Eagles continue to climb up Big Sky ranks


Sophomore Keshun McGee competes in the triple jump at Pelter Invitational on April 14. On April 21 at the Beach Invitational, McGee triple jumped 51-4 1/4 feet, placing him first overall in the Big Sky Conference and No. 20 in the nation | Mckenzie Ford for The Easterner

By Taylor Newquist, Reporter

The EWU track and field team flew to California last week to compete in three different meets. The Pacific Coast Intercollegiate on April 19, and the Beach Invitational on April 20-21, were hosted in Long Beach. Meanwhile in Torrance, top athletes competed in the Mt. Sac Relays on April 19-20.

Sophomore Keshun McGee led the way for the Eagles on the weekend. At the Mt. Sac Relays, McGee finished first in the triple jump at 51-0 3/4 feet — a personal-best. The next day McGee jumped at the Beach Invitational, upping his mark to 51-4 1/4 feet and placing him first overall in the Big Sky Conference and No. 20 in the nation.

McGee earned the only top-five finish for the Eagles at the Mt. Sac Relays, while senior Leanne Asper set the pace for the women’s team by breaking the EWU outdoor record in the 800-meter. Asper’s time of 2:10.61 edged the previous record held by Katie Mahoney of 2:10.96 in 2016. Asper also broke the indoor record earlier this year at the Husky Classic.   

“It was on my birthday so it was a great birthday present for myself,” Asper said. “I was so close at the beginning of the year so it was really good to get under and get that record.”

Asper also said that she hopes to get a regional mark this weekend and lower her time under 2:10.0 minutes.

At the Pacific Coast Intercollegiate, junior Trey McAdams and senior Jeremy VanAssche finished in first place for the Eagles. McAdams ran his personal best time of 54.23 seconds in the 400-meter hurdles. VanAssche posted a time of 10.53 seconds in the 100-meter dash, which is his best time of the season and ranks No. 2 in the Big Sky.

“I got out well and hit pretty good until 70 meters,” VanAssche said. “I died a little bit at the end and I didn’t finish very well. I have quite a bit of room for improvement on that.”

VanAssche is also a part of the 4×100-meter relay team that ran at the Mt. Sac Relays, and finished in 10th place at 41.20 seconds.

“For 4×100 we still have a lot of stuff to clean up,” said VanAssche. “On the first leg when Joe [Gauthier] was going to hand it off, there was a guy kind of standing in his lane that he had to dodge a little bit. That slowed us, but most of us ran pretty well and we’ll be able to drop that time.”

Other relay team members, junior Jonah Mathews and freshman Joe Gauthier, set personal-bests in the 100-meter at the Pacific Coast Intercollegiate. Mathews finished in seventh place at 10.71 seconds, and Gauthier in ninth at 10.75 seconds. After the weekend, relay team members control three of the top five spots in the Big Sky for the 100-meter: VanAssche at No. 2, Mathews at No. 3 and Gauthier at No. 5.

With sponsored professionals and top-collegiate athletes competing at the Beach Invitational, the Eagles’ best finish was Keshun McGee’s fifth place in the long jump. That’s not to say the Eagles cracked under pressure, as multiple personal-best times were posted amid the competitive environment: senior Rebecca Tarbert in the 100-meter, freshman Vernice Keys in the discus, freshman Alexis Rolan in the long jump, freshman Colton Kautz in the shot put, junior Parker Bowden in the 110-meter hurdles, senior Logan Stahl in the 800-meter and junior Trey McAdams in the 400-meter.

“The number of lifetime and seasonal personal records indicated our crew knew this was an opportunity to do their best,” men’s head coach Stan Kerr said. “I’m very proud of the vigilance our team showed in terms of staying in the ‘here and now’ and not being distracted by factors that could take away from performances.”

The Eagles travel to Corvallis this weekend to compete in the OSU High Performance Meet on April 27-28. It is the second-to-last meet of the outdoor season before the Big Sky Outdoor Championships begin on May 8.