Burkhart won the conference in both steeple chase and the 5k as a freshman, and hopes to build on it this season.

“It’s very special when a freshman does what she did last year,” Towne said.

There are key returners in other areas too. Brian Egge placed second in conference in javelin throw last year, Aja Erskine placed second in the 200 meter dash and Phillip Bailey placed in a good amount of conference events. All are seniors and are hoping to end their collegiate career with a conference title.

The Chico State men's track and field team warms up before practice on a cold day. Photo credit: Cam Lesslie

There are also key newcomers, such as junior Steven Martinez. Martinez transferred at the same time as Reyes, and this year he was an all-American in cross country as well. Towne said that he is expecting big things from him as well.

Sophomore Karlie Garcia is another standout. She transferred last spring from Southern Utah University, and hopes to make an immediate impact on the track this season.

With the influx of new and old talent, all signs point to the Wildcats having another outstanding season.

Patrick Pace can be reached at [email protected] or @PatPaceSports on Twitter.

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