Western competes at GNAC Indoor Championships Monday

WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM Head Coach Pee Wee Halsell
Head Coach Pee Wee Halsell

Feb. 13, 2008

2008 GNAC Indoor Track & Field Program in PDF Format Get Acrobat Reader

BELLINGHAM, Wash. - The Western Washington University men's and women's indoor track and field teams are both expected to have strong showings Monday (9 a.m.) at the fifth annual Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships on Jackson's Track in the Idaho Sports Center at Nampa, Id.

The Viking men, who won league titles in 2005 and 2006, have never finished lower than second. They are expected to battle host Northwest Nazarene and defending champion Central Washington for the runner-up spot, with Western Oregon, which placed third last year, the prohibitive favorite.

Western could have its best GNAC finish in the women's division. The Vikings placed fourth in 2007 after being fifth the first three years. It is shaping up to be a battle between Western and Northwest Nazarene for second, with Seattle Pacific projected to win a fifth straight championship.

"It's exciting to be as close as we are on both sides," said Western coach Pee Wee Halsell (21st year). "We're going to have to overachieve in certain areas and do what we're supposed to in others. But we've had a history of competing well at this meet and I expect that we'll do that again."

"To get the women moving up has been a goal of ours for a long time. We're getting closer to Seattle Pacific than we've ever been before. And we're within striking distance on the men's side."

The men's pole vault should once again be a strong event for Western which has had 1-2-3 sweeps in each of the last three years. Ryan Brown (Fr., Bellingham/Squalicum) ranks second among league leaders entering the meet, clearing 15-1 1/2, and Bryan Lucke (Sr., Snohomish/Monroe), who is fourth (14-7 1/2), placed second at the GNAC championships last year with a mark of 15-2 1/4.

Keith Lemay (Sr, Lynden/Lynden Christian) and Will Cameron (So., Poulsbo/North Kitsap) are ranked 1-2 in the men's 800 meters with respective times of 1:54.84 and 1:59.54. Sam Bedell (Jr., Reno, NV) is second in the mile (4:17.71) as is Jordan Welling (Fr., Burlington/Burlington-Edison) in the 5,000 (15:10.54).

Keefe Brockman (Fr., Richland/Hanford) and Brian Marintelli (Fr., Sonoma, CA) are tied for second in the men's high jump (6-3), and Tim Satterwhite (So., Federal Way/Thomas Jefferson) is third in the triple jump (44-5-1/2).

Megan Paulsen (Fr., Bellevue/Bellevue Christian) has posted the league's top mark in the women's triple jump at 36-7 and ranks third in the long jump at 17-3/4. Joana Houplin (Fr., Olympia) is tied for second in the 60 (8.05) with teammate Megan Zukowski (Fr., Maple Valley/Tahoma). Houplin also is third in the 200 (26.60).

Michelle Howe (Fr., Lakewood) is tied for first in the 60 hurdles at 9.38, and Sarah Porter (Fr., Hockinson) is second in the women's 5,000 with a school-record and provisional national qualifying time of 17:25.84. Heidi Dimmitt (Jr., Wenatchee) is tied for second in the 400 at 59.91. She won that event last year, while placing fourth in the 60 and 200. Dimmitt is the school record holder in both the 60 (7.98) and 400 (58.96)

Clara Cook (Jr., Wenatchee) is third in the women's high jump (5-3) and Christy Miller (Jr., Boise, ID/Bishop Kelly) is tied for second in the pole vault (11-9). Miller placed second at last year's meet and has met the national provisional qualifying standard this season. Cook is the school record holder in the high jump at 5-5 1/2.

Falcons Look For Fifth Straight Women's Indoor Title

With the top-seeded athlete in eight of 13 individual events, Seattle Pacific is the overwhelming favorite to win its fifth straight Great Northwest Athletic Conference women's indoor track-and-field team title next Monday at the Idaho Center Sports Complex in Nampa, Idaho.

But, a new champion might be crowned in the men's division where Central Washington looks to be a long shot to repeat. Western Oregon appears to be in position to return to the winner's circle for the first time since the inaugural event in 2004, though they could be challenged by Western Washington, Northwest Nazarene and CWU.

The meet gets underway at 9 a.m. with finals in the women's shot put and high jump. The first running event will be at 11 a.m. with semifinals in the women's and men's 60-meter hurdles.

Top seeds for Seattle Pacific's women include Latasha Essien in the 60 (7.81) and 200 meters (26.04), Jessica Pixler in the 800 (2:07.57) and mile (4:42.65), Jane Larson in the 5,000 (17:09.02), Brittany Aanstad in the long jump, Teona Golding in the high jump and Mellisa Peaslee in the pole vault.

The Falcons will also be the favorites in both relays having already set GNAC all-time records this winter in both the 4x400 (3:57.88) and distance medley (11:38.24).

Essien is the defending conference champion in both the 60 and 200 meters, while Pixler will be out to defend her titles in both the 800 meters and mile. She is the GNAC record-holder and has the No. 1 time this winter nationally in both events.

Larson, who ranks fourth nationally the mile and 10th in the 800, will be running the 5,000 meters for the first time this winter. She qualified as the top seed with a 3,000 meter converted time that would rank second nationally in the longer distance. She will also double in the mile, where she ranks as the No. 2 seed behind Pixler.

Aanstad has a best long jump of 17-2 ¼, ¾ inch better than 2006 champion Jacque Postlewait of Western Oregon, while Golding has a best mark in the high jump of 5-9 ¼. That ranks second nationally and second all-time in GNAC history. Peaslee's best of 12-2 in the pole vault currently is the eighth best performance nationally.

In addition to Essien and Pixler, three other women are back to try to defend their 2007 titles. SPU's Karin Rohde has won the 5,000 meters twice (2005 and 2007), but is just the 10th seed, while the Falcons' Monica Anderson is the defending pole vault champion. She comes in as the fourth seed.

The only non-SPU defending champion is Sabrina Freed of Western Oregon who is the top seed in the 20-pound weight with a best of 52-10 ¾.

Ashley Puga of Northwest Nazarene is also a former champion winning the 800 in 2006. She comes into the meet seeded fourth in back of Pixler, her sister Jaclyn Puga and NNU teammate Elisa Decker. Jaclyn's time of 2:15.25 ranks 13th nationally.

In all Seattle Pacific has 18 individual event performances which rank among the Top Four in the conference (8 firsts, 5 seconds, 1 third and fourths). Western Washington has 13, including conference leading marks by Megan Paulsen in the triple jump (36-7) and Michelle Howe in the 60 hurdles (9.38) and a No. 2 seeded time of 17:25.84 by Sarah Porter in the 5,000. Porter's time ranks sixth nationally.

Northwest Nazarene has eight Top 4 marks, including conference leading marks by Decker in the 400 (58.52) and Amy Carroll in the shot put (42-8), while Western Oregon and Central Washington each have five. WOU's Postlewait shares the conference-best mark in the 60 hurdles with Howe.

On the men's side, Western Oregon has the most top seeds (4) and the most Top 4 seeds (16). The Wolves' Anthony Marin, who is one of five returning champions, is the top seed in the weight throw where his best of 61-6 ¾ is seven feet farther than any other competitor and ranks sixth nationally.

Other top seeds for the Wolves include Lloyd Massey in the 60 hurdles (8.63), Robert Wegner in the high jump (6-4 ¼) and Zeb Udell in the pole vault (1-7 ¼). Udell's vault ranks 15th nationally.

Central Washington, Northwest Nazarene and Seattle Pacific each have two top seeds. Western Washington has just one, but the Vikings, who won GNAC indoor titles in 2005 and 2006 before being dethroned last year by the Wildcats, do have 10 Top 4 seeds, more than anyone else except Western Oregon.

Marin is one of five returning athletes that won conference titles a year ago, though two will not be competing in those events Monday.

Matt Rogstad of Central Washington won the 60 a year ago, but will opt to compete in the 200 and 400 this year where he is the top seed with times of 22.40 and 49.85. John Riak of Saint Martin's was the 5,000 champion in 2007; this year he will run in the mile where he is the top seed with a time of 4:12.53 and ranks 18th nationally.

Other returning champions are Justin Felt of Seattle Pacific, who has the best mark in the long jump (22-2 ½) and Greg Hamm of Northwest Nazarene in the triple jump (44-10 ¾). Hamm comes in with the best mark and will attempt to become only the third male in meet history to win the same event three times, joining Cameron Neel of Central Washington (shot put, 2005-07) and Chris Randolph of Seattle Pacific (long jump, 2004-06) as the only ones to accomplish that feat.

Other athletes entering the meet with the No. 1 ranking include Daniel Sullivan of Seattle University in the 60 (7.14),Keith Lemay of Western Washington in the 800 (1:54.84), Kevin Lambert of NNU in the 5,000 (15:08.37) and Andrew Matschiner of Seattle Pacific in the shot put (49-5 ½).

In the relays, Central Washington, which will be seeking its fourth 4x400 title in the past five years, is the top seed with a time of 3:25.44. Defending champion Seattle Pacific is the top seed in the distance medley with a time of 10:24.26.