RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii track athletes Novelle Murray, Meghan Weaver and Annette Wichman are all qualified for next month's NCAA West Regionals in Eugene, Ore. CLICK FOR LARGE
UH right on track
Wahine track team makes the run to a regional
A hectic weekend in southern California proved productive for the Hawaii track and field team.
Two more Rainbow Wahine athletes qualified for the NCAA West Regional during the trip and junior Annett Wichmann likely earned a return to the NCAA Outdoor Championships by setting a school record in the heptathlon.
So far this season, six UH athletes have qualified for the regionals, matching the program's record as the Wahine prepare for another trip to California this weekend.
The Hawaii track and field team returned from a successful trip to southern California yesterday.
Asked recently where the current Hawaii track and field team rated in her seven years as head coach, Carmyn James didn't hesitate to respond.
"By far, it's the best," James said. "Everybody's back and everybody's doing that much better.
"This year, it's a very well-jelled team. For a sport that's individual, they're very close knit. You've got the distance runners cheering for the throwers, you've got the throwers cheering on the jumpers."
The results so far have backed up James' assessment.
The Rainbow Wahine returned from a hectic, yet productive trip to Southern California early yesterday morning with six athletes already assured berths in the NCAA West Regionals -- matching a school record -- and junior heptathlete Annett Wichmann likely headed back to the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
"Although we were exhausted it was a very rewarding trip," James said following the run of four meets in five days. "It was go, go, go and the performances made the trip well worth it."
Being a thrower on the Rainbow Wahine roster has been particularly rewarding, with three UH athletes earning regional spots in those events.
Senior Novelle Murray has qualified for the regionals in the discus and hammer throw and Wichmann hit a qualifying mark in the javelin early in the season. Last Thursday, Meghan Weaver joined the group headed to Eugene, Ore., next month by posting a qualifying standard in the shot put in winning the event at the Cal State Los Angeles Twilight Open.
"We're turning a lot of people into throwers," joked Weaver.
Weaver last year became the first UH athlete to qualify for the regionals in three events (shot put, hammer throw and discus). Murray is the school record holder in the discus and hammer throw, not bad for someone who didn't train as a thrower until she arrived in Manoa.
In her return from a redshirt year, Murray ranked fifth in the nation in the discus in Trackwire's Dandy Dozen and her throw of 176 feet, 5 inches at the Stanford Invitational earlier this month ranked sixth in the country.
Murray said the redshirt season, "was the worst year of my life. It was so boring and so long and I'm just glad to be back."
"It was good for me," she added. "I gained a lot of strength and a lot more hunger for the sport."
Along with her regional berth in the javelin, Wichmann likely earned a spot in the NCAAs last week with a fourth-place showing in the heptathlon at the Mt. SAC Relays, where she broke her school record with 5,413 points in the meet.
She also reached the NCAAs last year, becoming only the second UH athlete to compete at the national outdoor championships.
The throws have long been her strength in the heptathlon and she missed out on qualifying for the regionals in the javelin last year by just 20 centimeters.
"It's all technique, it's not strength," she said. "By improving technique just a little bit you can improve by 2 meters. Strength-wise, it shouldn't be a problem. Even the 44-meter (qualifying) throw wasn't perfect."
Adding to the success of the throwers this season, high jumpers Emily Sheppard and Mallory Gilbert have also qualified for the regionals.
Sophomore Thalia Amanakis earned her first regional berth at the Azusa Pacific Invitational by posting a time of 1:00.49 in the 400-meter hurdles. She bested that at the Mt. SAC Relays on Sunday with a showing of 59.86 seconds, becoming just the third UH athlete to post a sub-1 minute time in the event.
The team will next participate in the Triton Invitational in San Diego on Friday and Saturday. The Western Athletic Conference championships are May 9-12 in Fresno, Calif.