Penaloza Hits Big Sky Qualifying Mark in Seattle

Eagles grab one more qualifier at Husky Classic, several others close to reaching a standard

The Eastern Washington University track and field team brought its Big Sky qualifying mark total up to 20 after adding one more at the UW Husky Classic Friday and Saturday (Feb. 8-9) in Seattle, Wash.

“I felt that this was a great tune-up meet for us,” said head men’s coach Stan Kerr, “We had a little bit higher expectations from a team point of view, but we still had some great individual performances.”

Berenice Penaloza qualified for the Big Sky Championships, running a time of 17:52.41 in the 5,000 meters. That time qualifies Penaloza in the 3,000 as well and moved her up a spot on the all-time list, now ranking her fourth in school history.

“I was really excited to see Berenice hit a qualifying mark,” said head women’s coach Marcia Mecklenburg, “Especially since it covers two races and that gives us more options as a team.”

Senior Marlyn Anderson once again set a personal-best in the shot put, getting off a throw of 55-2. That mark moved him into the record books, now ranking him 10th all-time in school history.

“This is Marlyn’s most consistent year and its great way for him to end his career at Eastern,” said Mecklenburg, “I think he still has more in him and I’m excited to see that.”

Keisa Monterola improved on her season-best in the pole vault with a jump of 12-10 1/4. That mark gives her the outright top spot on the conference list, pending results from around the Big Sky this weekend. Robin Taylor and Anandae Clark each cleared a height of 12-4 1/2.

“Keisa has been struggling a bit this year but she’s slowly been coming back,” said Mecklenburg, “It was good to see her getting over some bars and if we can keep improving she’ll be ready to clear some big heights when we need it down the road.”

A number of athletes came close to hitting conference standards in their respective events, beginning with Freshman Kayla Loop, who had a toss of 43-5 in the shot put, just missing the qualifying standard of 43-11 3/4.

In the 800 meters, Jordan Curnutt ran a time of 1:56.24, inching him closer to the Big Sky mark of 1:54.00.

Emma Murillo reached a personal-best in the weight throw, having a toss of 53-6 1/4. That mark moved her into eighth all-time at Eastern while also coming up just short of the qualifying standard of 53-9.

“I was really pleased with the athletes that were right on the bubble,” said Mecklenburg, “Most of them are in the top 16 in the conference anyways.”

The men’s 4x400 relay registered their first time on the season, getting the baton across the line in 3:17.00.

“The relay ran a solid time and that should set us up in a good place to compete for a medal at the Championships in Bozeman,” said Kerr.

The Eagles have now collected 20 qualifying marks on the season, with 14 for the men and six for the women. The Big Sky Championships will be held on Feb. 22-23 in Bozeman, Mont.

“I’m hoping to see those athletes on the bubble hit some standards,” said Mecklenburg, “We also have some sprinters who are capable of hitting some qualifying marks and getting in the mix.”

Next weekend will be Eastern athletes’ last chance to qualify for the Championships. They will head over to Moscow, Idaho to compete in the Idaho Collegiate Friday (Feb. 15) and the Idaho Open Saturday (Feb. 16).

“This meet gave us a great idea of who we will take to the Championships in two weeks,” said Kerr, “We won’t be taking a full squad to Idaho next weekend, but we’ll look to add a couple more qualifiers.”

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