Back on track
Skarda trying to overcome injuries, qualify for nationals
It’s been a long journey back from injuries for Alexis Skarda.
The Colorado Mesa All-American returned this spring and will compete in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden. The RMAC Championships begin Sunday and continue through Tuesday, barring another snowstorm on the Front Range.
The senior is ranked 13th in the RMAC in the 5,000-meter run (17 minutes, 41.82 seconds). The provisional time to qualify for the NCAA Division II championships is 17:19.9. The automatic qualifying time is 16:20.
“She’s trying to come back from a knee injury,” said Mavericks men’s track coach Matt Canterbury, who coaches the distance runners for CMU’s men and women. “Normally, we’d have her do two 5K’s in a season, but she’s trying to hit a mark for nationals and get in shape at the same time.
“It’s been frustrating. She hasn’t run as well as she wanted to. She’ll give it another shot and will probably go to the Last Chance meet.”
The Last Chance meet is May 12 back at Mines’ Stermole Track & Field Complex in Golden. The national championships are May 23–25 at the DeRose Thunderbowl in Pueblo.
“She is 90 seconds slower than her PR (personal record),” Canterbury said. “I don’t know if a provisional mark will qualify this year.
“She’s battled injuries so much, but she’s a gamer. She runs herself into the ground.”
Colorado Mesa is ranked fifth in the RMAC going into the championship meet.
“We’re excited,” CMU women’s coach Katrice Thomas said. “I think it will probably be our best showing as a team. We have athletes in pretty much every event on the track. I’m hoping to steal some points here and there.”
Sophomore Whitney Rowe is having a solid season. She posted a provisional time in the 100 earlier this season (11.97 seconds) and competed in the Mt. Sac Relays.
That time now ranks 28th in the nation. The top 20 qualify for nationals. The automatic qualifying time is 11.56.
“She is nervous and is feeling the pressure,” Thomas said. “She doesn’t want to disappoint anyone, but at the same time she has lofty goals.
“We’re looking on her improving her time in the 200 and hitting a provisional. Hopefully we can get her 100 down to get her into nationals.”
The sophomore is ranked second in the RMAC in the 200 (24.67).
Cathryn Ambler is in contention to place in the 400. The junior is ranked fifth in the 400 (58.63).
Chelsea Lyons is 31 seconds off the provisional qualifying mark in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. The sophomore is seeded eighth (11:46.23).
“It was her first time ever running the race (last weekend),” Thomas said. “She kind of ran the race by herself last weekend, kind of like Alexis did. Hopefully we can get her some competition and see what she can do.”
The men would finish fourth if all the participants match their personal-best times and distances going into the meet.
“That would be huge,” Canterbury said. “That puts us ahead of Mines. Obviously it doesn’t work out that way, but it’s great we’re ranked so high in so many different events.”
The men are led by decathlete Randy Brown, who is ranked first in the RMAC with a score of 6,222 points. The junior ranks 27th in the nation and needs to score 100 points higher to qualify for nationals. The automatic-qualifying score is 7,000.
He is competing in four individual events — javelin, high jump, long jump and triple jump — in addition to the decathlon during the three days.
Shane Niksic is ranked second in the 800 (1:52.08). At one time, the sophomore posted a provisional time, but he has fallen out of the top 20 needed to qualify for nationals. He is 2.04 seconds off an automatic qualification.
“He hasn’t raced since the Mt. Sac weekend because of a minor tear in his hamstring,” Canterbury said. “He’s been running with it all year, but it’s never bothered him until three weeks ago.”
Augustus Barnes had a PR in the 400-meter run last weekend and is ranked third in the RMAC (48.78). The sophomore is two seconds off an automatic-qualifying time.
“It’s a matter of three-tenths of a second between third and first,” Canterbury said. “He’s got a shot there.”
Jordan Riggins is ranked fourth in the 100 (10.84) and 200 (21.80). The freshman also will run in the 1,600 relay.
Freshman Alex Quintana is ranked fifth in the 400 hurdles (56.62), but Canterbury believes he can crack the top three in the RMAC.