EWU Track and Field finish fifth at Big Sky


Photo by Anna Mills

The EWU Track and Field Big Sky Championship took place at Roos Field on May 16.

By Brandon Cline, Staff Writer

Four days of tightly contested and entertaining action came to an end on May 16, as the track and field Big Sky Outdoor Championships wrapped up at Roos Field. Both the men’s and women’s team for EWU finished tied for fifth in the conference, with the men outperforming their preseason ranking of seventh place.

Northern Arizona University and Sacramento State University tied for the men’s title with 157 points each. Sacramento State narrowly took home the title for the women, edging out Montana State University by just 4.2 points.

The most productive day for the Eagles was on Friday, May 15, where the day was highlighted by a pair of senior throwers.

Jordan Arakawa capped off a successful Big Sky career by winning the hammer throw with a toss of 218-1, a season-best. Finishing second the past two years, Arakawa was not to be denied this time, with no other athlete coming within six feet of his mark.

“I was relaxed and ready to go. We peaked for this competition, so I knew that the big throw was going to come, I just didn’t know when,” said Arakawa, who received the most outstanding male performer award.

Including the indoor season where he won back-to-back titles in the weight throw, Arakawa finished his college career with three conference titles and with three second place finishes.

EWU’s other conference champion of the day came from Emma Murillo in the javelin; her throw of 168-0 was a 10-foot personal best. Jayd Eggert of the University of North Dakota finished three and a half feet behind Murillo’s mark. The throw ranked third all time in program history.

“It was hard to stay focused but I managed to do so and I was just in the zone. I wanted to fight, I was hungry for it and just getting to that last throw I knew that this was it. I’ve got to do it. It felt good and it’s nice that it’s over,” said Murillo.

Four other Eagles had all-conference performances (top-three performer) on Friday, including Phil Puccino finishing second in the high jump with a jump of 6-11, a personal best that ranked seventh all time in school history. Reigning indoor long jump champion Trenton Osborn finished second in the event with a personal best of 24-3, which is the ninth furthest in school history.

The Eagles’ women distance runners nabbed two all-conference marks as well, with Sarah Reiter placing second in the 10,000-meter run with a time of 36:16.55. Paula Gil-Echevarria’s time of 10:28.17 in the 3,000-meter steeplechase gave her a comfortable third place finish. With just a few track events being scored on Friday, the EWU men’s team sat in second and the women’s team sat in third with one day left in the championships.

Four more all-conference marks were set by Eagle athletes on the final day, three of which came in field events. Senior Morena Mannucci won the triple jump and set a school record in the process with a distance of 41-1 3/4.

“I’m a senior and this is my home, I just want to protect it,” said Mannucci. “I owe it to my teammates, to my coach, to my family that came here. That was definitely the biggest motivation today.” Women’s head coach Marcia Mecklenburg called it a “storybook ending.”

Mannucci’s victory on Saturday was the third and last for EWU during the weekend. All three came in field events, as did seven of the 10 all-conference marks for the Eagles.

One of the Eagles’ all-conference marks in running events came in the women’s 4×100-meter relay. The team of Paige Hammock, Erika Lombardo, Brooke Monson and Rebecca Tarbert took third place in the event and narrowly took second, finishing .002 seconds behind the University of Northern Colorado relay team.

Puccino added his second all-conference mark of the championships, finishing third in the triple jump with a distance of 48-3 1/2. In the women’s discus, Kelsie Forcier finished third with a throw of 156-3, the first all-conference performance of her career.

The Eagles had many athletes that finished fourth in their respective events and just shy of earning all-conference honors. Tierra White in the high jump, Katie Mahoney in the 1,500-meter run, Olivia Midles in the hammer throw, Jeremy VanAssche in the 100-meter dash and the men’s 4×100-meter relay team all finished a spot off of finishing inside the top three.

“With so many highlights, it will take some time to really appreciate how will this team performed,” said men’s head coach Stan Kerr. “I’m particularly proud of our seniors whose leadership sparked the whole squad to higher, faster, and stronger performances throughout the championships.