12 athletes qualify for conference meet

In Conference USA each coach chose which athletes to bring to the indoor track and field conference championship. That was last year. In the Big East, things are a bit more objective.

To qualify for the Big East Track and Field Championships on Feb. 18 and 19 in Akron, Ohio there are qualifying standards. Marquette head coach David Uhrich said those benchmark times, heights and distances will be a top priority throughout the season.

Saturday, in their first meet after winter break, it showed. At the Badger Track Classic in Madison, seven women and five men achieved the qualifying standard in their respective discipline.

"We are happy with our performance," Uhrich said. "A Big East qualifying performance is something we are going to emphasize all year. To get that many Big East qualifiers in the first meet is great."

The feat is especially impressive given that team members went their separate ways over break, and Uhrich's goal going into the meet was simply for his athletes to shake off the rust and get back into their routine.

The Marquette women's distance runners did a little more than just get back in the grove. Sophomore Cassie Peller qualified for Akron in the one mile run by finishing in 5:00.83 and taking first place. In the 3000 meter run, both junior Michaela Courtney and senior Jodi Jakubek qualified with times of 9:43.59 and 10:08.83, respectively.

"I was just excited to race again after the long cross country break," said Courtney, who is also considering competing at the Big East meet in the distance medley relay, 1000 meters and one mile.

Other women to advance included Carrie Schmid and Kristin Stoniecki in the pole vault, Jessica Ehlen in the weight throw and Emily Leklem in the shot put.

On the men's side, Brent Des Roches' first place time of 4:18.71 in the one mile run earned him a trip to the Big East championships. He will be joined there by sophomore high jumper Ray Bratchett, sophomore Michael Boedecker and freshman Jeff Kluge — both qualified in the weight throw — and junior pole vaulter Zach Pawlowski.

"Qualifying was a weight lifted off my shoulders," Pawlowski said. "I can tweak my form and not worry about my height at future meets because I've already gotten where I need to go."