Eastern Heads to NCAA West Regionals

Twelve Eagles will compete in seven events this Friday and Saturday in Eugene, Ore.

A total of 12 members of the Eastern Washington University track and field team will compete at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) West Regionals this Friday and Saturday (May 29-30).

To qualify for the NCAA West Regionals, Aaron Mettler, John Clevenger, Cody Irby, Chelsi Friese, Krystal Deyo, Nicole Luckenbach, Michelle Coombs and Amanda Peterson met the automatic qualifying standard in their respective events. Stephen Praast and the women's 4x100 relay team earned automatic berths to regionals by placing first in their events at the Big Sky Conference Championships.

The regional meet qualifies athletes for the NCAA Championships in Fayetteville, Ark., on June 10-13. To earn an automatic berth to the national meet, an athlete must finish in the top five in their event at regionals. Eastern athletes have advanced to the NCAA Championships a total of 11 times in school history.

"Obviously, we are looking for performances that will take us to Fayetteville," said men's head track and field coach Stan Kerr. "Our athletes are familiar with the venue and the competition, so they know what their mission is as we go down there. They need to be tough and compete hard, and hopefully punch their ticket to Fayetteville."

"We are expecting more school records, hopefully some national qualifiers and some good performances," said women's head track and field coach Marcia Mecklenburg. "We think we have some athletes that will do really well. We think they are ready to go so we will see what happens."

Luckenbach ranks ninth in the region with a career-best hammer throw of 191-11. She broke her previous school record of 185-7 to win the Big Sky javelin title. The junior from Mill Creek Wash. (Snohomish HS '05) ranks eighth all-time in league history. Last year, she finished 20th at regionals with a throw of 170-4.

Mettler, a sophomore from Walla Walla, Wash. (Walla Walla HS '07), ranks eighth in the region with a career-best javelin throw of 219-8 at the BSC Championships That mark ranks him fourth in school history as he successfully defended his title. Last year, Mettler finished 15th at regionals with a throw of 200-3.

Also in the men's javelin, Irby and Clevenger rank 19th and 26th, respectively, in the region. This will be Irby's first regional berth with a season-best throw of 208-0. Clevenger, who has a best toss of 202-8 this season, is making his second regional appearance after finishing 19th last year with a throw of 177-1.

In the women's javelin, Coombs ranks 10th in the region with a career-best throw of 163-1 to win the Big Sky title and rank third in school history. Peterson has a mark of 149-3 to rank 18th and last year finished 10th at regionals with a throw of 150-10. Peterson is a sophomore and Coombs is just a freshman.

In the high jump, Praast received an automatic berth to regionals where he ranks 18th. Praast, who is from Ravensdale, Wash. (Tahoma High School '06), had a mark of 6-8 3/4 at the league meet to improve his best effort of the season by two inches.

Friese ranks 27th in the pole vault with a mark of 12-7 1/2. Deyo ranks 18th in the long jump with a school-record mark of 19-8 1/4. Deyo is also the anchor leg of the women's 4x100 team which ranks 19th in the region after winning the conference championship with a time of 46.27. Shene Davis, Brianna Okoro and Shannon Long are the other members of that team, which ranks third in school history.

Among the Eastern women who have advanced to the NCAA Championships, Carolee Gutierrez finished eighth in the javelin (161-10) in 2007. Also, Stephanie Ulmer was 27th in the javelin (133-4) in 2006, Jordan Baughan finished 19th in the javelin (152-11) in 2005 and Kari McKay was fourth in the 10,000 (34:56.38) in 1992.

On the men's side, Greg Jones took second in the high jump (7-3) back in 1986 for EWU's best-ever finish. Ryan Cole is the only two-time performer, placing eighth in the javelin (223-3) in 2001 and 15th (211-3) in 1999. Also, David Paul finished 25th in the hammer with a throw of 189-1 in 2007, Alex Moon was 24th in 2006 in the 400 hurdles (52.26), Zach Guydish finished 24th in the javelin in 2005 and Kurt Kraemer was 15th in the triple jump in 2003.

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