Buchanan, Humphrey and Wall each become double qualifiers; Mannucci also hits conference standard
Competing in the inaugural meet held at recently built Donna Larsen Park in Boise, Idaho, the Eastern Washington University track and field team claimed five facility records as well as four more Big Sky Conference qualifying marks at the All-Idaho Cup Friday and Saturday (April 5-6).
“This meet provided more competition and experience for all of our athletes,” said head women’s coach Marcia Mecklenburg. “It was good to be able to go up against Weber State and Idaho State and see where we stack up against other conference members.”
Jon Buchanan hit a Big Sky qualifying mark for the second time this season, this time in the shot put with a throw of 53-11 to win the meet and set a new facility record. Buchanan is also qualified in the hammer throw.
“Jon had a tough fall on one of his earlier throws but went on to throw a season-best mark. That’s a testimony to him throwing well in not the best of the conditions,” said Kerr.
Senior Brad Wall ran a time of 21.88 in the 200 on Friday to qualify for the BSC Championships. That is the second event he has qualified for on the season, as he has also hit the standard in the 400.
“Brad’s time was particularly strong because he ran it in an outside lane against a very stacked field,” said Kerr. “He also set the tone for the weekend and it was inspiring for our other athletes.”
Junior Morena Mannucci booked her ticket for the conference meet in May, getting a qualifying mark of 37-9 1/4 in the triple jump to place third overall.
“Being a couple meets into the season already, we are striving to get more athletes qualified for conference,” said Mecklenburg, “so it was great to see Morena add some depth to that group.”
EWU wasn't only hitting qualifying marks in Boise however, as Cody Humphrey also hit the Big Sky standard in the discus at the Sam Adams Classic in Spokane, Wash., with a personal-best mark of 157-5. He is also qualified in the shot put.
With it being the first meet held at Donna Larsen Park, which was built in the fall of 2012, event winners at the meet also became facility record holders for the time being. Aside from Buchanan, four other facility records were set by Eastern.
One of the big highlights on the day for the Eagles came at the end of the meet when the team of Kramer Green, Collin Green, Brad Michael and Wall ran away for the win in the 4x400 relay, running a time of 3:12.44. That time ranks fourth in school history and also would put the group atop the Big Sky performance list, pending results from around the conference this weekend.
“That was EWU’s fastest 4x400 time since 2006, which says great things about that group,” said Kerr. “It will send a strong message to the Big Sky that our goal is to not only be on top of the podium at conference but also challenge for a regional spot.”
Redshirt freshman Katie Mahoney won the 1,500 with a time of 4:38.46, just missing the qualifying time of 4:36. She also came close to hitting the conference standard in the 800, placing eighth in a time of 2:16.42, just under two seconds from the Big Sky mark of 2:14.50. Each of those times also vaulted her into the top ten lists at EWU (1,500: ninth all-time, 800: 10th all-time).
“I was really excited for Katie, that had to be thrilling for her and coach Zeller,” said Mecklenburg, “Especially with the fact that she ran against some Big Sky schools with strong distance programs.”
Vince Hamilton ran a time of 14:50.70 in the 5,000 meters, placing first overall.
Phil Puccino won the triple jump with a mark of 47-2 1/2. He also cleared the best height on the day in the high jump with a mark of 6-6 3/4, but did so on his third jump, placing him third overall behind two competitors who cleared it on their second jump.
Wall, Michael and Puccino teamed up with freshman Obinna Nnadi in the 4x100 relay to run a time of 41.45 to place second. That time ranks ninth in EWU school history.
The Eagles have now collected 29 qualifying marks on the season, with the men having 16 and the women having 13. The BSC Outdoor Championships will be held May 8-11 in Portland, Ore.
Eastern will split up competitors next weekend, as they will send a few selective athletes to Las Vegas, Nev., for the UNLV Randall Cunningham Invitational on April 13.
“We will be taking athletes with regional qualifying caliber to Vegas,” said Kerr. “It’s a great opportunity for them and it should be a highly-competitive meet.”
The remainder of the team will stay close to home and compete at the WAOR VI in Spokane, Wash., also on April 13.
“The WAOR has become such a big meet and the fields usually generate solid competition. It’s a really great chance for individuals to shine,” said Kerr.