By: Nugesse Ghebrendrias and Jenna Wilson
The Team & Track
With a slow start to the year and missing several important athletes due to injuries, expectations for the Fresno State track and field team this season are high. The ’Dogs met those expectations over the weekend at the Mountain West indoor championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico, after earning first place titles in three events.
Senior Annemarie Schwanz captured the fastest mile with a time of 4 minutes, 48.49 seconds, becoming the first Bulldog in school history to earn first place in that event. Sophomore Tiffany Gilmore was crowned as the weight throw champion with a mark of 20.10 meters.
Fresno State’s first Mountain West pentathlon title was secured by sophomore Jestena Mattson as she clocked a time of 8.99 in 60-meter hurdles and cleared 1.64m in the high jump. Mattson struggled in the shot put event with a throw of 10.63m, but set a new personal record in the long jump of 7.53m. In the final event, Mattson ran an 800m in 2:22.16 to win the title by 45 points.
“I’m very proud of our group of 14 student-athletes. We wanted to see heart, competitiveness and toughness, and we saw all three this weekend,” Fresno state head coach Scott Winsor said. “We scored the most amount of points that we’ve ever scored in the conference meet, with three of our top athletes out. I couldn’t be more proud of the group we brought.”
The Bulldogs return to action at the NCAA indoor championships on March 10-11 in College Station, Texas.
With the first home meet approaching, Warmerdam Field is still under construction. The renovations include an eight-lane, all-weather track, an improved high jump area and two new pole vault runways. The recent string of storms has hindered construction.
The team is excited to practice at the new facility, but is in no rush. Winsor said the facilities at Buchanan High School’s Veterans Memorial Stadium are more than adequate.
With over 30 years of experience, Fresno State track and field head coach Scott Winsor continues to provide Fresno State athletes with a vast array of knowledge not only gathered through coaching, but also by once being an athlete himself.
This season marks the ninth for Winsor in charge of the Bulldogs. He said his introduction to the sport came early when his brother was an athlete.
“My brother was a world-class high jumper when I was in sixth grade,” Winsor said. “Naturally, I took up sports — football, basketball and track. I got into jumps and sort of followed that collegiately while I got my teaching credentials.”
With help from Notre Dame track head coach Joe Piane and Kevin White, who is now the vice president of Duke University, Winsor found himself in the Central Valley.
“I sent out my resumes and letters of interest to all Division I schools looking for a graduate assistant position,” Winsor said. “Everyone had their positions filled. I faced rejection after rejection until Kevin White advised I send a letter to Notre Dame.”
Winsor graduated from Loras College in 1987 and was a standout performer in athletics. Not only was he a captain for his track team, he was also a record holder in the outdoor high jump. His success in the sport led him to coach for a short time at his alma mater before accepting a job from Piane as an assistant coach at the University of Notre Dame.
A big step-up at the time, Winsor had to adapt to the change of pace in South Bend, Indiana.
“Piane hired me as a young know-nothing with the understanding that I would be coaching and also getting my master’s degree,” Winsor said. “I had to adjust to being in these kids’ living rooms to sell them on the idea of coming to our school. It definitely took time, but now I have no problems sitting with a young man or woman with their parents selling them on attending Fresno State. It’s really easy when you’re confident in the product you are selling.”
Winsor brought a treasure trove of experience with him to Fresno State in 2008. His tenure at Notre Dame included 14 All-America certificates, 107 all-conference honors and 21 Big East championships. Winsor brings the same winning mentality to Fresno State.