March 15, 2001

Less than a week after the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championship, the University of Oklahoma men's and women's track and field teams are hitting the road to open the 2001 outdoor season.

The first group of Sooners will travel to College Station, Texas, for the College Station Multis Thursday and Friday, then the remainder of the team will join them for the College Station Relays on Saturday. OU will continue the extended road trip, taking advantage of spring break on the Norman campus by heading to Tucson, Ariz., for a week of training and the Jim Click Invitational on March 24.

The Schedule
The Sooners' combined event athletes started competition today. Senior Justin Conkling and junior Sand Swaby were scheduled to compete. However, Conkling, the 2001 Big 12 heptathlon champion, injured his hamstring today in the 100-meter dash, the first event, and will not complete the decathlon.

The rest of the Sooner squad will start competition on Saturday. Several field events will open the competition including the men's and women's long jump, the men's high jump, the women's javelin, the men's hammer and the women's pole vault. The first event on the track is the women's steeplechase and it is set for noon. The final event on the schedule is the men's 1600-meter relay. It is set for 6:05 p.m.

The Last Time Out
Sophomore Michael Westlund erased memories of last year and senior Bambi Carson got some memories for a lifetime during the first day of competition at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championship.

Just two weeks after winning the Big 12, Westlund, who finished 12th last year as a freshman, finished third at the NCAA Indoor. He took the lead on the first height, clearing 16-10.75. He continued to jump cleanly and was the only vaulter to clear the first three heights of the competition without a miss, taking the lead into the fourth height of the competition.

Westlund barely missed his first attempt at 18-3.75, then hit the bar with his foot on the way up on his second attempt. He cleared the bar on his third attempt, the best one he had at the height, then brushed it on the way down. He watched the bar bounce twice before it came down to eliminate him from the competition.

His third-place height (17-11.75) was three inches better than his season best, also recorded at the Randal Tyson Track Center in January.

While Westlund led from the start, Carson posted her best throw in the preliminary round then had to hold on in her first trip to an NCAA Indoor Championship. She finished seventh overall and earned All-America honors for the first time in her Sooner career.

Carson threw 51-11 on her first throw and was seventh after the preliminary rounds. She didn't improve her mark on her first two attempts in the final, then fouled on her final throw to stay in seventh place.

Senior Alesha Peel finished 10th in the prelims in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.34, just .05 from the final qualifying time. Because she was one of the top eight Americans in the event, Peel earned All-America honors Junior Ernest Lewis finished 16th in the 400-meter dash with a 47.34. Freshman Leslie Dunlap finished tied for 12th in the women's pole vault, clearing 12-7.5. She missed All-America honors by one position under the top eight Americans' policy. The men's 1600-meter relay team finished 10th. Competing for OU were LaBoris Bean, Moses Washington, Joey Scott and Raoul Harvey. Scott had traveled to the NCAA as the alternate on the relay and filled in for Lewis who had been injured during his 400-meter prelim the night before. Their time of 3:10.63 was just under four seconds slower than OU's qualifying time of 3:06.98. A similar time for the Sooners would have placed in the top five. LSU won the event with a 3:04.44

The 2000 Outdoor Season
The Sooners produced 10 NCAA All-Americans during the 2000 outdoor season. The men's 1600-meter relay team (LaBoris Bean, Michael Jackson, Raoul Harvey and Michael Blackwood) finished fifth and the women's 1600-meter relay team (Staneshia Bell, LaKisha Robinson, Alicia Emanuel and Jennifer Fontenot) finished eighth. Individuals earning All-America honors included Blackwood in the 400, Fontenot in the women's 400 and Michael Westlund in the pole vault. Other qualifiers for the NCAA Outdoor for the Sooners last year included Michael McNamara in the pole vault, Bean in the men's 400 IH, and the women's 400-meter relay (Janel Hayes, LaToyia Hinds, Jimyria Hicks and Bell). Of those qualifiers/placers, the Sooners return nine, losing only Blackwood, Jackson, Fontenot and Hinds.

The Sooner women finished sixth in the Big 12 while the men finished seventh. OU produced conference champions in women's discus (Bambi Carson) and the men's 400-meter run (Blackwood).

Next Up
The Sooners will take advantage of spring break on the Norman campus and will travel to Tucson to train for a week prior to the Jim Click Invitational on March 24. That meet will feature Oregon, Nebraska, Arizona and OU in a four-team scoring meet. It will be the second of an 11-weekend outdoor slate that will end with the NCAA Outdoor Championship in Eugene, Ore., May 30-June 2. The Sooners will compete every weekend but May 25-26 and will often have student-athletes at multiple meets.