EWU sprinters shine at outdoor championships

Women finish sixth; men place fourth in best team finish since 2013


Senior Rebecca Tarbert (center) posing with her 100-meter first place medal at the Big Sky Championships on May 11. Tarbert, who is the first Eagle to win the event since 1994, secured the title in 11.64 seconds | Photo courtesy of EWU Athletics

By Taylor Newquist, Reporter

The EWU track and field team traveled to Moscow, Idaho on May 11 to compete in the Big Sky Conference Championships. The men finished fourth overall at the meet, their best team finish since 2013.

Senior Jeremy VanAssche helped score 22 points on the last day of the competition, including a second-place time of 10.29 seconds in the 100-meter dash that broke his own EWU record.

“I knew I got out pretty fast,” VanAssche told The Easterner. “The Southern Utah kid is a quick starter and he’s fast, so I was right there with him [at the start]. I feel good about it though, the whole thing.”

Senior Jeremy VanAssche competes in the 4×100 at the Big Sky Championships. VanAssche got second place in the 200-meteer dash with a time of 10.29 seconds | Photo courtesy of EWU Athletics

VanAssche’s previous best time of 10.31 seconds was set at the 2016 OSU High Performance. His recent performance qualifies him for the 2018 Outdoor West Regional Championships, where he last competed in 2016, placing 27th in the preliminary round.

“That was my goal [to qualify for West Regionals] from the beginning of the year through the whole season,” said VanAssche. “I knew I was going to be able to, I just had to put together the right race at the right time.”

VanAssche said he is continuing the same preparation and routines from before the Big Sky Championships into the days leading up to the West Regional finals, where he is expected to be ranked in the top 25 in the 100-meter dash.

“I’m maintaining where I’m at,” said VanAssche. “Just cleaning the little stuff up and trying to get another good race while I’m down there.”

VanAssche, along with junior Jonah Mathews, sophomore Dawson Lack and freshman Joe Gauthier, earned the first 4×100 relay title in EWU history, also breaking the school record with a time of 40.39 seconds.

“All four of us from the beginning of this year knew that as long as we get good handoffs we’d do well when we get to conference,” said VanAssche. “And that we’d have no problem winning it. That was probably our first good relay of the year and it just came at the right time.”  

(Left to right) Sophomore Dawson Lack, freshman Joe Gauthier, senior Jeremy VanAssche and junior Jonah Mathews pose with their 4×100 gold medals at the Big Sky Championships. The four Eagles won the first 4×100 relay title in school history | Photo courtesy of EWU Athletics

Adding to VanAssche’s second-place finish in the 100-meters, Mathews finished fourth in 10.58 seconds, Gauthier fifth in 10.61 seconds and Lack sixth in 10.71 seconds. Together, the members of the 4×100 team totaled 30 of the men’s 92 team points in two events.

“Hard work pays off,” men’s head coach Stan Kerr said about the sprinters. “Each one of those guys is a student of the sport. They study how they can be more efficient in their starts and through the race. Anything that we can do that hits the spokes of being a better performer, I’m on it as a coach, or they’re trying to hold each other accountable, because they know they have something special going.”

Senior Rebecca Tarbert earned the lone title for the women’s team that finished sixth overall at the Big Sky Championships. Tarbert finished the 100-meter dash in 11.64 seconds and is the first Eagle to win the event since Joyce Rainwater in 1994.

“The women’s performance of the day goes to Rebecca Tarbert for her finish in the 100,” women’s head coach Marcia Mecklenburg said. “It was a great way to finish her career at EWU. We had some great performances all four days of the meet. Some things didn’t quite go our way, but we had other things that did.”

Freshman Alexis Rolan suffered a hamstring injury in the 4×100 relay. She came in to the event ranked No. 1 in the Big Sky for the 100-meter dash, but was unable to compete at full strength. Rolan persisted to compete and finish the 100-meter final to secure a point for the Eagles.

The EWU track and field team currently has five qualified athletes for the West Regional Championships. Senior Jeremy VanAssche, sophomore Keshun McGee, senior Paula Gil-Echevarria, senior Kari Hamilton and senior Erin Clark are seeded high enough to qualify, with several Eagles on the edge of the top 48 ranking needed to secure a spot.

Final rankings are scheduled to be posted on May 17, with the championships starting on May 24 in Sacramento, California.