Eagles Entering Big Sky Outdoor Championships with a Chip on Their Shoulder
Both the men’s and women’s teams are using low projections as motivation
After three months of preparation and achieving 45 qualifying marks, the Eastern Washington University track and field team will head to Bozeman, Mont., for the 2012 Big Sky Conference Outdoor Championships this week. The meet is set to begin on Wednesday (May 9) with the two-day decathlon (men) and heptathlon (women) competitions. The regular part of the meet will be Friday and Saturday.
However, both the men’s and women’s team are going into the championship with a chip on their shoulder: The men are projected sixth, while the women are seventh. The low projections happen every season for the Eagles, and every season EWU exceeds them. The latest example was this past indoor season when the men finished with a school-record 88 points, good for third place at the championships. Last outdoor season, the men finished fourth and the women finished third, its highest placement ever.
“Polls are never valid,” said men’s head coach Stan Kerr. “We look at it as a motivator and a sign of disrespect to what we have done in the past. But with the caliber of athletes we have on our team now, we expect to prove people wrong again.”
“The women are picked seventh right now,” said women’s head coach Marcia Mecklenburg. “But every year we always do better than people expect us to do.”
Keisa Monterola is one of the Eagle athletes expected to help Eastern meet their goals. The Venezuelan pole vaulter is sitting first in the Big Sky with a mark of 14-0. She won the indoor championship with a height of 14-2, over a foot better than second place’s Caitlin Maulin (13-1 1/2) of Idaho State. But this time the gap between first and second has shrunk, as Maulin recently hit a mark of 13-7 1/4.
“Keisa won’t be alone at the top this time,” said Mecklenburg. “There is going to be someone there to push her to compete better. Hopefully, with the promising weather forecast, altitude and the tougher competition, Keisa will accomplish her goal.”
That goal is for her to qualify for the Olympics. Monterola’s best mark this year is 14-4, but she needs to reach 14-5 1/4 to hit the Olympic B standard, which would guarantee her a spot on the Venezuelan national team.
Shene Davis is looking to become an all-conference athlete (top three in an event) at the championships. As of now, she is ranked first in the conference in the long jump with a distance of 19-6 1/4. She is also fourth in the triple jump (39 1/4).
Whitney Leavitt and the women’s mile relay team are two reasons why the Eagles have exceeded expectations each year. Leavitt has never went into a conference championship ranked third or higher, yet earned all-conference honors twice in the relay events. The mile relay is ranked eighth as of now, the same place they were ranked going into the indoor championships. But at the championships, the relay team finished second.
Michelle Coombs, who was the conference champion in '09 with a throw of 163-1, is ranked third in the Big Sky at 150-2.
On the men’s side, Steven Warner, the indoor conference champion in the 60-meter hurdles, is hoping to accomplish back-to-back champion performances as he competes in the 110 hurdles. Also, Kersee Lind is coming into his last Big Sky Championship hoping to make some noise in the decathlon, where he is currently ranked third with a personal-best score of 6,735.
“Steven and Kersee are great competitors,” said Kerr. “Kersee is going to Bozeman with his eyes wide open. He knows exactly what to expect from the competition.”
The men’s throwers include Marlyn Anderson, Cody Humphrey, Jon Buchanan and Zach Nieslen, are all set to score high for the Eagles. All but Humphrey have qualified for multiple events.
“The throwing crew we’re bringing is a very experienced group,” said Kerr. “Zach is ranked fourth in both the hammer and discus, so we are looking for him to do very well. We also have our eyes on Marlyn; he’s been improving a lot this season.”
In the sprints, the reigning outdoor champion in the 200, Michael Okoro, is vying for a repeat. He is currently ranked ninth in the Big Sky with a time of 21.79.
Freshman phenom Brad Michael, who was all-conference indoors in the 400 after he set a school record in a time of 47.24, is ranked sixth in the 400 (48.18).
“Team wise, Northern Arizona is coming in with some outstanding depth and talent across the board,” said Kerr. “They’re going to be a force to be reckoned with. So for us, a team title may be unrealistic, but we’re still going to do our best to go after it. There are a number of individuals who will have some outstanding performances that could become the highlight of the meet.”
Meet Information – Big Sky Conference Outdoor Championships - http://www.msubobcats.com/sports/2012/5/4/TF_0504124242.aspx?path=trackfield
BIG SKY CONFERENCE QUALIFIERS
Big Sky Conference Championships – May 9-12 –
First Round NCAA Championships – May 24-26 – Austin, Texas.
NCAA Division I Outdoor Championships – June 6-9 - Des Moines, Iowa
School Records Broken: None
Total Big Sky Championships Qualifying Marks Attained: 28 (0 new marks from Vandal Jamboree)
400 Meters – 48.18 - Brad Michael -
Sprints – Fr. – HS - Vancouver, Wash.
5,000 Meters – 14:10.42– Kyle King - Distance - Sr. - 3L - Coupeville, Wash. / Coupeville HS '08
10,000 Meters – 29:40.08 – Kyle King - Distance - Sr. - 3L - Coupeville, Wash. / Coupeville HS '08
5,000 Meters – 14:41.55 – Bowe Ebding – Distance – Sr. – 3L – Walla Walla, Wash. / DeSales HS '07
10,000 Meters – 30:48.76 – Bowe Ebding – Distance – Sr. – 3L – Walla Walla, Wash. / DeSales HS '07
110 Hurdles – 14.59 – Steven Warner - Hurdles - So. - 1L - Kent, Wash. / Kentwood HS '09
Hammer – 175-11 – Jon Buchanan - Throws - So. - 1L – Yakima, Wash. / East Valley HS '09
Shot Put – 51-5 – Jon Buchanan - Throws - So. - 1L - Yakima, Wash. / East Valley HS '09
Hammer – 184-11– Zach Nielsen - Throws - So. - 1L - Snohomish, Wash. / Snohomish HS '09
Discus – 163 – Zach Nielsen - Throws - So. - 1L - Snohomish, Wash. / Snohomish HS '09
Discus – 156-11 – Cody Humphrey - Throws - Jr. - 1L - Hermiston, Ore. / Hermiston HS '09
Discus – 153-4 – Marlyn Anderson - Throws - Jr. - 2L - Snohomish, Wash. / Snohomish HS '09
Shot Put – 52-4 – Marlyn Anderson - Throws - Jr. - 2L - Snohomish, Wash. / Snohomish HS '09
800 Meters – 1:52.06 – Tim Pettit - Distance - So. - 1L - Kent, Wash. / Kentwood HS ‘10
800 Meters – 1:53.07 – Jordan Curnutt – Distance - Jr. - 2L - Spokane, Wash. / Mead HS '09
200 Meters – 21.79 – Michael Okoro - Sprints - So. - 1L - Lakewood, Wash. / Clover Park HS ’10
400 Hurdles – 53.83 – Kramer Green – Sprints/Hurdles - So. - 1L - Buckley, Wash. / White River HS '10
High Jump – 6-7 1/2 – Cody Fishel – Jumps - So. - 1L - Covington, Wash. / Kentwood HS '09
Javelin – 188-8 – Max Pratt - Throws - Fr. - HS - Auburn, Wash. / Auburn HS ‘11
Hammer – 175-4 – Jaime Alnassim - Throws - So. – 1L - Olympia, Wash. / Capital HS '10
400 Hurdles – 55.08 – Armon Blackwell - Hurdles - Fr. - HS – Lakewood, Wash. / Clover Park HS ‘11
Decathlon – 6,735 - Kersee Lind - Multi - Sr. – 3L - Hermiston, Ore. / Hermiston HS ‘07
High Jump – 6-5 1/2 - Kersee Lind - Multi - Sr. – 3L - Hermiston, Ore. / Hermiston HS ‘07
Decathlon – 6,273 – Tim Armstrong - Multi - Sr. – 1L - Spokane, Wash. / East Valley HS ‘06
110 Hurdles – 15.01 – Tim Armstrong - Multi - Sr. – 1L - Spokane, Wash. / East Valley HS ‘06
High Jump – 6-5 – Warren Millier – Multi – So. – 1L – St. John, Wash. / St. John Endicott HS ‘10
Long Jump – 22-10 1/2 – Phillip Puccino – Jumps – So. – 1L – Tacoma, Wash. / Steilacoom HS' 10
Triple Jump – 46-7 1/4 – Phillip Puccino – Jumps – So. – 1L – Tacoma, Wash. / Steilacoom HS' 10
Big Sky Conference Championships – May 9-12 –
First Round NCAA Championships – May 24-26 – Austin, Texas.
NCAA Division I Outdoor Championships – June 6-9 - Des Moines, Iowa School Records Broken: None
Total Big Sky Championships Qualifying Marks Attained: 17 (0 new marks from Vandal Jamboree)
Javelin – 150-2 – Michelle Coombs -
Throws/Jumps - Jr. - 1L - Hermiston, Ore. / Hermiston HS '08
Javelin – 137-8 – Taylor Walker - Throws - So. - SQ - Pullman, Wash. / Pullman HS '08
Javelin – 138-7 – Haley Tank - Throws - Fr. - HS - West Richland, Wash.
Shot Put – 45-4 1/2 – Mari Bingham - Throws - Sr. – 3L - Tacoma, Wash. / Mount Tahoma HS ‘07
Discus – 151-6 – Mari Bingham - Throws - Sr. – 3L - Tacoma, Wash. / Mount Tahoma HS ‘07
200 Meter – 24.79 – Whitney Leavitt - Sprints - Jr. – 3L - Benton City, Wash. / Kiona Benton HS '09
100 Meter – 12.25 – Whitney Leavitt - Sprints - Jr. – 3L - Benton City, Wash. / Kiona Benton HS '09
Pole Vault – 14-0 – Keisa Monterola - Jumps - Jr. – Caracas, Venezuela
Pole Vault – 13-0 1/4 – Robin Taylor - Jumps - So. – 1L - Blaine, Wash. / Blaine HS ‘10
Pole Vault – 11-7 3/4 – Amber Troyer - Jumps - So. – 1L - Spokane, Wash. / SCC
400 Meters – 57.14 – Angelica Rodriguez - Sprints - So. - 1L - Hermiston, Ore. / Hermiston HS '10
400 Meters – 57.33 – Nicole Nida - Sprints - Sr. - 3L - Cottonwood, Idaho / Prairie HS, ’07 / SCC
200 Meters – 25.20 – Nicole Nida - Sprints - Sr. - 3L - Cottonwood, Idaho / Prairie HS, ’07 / SCC
High Jump – 5-5 – Elise Jepsen - Jumps - Jr. - 2L - Kennewick, Wash. / Kamiakin HS '09
Steeplechase – 11:17.32 - Stephanie Dye - Distance - Sr. – 3L - Chatteroy, Wash. / Riverside HS ‘08
Long Jump – 19-6 1/4 - Shene Davis - Jumps - Sr. – 3L - Yakima, Wash. / Selah HS ‘07
Triple Jump – 39 1/4 - Shene Davis - Jumps - Sr. – 3L - Yakima, Wash. / Selah HS ‘07
RETURNING ALL-BIG SKY ATHLETES
The following Eagle athletes have earned All-Big Sky Conference honors (top three finish) in previous Big Sky Conference track and field championships (indoors and outdoors):
Jonathan Buchanan – (2011 Indoors: 3rd in
Kyle King – (2011 Indoors: Champion in 5,000, 3rd in 3,000)
Kersee Lind – (2012 Indoors: 3rd in heptathlon)
Brad Michael – (2012 Indoors: 2nd in 400, 3rd in 200)
Zach Nielsen – (2012 Indoors: 3rd in weight throw)
Michael Okoro (2011 Outdoors: Champion in 200)
Phillip Puccino – (2012 Indoors: 3rd in triple jump)
Nick Stearns – (2012 Indoors: 3rd in pole vault)
Brad Wall – (2012 Indoors: 3rd in 400; 2011 Outdoors: Champion in 400; 2011 Indoors: Champion in 400; 2010 Outdoors: Champion in 400)
Steven Warner (2012 Indoors: Champion in 60 hurdles)
4x400 Relay (2011 Outdoors: 3rd/Michael Okoro, Kramer Green, Collin Green, Brad Wall; 2012 Indoors: Champion/Collin Green, Michael Okoro, Brad Michael, Brad Wall)
4x100 Relay (2011 Outdoors: 2nd/Alex Flores, Michael Okoro, Kurt Williams, Brad Wall)
Michelle Coombs – (2009 Outdoors:
Champion in Javelin)
Shene Davis – (2012 Indoors: 2nd in long jump; 2011 Outdoors: 2nd in long jump)
Keisa Monterola - (2012 Indoors: Champion in pole vault)
Olivia Midles – (2011 Outdoors: 2nd in hammer throw)
Brianna Okoro - (2011 Outdoors: 3rd in long jump; 2010 Outdoors: Champion in 200, 3rd in 100, 3rd in long jump)
4x400 Relay – (2012 Indoors: 2nd/Whitney Leavitt, Nicole Nida, Angelica Rodriguez, Chelsea Lawhead)
Conference Preseason Polls
Voting is calculated with each team receiving nine points for a first place vote, eight points for a second place vote, etc. Coaches are allowed to vote for their respective teams. Below are the final results with the number of first place votes in parenthesis.
Team, Points (last year’s place)
Northern Arizona, 77 – 6 first-place votes (2nd, 167 points)
Montana State, 72 – 2 first-place votes (3rd, 116.5)
Sacramento State 55 – 1 first-place vote (1st, 204.5)
Eastern Washington 53 (4th, 96)
Weber State 47 (5th, 74)
Montana 37 (3rd, 116.5)
Idaho State 35 (7th, 44)
Northern Colorado 16 (8th, 38)
Portland State 13 (9th, 28.5)
Team, Points (last year’s place)
Sacramento State, 77 – 5 first-place votes (1st, 236 points)
Weber State, 73 – 4 first-place votes (5th, 66)
Northern Arizona 54 (8th, 63)
Portland State 47 (6th, 65)
Montana State 46 (4th, 75)
Montana 42 (2nd, 133)
Idaho State 28 (7th, 64.5)
Eastern Washington 27 (3rd, 78)
Northern Colorado 11 (9th, 33.5)
TOP SEASON PERFORMANCES
Keisa Monterola –
Pole Vault - Jr. – Caracas, Venezuela
The Venezuelan pole vaulter broke EWU’s school record, the Roos Field record and the Pelluer Invitational record with a jump of 14-0 at the 41st Annual Pelluer Invitational in Cheney, Wash. Monterola also earned First-Team All-America honors after placing fifth at the NCAA Division I Championships.
Phillip Puccino – Jumps - So. – 1L – Tacoma, Wash. / Steilacoom HS' 10
Puccino qualified for the conference championships in the long jump and triple jump. In the long jump, he had a season-best mark of 22-10 1/2. He hit 46-7 1/4 in the triple. Both marks were met at the 41st Annual Pelluer Invitational.
Shene Davis - Jumps - Sr. – 3L - Yakima, Wash. / Selah HS ‘07
Davis qualified for the Big Sky Outdoor Championships in both the triple jump and long jump at the Long Beach Invitational. She moved to third in EWU history in the long jump with a mark of 19-6 1/4, which also places her on top of the Big Sky Conference. Her mark of 38-9 1/2 in the triple jump put her fourth in school history.
Kersee Lind - Multi - Sr. – 3L - Hermiston, Ore. / Hermiston HS ‘07
Lind, in his first decathlon of the season, broke his personal record and qualified for the Big Sky Conference Outdoor Championships with a score of 6,735. The score puts Lind second all-time in school history.
Stephanie Dye - Distance - Sr. – 3L - Chatteroy, Wash. / Riverside HS ‘08
Dye shattered her personal record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase by nearly 20 seconds with a time of 11:17.32, earning herself a conference qualifying mark.
Robin Taylor – Pole Vault – So. – 1L - Blaine, Wash. / Blaine HS '10
Taylor moved into fourth all-time at Eastern with her jump of 12-5 1/2 at the WAOR V in Spokane.
Kyle King – Distance – Sr. – 3L - Coupeville, Wash. / Coupeville HS '08
With his 14:10.42 time in the 5,000-meter run at the Stanford Invitational, King completely shattered his own outdoor personal record by 25 seconds, moving him into third all-time in Eastern history.
Tim Pettit - Distance - So. - 1L - Kent, Wash. / Kentwood HS ‘10
Pettit placed second in the 800-meter run at the Al Manuel Invite with a career-best time of 1:52.38. The time qualified him for the outdoor conference championships.
Angelica Rodriguez - Sprints - So. - 1L - Hermiston, Ore. / Hermiston HS '10
Rodriguez matched her career best in the 400 meters with a time of 57.14 at the Al Manuel Invitational. The time places the sophomore ninth all-time in school history in the 400. She also ranks tenth in school history in the 800, with a time of 2:16.88 on Feb. 12, 2011 at the Husky Invitational.
Michelle Coombs - Throws/Jumps - So. - 1L - Hermiston, Ore. / Hermiston HS '08
Coombs won the javelin with a throw of 147-11 at the Dusty Lane Invitational on March 17, the first time she’s thrown in nearly two years. As a freshman in 2009, she was the Big Sky champion in the event, but injuries have slowed her down since then. She ranks third in school history with a 163-1 throw in 2009.
Brad Michael – Sprints – Fr. – HS - Vancouver, Wash.
Michael, EWU’s freshman phenom, continued where he left off from the indoor season, by winning both the 200- and 400-meter dashes at the Dusty Lane Invitational. His time of 48.18 in the 400 met the Big Sky qualifying mark. During the indoor season, Michael broke the school record in the 400 (46.97) en route to a second-place finish, and he placed third in the 200 with a time of 21.63 that ranks third in school history. He was also was part of the 4x400 relay team which won the Big Sky title with a school-record time of 3:11.04.
Steven Warner - Hurdles - So. - 1L - Kent, Wash. / Kentwood HS '09
Warner, the 2012 Big Sky Indoor champion in the 60-meter hurdles, finished the 110-meter hurdles in 14.80 on March 31 at the Al Manuel Invitational. His career best in that event is 14.60 set as a freshman in 2010. Warner had a school-record time of 8.07 in the 60-meter hurdles indoors earlier this season, good for second all-time.
Cody Humphrey – Throws - Jr. - 1L - Hermiston, Ore. / Hermiston HS '09
Humphrey, who is also an tight end for EWU’s football team, qualified for the Big Sky Championships with a career-best throw of 156-11 in the discus at the Dusty Lane Open on March 17.
EWU Track and Field - http://goeags.com/sports/c-track/index
Big Sky Conference Men's Track and Field - http://www.bigskyconf.com/index.aspx?tab=outdoortrackandfield&path=motrack
Big Sky Conference Women's Track and Field - http://www.bigskyconf.com/index.aspx?tab=outdoortrackandfield2&path=wotrack
NCAA Track and Field - http://www.ncaa.com
Direct Athletics Performance List - http://www.directathletics.com/lists/track/63_919.html
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