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Olympic Hopefuls Battle at Indoor Track and Field Championships in Nampa

Athletes from across the country compete in NCAA event


The NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships came to a close on March 10 at Jacksons Indoor Track in Nampa following a weekend filled with unbelievable and sometimes physics-defying action. The University of Florida men and the University of Oregon women both won their national championships for the third consecutive year.

Some major standouts from the weekend included Olympic hopeful and Florida Gator Jeff Demps winning his third consecutive title in the 60 meters with a blazing 6.56 seconds. Demps is not only an elite runner but he also played football at Florida. He chose to pursue the Olympic team over an immediate career in the NFL and his decision seems to be playing out well so far.

Canadian Olympic hopeful Brianne Theisen won the pentathlon for the third consecutive year, providing the University of Oregon with another spark toward its victory. A turning point of her championship came when she stormed from behind on the last lap of the 800 meter run to claim the title with a time of 2:13.

The fan favorite mile events did not disappoint as the capacity crowd filled the venue. The women's race was a nail biter throughout. Three Oregon Ducks led early, but in the end Lucy Van Dalen of Stony Brook took the race in 4:39. In the men's mile, Chris O'Hare of Tulsa fought off the competition and held onto his lead to take the race with a time of 4:01.

Other highlights included Curtis Beach of Duke University beating his own world record in the heptathlon 1,000 meters to come from behind and win the overall title in dramatic fashion.

Boise State athletes performed well at the championship but did not place in the top spots. Kurt Felix did not finish the heptathlon after struggling in the pole vault and bowing out of the 1,000-meter run because of an ankle injury. He was in position to make a legitimate push before the injury. On March 9, fellow Bronco athlete Mele Vaisima finished sixth overall in the women's weight throw.

Iain Hunter, a biomechanics professor at Brigham Young University, was one of several hundred people who traveled to Nampa from the around the country to help run the event.

"There are people from all over the country here this weekend for work. I have been involved with Team USA Track and Field on the side of my teaching and was able to get involved that way," Hunter said of the opportunity to be an official.

And when the athletes weren't competing, they were soaking up Idaho.

"We went downtown and checked out the blue turf over at the football stadium. We had to do that," said Lindsay Schwartz, a sophomore pentathlon athlete from the University of South Alabama.