May 4, 2011
The Cal State Northridge women's track & field team, the five-time Big West defending champions, open their title defense this Friday and Saturday as the conference outdoor championships open with the multi-event competition at UC Irvine.
The Matador men, the two-time defending Big West champions, will not compete any athletes in the multi-events this weekend.
Seniors Sherrina Lofton and Desirae Gonder will lead a talented group of five Matador women into the multi-events which begin Friday at 2:30 p.m. with the 100 meter hurdles. Four events will be contested on Friday (100 hurdles, High Jump, Shot Put, 200 meters) and three on Saturday (Long Jump, Javelin, 800 meters). Saturday's competition begins at 1 p.m. All events will be held at UC Irvine's Anteater Stadium.
"It's a very important event for us to get off to a good start", said associate head coach Avery Anderson. "The main thing we want to get out of the heptathlon is score as many points as possible and help the team get started toward another conference championship."
With defending heptathlon champion Barbara Nwaba of UC Santa Barbara redshirting this season, Lofton, the 2009 Big West champion, and Gonder, a two-time runner-up, head into the heptathlon as the favorites.
Lofton currently has the top point total in the conference this season scoring 5,366 points at the Texas Relays in April. Lofton's season-best also ranks 12th in the nation this season, but trails her lifetime-best by 54 points. She scored a career-best 5,420 points at the Northridge Invitational in 2009.
Gonder is also a contender for the title of the conference's best overall athlete as the two-time Big West runner-up comes in ranked second to Lofton with a season-best 5,294 points, which is also 20th nationally. Gonder, who finished fourth in the heptathlon as a freshman in 2007, finished second in both the 2008 and 2010 conference championships. Last season, she finished just 40 points behind Nwaba after scoring a lifetime-best 5,512 points. Gonder finished second to Sharon Day in 2008 after Day set the conference record in the event.
"I want Sherrina and Desirae to basically do what they have in the past," said Anderson. "I also want them to help bring along the others who are in their first heptathlon and pull them to good scores as well."
Junior Alisa Jenkins and freshmen Olympia Jewett and Jordan DuFault will each be making her debut in the conference championships on Friday with Jenkins and DuFault entering their first heptathlon competition. Jewett has one heptathlon under her belt as she finished with 4,369 points at the Northridge Invitational in March. Jenkins, one of the Matadors' top all-around athletes, has CSUN's second-best time (14.21) in the 100 meter hurdles this season. DuFault also competed in a range of events at South Salem High School in Salem, Ore., where was the state runner-up in the long jump.
Since joining the Big West Conference in 2002, the Matadors have won two heptathlon titles, La'Shana Verdon in 2006 and Lofton in 2009.
Sherrina Lofton CAREER HEPTATHLON COMPETITIONS
Texas Relays, 5,366 points (6th-place)
NCAA Championships, 4,531 points (22nd-place)
Big West Championships, 5,224 points (1st-place)
Northridge Invitational, 5,420 points (3rd-place)
Big West Championships, 4,325 points (8th-place)
Desirae Gonder CAREER HEPTATHLON COMPETITIONS
Texas Relays - 5,294 points (7th-place)
Northridge Invitational - 5,250 points (1st-place)
NCAA Championships - 5,170 points (17th-place)
Big West Championships - 5,512 points (2nd-place)
Texas Relays - 5,183 points (6th-place)
Northridge Invitational - 5,099 points (1st-place)
Big West Championships - 5,203 points (2nd-place)
Texas Relays - DNF
Big West Championships - 4,860 points (4th-place)
- GO MATADORS -