Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Eagles and Redhawks begin conference championship week Wednesday...

Championship week begins Wednesday for two of Washington’s four Division I schools as Eastern Washington plays host to the Big Sky Conference meet in Cheney at Roos Field (above/photo by Paul Merca), and Seattle University travels to Orem, Utah for the Western Athletic Conference championship meet hosted by Utah Valley.


Eastern will have 28 women and 27 men competing among the 520 athletes expected to converge upon Roos Field for the Big Sky Championship meet, which will be the biggest conference meet in history, with the addition of Idaho, who left the WAC to re-join the Big Sky.

In the pre-season rankings, the Eagle women were projected to finish fifth, while the men’s squad was forecasted to finish seventh.  EWU head coaches Stan Kerr and Marcia Mecklenburg are hopeful that home cooking will work in the Eagles’ favor this weekend.

In last year’s meet, the Eagle women finished fifth with 84 points, and the men tied for sixth with 68 points.  Northern Arizona enters the meet as the defending men’s and women’s team champions.

Jozie Kimes will be Eastern’s lone competitor in the multi-event portion of the meet that starts Wednesday, as she will be in the heptathlon.  The main portion of the meet begins Friday.

The Eagles’ Morena Mannucci goes into the conference title meet as the leader in the triple jump with a season best of 40-6 (12.34m).

The Eagles’ distance crew of Sarah Reiter (5000/10000), Paula Gil-Echevarria (steeple/1500), Katie Mahoney (800/1500/steeple) and Catie Arrigoni (steeple/5000) look to make a big haul.  Reiter is the reigning Big Sky cross country champ, while Arrigoni is the defending steeple champ and was an NCAA qualifier in 2014.

NCAA qualifier Jordan Arakawa leads the Big Sky in the hammer with a best of 215-2 (65.59m), but has yet to win a conference crown outdoors.  Pole vaulter Nick Stearns leads the conference at 16-6 (5.03m).  Multi-talented jumper Phil Puccino leads the Big Sky in the triple jump at 48-5.25 (14.76m) and is third in the long jump and fourth in the high jump entering this weekend.

In the long jump, Puccino will be joined by reigning indoor champ Trent Osborn, who looks to add the outdoor crown.

Jeremy VanAssche enters the conference title meet leading the field in the 100m at 10.42, and the freshman is ranked third in the 200. will be on site in Cheney beginning Friday.


Junior Mandie Maddux, who was second in the indoor pentathlon at the WAC meet this winter, will be SeattleU’s lone competitor in the multi-event portion of the meet that begins Wednesday, as she contests the heptathlon.

Sophie Curatilo and Shaddye Melu are perhaps the Redhawks’ best hopes for winning a individual conference crown.  Curatilo enters the championship as the conference’s top seeds in the 5000m at 16:50.10, and looks to add the 5000 crown to the mile title she won indoors.

Melu is tied for the conference lead in the high jump at 7-0.25 (2.14m) and is ranked #2 in the 400 at 47.55.

At last year’s WAC championship meet, the men’s squad was sixth with 56 points, while the women’s team was seventh.  Both teams finished fifth in the WAC indoor meet in February.


On the pro circuit, the HokaOneOne Middle Distance Classic will have a distinctively Seattle flavor, as the Brooks Beasts will send a large contingent to Los Angeles for the meet Thursday night at Jack Kemp Stadium on the campus of Occidental College.

Nick Symmonds of the Beasts, the reigning world championship silver medalist, will race against teammates Cas Loxsom and Mark Wieczorek.

The women’s 800 has Megan Malasarte of the Beasts along with Camas’ Alexa Efraimson and training partner McKayla Fricker.

Katie Mackey is entered in the women’s 1500, while Matt Hillenbrand is in the men’s 1500, where he’ll face Auburn/Riverside alum Jordan McNamara.

In the women’s steeple, Club Northwest’s Jamie Cheever is in the field as are Washington alum Mel Lawrence and WSU alum Collier Lawrence.

Dorian Ulrey of the Beasts will run in the men’s 5000, while in the women’s 5000, Tacoma native Brie Felnagle and Washington alum Christine Babcock are in the field.

The entry lists for the HokaOneOne Middle Distance Classic are available here.

NOTE:  Eastern Washington University, the Big Sky, the Western Athletic Conference, Seattle University, and USA Track & Field contributed to this report.

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