Saturday, May 24, 2014

Western's Bethany Drake and Katie Reichert go 1-2 in javelin at NCAA D2 championships; SPU's Fricker wins 800...

ALLENDALE, Michigan - The Western Washington duo of Bethany Drake (above/photo courtesy Western Washington University) and Katie Reichert, who were seeded 1-3 going into the national championships, finished  1-2 in the women's javelin Saturday as the NCAA Division II track & field championships concluded at Grand Valley Track & Field Stadium.

After a slow start by Drake, in which she found herself in fourth at the end of the second round with Mary Riley of Central Missouri in the lead with a first round throw of 161-10 (49.33m),  Drake got going with a third round throw of 161-2 (49.13m) to climb back to second after the three preliminary throws.

In round four, Drake, the sophomore from Sandy, Oregon, unleashed a toss past the 50-meter mark, as the javelin sailed 165-3 (50.36m), with that throw holding up as the winner.

Meanwhile, teammate Reichert, the junior from Longview, Washington who attended Kelso HS, was struggling after the first three stanzas, with a best of 142-9 (43.52m) that was only good for eighth after the preliminary throws.

In round four, she had a marginal improvement of 144-6 (44.04m), but found herself in ninth after the round, one spot out of a scoring position.

In the final round, Reichert exploded with a personal best of 165-2 (50.34m), eclipsing her previous PR of 162-8 (49.59m) set last month at the Beach Invitational, only one inch (2 cm) short of teammate Drake's winning mark.

Saint Martin's Kalli Walker finished 14th with a best of 136-2 (41.51m).

"I came into this meet just trying to stay relaxed," said Drake. "I couldn't imagine having anyone better beside me (Reichert) and we stayed right there with each other. It was exciting."

"It was a joke (between us). We wanted to tie," said Reichert. "I think that was about as close as we could get," added Drake.

Drake becomes Western's fourth national champion in the javelin and 15th overall.  Monika Gruszecki was the last Viking to win the national title in the javelin in 2011.

Courtesy of Western Washington University and Seattle Pacific track SID Mark Mochetti, who conducted the interview for WWU, here's a video interview with Drake and Reichert.

Meanwhile, Seattle Pacific senior McKayla Fricker (above/photo courtesy USTFCCCA) closed out her career in grand fashion as the native of Canby, Oregon, won the women's 800 title by pulling into the lead in the backstretch in the second lap, and win going away in a personal best of 2:06.18.

"It's unreal. I just can't believe it just happened," Fricker said after tasting a national title for the first time. "It's what I've been determined to do ever since I set foot at SPU – just to persevere and stay determined after everything I've been through in the last four years."

Division II indoor champ Shawnee Carnett of Concord (W.V.) took the lead on the first lap, taking the field through in about 62 seconds, before Fricker took command, surging to the front and keeping the lead.

"I saw the shadow of Shawnee behind me, and did not let her get close to me. I just kept going," Fricker said. "I don't know where she's at coming down that last stretch. I kind of checked a little bit and kind of just kept running for it, running scared all the way through the finish."

Courtesy of Seattle Pacific, here's a video interview with the winner:

In the men's javelin, Western Washington junior Slater Hirst and sophomore John Haskin finished fourth and eighth, respectively, to earn All-America honors.

Hirst threw 216-7 (66.02m) in the third round to break his own school record while Haskin threw 204-11 (62.47m) in round 5, which was three inches short of his personal best.

In other events, Western Washington sophomore Frank Catelli finished third in the men's shot put with a toss of 60-10 1/2 (18.55m).  Teammate Alex Donigian finished fifth in the men's 100 in a time of 10.61.

The women's high jump saw Central Washington's Tayler Fettig finish sixth with a leap of 5-7 (1.70m).

In the final team scoring, Western's women finished 11th with 23 points, with Seattle Pacific tied for 23rd with 10.  The Viking men's squad finished 15th with 16 points.  Lincoln of Missouri and St. Augustine's were the NCAA Division II women's and men's team champions.

NOTE:  The sports information departments at Western Washington University, Seattle Pacific University, and Central Washington University contributed to this report.

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