This weekend, the Portland State track team will head to Flagstaff, Ariz., for the Indoor Big Sky Conference Championships.
The Vikings have had a solid season so far, routinely breaking school records and overriding personal bests. Head coach Tony Veney, who is only in his second season at PSU, attributes the noticeable improvement to a work ethic he has been trying to instill in each athlete since the beginning of last season. O.T.D., or “On the Day,” is a mantra Veney introduced to the team.
“It basically means that if you compete at your highest level on any given day, then I’m a happy guy,” he explained. “I don’t have time for athletes that don’t give me everything they’ve got.”
Last season, the Vikings seemed to take this idea to heart at the Indoor BSC Championships, boasting individual winners Keisha Harvey and Lisa Gunderson as well as best-ever finishes by both the men’s and women’s teams. If recent competitions are any indication, this year’s Viking teams are poised to repeat that success.
Junior Lisa Gunderson is back to defend her title as BSC high-jump champion. Top distance runner Jenny Rodgers and Ena Shemi have also established themselves recently, as well as freshman Gayle Imran, who excels in the long jump competition.
For the men, Ryan Brown is a current record holder in the long jump. Veney anticipates a great performance from him this weekend. He has also been impressed by the uniformly solid effort made by Mike Kebbe (middle/long distance runner), Evan Garich (middle distance), Collin Olcott (middle distance) and Hashim Hall (sprints) so far this year.
A preseason Big Sky Conference coaches poll predicted that the Weber State men’s and women’s teams would take first place in the championships for the second year in a row. Veney is unintimidated.
“We can’t focus on what everyone else is doing,” he said. “If we take care of us, that’s all we can do.”