Eagle men and women sit in third and eighth place, respectively, as they head into day two of conference championships
Behind incredible performances from freshmen Nick Stearns and Brad Michael and junior Zach Nielsen, the Eastern Washington University track and field team got off to a hot start at the Big Sky Conference Indoor Championships Friday night (Feb. 24) in Flagstaff, Ariz., in the Walkup Skydome.
Michael broke the indoor school record in the men’s 400-meter dash with a time of 47.24. The time has seeded him No. 2 in the final race tomorrow afternoon. Also seeded in the same race, at No. 4, is senior Brad Wall who ran a time of 47.94. Wall has claimed the 400 title in the past three track championships. Michael Okoro qualified for Saturday’s finals in both the 200- and 400-meter run.
“Brad Michael is as hard of working and committed athlete to the sport you could imagine,” said men’s head coach Stan Kerr. “Michael came in and immediately embraced the opportunity to work with Brad Wall and Michael Okoro, two conference champions. He has fun with them and works his tail of to work with them. It has made the whole sprint group better.”
Stearns, a Pahrump, Nev., native, hit a personal record of 15-11 in the pole vault to claim third place and all-conference honors. Before the meet, Stearns was seeded No. 10 in the vault without even earning an automatic bid prior to the meet.
“He competed really well tonight,” said assistant coach Eric Allison. “His run and take were really well. We were able to make adjustments all season. He’s been ready to go, but he just never quite made it. He did a great job. I’m really proud of him.”
Nielsen was EWU’s other all-conference athlete after his throw of 59-7 in the weight throw. Jordan Arakawa and Jon Buchanan also scored in the weight throw, placing seventh and eighth, respectively.
The men currently sit in third place in the overall team standings.
On the women’s side, Whitney Leavitt qualified for Saturday’s final in both the 60- and 200-meter dashes.
“I’m really proud of Whitney today,” said women’s head coach Marcia Mecklenburg. “She was not seeded to move on to the finals in either event, so we’re going to score some points that we weren’t expecting.”
Junior Keisa Monterola and senior Shene Davis both scored in the long jump, finishing fourth and fifth, respectively. Monterola and Davis will both be in action tomorrow. Monterola, the conference record-holder in the pole vault, will look to claim her first conference title in the event. Davis will be looking for a crown in the triple jump.
Senior Mari Bingham scored in the shot put, placing fourth with a personal-best throw of 46-04.
Other scorers include Kyle King (fifth in men’s 5,000), Elise Jepsen (sixth in women’s high jump) and both men’s and women’s distance medley teams (eighth place each).
“I was really pleased with how the women did today,” said Mecklenburg of the women’s eighth-place start. “We placed higher than where we were seeded in a lot of the events.”
“The coaching staff is just really proud of the effort from the team today,” said Kerr. “With the team cheering from the stands and athletes performing on the track, it makes us proud. It’s a very talented team and they’re very good at what they do. It’s difficult to get the marks they got today.”