Season in review: EWU’s outdoor track transformation


The 2017-2018 track and field team at the beginning of the season. At the Outdoor Championships, the men grabbed fourth place while the women finished sixth | Photo courtesy of EWU Athletics

By Taylor Newquist, Reporter

At this time last year, the EWU track and field team sent five athletes to compete in the NCAA West Preliminary Championships – with only one Eagle surpassing the top 40 of qualifying rankings.

The men’s performance in the 2017 Outdoor Big Sky Championships ended with 14 points and a last place finish, while the women notched 44 points and an eighth place finish.

After finishing the 2017 Championships with only two All-Big Sky honors (both from the women), men’s head coach Stan Kerr said the team would be bringing back a ton of experience.

“Our men’s team graduates one person,” Kerr said at the time. “Which bodes well for us.”

He was not wrong.

The Eagles totaled 12 All-Big Sky honors in 2018; six from each team, with 11 of those finishes coming from athletes with prior experience in the Big Sky Championships. The men’s team increased its point total from 14 to 92, and scored top three finishes from throws, races and field events.

Kerr has said that the team has been focused on finding a balance in scoring across all events since they started training in October this year. Their balance was lacking last season, when only four male athletes scored in the team’s 14-point 2017 Outdoor Big Sky Championship finish (six of those points were scored by then-freshman Keshun McGee).

Although McGee scored 18 points with a first and second place finish at the championships this year, 15 different Eagles contributed to the men’s fourth place finish. This was the team’s best season in five years. Ten of those fifteen scoring athletes are eligible to return with the team next season, when they will hope to build on their momentum.

For the women, five of their 12 scoring athletes in this year’s Outdoor Championships are seniors. They will return three of the Big Sky’s top pole vaulters and the Indoor Big Sky Freshman of the Year Alexis Rolan, who suffered a hamstring injury in the Outdoor Championships that ended her  freshman campaign.

The Eagles will lose top sprinters senior Rebecca Tarbert and senior Jeremy VanAssche after the season. While Rolan looks to fill Tarbert’s place, the men’s team will return three of the 4×100-meter team members. Junior Jonah Matthews will take the helm of the team and try and build on his fifth place finish at the Big Sky Championships.

“I called that win last weekend,” Matthews joked with his 4×100-meter teammates after they won the first such relay title in EWU history.

With more team success, the overall confidence of the team has only grown over the course of this year. The Eagles will look to prove themselves when the indoor season resets next winter.