Juan Villa / Collegian File Photo
In preparation for the Cal-Nevada Championships, Fresno State track and field coach Scott Winsor had to address the â€œCâ€ word to his team while in practice.
â€œOur kids are going to see some good competition â€“ probably competition that they havenâ€™t seen yet,â€ Winsor said. â€œBut thatâ€™s what we need.â€
The Cal-Nevada Championships is one of the marquee meets for the Fresno State track and field team every year. This year, the Bulldogs have to travel to UCLA to compete against some of the top track programs in the state of California and Nevada.
The trip to Los Angeles will mark a first in the Cal-Nevada meet. The Championships will be held on the UCLA campus. Scott Winsor will also experience his first trip to UCLA.
â€œIâ€™ve never competed at UCLA,â€ Winsor said. â€œI competed at Mount Sac every year for 20 years, but never at UCLA.â€
Winsor still believes that being in Los Angeles will be a benefit for his team as the season progresses.
â€œI guess itâ€™s a great venue and a beautiful track,â€ Winsor said. â€œIts kind of like the old basketball saying â€˜the basket is ten feet high.â€™ The track is 400 meters, thatâ€™s what theyâ€™ll run on and thatâ€™s what weâ€™ll do.â€
For Winsor and the Bulldogsâ€™ track and field squad, the competition level will be huge, especially with a couple of Pac-10 teams involved.
â€œItâ€™s going to be a heck of a meet,â€ Winsor said. â€œIt is every year.â€
Winsor said that the team needed some time to prepare for the Cal-Nevada meet and has been impressed with the overall progression.
â€œWeâ€™ve had a good couple of weeks here,â€ Winsor said. â€œLast week was very good for us. Our decathletes had a heck of a day, so we are looking to build on that. The kids know that we need to step it up and get better every week.â€
Not only do the Bulldogs need to step it up every week, they also want to win the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) title and then send some of their athletes to the NCAA Regional.
â€œOur minimum goal is to win WAC,â€ Winsor said. â€œBut above and beyond that, we want to make sure that we are prepared to get to the regionalâ€™s and then prepare to get out of regionals and into the NCAAs. This is just another opportunity to show the kids how to do that.â€
One key element on the womenâ€™s side for the Bulldogs is WAC individual champion Tierra Hilliard, who will be participating in the sprint competition. Hilliard is familiar with some of the competition in the Cal-Nevada meet.
â€œWe saw a few teams last week,â€ Hilliard said. â€œThereâ€™s like 30 schools, so thereâ€™s going to be good competition everywhere.â€
Hilliard is content with being a conference individual champion, but she is looking to have more results during the Cal-Nevada meet and beyond.
â€œIt felt really good to win the WAC and Iâ€™m going to go out and try to do it again in the 200 and 400 this year,â€ Hilliard said.
On the menâ€™s side, senior jumper Erik Fossen wants to use the Cal-Nevada meet to reach the NCAA regional. He is competing in the high, long and triple jump.
â€œIâ€™m hoping to get one regional qualifying mark, hopefully all three,â€ Fossen said. â€œFor long and triple Iâ€™ll go against a couple guys from UCLA and a couple guys from Northridge. There should be some good competition for long jump because Iâ€™m in the last flights, so it should be really good competition to push me even further.â€