The Eastern Washington University track and field teams wrapped up their season May 30-31 at the NCAA West Regionals. After solid performances at the Big Sky Championship that sent 10 Eastern athletes to the Regionals in Northridge, Calif., the Eagles’ best finish was ninth place.
“I’m surprised that we didn’t get the marks that reflect our ability,” said Head Men’s Coach Stan Kerr. “But to go to the NCAA Division-I Championships and finish in such a high-caliber group says a lot.”
Junior Bonnie Millard was the only Eagle to place with a personal record when she finished ninth in the discus with a throw of 157-11. The rest of the competing Eagles all finished below their personal records.
“I know they were hoping to do better, but ninth is pretty good at that level,” said Head Women’s Coach Marcia Mecklenburg.
Mattie Bridgmon placed ninth as well in the 5,000 meters with a time of 16:51.90, while teammate Camille Moseley finished 13th, with a time of 17:09.05. On the men’s side, junior Paul Limpf finished 10th in the 5,000 with a time of 14:26.82.
In the men’s javelin, Big Sky Champion Aaron Mettler finished 15th, with a throw of 200-3. His javelin counterpart, John Clevenger, finished 19th, with a throw of 177-1, which was more than 30 feet shy of his career best.
For the women’s javelin, freshman Amanda Peterson finished 10th out of 24 with a throw of 150-10.
Senior Erika Kirley-Price followed her Big Sky Championship-winning performance by fouling on all three of her attempts. Teammate Nicole Luckenbach finished 20th with a throw of 170-4.
The lone jumper and Big Sky Champion Cameron Moore finished 15th in the triple jump with a 45-09 3/4-foot effort.
While the marks didn’t necessarily reflect the athletes’ abilities, the coaches felt that their performances weren’t as bad as they looked.
“They didn’t perform to their best, but they didn’t perform horribly either. I think they did all right,” said Mecklenburg. “Just getting there is a great accomplishment in itself.”
Kerr and Mecklenburg said that nerves and swirling winds may have affected the jumpers and throwers during performances. They also said that each Eastern athlete was competing in their first regional championship.
“Coming off the Big Sky Championship, adrenaline was up because that was the meet we really wanted to win. To gear up again can be tough,” Mecklenburg added.
While the Eagles may not have performed as well as they expected, the team in general is still very young. Having the amount of success at this stage in their collegiate careers that many have had will only help the team in the future.
Kerr said that roughly 90 percent of the team will be returning next year. And now that many of the young Eagles have regional experience under their belts, the coaches expect next year to be even better.
“I’m really excited about next year. It’s a young crew,” Mecklenburg said with a smile. “Next year is going to be a good year.”
Kerr feels that the program is in great shape at the moment by saying, “We work hard to put pillars in place with our program; the pillars of mental toughness and academic toughness. Those pillars are now in place in all of our events.”