With the indoor championships just a few weeks away, the Eagles will head to Seattle, Wash., and Nampa, Idaho, for their final tune-ups
The Eastern Washington University track and field team will split up for this weekend's competition on Feb. 13-14. Selected athletes will compete at the Husky Classic in Seattle, Wash., while the rest of the squad will head to Nampa, Idaho, for the Boise State Team Challenge.
This will be the Eagles' last chance to book their tickets to the Big Sky Conference championships -- whether that is through hitting the qualifying standards or solidifying themselves a spot in the top 16 on the conference performance lists. The indoor championships are set for Feb. 26-28 in Flagstaff, Ariz., hosted by Northern Arizona.
The Husky Classic will be hosted by the University of Washington in the Dempsey Indoor Center. This is the third and final trip Eastern will make to Seattle this season.
The competition is considered to be one of the most anticipated and prestigious meets in indoor track and field at the collegiate level. The Eagles will get an opportunity to put up solid marks against several high caliber athletes and teams in Division I track and field. Eastern will also get a chance to compete against several Big Sky schools prior to the conference championships.
The Boise State Team Challenge will take place at the Jackson's Indoor Track at the Idaho Center – a facility that is known to produce quality marks due to the mondo-synthetic surface track with banked corners. Saturday's competition will also feature dual meet scoring.
Eastern has 18 qualifying marks on the season – 13 for the women, and five for the men. There are also 12 women and six men who currently rank in the top 16 of their respective events. Several athletes are also on the cusp of cracking into that top 16.
Action in Seattle will kick off on Friday (Feb. 13) at 4 p.m. with the women's weight throw. Saturday's portion of the meet is set to begin at 9:05 a.m. with the women's 60-meter hurdle prelims. Live results can be found via gohuskies.com.
The Boise State Team Challenge will begin on Saturday (Feb. 14) at 9 a.m. Mountain Time. Live results can be found at http://www.broncosports.com/livestats/c-track/index/index.htm.
Quoting Head Men's Coach Stan Kerr
"It is one the marquee events in indoor track and field for the collegiate level. Not everybody got accepted, but the athletes who did are in for the races of their lives. Elite fields and a great venue translates to a great performance whether you are sprinting, jumping, or throwing."
"We unfortunately didn't get as many athletes accepted as we wanted to, so the rest of the athletes will head to Nampa, Idaho, where indoor nationals were held a few years back. It is a very great and fast facility."
"In all four event areas, people are aware of what the 16th mark is on the conference lists. We have a few athletes who are currently sitting 17th and they are gearing up for a performance to put them on the list. In this case, hope is not a good strategy – racing well and preparing well is a good strategy."
"On the sprints side, Jeremy VanAssche, Brad Michael, and Austin Upmeyer got into the fast heats of the 200-meter dash on Friday night. I have also put together a 4x400-meter relay team that is ready to run a fast time to be considered for conference."
"In the jumps, Phillip Puccino is entered in the triple jump and is in a good field. Chase Davis and Braden Barranco will be vaulting and Andrew Morgan will high jump with some outstanding jumpers."
"Our trio of throwers, Evan Banchero, Aaron, and Jordan Arakawa will be throwing on Friday and Saturday. It's good to see the continuity within that group."
"The men's distance runners will be running in Boise. It's not always the easiest pill to swallow when you don't get accepted into UW, but it's a young group that will be back. You have to earn the right to race at that level -- they will have to take care of business in Boise."
"This is a great preview of the squad we will be taking to conference. We have a weekend off next week, so the timing is good for some intense competition. The expectation is more people will qualify this weekend and that the athletes are taking care of themselves and their teammates so we can get as many athletes down to Flagstaff as possible."
Quoting Head Women's Coach Marcia Mecklenburg
"This is the last opportunity to qualify for the Big Sky Conference championships or to move into the top 16 and solidify your spot – that should be their focus this week."
"This is the first opportunity we'll get to see Sacramento State this season. Traditionally, they are a strong team year-in and year-out. This will give our athletes a good chance to compete head-to-head with a conference school and see where they are."
"We have some good athletes who are going to Boise State. Mayra Chavez has a good shot of making it to the conference championships. Everyone is going down there with the goal to qualify, not just to improve their marks. Our athletes will be in the hunt – they didn't get into UW but they get the chance to compete and their season isn't over. They have one more shot."
"The jumps are one of our strongest areas with the pole vault. Courtney Bray is doing well and improving by inches each meet, and I expect that to happen again this meet. I feel Anandae Clark is a sleeper, I've been watching her train and she is looking really good. She may not be number one or two in the conference now, but she is in the hunt. This meet will be an opportunity for her to see what she can do -- she's qualified so that's off her shoulders."
"Morena Mannucci jumped over 39 feet in the triple jump last week and that is a stepping stone for her to go even farther. We have a big crew of high jumpers. Tierra White is our top high jumper. She's a freshman, but this is her fifth indoor meet and third time at the University of Washington, so she knows what to expect."
"This will be a fun meet for our distance crew, both at Boise and UW. At UW they are putting together a DMR team and going for the school record. They are excited about that. They will be in their open events in addition to that."
"We put together our top mile relay for this meet, so this is their shot to see where they are in the Big Sky. Janessa Day and Leiran Cornish are our top 400-meter athletes. The sprints crew is extremely young. Rebecca Tarbert will run in the 60-meter dash and she has already qualified. To me, if you've qualified you should be going big. There is no pressure and you shouldn't be holding back."
"The throws are doing well, but we can do better. The women's weight throw will be a great competition. We still don't have Kelsie Forcier or Olivia Midles qualified, so if we can get those two qualified we will be in good shape."
"This is an opportunity and the athletes need to take advantage of it. That is what's important to me. We've provided them with an opportunity, but we can't step into the ring, on the runway or track with them."