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Falcons, Vikings Hope For Repeat Magic In Ellensburg
Seattle Pacific's Vanessa Aniteye (left) is a three-time champion in the women's 400. Mac Franks is one of six defending champions for Western Washington.
Seattle Pacific's Vanessa Aniteye (left) is a three-time champion in the women's 400. Mac Franks is one of six defending champions for Western Washington.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

ELLENSBURG, Wash. – For the first time in a long time, the GNAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships will take place somewhere other than Western Oregon University.

The 2022 edition of the conference meet takes place at Central Washington’s Recreation Sports Complex. While the venue is different, Western Washington and Seattle Pacific hope the outcomes will be the same.

The Vikings men are the two-time defending champions while Falcons women are vying for their fourth straight team title. This year’s meet will feature 14 defending champions from the 2021 meet, 15 returning champions overall, and athletes that have set 88 provisional qualifying marks for the NCAA Championships.

WOMEN
Seattle Pacific returns two of those defending champions in its quest for a fifth straight team trophy. Senior Jenna Bouyer is the defending champ in the 100 meters and has the fourth-fastest time in the conference this season in 12.09 seconds. Sophomore Ellie Rising won the 800 meters as a freshman and is provisionally qualified for nationals with a best of 2:11.93.

The Falcons also feature senior Vanessa Aniteye, who won three straight 400-meter titles for Alaska Anchorage (2017-2019). She has national meet provisional marks in both the 400 and 800 meters. Senior Peace Igbonagwam hopes to add the outdoor long jump title to the indoor win she claimed in February.

Sophomore Annika Esvelt has the conference’s top times in the 5,000 meters (16:14.31) and the 10,000 meters (34:20.76), ranking top-10 in Division II in both distances. Freshman Charlie Hill and senior Madison Licari should provide SPU significant points in the pole vault.

The Falcons’ run will be seriously challenged by Simon Fraser, which has claimed both the cross country and indoor titles so far this season and feature one of the top athletes in recent Division II history in junior Alison Andrews-Paul.

The transfer from Division I Baylor set the Division II record in the 800 meters in April by nearly a second with a time of 2:01.43. The time ranks 22nd in the world this season. Andrews-Paul also owns Division II top-five times in both the 400 and 1,500 meters, leading the GNAC at both distances.

Junior Olivia Willett leads the conference in the steeplechase with a time of 10:36.23 that is No. 13 in Division II. In the sprints, freshman Marie-Éloïse Leclair leads the conference in both the 100 and 200 meters and could also join sophomore Emily Lindsay in scoring points in the 400 meters.

Simon Fraser enters the meet with three of the top five times in the 400 and 800 meters and three of the top six in the 1,500.
Defending 400-meter hurdles champion McCall DeChenne leads Central Washington’s quest to show well at home. The junior is the second-fastest runner at the distance in the GNAC this season, took third at last week’s heptathlon and will also contend for the titles in the 200 meters and 100-meter hurdles.

Senior Avery Fisk is the returning champion in the discus and enters the meet with the third-best mark in the GNAC in both the discus (140-1) and the shot put (43-10.5).

The Wildcats enter the meet with significant strength in the sprints. Freshman E’lexis Hollis is second in the GNAC in the 100 meters while senior Makenna Hansen is sixth in both the 100 and 200 meters. Junior Lauryn Chandler is tied for the second-best time in the GNAC in the 100-meter hurdles.

Alaska Anchorage senior Tylantiss Atlas is the defending champion in the 400 meters and will go head-to-head with her former teammate, Aniteye, for the crown. Atlas has the fifth-best time in the GNAC entering the meet at 55.53 seconds and is second in the 200 meters at 24.64 seconds.

While not a defending champion, senior Elena Cano enters the meet having already won the heptathlon with a score of 4,936 points that ranks No. 9 in Division II. Cano also owns the conference’s top times in both the 100-meter hurdles (14.15) and 400-meter hurdles (1:00.16) and the top mark in the high jump (5-7.25). She is an NCAA Championships provisional qualifier in all four events.
The Seawolves will also look for points from freshman Mette Van Der Meer in the pole vault and the 100-meter hurdles.

Western Washington sophomore Aliyah Dawkins is the defending champ in the high jump and won the indoor title in the event in February. She has a best of 5 feet, 2.5 inches this outdoor season. She also owns the top mark in the GNAC in the triple jump and ranks fifth in the long jump.

Senior Amanda Short ranks fifth in Division II in the javelin with a mark of 155 feet, 9 inches. The Vikings also have NCAA Championships provisional qualifiers in freshmen Ila Davis in the steeplechase and Mia Crocker in the 1,500 meters. Freshman Raine Westfall also enters the meet with the top mark in the GNAC in the hammer while freshman Katie Potts leads the discus.

Western Oregon has the other women’s defending champion in junior Moana Gianotti, who is in position to repeat in the shot put with the conference’s top mark of 45 feet, 10.75 inches. Also in title position in the throws is freshman Kaylee Wright, whose 158 feet, 8 inches in the javelin is fourth in Division II this season.

Freshman Jenelle Hurley is the Wolves’ best chance for multiple points. Hurley placed second in the heptathlon last week and is ranked second in the GNAC in the long jump and fourth in the 100-meter hurdles. Sophomore Ana Popchock will also contend for the title in the triple jump.

Northwest Nazarene freshmen Kinsey Yenor and Julie Cheney are No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the pole vault with both athletes owning NCAA Championships provisional qualifying marks. Freshman Miya Koch is also qualified in the high jump with the No. 2 mark in the conference. Sophomore Destany Herbert is No. 2 in the GNAC in the hammer and No. 4 in the shot put and freshman Abbey Wood ranks No. 3 in the 100 meters.

Junior Kailee Stoppel, who is third in the conference in the steeplechase, leads Montana State Billings. Freshman Ryann Moline is ranked fourth in the GNAC in the discus and fifth in the javelin while sophomore Kendall Lynn has point potential in both horizontal jumps.
Saint Martin’s best chances for points are in the distances with freshman Sara Sabra ranked No. 2 in the 10,000 meters and sophomore Naomi Hartley ranked No. 3 in the 5,000.

MEN
With five returning champions, 10 nationals qualifying marks and a wealth of depth in nearly every event, Western Washington appears poised to repeat its record victory performance from a year ago.

The Vikings are particularly deep in the distances with seven NCAA provisional qualifying times across three events. Junior Mac Franks is the defending champion in the 800 meters and owns a season-best of 1:50.05 that is No. 9 in GNAC history. Franks is also provisionally qualified for nationals in the 1,500 meters and in the steeplechase, both with times that rank in the Division II top 10 this season.

Freshman Drew Weber set the WWU record in the 800 at 1:49.81 last weekend and is also provisionally qualified for nationals in the 1,500. Senior Calahan Warren will defend his 1,500-meter title in an event where nine GNAC athletes have met the NCAA provisional standard. Freshman Jeret Gillingham is the defending champion in the steeplechase.

Junior Bryant Welch is the returning champion in the 200 meters. Junior Ben Malquist is the defending champ in the shot put and leads the GNAC with a mark of 52 feet, 8.25 inches.

Simon Fraser stands to give WWU its biggest run for the money in the team race. Junior Aaron Ahl enters the meet with the conference’s top times of the season of 1:49.01 in the 800 meters (No. 3 in GNAC history) and 3:39.97 in the 1,500 (No. 2 in GNAC history). Sophomore Charlie Dannatt is second in the GNAC in the 1,500 and is fourth in a deep 800-meter field while sophomore Paul Buckingham is fifth.

Freshman Callum Robinson anchors SFU in the sprints with a GNAC-leading and nationals provisional qualifying time in the 400 meters as well as the conference’s top time in the 200 meters. Freshman Jorrin Lenton is No. 4 in the GNAC in the 110-meter hurdles.

In the field events, freshman Jarrett Chong is one of three GNAC athletes to go over 200 feet in the javelin this season while sophomore Zachary Kuzyk ranks third in the long jump.

Western Oregon is led by freshman Dominque Loggins, who is the defending champion in the 100 meters. His time of 10.85 seconds is third-best this season. Much of the rest of the Wolves’ point-scoring strength, however, will come in the field events.

Senior Austin Goldstein is No. 3 in the GNAC in the javelin with a mark of 206 feet, 7 inches. Senior Samuel Cole is third in the conference in the hammer while senior Owen Collins is fourth in the shot put and fifth in the hammer. Sophomore Marlon Harrison will vie for the title in the triple jump where is ranked No. 3.

In the distances, junior Bailey Smith is provisionally qualified for nationals in the steeplechase while senior Justin Crosswhite is qualified in the 1,500.

Northwest Nazarene enters with 10 points scored thanks to freshman Steven Schmidt’s victory in the decathlon. He also owns the top mark in the GNAC in the high jump while Gerohm Rihari ranks No. 3. Freshman Laurenz Waldbauer enters as the national leader in the javelin with a mark of 237 feet, 6 inches that is No. 2 in GNAC history.

In the throws, senior Colton Burr leads the GNAC in the hammer while junior Dylan Hendry is second in the shot put. On the track, freshman Hunter Braseth ranks second in the conference in the 100 meters and third in the 200 meters while junior Tyler Shea ranks third in the 5,000 meters.

Seattle Pacific has the other defending champion in junior David Njeri in the triple jump. His season-best of 49 feet, 10 inches is 12th in Division II and No. 3 on the GNAC all-time list. Njeri also ranks fifth in the long jump. Freshman Kainoa Lee is second in the conference in the pole vault.

In the sprints, freshman Isaiah Archer ranks fourth in the 400 meters while sophomore Jeff Gordon is sixth in the GNAC in both the 100 and 200 meters. Senior Colin Boutin hopes to end on a high note, ranking No. 3 in the 10,000 meters.

Sophomore Coleman Nash leads Alaska Anchorage with the conference’s top times in the 5,000 meters (13:53.33) and the 10,000 meters (24:24.40), both of which rank in the top 20 in Division II. Junior Jesus Avalos is No. 2 in the GNAC this season in the 10,000 meters while junior Jacob Moos ranks No. 4 in the 5,000.

Sophomore Joshua Wagner leads the GNAC with a time of 14.22 seconds in the 110-meter hurdles that is No. 2 in GNAC history. He also is ranked No. 2 this season in the 400-meter hurdles. Junior Enrique Campbell’s leading time of 10.59 seconds in the 100 meters is No. 10 on the GNAC all-time list. He also ranks No. 2 in the 200 meters and No. 3 in the 400 meters.

Central Washington’s strengths will be in the sprints and field events. Senior Austin Albertin ranks second in the conference in the 400 meters while senior Zachary Davis is fourth in the 100 meters. Junior Omar Young ranks first in the discus and sophomore Wyatt Franklin is second. The Wildcats also have four of the top 10 in the pole vault, led by senior Jacob Thompson’s No. 2 mark of 14 feet, 10 inches.

Saint Martin’s senior Josh Schulz set the school record in the long jump with a season-best of 34 feet, 3.5 inches that is 20th in Division II. Senior Micah Au-Haupu ranks No. 3 in the GNAC in the shot put while sophomore Andrew Boyd is No. 5 in the 110-meter hurdles.

Montana State Billings senior Carson Jessop has an NCAA Championships provisional qualifier in the steeplechase with a time of 9:07.74. Freshman Bradley Graves is No. 2 in the GNAC in the 110-meter hurdles and junior Forrest Cross ranks No. 3 in the discus.

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