Tigers hoping to use track meet as a learning tool

Friday, January 23, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 11:41 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 7, 2008

Fans of the Missouri track team should plan to learn some new names today.

The Tigers will host the 15th annual Missouri-Kansas-Kansas State Triangular at 4 p.m. today at Hearnes Center.

Coach Rick McGuire said he expects a few surprises.

“Every year in this meet we have somebody who just wasn’t yet on the radar screen all of a sudden become prominent and in this meet find their way into being a real player for the rest of the year,” McGuire said. “The door is open for some unknown person, at this point, to become a star.”

The indoor track season is young. The triangular is only MU’s second full meet, and McGuire plans to use it as a learning experience.

“We put this meet at this time, early in the year, because we wanted to have it at a time when we could all just line up and run,” McGuire said. “The closer you get to the conference championships and the NCAA, the more you are just fine tuning.”

Freshmen Marcus Mayes and Jimmie Jones are runners who could make an impact. Mayes and Jones won middle distance events a week ago at the Missouri Invitational.

Mayes, who won the 800-meter run, is a former USATF Junior national champion in the event and is from Sand Springs, Okla. Jones, who won the 1,000-meter run, was a high school All-American at Detroit’s Mumford High.

Mayes and Jones will face excellent runners today in Kansas State’s Christian Smith and Erik Sproll.

“Typically those (middle distance) races have been good races at this meet,” Kansas State coach Cliff Rovelto said. “There are a number of national-quality runners there, but in this meet, more events than not will have national-quality athletes.”

The meet has served as a starting point for MU middle distance runners. In this meet eight years ago, Derrick Peterson emerged as a star in the 800 meters and 1,000 meters. Peterson became a six-time All-American. He also won eight Big 12 Conference championships and two NCAA championships. He is a volunteer assistant with the Tigers.

“We have a history here of having really good middle distance runners; Marcus and Jimmy are the next in a long line,” McGuire said. “But if I were to expect them to be world beaters the second weekend out against some of the top runners in the country, I would say that’s pretty unfair.”

Today’s meet is unique in that combined men’s and women’s scores will determine team scores. If last week is any indication, the Tigers’ women should boost the team’s chances.

Ann Snider (weight throw), Janae Strickland (shot put), Ashley Patten (1,000), and Jill Petersen (mile) won event championships at the Missouri Invitational. Snider’s victory set a school record at 58 feet, 8 ¾ inches.

“(Snider) is exploding right now,” McGuire said. “It’s all coming together for her.”

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