Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Washington's Division I schools push for NCAA qualifying marks at conference championships this weekend...

This week is championship week for the state’s Division I schools as they chase individual championships, as well as qualifying marks for the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships in College Station, Texas.

Eastern Washington heads to Flagstaff, Arizona for the Big Sky Championships hosted by Northern Arizona that begins Thursday and runs through Saturday.

The Eagles return five former Big Sky indoor champions, including 2016 60 champ Rebecca Tarbert (#239 with Lexi Rolan/photo by Paul Merca), last year’s long jump champ Keshun McGee, 2015 long jjump winner Trenton Osborn, 2016 men’s 60 champ Jeremy VanAssche, and 2015 high jump champ Tierra White.

Tarbert goes into the meet as the conference leader in the 60 at 7.57, and is the school record holder.  She could be pressed for the Big Sky title by teammate Lexi Rolan, who ranks fourth in the 60 and third in the 200.

McGee ranks third in the conference in the long jump at 24-2.5 (7.38m), and leads in the triple jump at 51-9.75 (15.79m), where he’s ranked #19 in the country, just outside the top 16 needed to qualify for the national championships. In the latter event, he’ll need to get close to the 16-meter (52-6) mark to have a realistic shot of going to the big dance in College Station.

Pole vaulter Larry Still, the Big Sky outdoor champ from 2017, leads the conference this season at 16-8.75 (5.10m) as he shoots for his first indoor title.  Junior Elizabeth Prouty is third in the women’s pole vault at 12-10.75 (3.93m).

Maegan McCurdy could contend in the women’s long jump for the Eagles, as she’s ranked number 3 in the conference at 19-4 (5.89m).

Meanwhile, Seattle University will travel 30 athletes to Nampa, Idaho for the Western Athletic Conference title meet that begins Thursday and runs through Saturday at the Jacksons Track at the Ford Idaho Center.

The Redhawks’ most realistic chances for a top-3 finish in an event lie with Siobhan Rubio in the women’s 800, where she’s ranked second at 2:14.35; Matt Seidel in the men’s 3000, where he’s run 8:20.78, and is ranked fifth; and Olivia Stein, who is number three on the WAC performance list in the 5000m at 17:05.11.  

Both of their distance medley relay teams are ranked in the top five, though they need to run substantially faster to have a shot at a top 3 finish.

Washington State and Washington meet up at the Huskies’ home track as it hosts the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championships beginning Friday starting at noon at the Dempsey Indoor, and Saturday beginning at 10:30 am.

As the Pac-12 doesn’t sponsor indoor track, this is the de facto conference championship meet, with all 12 schools sending teams to the meet.  Add BYU, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge, Hawaii, Long Beach State, Portland, San Francisco, and UC Davis, Irvine, and Riverside to the mix, and you have the country’s largest conference meet.

Washington affiliated athletes ranked in the conference top 5 entering the meet include UW’s Khalil Winfrey in the mens 60; WSU’s Zach Smith in the men’s 200;  Washington’s Ryan Croson in the men’s 400; the Huskies’ Hannah Derby in the women’s 800; UW’s Colby Gilbert and Amy-Eloise Neale in the mens’ and women’s 3000; Washington State’s Nick Johnson in the men’s 60 hurdles; the Huskies’ Chase Smith and Lev Marcus in the men’s pole vault; UW’s Jack Lembcke in the men’s shot put; WSU’s Brock Eager and Amani Brown in the men’s weight throw; and the Cougars’ Alissa Brooks-Johnson in the pentathlon.

Eager and Brooks-Johnson enter the meet as conference leaders in their respective events.

The final start lists for the MPSF championship meet will be released Thursday evening after the coaches’ scratch meeting.  In the meantime, here’s a link to the UW’s home page for the meet.

Media partner Flotrack ($) will offer live streaming of the meet.

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

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