The Cal State Northridge men’s and women’s track and field teams would be defending conference champions, if the conference wasn’t defunct.
After sweeping American West Conference outdoor titles last May, the Matadors will be pitted against much tougher competition today and Saturday in the Big Sky Conference indoor meet at the Walkup Skydome in Flagstaff, Ariz.
Although the answering machine in Northridge Coach Don Strametz’s office proudly announces that you have reached the home of the 1996 American West Conference champions, Strametz acknowledges that the former four-team circuit was relatively weak.
Now that Northridge is in the nine-team Big Sky, Strametz can worry about competing for a real conference title. And the Matadors, he says, probably aren’t ready.
“To compete in this conference, we need more on the front end,” Strametz said. “That might mean that instead of going after two good people in the future, we’re going to have to go after one great person.”
That doesn’t mean Northridge won’t contend in its Big Sky debut. The Matador women should battle Idaho State for third place, behind defending champion Northern Arizona and Weber State.
The Northridge men are expected to contend for fourth, behind Idaho State, Weber State and two-time defending champion Northern Arizona.
Seniors Beth Burton and Elinor Tolson, sophomore Erika Bowling and freshman Brandi Prieto are expected to be some of Northridge’s top performers in the women’s meet.
Burton is the school record-holder in the 20-pound weight throw (63 feet 6 3/4 inches) and indoor shotput (49-7 1/2). Tolson has clocked 8.21 seconds in the 55-meter low hurdles.
Bowling has run 25.10 in the 200 and 56.76 in the 400 this season. Prieto has marks of 38-10 in the triple jump and 17-10 in the long jump.