Nine Eagles head to NCAA Prelims

Senior javelin thrower Michelle Coombs is making her fourth trip to the west preliminary round Photo by Josh Friesen
Senior javelin thrower Michelle Coombs is making her fourth trip to the west preliminary round.
Photo by Josh Friesen

Track and field members compete to punch their ticket to nationals

By Peter Sowards



[email protected]

Thanks to top-48 rankings after their respective events at the Big Sky Conference Outdoor Championships, nine Eagles qualified for the 2013 Division I Outdoor Track and Field West Preliminary Round from May 23 through the 25 at Austin, Texas.

Marlyn Anderson, shot put; Jordan Arakawa, hammer throw; Joey Payne, javelin; Katie Mahoney, 3,000-meter steeplechase; Keisa Monterola, pole vault; Robin Taylor, pole vault; Cora Kellerman, javelin; Michelle Coombs, javelin, and Emma Murillo, javelin, will represent EWU at the event held annually at Mike A. Myers Stadium on the University of Texas at Austin’s campus.

Head men’s coach Stan Kerr looks forward to the stiff competition his qualifiers will face. “It will be a thrill for our athletes to perform in a field where the competitors are so skilled and talented,” Kerr said.

The lone freshman to qualify, Payne reverted back to a throwing style that earned him a personal record at the Dusty Lane Open in March at the advice of javelin coach Aaron Mettler. He came within three inches of that personal record at the Big Sky Championships, throwing 205-6 and finishing second.

“For Joey [Payne], this meet will pay big dividends, and he will get some great experience out of this,” Kerr said.

Joey Payne is looking to cap off an impressive freshman season with a solid showing at the west prelims. Photo via
Joey Payne is looking to cap off an impressive freshman season with a solid showing at the west prelims.
Photo via

Payne said he is dealing with a sore back from throwing. “This past week workouts have been very easy [with] a lot of stretching,” he said. “I’ve been heating and icing my lower left-hand side of my back and just trying to get 100 percent better so that when I go to prelims I want to be ready to go and be ready to throw a big one and give it all I’ve got. We’ll see what happens.”

Mettler told Payne that a throw of 230 would guarantee an entry to nationals, but Payne is trying to keep a level head. “I’m just looking for any PR,” he said. “If it’s a 208, that’s a good way to end off my season.

“I am glad to be part of the Eastern athletic family,” Payne added. “I am happy that I chose Eastern. I didn’t have many friends from high school coming into Eastern. I think that there are only four graduates from my high school that go here, including me. I had to start over and make new friends, and I’m proud to say that my teammates aren’t just teammates — they are some of the best friends I could ever ask for.”

Payne originally finished outside the top 48 but slid up to the No. 46 ranking after throwers in front of him dropped out.

Mahoney, a Richland High School graduate along with Payne, qualified in both the 3,000-meter steeplechase and the 1,500 and chose to focus her efforts on the former rather than spread herself too thin. She is the lone Eastern representative to be competing in a track event. “I love it,” Mahoney said of the steeplechase event. “It’s really fun.”

One seasoned Eagle who had no issues being on the bubble was Coombs, a redshirt senior who will be competing in her fourth west regional competition after throwing 160-3 in the javelin at the Big Sky Championships, a runner-up finish and her third best at Eastern. After sitting out the 2010-11 season due to Tommy John surgery, Coombs is happy to be back and healthy. “It was a long road back, but I made it,” Coombs said. “I just kept focus on my goals and aspirations and hoped that I’d be able to come back and be 100 percent when I got back.

“I think I’ve learned so much from that experience, and I think that I enjoy track and field so much more,” Coombs continued. “I don’t take anything for granted because of that.”

Coombs and the rest of EWU’s participants travel to Texas on May 22 with competitions taking place over the next three days. It will be a long wait for Coombs who, along with fellow throwers Kellerman and Murillo, does not compete until 5:00 p.m. on May 25. “That’s a long time,” Coombs said. “We’ll try to hide from the sun because it will just zap you. We’ll spend a lot of time inside just kind of killing time and staying out of the sun.”

Fans hoping to watch the preliminaries can do so via a live-video streaming of the event at and navigating to the track and field portion. predicts highs in the low-to-mid 90s with scattered clouds during the three-day event.

Follow me on Twitter @PeterSowards or at @EasternerSports