2004: Year In Review
June 15, 2004
FRESNO- The 2004 track and field campaign was littered with several highlights that included the following: the program's first All-American selection in three years, repeat champions at the conference meet, two prestigious coach of the year honors and seven athletes advancing to the NCAA Regional meet for the first time.
In addition to accomplishments by both teams, one of the more impressive achievements took place before the season even began. Fresno State Director of Track and Field Bob Fraley was named USA Track & Field's 2003 Nike Coach of the Year back on Dec. 2. Fraley, who received the award at USATF's 2003 Annual Meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina, played a pivotal role in rejuvenating the pole vault in the United States when in 1989 he created the Pole Vault Summit.
That would be the first of two accolades for the Bulldog's legendary skipper, who later was awarded the 2003 United States Olympic Committee's Developmental Coach of the Year honor on May 2 at the organization's recognition dinner at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs.
After collecting nine top-five finishes at the Cal Poly Invitational on Mar. 20, the Bulldogs defeated Mt. San Antonio College 116-73 in its first team-scoring dual meet of the season the following weekend. Joe Vasquez finished first in the javelin, hammer and discus events, while freshmen Dionte Holloway and Robert Calzadilla claimed titles in their respective jumping events. In addition to a 1-2-3 finish in the pole vault, Ryan Moore ran a 52.62 to win the 400-meter hurdles.
With the Cal-Nevada Championships slated for the following day, an abbreviated lineup took to the track for the 76th annual edition of the Fresno Relays on Apr. 3. Among the top performances at Warmerdam Field were Vasquez tallying a personal-best in the shot put and Sean Marzolf winning the 800-meter run.
Fresno State earned 49 points at the Cal-Nevada Championships, good for sixth place overall. The 'Dogs were paced by Vasquez, who registered Fresno State's only first-place finish as he led all entrants in the discus with a mark of 173-9 (52.95m). Russell Weaver was one of four Fresno State athletes to place in the top-10 of the pole vault, leading the group at 16-8.75 (5.10m), while Kyle Cirrincione ran a career-best 9:36.92 in the steeplechase.
Vasquez and Weaver were once again the top individuals two weeks later at the Mt. SAC Relays. Vasquez captured the discus title with a toss of 174-4 (53.14m), while Weaver owned the top mark in the pole vault at 16-6.75 (5.05m). More importantly, Vasquez established a personal-best in the hammer throw at 206-7 (62.97m)- an NCAA Regional mark that would also translate into an at-large berth at NCAA Championships.
The first of two home meets was next up on Apr. 24, as the Bulldogs hosted Cal State Bakersfield and alumni participants from both schools. Among the highlights: Vasquez notching a career-best 54-1.75/16.50m in the shot put, Chris Berrian running a 48.22 in the 400-meter run and Marzolf improving his 800-meter time by a whole minute.
Perhaps one of the bigger moments took place on May 1, as Fresno State defeated rivals Cal Poly and Cal State Northridge to win the annual Big Three Meet for the first time in three years despite only four first-place finishes. Vasquez, who at that point of the season had already qualified for NCAA Regionals in the hammer, discus and shot put, collected three of the four first-place efforts. His toss of 177-11 (54.24m) in the discus set a new career-high, while Weaver improved upon his NCAA Regional status with a personal-best 17-4.50 (5.30m) in the pole vault. In addition, Adam Andresen and Leif McMurry earned NCAA Regional berths by hitting 16-4.75 (5.00m).
After an appearance at the Modesto Relays, the Bulldogs competed at WAC Championships. Fresno State took fourth overall with 122 points, checking in behind champion Rice (200), UTEP (147) and Boise State (123). Weaver captured his second straight pole vaulting title- the only event winner on the men's side. Berrian ran a personal-best 21.08 in the prelims of the 200-meter run to garner an NCAA Regional berth, while Ryan Moore did the same with a career-best 52.16 in the 400-meter hurdles.
Berrian would add another personal-best in the 400-meter run, clocking in at 47.74 to take third, while Marzolf was fifth in the 800-meter run with a season-best 1:51.15. Those efforts, along with Bulldog athletes holding down the 2-3-6-7 spots in the decathlon, kept Fresno State in contention over the weekend.
With the conference meet in the books, the Bulldogs sent five athletes (Andresen, Berrian, Moore, Weaver and Vasquez) to Northridge for the NCAA West Regionals. Vasquez automatically qualified for NCAA Championships when he recorded a fifth-place finish in the discus with a toss of 174-9 (53.26m). He also finished 18th in the hammer, yet managed to qualify for the national meet via an at-large berth. Weaver tied for fifth place in the pole vault with Cal Poly's Jon Takahashi, who was awarded the tiebreaker after winning an hour-long jump-off as both athletes reached 17-3 (5.26m). Berrian ran a 21.17 in the 200-meter finals to take sixth overall, Moore was 19th in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 53.72, while Andresen registered a no-height in the pole vault.
Vasquez turned out to be Fresno State's only male competitor at the 2004 NCAA Championships. Competing in the national meet for the first time, he finished 24th in the discus and 26th in the hammer. The performances made for somewhat of a bittersweet ending to a tremendous Bulldog career. Vasquez, who owned the team's best mark via personal-bests in all four field events during 2004, also qualified for NCAA Regional action last year in the discus and the hammer.
Webb reached the finals by placing ninth in a rain-drenched qualifying round, throwing 153-4 (46.75m) and edging out WAC powers Neely Falgout of Boise State and Brenda Grace-Hunt of Louisiana Tech. In 2003-04, Webb threw 150-0 or better eight different times and had six first-place finishes to her credit.
Joining Webb at NCAA Championships was Kara June, who finished two seconds away from a berth in the national steeplechase finals after running a 10:27.56 in the prelims to place 15th. June, a four-time WAC champion and Fresno State record holder, received an at-large berth after recording a personal-best time of 10:15.22 back on Apr. 17 at the Mt. San Antonio College Relays. She also established a new conference meet record with a 10:23.61 showing at the WAC Outdoor Championships. June, considered a pioneer of the steeplechase, ran three races under the 10:25.00 mark in 2004 and took seventh overall at NCAA West Regionals.
After a tune-up at the CCAA North Meet, the Bulldogs were slated to compete at the Cal Poly Invitational. Fresno State garnered three first-place honors, with Crystal Phillips claiming titles in the 100-meter (11.95) and 200-meter (24.71) races. Webb's 154-9.75 (47.19m) in the javelin was enough for a victory. All told, the women locked up 17 top-five finishes on the afternoon.
Just like the men, the women defeated Mt. San Antonio College handily by a 133-39 margin in a Mar. 27 dual meet. Lexine Lesser broke through with a 12-6 (3.81m), tying teammate Michelle Lennox for first-place honors in the pole vault. In addition to Webb's victory in the javelin, La'Sha Hill placed first in the hammer (40.46m) and shot put (13.34m) and finished second in the discus behind teammate Katie Richardson. Jenny Moore also took first in two different events- long jump and triple jump.
The 76th annual Fresno Relays featured a tremendous performance from Zinzi Evans, who became an NCAA Regional qualifier when she won the 800-meters with a 2:08.93. That mark also established a new Fresno State freshman record in that event, besting the previous time of 2:09.49 set by current assistant coach Shannon Lieder in 1989.
The Mt. SAC Relays showcased June's talent in the steeplechase, as the Bulldog junior ran a 10:15.22. At the time, the mark ranked sixth-best in the world. Hill earned an NCAA Regional berth with a toss of 153-2 (46.69m) in the discus.
On Apr. 24 in the Cal State Bakersfield dual, Hill qualified for NCAA Regionals with a career-high toss of 47-1.75/14.37m in the shot put and Winnie Fletcher recorded a personal-best and team-high 5.45m in the long jump.
The Bulldogs placed third at the annual Big Three Meet, totaling 124 points to finish behind Cal Poly (133) and Cal State Northridge (127). Picking up first-place finishes for the Bulldogs were: June with a 10:37.70 in the steeplechase, Lennox recording a 12-4.75 (3.78m) to win the pole vault and Webb measuring 47.92m in the javelin. All three of those athletes had already qualified for NCAA Regionals prior to the meet.
Fresno State finished fifth overall with 68 points at WAC Championships, while Rice captured the crown by edging Louisiana Tech. June established a new WAC-meet record in the steeplechase, winning gold with a time of 10:23.61. Hill threw a personal-best 148-1 (45.15m) in the hammer, Webb took third in the javelin at 150-4 (45.82m), while Katie Richardson was third in the discus at 159-1 (48.49). Lennox and Malaythong tied for second overall with personal-best marks of 12-9.50 (3.90m), and Samantha Modeste became a NCAA Regional qualifier when she reached 12-3.50.
Nine women advanced to the NCAA Regional meet: Evans, Hill, June, Lennox, Lesser, Malaythong, Modeste, Richardson and Webb. Five of the nine made their postseason debut, and the Bulldogs performed well during the two-day event.
June took seventh in the steeplechase, clocking in at 10:17.74. Webb placed 17th in the javelin at 141-4 (43.09m), while Hill was 20th in the shot put at 44-9.50 (13.65m). In the discus, Hill established a personal-best with a 155-07 (47.42m). Lesser was outstanding, tallying a personal-best 12-10 (3.91m) to take 10th. Modeste also established a career-best with a 12-4 (3.76m) to tie for 14th place, along with Malaythong. Lennox reached 11-10 (3.61m), Evans ran a 2:10.91 in the prelims of the 800-meter run, while Richardson was 14th in the discus with a 155-10 (47.51m) toss.