Four years ago, the Cascade Conference women’s track and field trophy came back to Caldwell with the league-champion Yotes. A one-year stay turned to two, two years turned to three, and now, it’s starting to look like the trophy may have a permanent home at The College of Idaho.
The Coyote women’s track team capped a banner season by dominating the CCC championships this year. They won gold in 11 individual events and hoisted the CCC trophy for a fourth consecutive time. That’s back-to-back-to-back-to-back, if you’re counting.
“It was awesome, because there were only 15 of us girls, so it was the smallest team we’ve ever had,” said senior sprinter Tiana Thomas. “We all had to fight for it.”
Thomas and fellow senior Nichole DeGrange never lost a CCC championship during their collegiate track careers. And while talented team members have come and gone, the Yotes’ success on the track has remained the same.
“Our coaching staff is huge,” Thomas said. “They work so hard for us and it makes us want to work hard for them, too. We have developed this team culture of fighting to win conference every year, no matter who’s on the team.”
And fight for conference they did.
Thomas claimed titles in the 400-meter dash, 100-meter hurdles, 400-meter hurdles, and the heptathlon on her way to being named CCC Women’s Track Athlete of the Year and NAIA West Region Track Athlete of the Year. DeGrange added titles in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, and both she and Thomas were part of the winning 4x400-meter relay team. Sophomore Amy Pfaff took first in the 800-meter and 1,500-meter run.
The Yotes’ success wasn’t limited to the track. C of I sophomores Hayley Morse and Claire Otero claimed the top spots in shot put and discus, respectively. Otero, who threw a personal best and school-record 45.12 meters in discus, was named the CCC Field Athlete of the Year.
“In our meetings, Coach Pat McCurry said we’re going out there and we’re going to win conference for (Thomas and DeGrange), so they can graduate and leave here with that accomplishment,” Otero said.
While Otero will throw for the first time at the NAIA National Championships in Alabama (May 26-28), it will be Thomas’ final trip as she competes in her last collegiate track meet. But she’ll do it alongside girls who are not only teammates, but also supportive friends who make each lap around the track feel like fun.
“I’ll definitely be sad when it’s all over,” she said. “But, it will be fun to go out with the group of girls that are going. I wouldn’t want to have my last [national meet] with anyone else. And it’s cool because the throwers are coming for the first time in C of I history. Plus, I’ll be ending it with my best friend (DeGrange). It’ll be emotional, but super fun.”
The College of Idaho has a 125-year-old legacy of excellence. The C of I is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, four NFL players and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. For more information, visit www.collegeofidaho.edu.