Senior ties school records with fourth league title and third in the same event as men finish fourth and women place fifth
Sprinter Brad Wall made history Saturday (May 11) at the Big Sky Conference Outdoor Championships, as the Eastern Washington University senior closed out his career with his fourth league title in the 400 meters to highlight the final day of competition for the Eagles in Forest Grove, Ore. The Eagles also brought their total of all-conference performers to 13 for the weekend.
The Eastern men had six of the seven all-conference performances Saturday as they finished fourth in the final standings with 92 points. Northern Arizona won the league title with 143 points.
“Our coaching staff was very proud by the effort put forth by the group,” said head men’s coach Stan Kerr. “We didn’t win a lot of conference championships, but a number of people medaled and scored for us. A lot of great athletes rose to the occasion at this meet.”
The Eastern women finished fifth, just one point away from fourth. The Eagles were the team leader after Friday when the majority of their strong events took place.
“It was exciting to go into day two in first place, although we knew going in that a lot of our points would come on the first day,” said women’s head coach Marcia Mecklenburg. “We actually got more than we anticipated on Friday, and we just wanted to hang on for as long as we could on day two. We couldn’t have asked for anything more. It was heart-wrenching that we missed out on fourth by one point, but in the grand scheme of things we finished way better than we went in ranked.”
Wall, who is from Vancouver, Wash., joins three other former Eagles with four Big Sky titles to their credit (Johnnie Williams, David Paul, Kurt Kraemer). And with three outdoor titles in the 400, he became just the second Eagle to achieve that feat (Ryan Cole in the javelin).
The school record holder in the 400 (46.67) won Saturday’s title with a time of 47.67. He edged out Matt White from Weber State with a time of 47.71, and Eastern teammate Brad Michael with a time of 47.72.
Michael, Nick Olsson and Kramer Green joined Wall on Eastern’s 4x400 relay team, which finished second with the second-best time in school history of 3:11.33 (the record is 3:09.72 set in 2006). It was the sixth time in his career that Wall has been a member of an All-Big Sky relay squad.
“It was a fabulous, fabulous end to a great career,” said Kerr. “He’s had a number of individual titles and has been a part of a lot of great relay teams. Brad has been a tremendous impact and positive influence on our program during his tenure. I give big kudos to Brad from where he started to where he ended up.”
Eastern might have had another all-conference performance in the 4x100, but Michael tumbled and fell on a relay exchange. Despite deep scrapes, he came back to place third in the 400 and run a leg on the 4x400 relay.
“Brad is another one of the shining stars in our program,” said Kerr. “He ran hard despite the trip in the 4x100. He will be extremely sore tomorrow – he hit the track pretty hard.”
Also finishing in the top three for the Eagles were a trio of runner-up finishers – freshman Joey Payne in the javelin (205-6), Nick Stearns in the pole vault (16-3 1/2) and Phillip Puccino in the triple jump (47-0 3/4). Puccino came just an inch from the league title.
“Our throwers really contributed,” said Kerr of the group’s overall performance in the meet. “It was fun to watch them cheer each other on the past two days, and then see a freshman cap it with a great performance in the javelin.”
For the women, Michelle Coombs capped her career with a runner-up finish in the javelin, throwing 160-3.
Although she was one place from All-Big Sky honors, Katie Mahoney placed fourth in the 1,500 with another school record of 4:25.79. She re-broke her own school record in her second-place effort in the 3,000 steeplechase Friday.
“Katie again came up really big for us – that was tough to double-back like that,” said Mecklenburg. “And Michelle had a great javelin throw – her third-best ever as an Eastern athlete.”
“We had a lot of athletes all across the board who scored for us,” she added. “I think they all finished higher than they went in ranked. It was a really good meet for us.”
The BSC Championships capped off the season for a number of the Eagles, but a select few are on the cusp of reaching the Division I West Regionals in Austin, Texas on May 23-25. Athletes who rank in the top 48 in the region in their events can qualify for the meet.