Track and field ready for season

    After traveling to Edwardsville, Ill., last year to compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II Track and Field Championships, both UCSD track and field teams are looking to improve in 2002.

    Guardian File photo

    “”We were real, real pleased [about last year’s results],”” said head coach Tony Salerno. “”It was a breakthrough year.””

    The men’s team, which finished fifth in the CCAA championships and 29th in the national championship, returns several of their top performers from last season.

    Returner Jonathon Wong placed second in the 1,500 meter run in league championships, then went on to race to the 13th spot in the nationals.

    Senior Rob Ewanio heads up the field competitors after placing fifth in the nation in the shot-put event. Ewanio also placed first in the league championships.

    “”He’s our top returner,”” Salerno said. “”He won conference last year and our conference in that event happens to be better than most Division I conferences.””

    Unfortunately, the Tritons will be missing James Nielson, who graduated last year and was UCSD’s best performer in the 5,000 meter run.

    However, they will be seeking contributions from their newcomers to pick up the slack.

    “”We picked up some real stellar people on the men’s side,”” Salerno said. “”Jeff Conkey is going to contribute greatly in the sprints; Brad Slinkard as well.”” Salerno is also looking at Brian Parisi, Trevor Takayama and Steve Smith to earn points for UCSD.

    But it will be hard this year, as UCSD will be facing stiff competition. League rivals UC Davis and Chico State both placed higher than the Tritons in the national championship last year.

    “”Our conference is tough, it’s easily the most challenging conference in Division II,”” Salerno said. “”We’ve gotten a lot better but I think our conference has as well, which sort of neutralizes us.””

    The women’s track and field team is also seeking to better last year’s results.

    The Tritons placed fourth in the CCAA track and field championships last year, finishing behind UC Davis, Chico State and Cal State University, Stanislaus.

    In the NCAA Division II Track and Field Championships, UCSD placed 50th, 77 points behind first place St. Augustine’s College.

    Junior Audrey Sung leads the young Tritons of 2002, after placing second in the 3,000 meter run in league championships and sixth in the nationals.

    “”She is definitely our big gun,”” Salerno said. “”We’re looking forward to having Meredith Perry back; she was injured last year.

    Lynne Brinkman, who placed second in the javelin throw competition in the CCAA championships, returns to UCSD for her senior year and another chance to place big in nationals.

    “”Liz Brinkman is certainly a key person,”” Salerno said.

    Junior Jackie Vu (pole vault), sophomore Hillary Mills (800-meter run) and sophomore Minnie Hernandez (shot-put) all return to the Tritons after placing high in league championships last year.

    Salerno is already looking toward the end of the season.

    “”Our big focus is on conference, and hopefully we’ll do well in nationals after that,”” he said. “”We’re going to aim for third on both the men’s and women’s sides. We are hosting the conference this year, which gives us a good chance.””

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