After making some history this year, a trio of Eastern Washington track and field performers are hoping to make a little more this week at the NCAA meet.
Distance runner Catie Arrigoni joins throwers Emma Murillo and Jordan Arakawa in a three-person Eagle contingent that’s the largest in school history for the NCAAs, which begin today in Eugene.
“This is historic for Eastern Washington University,” said head women’s coach Marcia Mecklenburg, who also serves as the throwing coach for the men’s team.
“We have never had three athletes go to nationals at once for us and that speaks great for the talent and depth of our team,” Mecklenburg said.
Each qualified for today’s competition by placing in the top 12 at the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds in Fayetteville, Ark., on May 29-31.
Murillo was the first Eagle to book her ticket, placing 10th in the javelin with a toss of 156 feet, 11 inches, and improving on her previous ranking of 24th coming into the prelims. It was just the latest breakthrough for Murillo, who shrugged off early-season injuries to shock the competition at the Big Sky meet with a personal best of 158-2 that ranks seventh in school history.
“Maybe I am getting this thing down,” said Murillo, a junior from Kennewick. “It’s been more of a mind game at the big competitions, but now I feel that I can consistently throw in the 150s.”
Arakawa, a junior from Olympia, placed 12th in the hammer at the West Preliminary meet with a toss of 202-4 to claim the final spot in Eugene. His season best of 219-3 ranks second in school history, third all-time in the Big Sky and 13th in the country this year.
Arrigoni, a sophomore from Oroville, Washington, grabbed the last ticket to Eugene, placing 12th in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a personal best of 10:14.99 and breaking teammate Katie Mahoney’s school record of 10:17.34.
Arrigoni, a transfer from Everett Community College who is in just her second year of running the steeplechase, has put together five of Eastern’s top 10 all-time marks in her first season with the Eagles. She will race tonight.
• Washington qualified 13 athletes for Eugene; among them is sophomore javelin thrower Carson Fuller, one of only two Spokane athletes competing in the NCAAs.
Fuller, a three-sport athlete at Ferris in football, basketball and track, is the only returner on the men’s side for the Huskies, thanks to a throw of 219-3 in Fayetteville that was good enough for eighth place.
Fuller punched his ticket on his final throw, improving from 13th.
“I had made nationals last year, so that was not how I was going to end my season, not to make to nationals,” Fuller said. “I just went all out, and it worked out for me.”
Two weeks earlier, Fuller was fourth at the Pac-12 meet at 221-10; his best mark this year is 225-10.
Last year, Fuller was 11th overall in the West Prelims with a 227-11 toss; he finished 22nd last year in the NCAAs.
Fuller’s goal on Saturday is a top-eight finish, which he figures will require a throw of about 236 feet.
“With the way I’m feeling, that’s definitely doable,” Fuller said.
• BYU steeplechaser Andrea Harrison, a senior from Shadle Park, is the only other Spokane athlete in Eugene.
Other local qualifiers are Arizona freshman shot-putter Aaron Castle, of Newport; and Nebraska sophomore hammer thrower Will Lohman, of Chewelah.
• Washington State is sending middle distance runners Jesse Jorgensen and Andrew Gonzales.
Jorgensen, a redshirt junior from Puyallup, Washington, ran the men’s 800-meter semifinals in Fayetteville in 1:49.05, good for 11th place. He was an indoor All-American in 2014 in the same event.
Senior Andrew Gonzales of Kennewick finished 10th in the steeplechase with a personal best of 8:47.14, taking fourth place in the second heat. He chopped seven seconds off his previous best and nearly 10 seconds off his 2014 best time.
• Pole vaulter Matt Sullivan is the lone qualifier from Idaho. A junior from Caldwell, Sullivan finished eighth out of 48 competitors at regionals with a height of 17-3.
Sullivan is the second straight Vandal vaulter to make the NCAAs, after Jeremy Klas’ sixth-place finish last year.
Sullivan set a career-best vault of 17-7 1/4 at the WAC championships earlier this year.