Phil Puccino is Eastern's first double qualifier of the season
The Eastern Washington University track and field team competed at the Al Manuel meet in Missoula, Mont., Friday and Saturday (March 27-28). The Eagles fought through gusty winds and grabbed four conference qualifying marks and won 15 different events.
"Team balance was the key to today's meet," said head men's coach Stan Kerr. "Although some of our top athletes were at the Texas Relays, we felt great about winning several events in what was one of the more blustery days we've experienced at the Al Manuel meet."
Senior Phil Puccino was Eastern's top performer of the day as he qualified for the Big Sky Championships in the high jump and triple jump – winning each event with marks of 6-8 3/4 and 47-5, respectively.
"Phil's efforts today were arguably the best of the meet," said Kerr.
Kelsie Forcier stood out in the throwing events for the Eagles, placing second in the discus with a conference qualifying mark of 153-3. The sophomore also placed second in the hammer throw (168-8) and the shot put (42-8 1/4).
Senior Morena Mannucci qualified for her final Big Sky Championships in the triple jump with a winning mark of 39-1.
Mannucci, along with freshman teammates Dominique Butler and Megan Murphy, swept the women's triple jump with an impressive performance that Kerr called the "surprise of the meet."
Tierra White cleared the high jump bar at 5-5 to win the event and rank ninth all-time at Eastern.
Katie Mahoney recorded wins in the 1,500 (4:40.25) and the 800 (2:14.74).
Mayra Chavez and Austin Oser won the 5,000, crossing the finish line with times of 17:52.22 and 15:16.81, respectively.
"Katie Mahoney looked sharp today in her wins, and Austin had a great day with his win, too," said Kerr.
Freshman Jeremy VanAssche cruised to victory in the 100 (10.83) and the 200 (22.07). Fellow Eastmont High School teammate Rebecca Tarbert won the women's 100 with a time of 12.47.
"Jeremy and Rebecca led the way for their respective sprint groups," said Kerr. "The impressive part of their wins was running into a very strong and gusty headwind."
Both the men's and women's 4x100-meter relay teams grabbed wins for the second meet in a row. The women's team made up of Tarbert, Janessa Day, Erika Lombardo, and Kendra Fields ran a time of 47.99. VanAssche, Blair Bomber, Kyle Caviezel, and Obinna Nnadi teamed up to run a season best time of 41.50.
In the men's throwing events, Cody Humphrey and Evan Banchero finished first and second in the discus with marks of 154-6 and 152-7, respectively. Aaron Cunningham also had solid opening performances in the hammer throw, shot put, and discus.
The Eagles now have 10 total qualifying marks on the season – five for the men, and five for the women. The 2015 Big Sky Conference Outdoor Championships will be hosted by Eastern on May 13-16 at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash.
Eastern will split up next week for the Stanford Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif., on April 3-4 and the Sam Adams Invitational in Spokane, Wash., on April 4.
"The teams performed well coming off dead week, finals week, and spring break. I am excited about this season and many, many more stellar performances to come," said Kerr.