April 3, 2009
By Keenan Bowen, EWU Sports Information
Eastern Washington University track and field athlete Nicole Luckenbach broke the school record in the hammer throw last week at the Stanford Invitational – and luck had nothing to do with it.
A junior from Mill Creek, Wash. (Snohomish HS '05), her throw of 182-10 bested the previous record of 182-8 set by Julie Nielson in 2001. Luckenbach not only set the school record she has been chasing for two year, but also won the event and in the process qualified for the Big Sky Conference Championships and the NCAA West Regionals.
Last outdoor season, Luckenbach finished second at the Big Sky Championships (178-11) and 20th at the NCAA West Regionals (170-4). Prior to last weekend’s throw, her previous best in the hammer was 179-6 in her sophomore season. She has been selected to the Big Sky All-Academic team once in her career.
In addition to outdoor track and field, Luckenbach also participates during the indoor season in the discus, shot put and the weight throw.
Eastern continues the outdoor season this Friday and Saturday (April 3-4) at the Al Manuel Invitational in Missoula, Mont. The Eagles will then return to the Inland Northwest for the Oregon-Washington Dual meet next Saturday (April 11) in Spokane, Wash.
Q: What is your best track and field moment or memory?
A: "Besides setting the record this past weekend, it would have to be my first track meet in the hammer. I was a freshman and nobody was expecting me to do well, and I hit a huge mark of 160 feet! The most exciting part for me was that for about five minutes I had the furthest mark out of all the women. My glory was short lived when a senior came back on her last throw to move back ahead of me. It was still a very exciting day for me. It was on this day that I started to realize I could be really great in the hammer and I quickly fell in love with the event."
Q: How did it feel to break the school record in the hammer throw?
A: "I was all smiles when I saw the hammer hit the ground out past the 180-feet line. I had wanted to break the record last year and I failed to do so. I told Marcia (Mecklenburg) then that I would get it at the first meet next year. I am extremely happy that I was able to start the season off on such a good note and can't wait to see what the rest of the season has in store."
Q: What goals do you still have for the outdoor season?
A: "My main goal this year is to make it to NCAA Championships. I would also like to win conference and I hope that somewhere along the line I can break 200 feet."
Q: Track and field is sometimes viewed as a non-team sport, even though it is. What teammate do you look towards for encouragement/support?
A: "My hammer teammate Aimee Carroll has always been there to push me and offer me constructive feedback. She's my athletic rock and I always go to her with my concerns about my training or performance."
Q: What event would you most like to participate in that you haven't already?
A: "When I was younger, I came out for track thinking that I would throw the javelin and do pole vault. Boy, was I in for a rude awakening. Unfortunately, I lacked the needed flexibility for throwing the javelin and I am about the size of two pole-vaulters. I thought and still think those events look like so much fun."
Q: What are you majoring in and what is your dream job/profession?
A: "I am an elementary education and a health and fitness major. Somewhere down the road when I decide to settle down and have a family I want to teach third or fourth grade and coach track and soccer. Although I kind of want to try teaching a bunch of different grades first to see what I like the best, who knows, maybe I will end up as a middle school health teacher. I think that I would enjoy teaching at all levels – that is why I really like the flexibility my major offers."
Q: How will your experiences in track and field translate into your post-college life?
A: "I will definitely know a skill that very few do -- the hammer throw! Track and field has also shown me the fruits of hard labor and determination which will carry over into all parts of life. I have learned a lot about goal setting and the importance of outlining steps that need to be taken in order to reach your goals."
Q: Who has been the most influential person/people in your track and field development over the years?
A: "My dad has always been there to offer me encouragement and he is the only person who ever thought I would make it this far. I also owe a great deal to Marcia (Mecklenburg). I would not be where I am today if she had not given me the opportunity to compete at this level and taught me the necessary skills to succeed."
Q: What is your favorite aspect of throwing?
A: "I love throwing because it’s so technical and I always have something new to work on or refine. The smallest things can make such a big difference and it’s really exciting when you have a breakthrough and something you've been working on for so long finally clicks."
Q: What sport or athletic event would you like to see added to the Olympic Games?
A: "The weight throw. The weight throw is similar to the hammer, but very different at the same time. I think it would be cool if they incorporated the weight throw somehow."