Nick Stearns & Courtney Bray Earn Big Sky AOTW Honors
Eastern pole vaulters recognized by conference for seasonal bests in Idaho
Nick Stearns and Courtney Bray of the Eastern Washington University track and field teams were selected as the Big Sky Conference men’s and women’s field athletes of the week after putting together big seasonal-best performances in the pole vault at the Vandal Jamboree on May 10 in Moscow, Idaho.
Entering the meet with a then-seasonal best of 15-11, Stearns cleared the bar at 16-5 1/2, placing second overall. Stearns’ personal best of 16-6 3/4 came at the same meet during the 2013 outdoor season, a jump that ranks fourth in school history. His mark from Saturday ranks third in the conference this season behind Montana’s Keith Webber (17-2 3/4) and Idaho State’s Clint Gossack (16-8 3/4).
The junior out of Pahrump Valley High School was second at last year’s Big Sky Outdoor Championships with a vault of 16-3 1/2. He was also third as a freshman indoors with a jump of 15-11. Indoors, Stearns ranks third in school history in the vault (16-2 3/4) and fifth in the heptathlon (4,729).
In the midst of a stellar freshman season, Bray had another personal-best height in the pole vault, this time jumping 13-6 1/4 to place second at Idaho behind former teammate and school-record holder Keisa Monterola. It was her fourth jump of the season over or near the 13-foot plateau.
Bray moved up a spot in the record books with that mark, now sitting third in school history behind Monterola (14-0) and Robin Taylor (13-7 1/4) outdoors. The freshman from Mead, Wash., now ranks fifth all-time in the Big Sky as well. She currently holds the top spot on the conference performance lists ahead of Montana State’s Casey Teska (12-11 3/4) and Idaho State’s Rebecca Clark and Samantha Simmons (12-6 1/4). Her mark also has strong postseason implications, as it ranks 17th in the West Region and 35th nationally amongst Division I competitors.
Bray is coming off a fourth-place conference finish indoors, where she had a mark of 12-10 to rank fourth all-time at Eastern.
This both Stearns’ and Bray’s first career Athlete of the Week award. Eastern has racked up the conference honors this season, as Jordan Arakawa has been named men’s field AOTW four times and Katie Mahoney was named women’s track AOTW for the week of April 22. An EWU athlete has been recognized by the conference in six of the eight weeks the honors have been given this outdoor season. Eastern didn’t have a meet the previous weekend when the first outdoor honors of the season were given on March 25.
Stearns will be gunning after his third career All-Big Sky performance this weekend, and Bray will be looking to get on the podium for the first time as Eastern heads to Flagstaff, Ariz., for the BSC Outdoor Championships on May 14-17.