Pair of talented throwers honored for success athletically and academically
Junior women’s track and field student-athlete Olivia Midles and senior men’s track and field student-athlete Zack Nielsen have been selected by the Eastern Washington University Athletic Department as the May Scholar-Athletes of the Month, announced Thursday, May 1.
Midles is an exercise science/pre-physical therapy major with a 3.74 grade point average after graduating from Capital High School in Olympia, Wash., in 2010. Nielsen, a 2009 graduate of Lindbergh High School in Renton, Wash., is majoring in exercise science with a 3.3 grade point average.
Competing in her home ring, Midles uncorked a personal-best of 195-10 in the hammer throw at the Pelluer Invitational on April 12 to place first. That mark broke the meet and stadium record formerly held by Eastern’s Nicole Luckenbach, who had a toss of 193-0 at the 2010 Pelluer. Her father, Dwight, also owns the meet and stadium record of 224-10, which he set in 1979 competing for Club Northwest.
Midles’ throw continues to rank second in school history, but she has inched closer to Luckenbach’s school record of 199-8 set in 2010. She sits third in the Big Sky Conference, 21st in the West Region and 34th in the nation amongst Division I competitors. Additionally, that throw ranks eighth all-time in the Big Sky.
Other strong performances in the month of April for Midles include a throw of 190-2 in the open section at the prestigious Mt. SAC Relays (fifth) and a first-place finish at the Duane Hartman Invitational (184-3).
Midles has placed second in the hammer in each of her two career Big Sky Outdoor Championship appearances (2011: 181-2, 2013: 180-10). During the 2014 indoor season, Midles had a personal best of 55-5 3/4 to rank seventh in school history. She went on to place eighth in the event at the indoor conference meet. Academically, she has been named to five Big Sky All-Academic teams and also earned United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Academic All-America honors in 2011.
Like Midles, Nielsen also experienced a breakthrough in the hammer at the Pelluer Invite, eclipsing the 200-feet plateau for the first time in his career with a toss of 200-10 to place second behind teammate Jordan Arakawa. That mark moved Nielsen up to fifth in school history. He has strung together consistent throws in the hammer in April, including distances of 193-1 (Mt. SAC) and 198-7 (Duane Hartman).
Nielsen also made his mark in the discus, as he had a personal-best throw of 170-2 at the Beach Invitational on April 19, giving him the No. 10 spot all-time at Eastern.
Nielsen currently sits third in the hammer and fifth in the discus on the Big Sky performance lists. His hammer mark ranks 22nd in the Division I West Region and 57th in the nation.
Indoors, Nielsen has put together two All-Big Sky performances in the weight throw. He is coming off a historic one-two-three sweep in the men’s weight throw at the Big Sky Indoor Championships back in February, placing in between teammates Arakawa (65-8 3/4, first) and Jon Buchanan (63-5 1/2, third) with a career best of 63-9 1/2. It marked just the second time in school history EWU has swept an event since Mike Erickson, Mike Krings and Mike Uhlenkott did so in the pole vault at the 2005 outdoor championships. That throw ranks Nielsen third in school history. He was third in the weight throw at the 2012 indoor conference meet and fifth in 2011.
Nielsen has placed fourth in the hammer in each of his two recent outdoor conference meets with distances of 183-3 (2012) and 187-8 (2011). Academically, he has been named to two consecutive Big Sky All-Academic teams.
May – Olivia
Midles (Women’s Track & Field)
and Zack Nielsen (Men’s Track
April – Keisa Monterola (Women's Track & Field) and Jordan Arakawa (Men's Track & Field)
March – Hayley Hodgins (Women's Basketball) and Venky Jois (Men's Basketball)
February – Lexie Nelson (Women's Basketball) and Tyler Harvey (Men's Basketball)
January – Aubrey Ashenfelter (Women’s Basketball) and Ashton Miller (Football)
December – Allie Schumacher (Volleyball) and Cooper Kupp (Football)
November – Katie Mahoney (Women’s Cross Country) and Ronnie Hamlin (Football)
October – Cassie Black (Women’s Soccer) and Ashton Clark (Football)