BOISE, Idaho A school record 20 Boise State University student-athletes will travel to Eugene, Oregon this Friday and Saturday (May 25 and 26) to compete in the NCAA West Regional Track and Field Championships.
            Ten women and 10 men will make the trop to the University of Oregon campus, with the hope of advancing to the NCAA National Championships, June 6-9 (Wednesday-Saturday) in Sacramento, Calif.  Two Broncos will be competing in two events, with both coming from the women’s team. 
            This is the fifth year the NCAA has hosted regional championships.  Boise State sent 19 student-athletes that first year in 2003.  Seventeen qualified in 2004, with nine going to regionals in 2005 and 16 in 2006. 
            The top five individual finishers in each event, from the four regions, automatically qualify for nationals.  The NCAA Track and Field Committee will then complete the fields for each event from the best marks of student-athletes who did not automatically qualify.  Each event will have around 26 entries.
            Eleni Kafourou and Kayleen McDowell are the Broncos competing in two events. 
Kafourou is making her second trip to regionals in the long and triple jump events.  The sophomore from Greece recently placed first in both events at the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) outdoor championships and is the school record holder in the two events.  Her top marks this year are 42-11.75 (13.10m) in the triple jump and 20-4.50 (6.21m) in the long jump.  She is ranked third in the triple jump, and eighth in the long jump, among the competitors at the west regional.  Last year she placed second in the triple jump at regionals and advanced to nationals.
A sophomore from Forest Grove, Oregon, McDowell will compete in the 800-meter run and run the first leg of Boise State’s 4x400-meter relay team.  Her top 800-meter time this year is 2:09.62.  McDowell will be joined by Megan Olivetti, Paige Olivetti and Nerisha Phillip to make up the Broncos’ relay team which won the WAC Championship this year.
The rest of the women’s team is made up of Breanna Sande in the 1,500-meter run, Becky Guyette in the 5,000-meter run, Theodora Xylaki in the high jump, Eleni Ypsilanti in the hammer and Annika Hjelm in the hammer.  A sophomore from Sweden, Hjelm is the school record holder in the event at 206-1 (62.82m) and is ranked sixth in the region.  She is also ranked 10th among the nation’s collegiate throwers.
Throwers will be the strength of the men’s team led by Scott Viafore in the javelin, Erik Whitsitt in the shot put and Simon Wardhaugh in the hammer.  All three are currently ranked 11th in the nation among collegiate throwers in their respective event. 
A sophomore from Duxbury, Mass., Viafore has the second best javelin throw among the west regional competitors at 235-5 (70.88m).  Viafore, who placed fifth at last year’s regional meet, recently won the 2007 WAC outdoor championship in the javelin. 
Whitsitt, a senior from Pueblo, Colo., is also a WAC champion this year and has the west region’s sixth best shot put mark entering this weekend’s competition at 61-9.00 (18.82m) which is the third best throw in Boise State history. 
Wardhaugh has the fourth best javelin throw in the field for the west regional at 219-6 (66.90m), the third best mark in Bronco history.  The sophomore from Bracken Ridge, Australia placed second in the hammer at this year’s WAC outdoor championships.  Wardhaugh is hoping to advance to his second straight NCAA National Championship.  Last year he finished second at the regional meet.
Jarrod Stevens could make it a one-two punch for the Broncos in the hammer this weekend.  The junior from Adelaide, Australia, edged Wardhaugh for the WAC title two weeks ago and has the 12th best throw in the nation this year at 218-10 (66.71m).  He is ranked fifth in the west region.
            One of the most decorated Boise State student-athletes in track and field history will be making his final regional appearance this week.  Forest Braden, a senior from Bonners Ferry, Idaho and a two-time NCAA All-American, will compete in the 5,000-meter run.  At this year’s league outdoor meet, Braden was the top individual scorer with 28 points as he finished first in the 5,000 and 10,000-meter run, and second in the 1,500-meter run. 
            The rest of the men’s team competing includes Ty Axtman in the 1,500-mete run, Sterling Small in the 400-meter hurdles, Zacharias Arnos and Wendell Lawrence in the triple jump and Nate Putnam in the javelin.
            Field events will be divided up between the two days of competition, with prelims and the finals of the men and women’s 5,000-meter run scheduled for Friday.  The remainder of the running finals will be on Saturday at Hayward Field.

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