Clarke looks to build on early season successes at Texas A&M invitational

Jordan Clarke throws the shot put at the Baldy Castillo Invite on Mar. 19, 2011. Clarke looks to build upon his early season success at the Texas A&M Mondo Challenge this weekend. (Photo by Beth Easterbrook)

This weekend, the ASU indoor track and field teams will encounter their first real test of the season while competing at the Texas A&M Mondo Challenge.

The invitational is exclusive, with only two teams from the Big 12 (Texas A&M, Texas Tech), SEC (Florida, Tennessee) and Pac-12 (ASU, Oregon) competing. Although the competition is littered with nationally ranked teams, ASU coach Greg Kraft is confident in his team and what they can accomplish. This confidence stems from the Sun Devils’ solid performance two weeks ago at the Lumberjack Invitational.

“We are pleased with where we are,” Kraft said. “It’s going to be a very interesting meet because of the quality of the teams there. We will find out a lot about ourselves at the end of the weekend.”

On the men’s side, Jordan Clarke is again showing his throwing prowess, setting a personal indoor shot put record last meet. However, Clarke is still looking to improve on his last performance.

“It’s the first meet, so I’ll take it,” he said. “If I’m throwing that far in two months I won’t be happy, but as of right now it’s a good start to the season.”

Clarke is taking on each meet differently and is ultimately focused on Nationals.

“Well, in all reality, it’s not the most important meet,” Clarke said. “It’s going to be a good meet for competition. Nationals is my big indoor meet, so this is just a stepping stone (while) getting ready for that.”

Kraft describes his men’s team as “a good blend of veterans” and is looking forward to seeing what can be accomplished this weekend.

“Obviously, we want to come out healthy, but our goal is to get more guys qualified and on the descending order list,” Kraft said. “We are very curious to see how we open up in the 200-meters with Ryan Milus. We are also curious about the distance medley and the 4×4 relays because we haven’t really had a chance to put the relays together. Traditionally, when we have done well in the relays, we have done well in the national championships.”

Meanwhile, for the women’s team, this meet will serve as a learning experience.

“The women aren’t as deep or seasoned,” Kraft said. “I think they are going there and taking a cue from the guys on how to prepare for a competition.”

Still, the women have good veteran leaders, including junior Keia Pinnick. She set a personal record in the 60-meter hurdles last meet and is hoping to improve on that performance and lead by example.

“I’m going to take what I learned from my mistakes from the last meet and put it all together, so I can get the max amount of points for the team,” Pinnick said.

Overall, Kraft is ready to put the team’s hard work into action and progress the season further.

“Every week, you just try to get better,” Kraft said. “At the end of the day, it’s still going to be January. Nationals aren’t until the middle of March. We have a lot of time, but we still want to create some momentum and a benchmark early. We are anxiously awaiting the competition, no question.”

 

Reach the reporter at dsshapi1@asu.edu

 

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