After what has already been an outstanding winter, Gustavus Adolphus track and field athlete Josh Owens (Brooklyn Park, Minn.) will look to put the finishing touch on the indoor season this weekend at the 2012 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships held Friday and Saturday, March 9-10 at the Grinnell College Fieldhouse in Grinnell, Iowa.
Gustavus’ stand-out pole vaulter put the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference on notice with a first place performance at his first meet of the season at the Ted Nelson Classic held in Mankato, Minn. on Feb. 4th. Owens cleared the bar at 15’ 9.25″, breaking the Gustavus’ school record of 15’ 7.25” set by Josh Sorenson in 2007. His height moved him into a top-10 national ranking and also earned Owen’s MIAC Indoor Track and Field Field Athlete-of-the-Week honors for the first time of the season.
Owens’ success continued later in February when he garnered MIAC Field Athlete-of-the-Week honors for the second time after another record-setting performance in Gustavus’ final warm-up meet before the 2012 MIAC Championships. The Brooklyn Park native had a career day by setting a new MIAC and Gustavus record in the pole vault after clearing 16’ 4.75 meters, improving his previous record-breaking mark by over five inches. The previous MIAC record was 16′ 3.25″, held by St. Thomas’ Matt Schroeder set in 2007.
Going into the 2012 MIAC Championships held March 1-3 at the Leonard Center on the campus of Macalester College, Owens was the top-ranked pole vault specialist with more than an eight-inch lead on second-ranked Shaise Schuette of Hamline. Despite missing an early vault on Saturday, Owens regained focus and took care of business, winning the event after clearing 16’ 0.75”. He became Gustavus’ first pole vault champion since Drew Hood took the title back in 2008. The Gusties compiled their best three-day point total at the conference meet since 2003, taking fourth with 101 points.
“The biggest transformation for Josh from this year compared to last is his focus on track and his commitment to training and improvement. The results paid off to say the least,” said Head Gustavus Track and Field Coach Dale Bahr. “Josh won every meet he competed in this winter , so he is coming into the meet very confident.”
Heading into the NCAA Championships, Owens is ranked ninth with a seed mark of 5.00-meters. John Wood of North Central is at the top of the leaderboard with a seed mark of 5.31-meters.
Coach Bahr says it will be key for Owens to stay focused, relaxed, and to not get overwhelmed in his first NCAA meet. “Josh isn’t rattled going in and he is approaching it as if it is just another pole vault at just another meet. The whole coaching staff is excited to see what he goes out and does tomorrow.”
The 2012 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships will begin on Friday, March 9th with the 60-meter dash of the Heptathlon beginning at 8:45 a.m. The men’s pole vault competition will start at 4:00 p.m. later on Friday.