The Eastern Washington University track and field teams finished off the Big Sky Indoor Championships in Pocatello, Idaho Saturday (March 1) by walking away with two Big Sky Champions, seven all-conference performers and a number of impressive performances.
“I felt our team rose above unexpected adversity and finished higher than the pre-season rankings,” said head men’s coach Stan Kerr.
Competing in her last meet as an Eagle, Keisa Monterola capped of her career in perfect fashion, winning the pole vault with a clearance of 13-5 3/4. The Venezuela-native finishes with four conference titles in five career Big Sky appearances. Freshman Courtney Bray had a jump of 12-10 to place fourth and just miss the podium. That mark ranks Bray fourth all-time at Eastern.
“Keisa capped her career with her fourth title for Eastern,” said head women’s coach Marcia Mecklenburg. “I know she wanted to vault higher, but I am excited that she came out on top.”
“Courtney also got us great points,” Mecklenburg added. “While we are losing an Eagle legend in Keisa, I can see the baton being passed to Courtney.”
Jon Buchanan put together another All-Conference performance, placing second in the shot put with a personal-best toss of 58-5 1/4. That mark ranks second in school history only behind school-record holder Chris Benson, who had a throw of 59-1 3/4 in 1986. Buchanan was coming off a third-place finish in the weight throw friday, helping complete an EWU sweep.
“Jon had a sensational weekend for us and capped it with a lifetime best performance that put another medal around his neck,” said Kerr. “Our throwers came in with poise and put on an outstanding show at this meet.”
Brad Michael placed third in the 400, clocking a time of 48.25. The junior has claimed a podium spot in all five Big Sky Championship appearances during his career. Freshman Austin Upmeyer was seventh in the event with a time of 50.58.
“Brad added to his medal collection with another All-Conference performance,” said Kerr. “He has been such a consistent contributor and earned some solid points for us once again.”
Michael and Upmeyer joined Collin Green and Kramer Green in the 4×400 relay, and ran a time of 3:17.23 to place fourth. Michael rallied from behind on the anchor leg, but couldn’t catch Montana (third, 3:17.10) or Southern Utah (second, 3:16.73) in the final stretch to grab a spot on the podium.
In the women’s weight throw, Emma Murillo (fourth, 59-1 1/4), Vania Tauvela (fifth, 58-10 1/4) and Olivia Midles (eighth, 54-4) each scored points for the Eagles. Murillo and Tauvela each hit personal-best marks that sit third and fourth in school history, respectively.
“I was very pleased with the performance of the woman’s weight throwers,” said Mecklenburg. “Emma and Vania each had lifetime bests and having Olivia sneak in and score gave us some much needed points for the team.”
Morena Mannucci leaped an indoor-personal best of 38-9 in the triple jump, placing sixth and moving her up to third in school history.
Sarah Reiter finished seventh in the 3,000, running a time of 10:20.81.
Paula Gil-Echevarria also earned points for the Eagles, placing eighth in the mile with a time of 5:00.50.
In team scoring, the EWU men tallied 56 points to finish in a tie for fifth with Weber State. The Eagle women took eighth with 40 points.
“Placing eighth as a team is not where we wanted to finish in the Big Sky, but kudos to the athletes who competed,” said Mecklenburg. “For the most part they placed higher then they were ranked going in, and that is something we’ve come to expect from the Eastern track and field crew.”
“We’re proud of this team. For several members, this was their first conference experience,” said Kerr. “Their performances painted a bright future for our program.”
The Eagle will open the outdoor season in two weeks, staying to close to home for the Dusty Lane Open on March 15 in Spokane, Wash.
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