Fresh off a Big Sky title, junior thrower continues stellar postseason by earning a trip to Eugene for the national meet
Less than two weeks ago, the presumably-underrated Emma Murillo shocked the Big Sky field. Now the junior has done it again on an even bigger stage and has extended her season another two weeks as a result.
The Eastern Washington University track and field thrower kept the momentum of her tremendous postseason performances going, as she booked her ticket to Eugene, Ore., for the NCAA Division I Championships by placing in the top 12 in the women’s javelin at the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds in Fayetteville, Ark., on Thursday (May 29).
“Emma punched her ticket to the NCAA meet and I am so happy and thrilled for her!,” said head women’s coach Marcia Mecklenburg. “It was a solid mark and the second-best throw in her career.”
She eclipsed 150-feet for the second-straight meet, reaching 156-11 on her second throw. That was the eighth-best mark heading into the final round of 16. Despite being knocked down two spots in the finals, the junior’s second-best mark of the season held up as she finished 10th overall after coming in ranked 24th.
“Kudos to javelin coach Aaron Mettler and all the work he put in coaching our javelin throwers this year,” said Mecklenburg. “It was a fantastic showing not only for Emma but for him.”
Prior to the Big Sky Championships, Murillo had a then-seasonal best of 137-3, but she uncorked an enormous personal best of 158-2 to win her first Big Sky title and cement her spot at Fayetteville. She becomes just the eighth Eastern female to earn a trip to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, and will be the fourth to compete in the javelin there. Murillo’s former teammates Keisa Monterola (2012) and Michelle Coombs (2009) are the most recent Eagles to qualify for the meet. The national meet will be contested on June 11-14.
Sophomore Katie Mahoney also performed strong for the Eagles, placing seventh in her heat of the 1,500. She ran a time of 4:24.05, breaking her own school record. Mahoney ran the 23rd-fastest time amongst the field, but was unfortunately the first runner to miss the cut for quarterfinals on Saturday. To qualify for the quarterfinals, athletes had to either place in the top five in their heat or have one of the next four fastest times in the field. That format boded well for Stanford’s Cami Chapus (4:24.09) and Iowa State’s Maggie Gannon (4:24.27), who got the nod for quarters over Mahoney by placing fourth and fifth in the first heat, respectively. Mahoney did however improve heavily on her ranking of 43rd coming into the race.
“Katie is one more race experienced at the preliminary round level and what a race for her,” said Mecklenburg. “She broke her own school record and her favorite event is yet to come.”
Mahoney’s weekend is not over, as she will compete in the 3,000-meter steeplechase Friday with teammates Catie Arrigoni and Paula Gil-Echevarria. Mahoney also owns the school record in the steeplechase and is ranked 18th heading into the race.
Senior Jon Buchanan made a valiant effort in the shot put, placing 21st with a throw of 57-2 1/4, just missing the 16-athlete final by under eight inches. The Big Sky Champion in the event had an outdoor-personal best of 57-11 3/4 at the conference meet. Buchanan’s weekend is also not done, as he will join teammates Jordan Arakawa and Zack Nielsen in the hammer throw Friday.
“I felt Jon competed hard today, but came up a bit short in his quest to advance in the shot” said head men’s coach Stan Kerr. “We’re looking forward to Jon and the rest of the hammer throwers taking on highly-competitive fields tomorrow.”
Courtney Bray, who won the Big Sky title in her first outdoor appearance, finished 36th in the pole vault. The freshman cleared 12-3 1/4 on her second attempt, but was unable to clear the bar at 12-9.
Making her first appearance in the preliminary rounds, sophomore Morgan Romey placed 44th in the shot put with a toss of 44-8 1/4.
“Our other two competitors Courtney and Morgan gained valuable experience in their events,” said Mecklenburg. “They didn’t finish as well as they had hoped but what they learned today will help them a lot in the next couple of years.”
Sophomore Joey Payne had a throw of 175-4 in the javelin in his second-straight regional appearance, finishing 47th.
Two of Eastern’s strongest events: the men’s hammer throw and the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, will each be contested Friday (May 30). Arakawa, Nielsen and Buchanan will open the day with the hammer at 8 a.m. (10 CST). Fittingly, Mahoney, Arrigoni and Gil-Echevarria will close Friday’s competition with the steeplechase set to start at 7:30 p.m. (9:30 CST).