Arakawa claims conference title, Nielsen, Buchanan and Osborn also earn podium spots in day two of conference meet
The Eastern Washington University track and field teams opened the Big Sky Indoor Championships Friday (Feb. 28) in Pocatello, Idaho and made history early, grabbing four all-conference honors and other strong mark with scoring implications.
Jordan Arakawa, Zack Nielsen and Jon Buchanan kicked off the meet in incredible fashion, completing an Eastern sweep in the men’s weight throw. Arakawa uncorked a throw of 65-8 3/4 to claim his first career Big Sky title. Nielsen (63-9 1/2) and Buchanan (63-5 1/2) each added personal best-throws to grab the other two spots on the podium.
Those marks for Nielsen and Buchanan move them up to third and fourth in all-time at Eastern behind Arakawa and school-record holder David Paul. It also marks just the second time in school history EWU has swept an event since Mike Erickson, Mike Krings and Mike Uhlenkott swept the pole vault at the 2005 outdoor championships.
“Our rich thrower history added a performance tonight that may be the most impressive chapter our thrower’s program has ever experienced,” said head men’s coach Stan Kerr. “The sweep was exhilarating. Everyone on the team was fired up watching this stellar trio take over the competition.”
Competing in his first Big Sky meet, Trenton Osborn had a mark of 23-3 1/4 in the long jump to place second, earning the freshman All-Big Sky honors. He came just two inches away from taking the league title (23-5 1/4). Phil Puccino also earned points for Eastern in the event, placing seventh with a leap of 22-7 1/4.
“Trenton announced his presence to the Big Sky with his silver-medal performance,” said Kerr. “He will no longer be a secret in this conference.”
In the men’s 400, junior Brad Michael won his heat with a time of 48.52 to qualify for finals. Freshman Austin Upmeyer ran a personal-best time of 48.72, placing second in his heat and also advancing. Those times rank second and third going into the finals tomorrow.
“Brad and Austin shined in the 400 prelims,” said Kerr. “I’m proud of their efforts and they are looking forward to doing something special tomorrow.”
In the women’s 5,000, Berenice Penaloza (17:54.98), Sarah Reiter (17:56.99) and Catie Arrigoni (17:57.24) placed fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively.
“Our women’s distance crew ran a strategic race and it paid off,” said head women’s coach Marcia Mecklenburg. “I couldn’t be prouder of Berenice, Sarah and Catie. They came in ranked to score three points and ended up getting nine.”
Nick Stearns fought through an ankle injury to place eight in the pole vault with a jump of 15-5, grabbing a point for the Eagles.
Steven Warner, who entered the 60-meter hurdles ranked third going in, flinched and stumbled out of the blocks in his prelim, running a time of 8.34 to rank ninth and just miss the finals.
The men’s distance medley relay ran a time of 10:38.78, placing ninth and just missing out on scoring points.
On Thursday, Jozie Kimes placed 11th in the pentathlon with a personal-best score of 3,343. That mark continues to rank the sophomore third all-time at Eastern, but moved her closer to the No. 1 (3,360) and No. 2 (3,356) marks in school history.
In team scoring, the Eastern men sit third with 35 points, and the women are ninth with nine.
“Championships come with highs and lows and that was no different today,” said Kerr. “The performances from today should give us great momentum into tomorrow.”