Seven Eastern Athletes Hit Qualifying Marks Friday

Women’s 4x400 relay runs second fastest time in school history

The Eastern Washington University track and field team nabbed seven more Big Sky qualifying marks in two different locations Friday (Jan. 25) at the Montana State Open in Bozeman, Mont., and the UW Invitational in Seattle, Wash.

“It was a really solid effort by a group of really great athletes,” said men’s head coach Stan Kerr, “The team supported each other well and we had some fantastic performances.”
Highlighting the night in Bozeman for the Eagles was the women’s 4x400 relay, who ran a time of 3:50.12 to rank second all-time at Eastern. They now sit second behind Montana State on the conference performance list, pending other results from around the conference this weekend.

“I’m grinning because of that outstanding 4x400 relay,” said Kerr.

Vince Hamilton
and Chris Schroll each qualified for the Big Sky Championships in the 5,000 meters at the UW Invite. Hamilton ran a time of 14:24.52 to rank fourth all-time in school history. Schroll’s time of 14:55.10 also moved him into the record books, now ranking him 10th all-time.

“Vince and Chris showed us the caliber of athletes we have on our distance squad,” said Kerr, “The guys they displaced on that top ten list are no scrubs either.”

Eastern shined particularly in the high jump at the MSU Open, with three athletes each having qualifying performances. Cody Fishel and Thomas Kassa both cleared a height of 6-6 3/4 to book their tickets for the Championships. Fishel placed first while Kassa’s personal-best earned him a third-place finish.

“We know Thomas is a bundle of talent and he came back and hit a qualifying mark,” said Kerr, “He’s going to be a contributor from this point forward.”

Senior Elise Jepsen had a qualifying mark of 5-5 in the high jump that moved her up to eighth all-time at Eastern.

Junior Michael Okoro qualified for his second event on the season, placing first in the 200 meters with a time of 21.89. He also hit the qualifying mark in the 400 two weekends ago at the UW Indoor Preview (48.98).

“Michael is standing on solid ground in the conference already having those two qualifying marks,” said Kerr.

Sophomore Nick Stearns had a jump of 15-5 in the pole vault to also qualify for the conference meet.

“Nick’s been working hard and that’s a monkey off of his back,” said Kerr. “Now he can work on those things that will move him up on the Big Sky lists.”

Other Eagles on the bubble of hitting Big Sky marks were Brad Michael and Whitney Leavitt in the 200. Michael ran 22.15 and Leavitt ran 25.24, just missing the standards of 22.10 and 25.10, respectively.

Eastern has now attained a total of 15 qualifying marks on the season, with the men having 10 and the women having five. Those qualifying athletes will be heading back to Bozeman in less than a month for the BSC Championships (Feb. 22-23).

Competition at the UW Invitational resumes for the Eagles Saturday (Jan. 26).

“Coach Mecklenburg and I look at the effort put into competing, the focus we bring to the meet and the results that come from that tenacity,” said Kerr, “I expect us to continue bringing the same attitude moving forward.”
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