Eastern gets three national qualifiers along with six top-20 performances at West Preliminary Rounds
The often-underestimated Eastern Washington University track and field teams capped off the NCAA West Preliminary Round Meet Saturday (May 31) in Fayetteville, Ark., totaling 10 improvements on previous rankings and three national-qualifying performances.
“I think this was our best showing at the NCAA Preliminary Round,” said head women’s coach Marcia Mecklenburg.
Olivia Midles was the final competitor for the Eagles Saturday, finishing 19th in the hammer throw with a toss of 183-7. Her mark was the sixth-best in the second flight and ranked 10th with one flight remaining, but she was knocked out of the top 16 after the third flight, just missing finals by three spots. 185-8 was the last mark to get into finals (Annemie Smith, Iowa), and 189-4 nabbed Illinois State’s Jianna Williams the 12th spot to qualify for Nationals. Midles did however improve four spots from her ranking of 23rd heading into the meet.
“Olivia ended the competition for us placing 19th and as with most of the Eastern athletes that competed, she finished higher than what she went in ranked,” said Mecklenburg.
Improvement on previous rankings was the theme for the Eagles during the weekend in Arkansas, as eight Eastern athletes placed higher in their respective events than they were predicted to.
Two of those improvements sparked Emma Murillo and Catie Arrigoni to National Championship berths. Murillo placed 10th in the javelin with a toss of 156-11 Thurdsay after coming in 24th. Arrigoni, who had the 26th-best time in the 3,000-meter steeplechase prior to the race, clocked a new school record of 10:14.99 Friday to place 12th and earn the last qualifying spot.
Jordan Arakawa is the third NCAA qualifier for Eastern, as he placed 12th in the hammer throw with a toss of 202-4. His personal-best mark of 219-3 sat seventh heading into the competition.
The Eagles who made the biggest jumps in rankings were Katie Mahoney and Jon Buchanan. Mahoney raced to a new school record of 4:24.05 in the 1,500, jumping 20 spots from the 43rd ranking to place 23rd and just missing Saturday’s quarterfinals. Buchanan was 31st in the shot put going in, but placed 21st.
Mahoney also placed 15th in the steeplechase (ranked 18th) and Buchanan was 40th in the hammer (ranked 46th). The other Eastern athletes to join the position-jumping trend included Paula Gil-Echevarria (steeplechase, 43rd to 32nd), Zack Nielsen (hammer, 21st to 16th) and Morgan Romey (shot put, 46th to 44th).
The season continues for Eastern’s Murillo, Arakawa and Arrigoni, as the three have earned a trip to Eugene, Ore., for the NCAA Division I Championships on June 11-14 at Historic Hayward Field.
“Overall, it was a great way for the majority of these athletes to finish their season or career and an exciting next step for Emma, Catie and Jordan as they continue on to Nationals in Eugene,” said Mecklenburg.