January 12, 2007

Eagles Hope to Make a Big Splash in Track

Jan. 12, 2007

With a total of 47 returning letter winners and some talented newcomers, the 2007 Eastern Washington University men's and women's track and field teams look to make a big splash in both the indoor and outdoor seasons.

The Eagles open the 2007 season on Friday-Saturday, Jan. 19-20, when they host the 20th Annual Jerry Martin Indoor Invitational at Thorpe Fieldhouse in Cheney, Wash. The women's pentathlon begins at noon on Friday and the men's heptathlon starts at 12:30 p.m. On Saturday, the conclusion of the heptathlon starts at 9 a.m.

The regular portion of the Martin Invitational begins at 6 p.m. Friday with the men's and women's weight throw. The rest of the field events start Saturday at 9 a.m. with running events beginning at 11:30 a.m.

In 2006, Eastern closed the year with impressive finishes as it hosted the Big Sky Conference Outdoor Championships at Woodward Field in Cheney, Wash. The men finished third and the women placed sixth after an indoor season in which they placed fourth and eighth, respectively. Indoors, the men scored their most points in school history with 78 points.

This season, both teams -- particularly an experienced men's squad -- look to improve even more in pursuit of their goal of winning Big Sky Conference titles. Indoors, the men are picked to finish seventh and the women eighth in the Big Sky Conference preseason poll of coaches. Weber State is picked to finish first indoors for both men and women.

Of the 16 individual Big Sky Conference honors won last season by the Eagles (top three finish at league championship meets), 10 were won by athletes returning for the 2007 season. Seven of those 10 were on the men's squad.

The men lost nine letter winners from last year, but return 24 that include Big Sky outdoor discus champion David Paul. He went on to place sixth at the NCAA West Regional Championships in the hammer and 15th in the discus. Also back is sophomore Tyler Cathey, who finished second in the javelin at the outdoor championships and also competed in the NCAA West Regionals. Two members of Eastern's Big Sky indoor and outdoor championship 4x400 relay team -- Chad Butorac and Marcus Whitehead -- also return.

Besides Paul and Cathey, other individual placers (top eight finish) at the Big Sky Championships returning from 2006 include Butorac, Whitehead, L'Shawn Dennis, Chad Chambers, Geoff Penrod, Jeff Kaune, Cameron Moore, Matt Ludwigson, Corey Lehosky, Paul Limpf, Steve Bacon, Mike Uhlenkott, Adam Lovik, Jason Kirk, Kevin Hatch and Cody Irby.

Among the experienced athletes lost were hurdler Alex Moon, sprinter Phil Carr and distance runners John Timeus, James Conrick and Curtis Kincaid.

"I feel the men's team is continuing to ride the wave of success experienced from last year's outdoor championships," said men's head coach Stan Kerr. "We enter this season with a deeper squad that has one goal -- win the outdoor Big Sky Conference Championship."

"The indoor championship is also a goal, however, without the discus and javelin events, we are faced with a greater battle in winning the indoor title," he added. "As a squad, we are committed to bringing a balanced attack to every meet.  The balance is seen in equal talent in the throws, jumps, sprints and hurdles, and distance events."

The women return 23 letter winners after losing 13 from last season's team. Athletes returning include Big Sky placers Sarah Frey, Teanna Meinhold, Sarah Hegna, Carolee Gutierrez (formerly Geaudreau), Camille Moseley, Amanda Faire and Jordan Baughan.

Hegna, Gutierrez and Baughan all advanced to the NCAA Regionals, with Baugham advancing to the finals of the javelin for the second-straight season. Three-time Big Sky javelin champion Stephanie Ulmer is among the lost letter winners.

"The 2007 season is a rebuilding year for the women's team," said women's head coach Marcia Mecklenburg. "Seven seniors completed their eligibility last year and those athletes contributed to 41 of the 77 1/2 points that the women scored at the outdoor conference championships last year. That is a lot of points that need to be made up."

"The good news is that we have a big freshman class and there are going to be some surprises from that group of student athletes," she added. "We also have a returning veteran group that is motivated to get some things accomplished this year. All four event areas have seniors that have been huge contributors over their athletic careers and they are ready to go out on top."

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