Michael Okoro and Vania Tauvela each hit Big Sky qualifying marks
The Eastern Washington University track and field teams returned to competition Saturday (Jan. 12) at the UW Indoor Preview in Seattle, Wash., with two athletes attaining Big Sky qualifying marks in the process.
“Everybody wondered how the team would respond coming off the break and a short week of training,” said men’s head coach Stan Kerr. “We had a lot of mixed results, but there were some very strong performances.”
Junior Michael Okoro won the 400 meters with a time of 48.98, booking his trip to Bozeman. Mont., for the Big Sky Indoor Championships. Sophomore Brad Michael finished second in 49.39 to complete an Eastern one-two sweep.
“I really like taking seasoned runners into the meet and Michael showed that he is very experienced,” said Kerr.
Redshirt junior Vania Tauvela also qualified for the BSC Championships in the weight throw, getting off a toss of 54-4 3/4 and placing second overall.
“I was pleased with Vania’s performance,” said women’s head coach Marcia Mecklenburg. “I know she has a lot more in her, so I wasn’t real surprised with how she did.”
Freshman pole-vaulter Anandae Clark had a season-best vault of 12-6 1/4, finishing first overall. She had already met the qualifying mark at the Candy Cane V.
Junior Angelica Rodriguez placed fifth overall in the 400, clocking a time of 58.25. Freshman Leiran Cornish ran a time of 58.73 to finish seventh.
“We had some great performances from our freshman in Anandae and Leiran,” said Mecklenburg. “I think that really shows that we have a strong future.”
In the men’s shot put, Eastern had a two-three-four performance, with senior Marlyn Anderson placing second (52-4), junior Jon Buchanan (50-6) finishing third and junior Cody Humphrey taking fourth (49-6 1/2). Zack Nielsen took second in the weight throw with a mark of 56-8.
“Although we didn’t have any new qualifiers in the men’s throws, they’ve shown a lot of consistency thus far,” said Kerr.
Redshirt junior Cody Fishel finished fourth in the high jump with a mark of 6-5 1/2, just missing the Big Sky qualifying height of 6-6 3/4.
“This was Cody’s indoor debut and it was exciting to see him almost hit that mark,” Kerr said. “He is really motivated to have a great final year and I think he’ll solidify his position in the conference at the next meet.”
Vince Hamilton also came close to hitting a qualifying mark, running a time of 8:26.55 in the 3,000 meters to place fifth in his heat, just coming up short of the standard of 8:22.
“Vince gave us an exciting race, but he got a little tangled up at the end,” said Kerr. “He’s probably ready to nail that qualifying mark at our next outing.”
For Eastern, a total of four men and four women have reached qualifying marks for the BSC Indoor Championships, which will be held Feb. 22-23 in Bozeman, Mont.
The Eagles will take next weekend off and split up squads in their next meets. The sprinters/hurdlers and jumpers will compete at the Montana State Open in Bozeman on Jan. 25. The distance runners and throwers will head back to Seattle for the UW Invitational on Jan. 25-26.
“We’re still in a building mode, but to continuing to get our athletes competitive experience will be our main focus,” said Mecklenburg.