EWU track and field wrapped up conference action May 11-12 in the 2012 Big Sky Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The men finished in sixth place with 70 points, and with 62 points the women placed eighth.
Kyle King led the way for the men, winning the 10,000-meter and taking third in the 5,000.
While outrunning his nearest opponent by nearly 16 seconds in the 10,000, King became Eastern’s first outdoor champion in a race longer than 800 meters since EWU joined the Big Sky Conference.
“Going up to altitude, it’s almost 5,000 feet there,” said head men’s coach Stan Kerr. “We don’t train at elevation so it’s really kind of a great undercurrent to that performance. It speaks well of his talent.”
A day later, King – who will transfer to Oklahoma next season – finished seconds behind Northern Arizona’s Caleb Hoover and Jordan Chipangama during a dramatic finish in the 5,000.
Other all-conference performers on the men’s side include Steven Warner, third place in the 110 hurdles, and Brad Michael, third in the 400.
In the men’s team race, Northern Arizona surpassed Montana State’s previous conference record with a total team score of 221.
This is the fourth time in conference history that a team has swept all three championships. NAU also won cross country last fall and the indoor title in Flagstaff, Ariz.
Host Montana State placed second with 164 points. Following MSU was Weber State (100), Sacramento State (94), Idaho State (93.50), Eastern Washington (70), Montana (56), Portland State (15) and Northern Colorado (4.50).
The men’s squad – following a third place finish in the 2012 indoor championships this past February – had hoped to duplicate or exceed that effort outdoors in Bozeman, Mont.
“If you look at third through sixth, the separation is only 30 points,” said Kerr. “It’s a lot of point swings from event to event. I thought we obviously had the potential to get there but it didn’t work out for us in this case.
“Individually, we had some great performances, and we’re really proud of those kids. … I think we’re in a healthy and a good situation. Injuries are part of what we have to deal with.”
For the Eastern women, six Eagles snatched all-conference honors.
Senior Shene Davis set a school record in the triple jump with a 40 foot 6 and 1/4 inch mark. The jump was good enough for second place. Davis also scored in the long jump, placing fourth after clearing 18-08.
Keisa Monterola and teammate Robin Taylor took first and second in the pole vault after both cleared 13-07 1/4. Monterola finished ahead of Taylor because she had fewer misses throughout the competition.
In the high jump, Elise Jepsen entered the championships with a season best mark of 5-05. After clearing 5-06, tying a career-best height, the junior recorded a third place finish.
Battling an ailing shoulder, Michelle Coombs placed second in the javelin, throwing a season best 151-06.
In her last conference championships, senior Mari Bingham finished third in the discus with a 148-07 toss. Entering the championships tenth place in the shot, Bingham finished in fifth with a 45-09 1/4 mark.
“She’s never been Big Sky all-conference and to pull that off – you always want more – but what she accomplished was really, really amazing considering [where] she went in ranked,” said head women’s coach Marcia Mecklenburg.
In the women’s team standings, Sacramento State won its fifth straight outdoor championship with 173 points. Montana State was second with 121.50 points. After MSU was NAU (107), WSU (97), ISU (85.50), UM (80), PSU (71), EWU (62) and UNC (18).
“We went in knowing we weren’t going to do well as a team and we didn’t,” said Mecklenburg. “But the kids who performed, they did really well. I couldn’t ask for more from the athletes that competed. They did a great job. We just need more depth.”
Only two meets remain for the Eagles in the 2012 outdoor campaign, the first being the NCAA West Preliminary Round, May 24-26 in Austin, Texas. The NCAA Championships are June 6-9 in Des Moines, Iowa.