11 EWU athletes advance and end season at NCAA Regionals

By Brandon Cline, Staff Writer

Although the Big Sky Championships concluded at Roos Field earlier in May, 11 Eagle athletes continued and ultimately ended their season at the NCAA West Regionals in Austin, Texas from May 28-30. No EWU athlete finished in the top 12 in their event, which would have advanced them to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon.

EWU sent six field athletes and five runners down south, three of which—Jordan Arakawa in the hammer throw, Emma Murillo in the javelin and Morena Mannucci in the triple jump—were Big Sky Champions. Paula Gil-Echevarria, Katie Mahoney and Catie Arrigoni all qualified in the 3,000 meter steeplechase while fellow distance runner Sarah Reiter qualified in the 10,000 meter run.

Freshman Jeremy VanAssche was the lone Eagle men’s runner as he ran in the 100 meter dash, while Samantha Baker joined Murillo in the javelin. Reigning indoor Big Sky Champion Trenton Osborn competed in the long jump, while senior Phil Puccino qualified in the high jump.

Osborn got the Eagles started on May 28, placing 37th, an improvement after coming into regionals ranked 40th. His jump of 23-1 1/4 was shy of his outdoor high of 24-3, which ranks ninth in school history. In the triple jump, Mannucci’s leap of 40-6 was tied for her second best jump of the season and good for 33rd overall in regionals.

“I am really thrilled with her senior year, I couldn’t be happier for her. It was a great way to end her career here,” said women’s head coach Marcia Mecklenburg.

In the 3,000 meter steeplechase, Gil-Echevarria led the pack for the Eagles, finishing with a personal best time of 10:21.99. Her 14th place finish was the closest EWU got to sending an athlete to Eugene. Mahoney finished in 38th with a time of 10:48.69, while Arrigoni’s time of 11:00.18 was good for 44th. In the 10,000 meter run, Reiter finished in 42nd place with a time of 37:14.17.

The standout performance of the meet for the Eagles was VanAssche in the 100 meter dash, who re-broke his own school record with a time of 10.36 seconds. The freshman came into regionals ranked 34th in the event, and finished 25th overall, just missing out on the quarterfinals heat. Men’s head coach Stan Kerr said before the meet that one of the goals was to get VanAssche to the semifinals.

It was a rough meet for Puccino in the high jump, who entered the meet ranked 47th overall. With the bar set high right off the bat, Puccino couldn’t get over the 6-8 mark on his three attempts, closing the book on a successful college career.

Arakawa was poised for a championship berth heading into regionals, but the Big Sky champion faulted on his first and third attempt and threw it 198-6 on his second, well behind his season best of 218-1 and the 208-3 mark set behind the 12th place finisher in the hammer throw at regionals. Arakawa ends his EWU career as a three-time Big Sky champion, as well as a three-time Big Sky runner-up.

In the javelin, Baker entered the meet ranked 39th overall and ended up ranking 30th with a throw of 145-0. Murillo couldn’t get things going and finished with a throw of 141-9, well off her personal best of 168. Murillo caps off a career that included back-to-back outdoor championships in the javelin.

“I know this was very hard for Emma, as she hoped this wouldn’t have been her final meet. It did not go the way she wanted, but what a great career she had at Eastern,” said Mecklenburg.