Vikings Make History With Men’s & Women’s Team Titles

Saturday, May 11, 2024
by Evan O'Kelly, Assistant Commissioner For Communications

ELLENSBURG, Wash. – Western Washington became the first program in Great Northwest Athletic Conference history to win the six combined men’s and women’s cross country, indoor track and field and outdoor track and field team titles in the same academic year on Friday evening at the Central Washington Recreation Complex.

The Viking men racked up 238 points and the women totaled 212 points to capture the two team titles at the 2024 GNAC Outdoor Track & Field Championships, completing the 2023-24 sweep for the WWU track and field and cross country program. WWU claimed both cross country titles on Oct. 21 in Anchorage, Alaska, before following with both indoor titles on Feb. 20 in Spokane, Wash.

Simon Fraser’s Marie-Eloise Leclair was named the GNAC Women’s Track Athlete of the Meet, after taking home the gold medal in both the 100 meters and 200 meters. Kaylee Wright of Western Oregon, who became the first woman in GNAC history to win three consecutive titles in the javelin, earned the GNAC Performance of the Meet award. Western Washington’s Katie Potts claimed the GNAC Womens’ Field Athlete of the Meet honor after winning both the shot put and discus titles over the weekend.

Potts followed Friday’s shot put title with a discus gold medal on Saturday, winning the event with a heave of 146-11.0 (44.80 meters). She became the sixth woman in GNAC history to win consecutive titles in the discus, after winning the crown in 2023. Brenna Board of CWU took second with a throw of 135-1.0 (41.19 meters) and Marliyn Ramirez-Carmona of WOU finished third with a toss of 134-10.0 (41.11 meters).

Josh Green of host CWU earned the GNAC Men’s Track Athlete of the Meet award, after winning the 200 meters, propelling the Wildcats to a GNAC record in the 4x100 meters and finishing fourth in the 100 meters. Decathlon and pole vault champion Drew Klein claimed the GNAC Men’s Field Athlete of the Meet award, and Jeret Gillingham of Western Washington won the GNAC Performance of the Meet after breaking the conference record in the steeple chase on Friday.

Klein won the pole vault, clearing 15-10.0 (4.83 meters) to become the fourth Wildcat and the first since Jacob Thompson in 2022 to win the event. JJ Walker of Western Oregon took second as he also cleared 15-10.0, and Mason Hrcek of Seattle Pacific finished third with a height of 15-6.25 (4.73 meters).

Central Washington’s men broke their own GNAC record in the 4x100 meter relay, clocking in with a time of 40.88 seconds to claim the gold medal. The quartet of Josh Boast, Isaiah Webster, Green and Trevion Walker bested their time of 41.01 seconds, which was the previous conference all-time mark. Western Washington placed second in 41.13 seconds and Western Oregon grabbed the bronze medal in 41.28 seconds.

The Wildcat women won the 4x100 meter relay, posting a time of 45.76 seconds. Simon Fraser took home the silver medal in 46.08 seconds, and the Vikings earned the bronze in 46.80. It was the fourth 4x100 meter relay title for the Wildcats, and the first since the 2016 season.

Leclair held off CWU’s E’lexis Holls in the 100 meters, earning her third straight gold medal with a wind-aided time of 11.19 seconds. Hollis took silver in 11.35 seconds, and WWU’s Caitlyn Cheney placed third in 11.63 seconds. Leclair wasn’t finished there, as she ran away with the 200 meters in a wind-aided time of 23.68 seconds. She was the clear winner over Hollis in that race, with the Wildcat claiming silver in 24.18 seconds. Juliette Williams of CWU stormed her way to a bronze medal in 24.52 seconds. Leclair is the second woman in GNAC history to win both events three times, joining Jamie Ashcroft of UAA who won the same six titles from 2014-16.

Johan Correa of CWU won a highly-anticipated men’s 800 meters, cruising to victory on his home track with a time of 1:50.82. Correa made history as the first-ever Wildcat man to claim the title, while Drew Weber of Western Washington took second in 1:52.09 and Isaiah Rodriguez of WOU placed third in 1:52.33.

Megan Roxby of Simon Fraser capped her strong spring season with a gold medal in the 1,500 meters, finishing with a time of 4:37.60 to top the podium. Roxby joined a long list of Red Leaf champions in the event, becoming the sixth since SFU joined the GNAC in 2010 to take home the crown. WWU’s Sophie Wright finished second in 4:40.41 and Annika Esvelt of Seattle Pacific placed third in 4:41.77.

Esvelt cruised to her first GNAC outdoor crown in the 5,000 meters, blowing away the competition by almost a full minute in 17:06.73. She is just the second Falcon to win the event, joining 2021 champion Dania Holmberg. Alexandra Otto of Alaska Anchorage finished a distant second in 18:00.13 and Ashley Reeck of WWU picked up the bronze medal in 18:04.91.

Kevin McDermott of Western Washington, who took the triple title in the mile, 3,000 meters and 5,000 meters during the indoor season, came away with the gold medal in the 1,500 meters on Saturday. McDermott clocked a time of 3:51.45 for a comfortable victory, becoming the third Viking in GNAC history to win the event. Elwood Hosking of WOU took second in 3:53.62 and Michael Zapherson of UAA took third in 3:54.37.

Hannah Chang of Seattle Pacific stole the show in the 100-meter hurdles, taking home the gold medal with a time of 13.88 seconds. Liv Heite of Alaska Anchorage finished second in 14.28 seconds, and Lauryn Chandler of CWU earned the bronze medal with a time of 14.30 seconds. Chang is the seventh Falcon to win the event and the first since Renick Meyer in 2021.

The men’s 400-meter hurdle crown belonged to Aiden Wise of Central Washington, as he crossed the line with a winning time of 14.47 seconds. Justin Conklin of WOU placed second in 14.60 seconds and Klein earned a bronze medal with a time of 14.69 seconds. Wise is the third Wildcat in GNAC history to win the event and the first since Anthony Hogan in 2010.

Claire Bosma of Simon Fraser successfully defended her title in the 400 meters, running 55.76 to claim the crown for the second straight year. Bosma is the fifth woman in GNAC history to go back-to-back and the first Red Leaf to do so. Overall she is the third SFU woman to earn the award. Kennedy Cook of Western Washington finished second in 55.98 seconds, and Emma Cannan of SFU placed third in 56.49 seconds.

Bosma also helped the SFU women claim the title in the 4x400 meter relay, as she, Leclair, Cannan and Elizabeth Vanderput teamed up for a time of 3:47.10. That gave the Red Leafs their third-straight title in the event, and the school’s seventh in the last nine meets dating back to 2015. WWU finished second in 3:50.18 and Central Washington placed third with a time of 3:53.46.

The men’s 4x400-meter relay meanwhile was won by WWU, with Brian Le, Brenek, Ryan Greenwalt and Weber teaming up for a time of 3:17.35. That was good enough to beat second-place Western Oregon (3:19.33) and third-place Alaska Anchorage (3:19.77). It was the fifth-straight title by the WWU men in the event and their seventh overall.

Brennen Murphy prompted a howl from the Wolves when he inched past WWU’s Lucas Brenek to win the 400 meters in 48.09 seconds. The photo finish had him just ahead of Brenek, who claimed the silver medal in 48.27 seconds. Kevin Angarita of UAA, the defending champion, earned bronze with a time of 48.94 seconds. Murphy is the first Wolf since Aaron Whitaker in 2017 to win the event and the fifth overall in program history.

Alaska Anchorage freshman phenom Joshua Caleb appeared well on his way to a double in the 100 meters and 200 meters, but an injury at the finish line of the 100 meters cut short his bid to become the first-ever freshman to claim both events in an outdoor season. Caleb settled for gold in the 100 meters, running a time of 10.28 seconds before having to withdraw from the 200 meters. SFU’s Jacob Hall placed second in the 100 at 10.342 seconds while Nolan Mickenham of WWU took bronze in 10.349 seconds.

CWU’s Green earned gold in the 200 meters, clocking a time of 20.87 seconds. He is just the third Wildcat to win the event, and the first since Anhony Wright in 2010. Jesaiah Penson-McCoy took home silver in 21.22 seconds, and NNU’s Hunter Braseth placed third in 21.48 seconds.

Marian Ledesma of WWU successfully defended her 800 meters title, running 2:12.83 to bring home her second straight gold medal. Ledesma became the first-ever Viking to win the event last year, and she is the fifth woman in GNAC history to repeat in the event. Roxby took silver in 2:14.60 and Wright was the bronze medalist in 2:15.25.

The first roar of the day came early on, as CWU freshman Wes Kriete won the shot put on his final attempt on his home turf. With the title already wrapped up, Kriete cut loose a toss of 52-7.5 feet (16.04 meters) which was his furthest throw of the season. Isaac Perkins of Montana State Billings picked up the silver medal with a toss of 48-6.0 feet (14.78 meters), and CWU’s Wyatt Franklin finished third with a mark of 48-0.0 feet (14.63 meters).

Gabe Menicke of WWU stunned the triple jump field with the sixth-longest leap in GNAC history, as he cleared 49-1.50 feet (14.97 meters) on his third attempt to bring home the gold medal. He is the fourth Viking to win the event at the GNAC Outdoor Championships, and the first since Mark Seely in 2016. CWU’s Isaiah Webster, who claimed the GNAC Indoor title, took the silver medal with a jump of 48-4.5 feet (14.74 meters) on his final attempt of the day. Seattle Pacific’s David Njeri, the reigning champion in the triple jump, finished third with a top jump of 46-6.25 feet (14.18 meters) on Saturday.

Emy Ntekpere of CWU claimed the women’s triple jump title, clearing 40-5.0 feet (12.32 meters) to cap off her standout freshman campaign. WOU’s Ujunwa Nwokoma, who won the long jump title on Friday, earned the silver medal with a jump of 40-3.5 (12.28 meters). Olivia Windbiel hit a PR to take home bronze, with a jump of 38-11.0 (11.86 meters).

Mark Warren of Western Oregon continued his strong junior season with a victory in the men’s hammer throw, with a distance of 187-6.0 (57.16 meters). Angelo Ramos of WWU placed second with a toss of 183-9.0 (56.02 meters), and Miller Campbell of WWU was third with a throw of 179-2.0 (54.62 meters).

Madeline Lambing of Western Oregon was the gold medalist in the 400-meter hurdles, completing her lap in 1:02.02 to become the third Wolf and first since 2011 winner Kaitlyn Reid. Ellie DeGroot of CWU took second in 1:02.92 and Zoe McDevitt of the Wildcats finished third in 1:03.89.

Amity Deters brought home another gold medal for the Wolves, clearing a bar set at 5-5.75 feet (1.67 meters) to win the high jump. Hannah Cooper of Montana State Billings cleared the same bar for the silver medal, and Miya Koch of Northwest Nazarene earned bronze with a height of 5-3.75 feet (1.62 meters).

The Wildcats’ Josh Boast took home the 400 meter hurdles in 54.13 seconds, holding off second-place Jaden Edwards of Western Washington (54.57) by 0.44 seconds. CWU’s Wise was the bronze medalist, finishing with a time of 55.03 seconds. Boast became the first-ever CWU men’s hurdler to win a 400-meter GNAC Championships title.

Coleman Nash of UAA reclaimed his title in the men’s 5,000 meters, running 14:38.37 to add to his 2022 crown in the event. He is the third Seawolf with multiple titles in the 5,000, joining Dylan Anthony (2014-15) and Micah Chelimo (2011-12). WWU teammates Ryan Clough (14:43.97) and Gillingham (14:48.63) finished in second and third, respectively.