ASU track and field prepares for UA, Oregon in MPSF conference meet

The Mountain Pacific Sports Federation conference meet kicks off Friday in Seattle and the ASU men’s and women’s track and field team appears to be ready to go for the last chance at competition before the NCAA meet.

Last year, ASU performed exceptionally well at the conference meet, with the Sun Devils finishing first on the men’s side and second place on the women’s. This year, Oregon is the favorite going into the meet for both the men and the women, and in-state rival UA looks improved from last season.

“There’s teams that you don’t want to lose to,” senior Will Henry said. “Honestly, we know we’re better than those teams; that’s how we look at. That’s the extra push to beat them.”

Oregon has won several Pac-12 titles in the outdoor season, with ASU winning the MPSF indoor championship the past two years, so the team is more focused on besting the Ducks than the Wildcats, who Henry feels is simply not as good as they are.

“We really don’t want to lose to U of A,” Henry said. “We don’t even consider them to be in the same class as us.”

In the conference championship, the athletes are competing against other athletes with whom they are very familiar. They have either competed against them before in high school or college, and in some cases, they are former teammates.

Either way, the completion level at a conference meet is higher than any normal meet.

“There’s definitely a little more competitiveness,” said senior Heather Arseneau, who will be looking to qualify for nationals this weekend in the pole vault. “For me personally anyway, I want to beat the girls that are in my conference, and I want to score high in this meet because it’s MPSF.”

Arseneau, along with redshirt senior Derick Hinch, is among some of the athletes trying to qualify for the national meet this weekend. Arseneau said she is very confident she will clear the bar necessary to send her to the national meet.

“I’m really confident actually,” Arseneau said. “I love jumping, especially at MPSF, because the competition is so good.”

Coach Greg Kraft spoke on the importance of not only winning the conference meet, but helping ASU stay ahead in the Territorial Cup series against UA with the Wildcats’ team looking improved.

“Their men are greatly improved,” Kraft said. “And I think (UA head coach Fred Harvey) thinks this is one of the better men’s teams they’ve had in quite some time.”

Kraft stressed, however, that the team just needs to focus on what’s in front of them, and the rest should fall into place for them.

“It doesn’t matter really where you are; you just really try to take care of what you have on your team,” Kraft said.

Patience is also a key for Kraft and his team. To stress this, Kraft used a quote from legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden: “Be quick, but don’t hurry.”

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