Arrigoni breaks school record as Eagles bring national-qualifier total to three
Top-12 was the mindset going in for Eastern Washington University track and field athletes Catie Arrigoni and Jordan Arakawa, and after two stellar performances, they earned a trip to the collegiate sport’s biggest stage after they each placed 12th in their respective events at the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds Friday (May 30) in Fayetteville, Ark.
Arrigoni, who came into the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase fresh off a Big Sky title, raced to a time of 10:14.99 to place fifth in her heat. That was the 12th-fastest time in the field, improving mightily on her ranking of 26th coming in and qualifying the Everett Community College transfer for the NCAA National Championships in Eugene, Ore., on June 11-14. Arrigoni also claimed a new school record in the process, breaking teammate Katie Mahoney’s record of 10:17.34 set earlier in the season.
“Catie led the steeplechase crew, qualifying for nationals with a new school record,” said head women’s coach Marcia Mecklenburg. “It was a gutsy performance for Catie, who is only in her second year of running the steeple.”
Mahoney clocked a time of 10:20.21 in the first heat, placing sixth and ending up 15th overall, just three spots off a national bid. Paula Gil-Echevarria was 32nd overall with a 10:35.14. The top three finishers from each heat plus the next three fastest times earned NCAA bids.
“Katie just missed qualifying and Paula also ran well,” said Mecklenburg. “I couldn’t be more proud of all three women. It was a great showing for our Eastern distance program.”
Arrigoni will join EWU teammate Emma Murillo at nationals, as the pair will be just the 10th and 11th Eagle females to make it to the meet in school history. Arrigoni also becomes just the second Eastern female distance runner to qualify for NCAA’s outdoors, the last being Mattie Bridgmon in 2008 (5,000). Murillo qualified Thursday in the javelin, placing 10th with a throw of 156-11.
Competing in his third outdoor regional appearance, Arakawa also claimed a qualifying spot for Eugene, placing 12th in the hammer throw with a toss of 202-4. Despite fouling on two of his first three throws, Arakawa advanced to the finals, having the ninth-best mark going in. Teammate Zack Nielsen had a throw of 197-4, nabbing the 16th and final spot and earning three more throws.
Nielsen was unable to improve on his mark, finishing 16th overall in the senior’s final meet as an Eagle. Arakawa threw 200-2 on his first attempt in finals, and fouled on his next two attempts. The junior out of Capital High School got bumped down to the 12th spot, but held on to earn his first NCAA appearance. Arakawa becomes just the eighth Eagle male to qualify for the meet and the second to compete in the hammer.
“Jordan’s hammer performance today was a great testimony to being ready for big-time competition,” said head men’s coach Stan Kerr. “It was a fun and nerve-sawing type of day, but in the end, he performed well and now heads to Eugene to take on the best collegiate hammer throwers in the nation.”
Senior Jon Buchanan had a toss of 183-10 in the hammer, capping his career with a 40th-place finish. He was 21st in the shot put Thursday.
Eastern will have one more competitor in Saturday’s action (May 31) in Fayetteville. Olivia Midles will compete in the hammer throw, starting at 8 a.m. (10 CST). The junior is ranked 23rd heading into the meet.