Thursday, February 23, 2017

Championship weekend under way for state's Division I schools...

The final weekend of February means that it’s championship weekend for four of Washington’s five Division I schools, as they ramp up to compete for league titles and for certain individuals, aim to secure a top 16 spot (top 12 in relays) for the NCAA championships in two weeks in College Station, Texas.

Conference championship action got started Thursday in Nampa, Idaho at the Western Athletic Conference meet as Seattle University senior Mandie Maddux (above/photo courtesy Seattle University Athletics) repeated as champion in the pentathlon.

Maddux broke her own school record by scoring 3512 points, running 9.17 in the 60 hurdles, clearing 5-5.75 (1.67m) in the high jump, throwing 39-2.25 (11.94m) in the shot put, long jumping 16-4.5 (4.99m), and running 2:37.25 in the 800 meters.

All in all, Maddux won the high jump and the shot put, and set school record marks in the hurdles, high jump and shot.

“Starting off the day with three personal and school records set the tone for the day. She was focused, but did a great job of staying relaxed. That was our biggest focus for coming into this meet.”, said SeattleU assistant coach Chad Pharis.

Across the state in Pocatello, Idaho, Eastern Washington got started Thursday at the Big Sky Conference championships.

The Eagles’ Kendra Hamm finished 13th in the pentathlon, scoring 3201 points, as Montana’s Erika McLeod took the title with 3955 points.

In the heptathlon, Eagle sophomore Aaron Pullin stands 14th at the break with 2540 points.

In Seattle, the University of Washington hosts the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championship meet starting Friday at the Dempsey Indoor.

With the Pac-12 conference not sponsoring an indoor track & field championship, this is the de facto Pac-12 championship meet, as all 12 schools will have representatives in the meet, along with schools such as Long Beach State, Hawaii, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge, Portland, and BYU, making it the biggest Division I conference meet in the country.

Curiously missing from the meet is Gonzaga, which like Portland and BYU, are in the West Coast Conference, which does not sponsor indoor track.

The most notable entry missing from the MPSF championships is Oregon’s Edward Cheserek, who has opted to go to Boston to run the mile Sunday at the Boston University Last Chance meet against a pro field.  Oregon’s distance medley relay team currently sits #8 on the NCAA performance list, and in theory, he could run a 1600 or 1200 leg in Friday night’s DMR if needed.

Washington affiliated athletes ranked in the national top ten entering conference championship weekend competing in the MPSF include Federal Way’s Hannah Cunliffe of Oregon (60), Washington’s Amy-Eloise Neale (mile), the Huskies’ Colby Gilbert (3000), and Spokane native John Dressel of Colorado (#5 in 5000, but opting to drop down to 3000m).

Within the last hour, the University of Washington released the final heat sheets for this weekend’s meet, after the traditional coaches’ scratch meeting earlier Thursday evening.  The heat sheets are available here.

Friday action gets underway at noon, and continues Saturday at 10:30 am.

NOTE:  The sports information offices of Eastern Washington, Seattle University, Washington State University and the University of Washington contributed to this report.

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