Eags’ outdoor track & field campaign ends in Sacramento


Senior Paula Gil-Echevarria competes in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the Big Sky Championships on May 10. On May 25, Gil-Eehevarria placed 27th in the event at the NCAA West Preliminaries | Photo courtesy of EWU Athletics

By Taylor Newquist, Reporter

The EWU outdoor track and field season concluded last weekend at the NCAA West Preliminary Round in Sacramento, after all seven competing Eagles placed outside of the top 12 that was required to qualify for the NCAA Championships on June 6-9.

Senior Jeremy VanAssche placed 18th in the preliminary round at 10.37 seconds on May 24, which qualified him for the quarterfinals of the men’s 100-meter dash. VanAssche went on to place No. 22 overall the following day, finishing in 10.58 seconds.

“Jeremy was part of an amazing display of speed today,” men’s head coach Stan Kerr said. “His performance is the result of hard work and an effort from start to finish that shows why he is an elite sprinter.”

All six Eagles competing in a single event surpassed or matched their pre-meet seeding. Junior Parker Bowden finished No. 28 in the 110-meter hurdles at 14.34 seconds. He missed the top 24 and final heat by .09 seconds, after he entered the meet ranked No. 46.

“Parker and Jeremy have given us a year to remember,” said Kerr. “Their work ethic in the weight room, at practice and in competition is a great testimony to their character. While this season draws to a close, it’s a thrill knowing all three of our regional guys return to next year’s squad.”

Junior Madison Doepker competes in the javelin at the Pelluer Invitational on April 14. On May 24, Doepker placed 28th in the event at the NCAA West Preliminaries in Sacramento | Photo courtesy of EWU Athletics

Junior Madison Doepker came in ranked No. 48 in the javelin — a late add due other athletes not being able to compete. Doepker finished in 28th place with a throw of 143-5 feet.

“As a last-minute NCAA add, Madison Doepker made the most of her first regional championship meet,” women’s head coach Marcia Mecklenburg said. “It was a good end to her season.”

Three seniors on the women’s team ended their Eagle careers on a high note. Kari Hamilton ran a personal record in the 10,000 meters at 32:09.85 minutes, and finished No. 27 – the same as her pre-meet seeding.

“Kari ran an amazing final race of her collegiate career,” said Mecklenburg. “She ran a 13-second personal record in one of the fastest ever West Regional 10,000 races. She did EWU proud and I couldn’t be more happy for her.”

Senior Erin Clark earned the highest finish of any Eagle, taking 21st in the pole vault at 12-10 3/4 feet. Clark bounced back in her final meet, after she failed to complete a vault at the Big Sky Championships on May 11.

“Erin Clark gave it her best and came up one vault short of making it to the championships,” said Mecklenburg. “She had an amazing career at Eastern starting as a walk-on and developing into a national class vaulter. Her final collegiate competition was a good one but a bit bittersweet because we will miss her.”

Senior Paula Gil-Echevarria ran a PR in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at 10:16.73 seconds. She finished 27th, moving up from her No. 37 seeding, and moved up to No. 3 on EWU’s all-time list.

“Paula’s race was a great way to put a lid on the EWU women’s season,” said Mecklenburg. “For half of the second to last lap, all the announcer could talk about was what a great race Paula Gil-Echevarria was having.”

Sophomore Keshun McGee was the only Eagle to compete in multiple events at the NCAA West Preliminaries. He competed on the first and last day of the meet, taking 35th place in the long jump at 23-6 1/4 feet and 33rd in the triple jump at 49-2 1/4 feet.

Sophomore Keshun McGee at the Big sky Championships earlier this month. At the NCAA West Preliminaries last weekend, McGee took 35th in the long jump and 33rd in the triple jump | Photo courtesy of EWU Athletics

“I feel this season had its ups and downs for sure,” McGee said. “But overall it was a good season. I believe next indoor and outdoor season will be my break out season where I will become better in my crafts.”

McGee said that things didn’t truly start to click for him until later in the season, but that he is still getting better. He added that his progress this season is highlighted by his first regionals qualification in not one, but two events.

“Keshun had a brilliant year,” said Kerr. “We’re certain he’ll be a NCAA finalist in the years ahead. He was still the last man standing in our 2017-2018 season and is likely to be the first man standing as we open up our 2018-2019.”