Provisionals set for Tigers at FHSU Open
By CONOR NICHOLL
Nelson Vazquez participated in football and ran track in high school in Tampa before he played wide receiver for two years at Mendochino (Calif.) Community College.
Then, Vazquez came to Fort Hays State University in 2011 and played in five games before a season-ending injury. In 2012, Vazquez appeared in nine contests and caught five passes. After the football season ended, Vazquez decided to return to track.
"I just wanted to get back in the groove of it," Vazquez said.
But Vazquez struggled last year and never broke 11 seconds in the 100-meter dash. He worked with head coach Dennis Weber and assistant coach Petra Poznic on form and weightlifted a couple times each week.
The decision and work paid off when Vazquez set a personal record and had a NCAA Division II provisional mark with 10.57 seconds in the 100 on Friday at the FHSU Open at Lewis Field Stadium. The competition, ran under near perfect conditions, was the final home meet of the year and also represented the final tuneup before the MIAA Championships next week.
Vazquez was .03 seconds ahead of the provisional standard and tied for sixth on the all-time Tiger outdoor list. It marked the fastest 100 time since Bryan Haynes in 2008.
Vazquez also won the 200 in 21.77, part of a strong all-around day for FHSU. The women's 400-meter relay team of Lexi Riedel, Whitney Taylor, Mindy Wilson and Samantha Woodburn had a provisional mark of 46.80 seconds.
"Really fun to go out with a blast," Vazquez said.
Garrett with big performance
In the 800, junior Logan Garrett, a Missouri Southern State University transfer, broke his personal best by four seconds and won the race with a provisional mark of 1:52.05, the third-best time in FHSU history. Garrett had a solid last two weeks of practice and took the last two weeks off from meet competition.
"I knew I could do it," Garrett said. "During practices, I was hitting the right times, I could just never put it together during a race until now."
Because of people standing in front of the clock, Garrett didn't notice his time until he got close to the final line. When he saw the clock, it read 1:48, 1:49 and he tried to lean into the tape for the best possible time. The provisional standard is 1:52.50.
Garrett's plan was to run each lap in around 56 seconds, a different philosophy than many 800 runners who try to run negative splits in the second lap.
He had been going out fast and then dying off. Garrett stayed back in the pack and made his way to the front as the race progressed.
"It was just a beautiful day, and it just felt really good," Garrett said.
Kobza continues turnaround
In the women's discus, senior Janessa Kobza finished second with a throw of 139-1 (42.4 meters), a half meter behind Cloud County Community College's Rashell Reid. Kobza had hit a provisional mark of 144-9 (44.11 meters) on April 5 at University of Nebraska-Kearney, part of a big turnaround in her career.
"The last few practices, I have hit some good marks, so I am just hoping that I hit something at conference," Kobza said.
Kobza, a junior from Fairbury, Neb., by way of Cowley County Community College, has a unique discus throw called a "reverse."
Kobza, shorter than most discus throwers, started the reverse, or a hop, in high school. When Kobza comes through on her spin, both feet briefly leave the air.
"That's the reason why I throw as far," Kobza said. "I don't have a lot of height on me, but I do have speed. That's my form. It works for me. Honestly, one day in high school, it just happened in practice. It's just gotten better and better. It's more of a velocity thing - once you start building so much speed, you don't want to stop. You want to continue."
Kobza, a senior by academics, does have one more year of throwing left and plans to use it. At Cowley, she threw around 145 feet on a day with good wind. When she first came to FHSU, Kobza couldn't compete because of ankle surgery. Kobza used last season "as a building year."
"There has been a lot of times that I just wanted to give up, because I felt like I was going down instead of up," Kobza said.
At one point, Kobza quit looking at her form and instead watched YouTube videos. Then, she started watching older videos of herself and learning from that. Now, she is more consistent in the low 140s, and has thrown well the last two weeks - the first time in a long time she has felt good about throwing.
"I wish I would have done that before the season, because then I would have been so much ahead," Kobza said.
Throwing coach Andreas Maheras has explained things to Kobza in a way that makes sense and doesn't get frustrated, which makes Kobza happy.
"Still not perfect, but it's a lot better than what it was," Kobza said.
At Kearney, Kobza hit her provisional on a good wind day. Afterward, she watched a tape of the throw and called her form "awful."
"I really wish I would have had the form that I have," Kobza said. "Who knows? I could have hit 160. It's definitely strange from two weeks ago to now how much my form has changed."
On Friday, Kobza fouled once, had one throw at 39.10, another at 42.10, two at 42.18 and her final attempt at 42.40. Kobza enjoyed the competition with Reid, who moved into first place on the penultimate throw. When Kobza's final toss came up just short, she wore a frustrated look.
"I almost had it," she said.
Linton with big throw
Cloud's Anna Linton (Thunder Ridge) fouled on all three discus attempts but then uncorked a 47-7 to win the shot put by more than three feet. That's the second-best throw in the junior college ranks and well ahead of her previous season best of 44-10.75. ... In the javelin, Tiger freshman Madison Wolf continued her strong year by winning the javelin in 146-6, short of her season best of 153-5. Freshman Megan Honas (Ellis) finished second with a provisional mark of 135-3, a new personal best and sixth-best in the league.