Steven Warner and Keisa Monterola are crowned as conference champions in 60-meter hurdles and pole vault, respectively
Both the Eastern Washington University men’s and women’s 4x400 relay teams had record-breaking days Saturday (Feb. 25) as the Big Sky Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships concluded at the Walkup Skydome in Flagstaff, Ariz. Individually, Steven Warner and Keisa (KAY-suh) Monterola – who won Most Outstanding Athlete honors -- won titles as EWU’s men finished third and the women placed eighth.
The men’s team of Collin Green, Michael Okoro, Brad Michael and Brad Wall broke the 22-year-old school record en route to a conference championship with a time of 3:11:04. The women’s relay team of Whitney Leavitt, Nicole Nida, Angelica Rodriguez and Chelsea Lawhead finished in second place, breaking the women’s 12-year-old EWU record, with a time of 3:46.77.
“Both relays shined bright today,” said men’s head coach Stan Kerr, who also saw Michael and and Wall finished 2-3 in the individual 400 finals. “Brad Michael just put on a display of talent that shows the caliber of athletes we’re starting to attract. Brad Wall is the guy who came in and really helped get our 400-meter program established. Other athletes saw what he was doing and it caused a snowball effect to get other athletes here to run. I think it has worked out quite well for us.”
The men’s team finished third overall, with a school-record 88 points. The women finished in eighth place, scoring 45 points.
Senior Steven Warner, seeded fifth going into the championships, earned himself a conference championship in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.07, winning by just one-hundredth of a second. His time also places him second all-time in Eastern history.
“Steven is someone who has been pretty fragile since the Candy Cane meet back in December, but thanks to our athletic trainer, Steven was ready to go,” said Kerr. “Steven is an extremely determined individual who wants to win. His energy and enthusiasm helps our team do the same. He’s got that golden smile to match his new medal.”
Monterola continued her Big Sky record-breaking dominance in the pole vault, as she was crowned the women’s pole vault champion, breaking the conference championship record with a jump 14-2. Monterola’s jump beat out previous record holder Elouise Rudy of Montana State (14-1 1/4, 2008). Her performance earned her the women’s Most Outstanding Performer award. Eastern teammate Robin Taylor also scored in the women’s vault, as she placed sixth with a jump of 12-05 1/2.
“Keisa's victory, meet record and award were great honors for her and our program,” said women’s head coach Marcia Mecklenburg.
Michael improved on the school record he set in the 400 in Friday’s preliminaries, as he placed second in the finals with a time of 46.97. Wall finished third in 47.07. Michael also earned all-conference honors in the 200, finishing third with a time of 21.63.
Senior Kersee Lind was named all-conference after placing third in the heptathlon, as he broke his own school record for the third time this season, scoring 5,222 points.
“Kersee has been in that record-breaking mode all season,” said Kerr. “He had two extremely talented guys he had to compete against, but he did a great job. His record will hold for a long time.”
Phillip Puccino also gave an all-conference performance, as he placed third in the triple jump with a distance of 46-10.
Leavitt scored in both the 60- and 200-meter dashes, placing sixth and fifth, respectively.
Other scorers include Okoro (fifth in the 200), Cody Fishel (sixth place in the high jump), Tim Armstrong (seventh in the heptathlon), Marlyn Anderson (sixth in the shot put), Kyle King (fourth in the 3,000), Morena Mannucci (seventh in the triple jump) and Shene Davis (eighth in the triple jump).
“Eighth place by our team was pretty disappointing, but the school record in the women's relay was a huge performance for our crew,” said Mecklenburg. “It was a great way to end the indoor championship.”
“It was a tremendous team effort from all the event areas,” added Kerr. “It’s that collective effort you always talk about and hope for, and to see it come to life is amazing. I love what we did and who we did it with. It’s a joy to be with this group and see this kind of performance.”