University of Colorado track and field athletes Mark Jones and Alex Kizirian will be headed to Albuquerque, N.M. to compete in the USATF Indoor Championships the weekend of Feb. 21. They are the only CU athletes to qualify.
This is Jones’ second consecutive year participating in the event. His coach, Lindsey Malone, said the coaching staff is excited the two will represent the university at such a prestigious meet, as most athletes that qualify for this event are professionals or out of college. But Malone said she believes Jones is ready for the tough competition he will likely face.
“Last year, he was competing against multiple Olympians and world championship guys, and he wound up placing sixth as a sophomore,” Malone said. “I was very impressed with what he accomplished last year. It is a good environment for him.”
Although Jones participates in multiple events throughout the season, his primary focus is the high jump, and that is what he will be competing in for this upcoming meet.
Jones took first last weekend in the Husky Classic in Seattle, clearing 7-1 3/4. Malone said after a break this week, he should be well-rested for the upcoming meet.
There are two competitions left before the NCAA Indoor Championships in March for these two men: the one this weekend in New Mexico, and then another the following weekend in Seattle.
“Both are marked in the top 16 to go to NCAAs,” Malone said. “They need to stay in the top 16 in order to get in.”
Jones sits at position 13 on the NCAA list. In order to stay on that list, he needs a good showing in Albuquerque. Last weekend, he had a shot at jumping a height of 7-3. Malone said Jones lost his focus on the top of the jump, causing him to hit the bar on his way down.
“If he just does that jump again and continues his focus until he lands in the pit, then he has a 7-3 jump,” Malone said. “If he makes that height, he even has a chance of making the world championship team as a collegiate, which is an enormous honor to wear USA across your shoulders.”
Jones has been sick with a flu all week. Malone’s hope is that the week off of practice will offer him a good mindset entering the meet this weekend.
“The whole goal is that I haven’t had him practice all week in hopes that he will be rested, and his last memories will be his attempt at 7-3,” she said.
Alex Kizirian will be competing in the weight throw in Albuquerque. Last weekend in Seattle, Kizirian finished second with a throw of 67-4 3/4, his second-best attempt of the season.
Kizirian is currently ranked 14th on the NCAA list, which means he could qualify for the Indoor Championships in March. But for now, he is excited to represent Colorado in Albuquerque this weekend.
“It is a big honor for me to attend this meet with a CU uniform on,” Kizirian said. “I have never gone to a meet this big before. I’m just going to use it as another stepping stone for confidence to try to improve my personal record.”
Despite the fact that this weekend will be the largest stage Kizirian has performed on, he’s prepared, thanks to a solid week of training.
“It will be cool to see how well the professionals compete,” he said. “I have never competed against professionals. But in my mind, I am always competing against myself because in a meet you can’t control what other people do, but you can only strive to do your best.”
The event is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 21 through Sunday, Feb. 23.
Contact CU Independent Sports Editor Jillian Arja at firstname.lastname@example.org.