Keisa Monterola still looking for that elusive Olympic qualifying mark
For six Eagles from the Eastern Washington University track and field team, the season stretches at least one more week, as the athletes will be traveling to Austin, Texas, for the NCAA West Region Preliminary Championships May 24-25. The meet is an opportunity to secure a spot at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Championships June 6-9 at Des Moines, Iowa. In order to advance to the championships, athletes must submit a top-12 performance in their region.
“As a coaching staff, we are very proud of each individual going down to Texas,” said men’s head coach Stan Kerr. “These athletes have worked their tails off to compete with the elite of the elite this year. We’re expecting warm weather and improved marks.”
The six athletes are headlined by All-America pole vaulter Keisa Monterola, who placed fifth at the NCAA Division I Indoor National Championships in March. Her season-best mark is 14-4, which is on the brink of her ultimate goal: an Olympic Provisional mark of 14-5 1/4, which will guarantee her a spot on the Venezuelan national team. She currently sits 10th in the nation, with her best outdoor season mark of 14-0.
“I’m hoping that all four of our women do really well,” said women’s head coach Marcia Mecklenburg. “Keisa has the most success at the national level, so I’m expecting big things from her. Not only another top-five finish, but an Olympic mark, too.”
Monterola's vault mate Robin Taylor will also be heading to Texas, along with Kyle King (5,000 and 10,000), Brad Michael (400), Michelle Coombs (javelin) and Shene Davis (triple jump and long jump). Taylor is ranked 19th in the nation with a season-best 13-7 1/4 mark at the Big Sky Conference Outdoor Championships.
King could possibly be suiting up as an Eagle for the last time, as he is headed to Oklahoma next season. But his confidence and knowledge of his opponents he has gained over the past four years has prepared him for success.
“Kyle would like to go out on as high a note as possible,” said Kerr. “He looks at what he has done at Eastern, and who his competition has been the past four years, which makes him aware of where the bar has been set. I think that will translate into an outstanding individual performance.”
Davis, who broke the school record in the triple jump with an outstanding mark of 40-6 1/4 at the Big Sky Conference Outdoor Championships, has already exceeded her own season expectations by making it to the preliminary meet, according to her jumps coach Jon Hill.
“I think her expectations have already been met just by being in this position,” said Hill. “Now, we’re just seeing how far the postseason can take her. She has aspirations of going to nationals, but anything after the conference championships is always icing on the cake.”
Michael will be making his preliminary debut as a freshman. Michael, who has taken Eastern by storm since the indoor season when he broke the school record in the 400 with a time of 46.97, is hoping to use this opportunity as a learning experience.
“Brad knows there are 12 guys who are running in the 45 second range,” said Kerr. “He knows the meet is a psychological and social experiment as a freshman, so the experience he will be bringing back will be a huge gain for him.”
“They’re all talented,” added Mecklenburg. “Hopefully they can all improve on their marks this weekend.”