ASU track and field looks to rest for conference meet, qualify for nationals

While the majority of the ASU men’s and women’s track and field team is taking the weekend off as they prepare for the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Indoor Track and Field Championships, there will be some Sun Devils competing this weekend.

Starting on Friday, the USA Track and Field Indoor Championships will begin in Albuquerque. There will be one Sun Devil making the trip: redshirt senior Anna Jelmini. Jelmini will be competing in the shot put event on Sunday at 1:20 p.m.

Jelmini is already qualified for the NCAA meet in March, so this trip is not about qualification. Rather, coach Greg Kraft said it’s about getting her used to being in a competitive atmosphere before nationals.

 
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“Well, Anna’s already qualified,” Kraft said. “So she’s going there to be in a very competitive environment and to compete on the NCAA circle.”

Jelmini’s best throw this season came in the NAU Invitational on Jan. 24 where she threw 16.81 meters. That is not quite as good as her personal best, 17.35 meters, which she accomplished last season and is second on the ASU record list.

Other than Jelmini in Albuquerque, the pole vaulters will be traveling to Flagstaff for the NAU Tune-Up meet. Senior Heather Arseneau and redshirt senior Derick Hinch will be looking to qualify for nationals in what will be their last chance before the conference meet.

“It gives them a chance to jump at a qualifying mark,” Kraft said. “There’s no last-chance meet this year. So if you don’t get it done in the next two meets, you don’t get it done.”

Kraft said that having NAU so close makes this weekend in Flagstaff a “glorified practice” but one where clearing the mark will still count toward qualifying for nationals.

“For the rest of us, we’re better off just training,” Kraft said.

Junior Shelby Houlihan, who broke the school record in the 3000-meter race in Seattle, is one of the athletes taking the weekend off.

Even though she broke the record, Houlihan said she didn’t run as fast as she would have liked.

“(Breaking the record) means a lot,” Houlihan said. “It’s just another notch under my belt. Again, I didn’t run as fast as I wanted to but went there ultimately to qualify for nationals and that’s what I did, the record was mainly a second thought.”

It was Houlihan’s first time running the 3000-meter since high school, but she didn’t let nerves faze her.

“I knew that I was capable of running fast in that event,” Houlihan said. “But actually I was really nervous. I never really get nervous for races that much, but I was pretty nervous going into that one, because I didn’t know exactly what to expect.”

Houlihan said she is looking forward for this week of rest. She will likely be running the mile in the conference meet next week.

With the team coming off of its best weekend of the indoor season, Kraft said, the Sun Devils aren’t worried about taking time off and losing momentum.

“I don’t think it’s losing any momentum,” senior Will Henry said. “If anything, it just shows us we’re physically capable of doing this, let’s just reinforce it with some good practice and be mentally prepared, because the opportunity is going to be there.”

Reach the reporter at wslane@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @bill_slane