May 16, 2014

Arrigoni, Buchanan Claim Big Sky Titles in Flagstaff

Five Eagle All-Conference performances highlight third day of Big Sky Championships

The Eastern Washington University track and field teams opened up the third day of the Big Sky Outdoor Championships Friday (May 16) by earning two individual titles, three additional All-Conference performances and several other strong scoring marks at Lumberjack Stadium in Flagstaff, Arizona.

In team scoring through seven events, the EWU women sit third with 38 points behind Northern Arizona (71) and Montana State (39). The Eagle men are currently fifth with 24 points. The Montana State men lead with 50 points and Northern Arizona is second with 45.

“I am glad to see we are currently third as a team,” said head women’s coach Marcia Mecklenburg. “We have some strong events tomorrow so it will be fun to see what we can pull off.”

Catie Arrigoni, a transfer from Everett Community College, made the most out of her first outdoor conference meet as an Eagle, winning the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 10:58.30. Katie Mahoney clocked a time of 11:07.24, placing third and joining Arrigoni on the podium. Freshman Paula Gil-Echevarria (11:11.79) finished fifth and the one-three-five finish gave the Eagle women a quick 20 points.

“What a great day for our distance crew,” said Mecklenburg. “Catie’s win was the highlight for the team. Katie and Paula also put together very strong races and got some big points for us.”

“The race was really hard,” said Arrigoni. “Within the second lap, I noticed (the altitude) and realized it was going to be difficult. I love steeplechase though and it’s really competitive. It’s a change from the doing the 1,500 or the 5K and to win was really big for me. I didn’t think it was possible but I kept telling myself it was. It’s a big accomplishment and I’m really proud.”

Senior Jon Buchanan started off his eighth and final Big Sky appearance with a bang, claiming the conference title in the shot put with an outdoor personal-best throw of 57-11 3/4. Buchanan, who moved into fourth in school history with that mark, is not done this weekend as he will also compete in the hammer throw Saturday.

“Jon is a Big Sky Conference Champion, period,” said head men's coach Stan Kerr. “Coach Mecklenburg had Jon ready and he delivered in a huge way by crushing a good shot put field on the way to his title as the best in the conference. He’s been a shining star in our program and will be missed.” 

“It feels really good; it’s the first (gold medal) I’ve won,” said Buchanan. “The competition started a little slow but it started to pick up when finals started and it took me a while to get into it. It’s mixed feelings because I didn’t throw what I wanted to throw, but I’m still really happy that I won.”

Nick Stearns cleared a height of 16-8 3/4 in the pole vault, setting a new school record and placing second. In the process of earning the third All-Conference performance of his career, Stearns also claimed the top spot in school history, bumping down Ben Cogdill (16-8 1/4, 2010).

“Nick had a clutch performance in the pole vault earning not only a silver medal, but a new school record,” said Kerr. “ That is phenomenal and he still has another year of eligibility.”

Sarah Reiter ran a time of 37:27.92 in the 10,000, placing third and grabbing Eastern’s fifth All-Big Sky performance of the day. 

“Sarah ran a really smart and gutsy race,” said Mecklenburg. “She added to a very strong day by the women’s distances and that should provide some momentum into tomorrow.”

Emma Murillo got off a personal best of 186-1 in the hammer, finishing fourth overall and grabbing the No. 3 spot all-time at Eastern. Freshman Kelsie Forcier was seventh with a toss of 180-0, while Olivia Midles (174-6) finished 11th and Vania Tauvela was 13th (173-5). Tauvela threw a personal best in her last meet as an Eagle, which is the eighth-best mark in school history.

“Emma competed well in a stacked hammer field,” said Mecklenburg. “I was pleased with Kelsie’s performance as well. She definitely has a future in that event.”

Murillo also finished seventh in the discus with a throw of 150-3, earning two more points for the Eagles. 

Freshman Trenton Osborn had a mark of 23-0 in the long jump, placing sixth. Joey Payne also added a sixth-place finish, as the sophomore had a toss of 194-1 in the javelin.

Two Eagles put together performances in the prelims with strong scoring implications. Steven Warner ran a big seasonal best of 14.30 in the 100 hurdles, a time that ranks second going into finals. The senior was just two milliseconds off the school record of 14.28 set by Michael Dwyer in 1998. 

“Steven rolled in the hurdles and has a showdown in tomorrow's final,” said Kerr. “Steven is a senior and it was a joy to see him place himself in a strong position to contend for the hurdle title.”  

Brad Michael raced to an outdoor personal-best of 47.17 in the 400, the second-fastest time in the prelims to Idaho State’s Jesse Sorenson (47.16). Michael also moved up a spot in the record books, now ranking third in school history.

“Brad also had a stellar day,” said Kerr. “His effort, like Steven's, puts him in a great spot to join Jon as a gold medalist.”

Saturday will be the final day of the Big Sky Championships. Field events begin at 10 a.m. and track events will kick off at noon (PST).

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