Vikings Ride Three Victories To Day One Men's Lead
Western Washington's Ryan Kenny holds the lead in the heptathlon after four events at  2,652 points. Photo by Loren Orr.
Western Washington's Ryan Kenny holds the lead in the heptathlon after four events at 2,652 points. Photo by Loren Orr.

Monday, February 21, 2022

SPOKANE, Wash. – The foundation is set for Western Washington to make it three in a row.

Thanks to victories by sophomore Kevin McDermott in the 5,000 meters, junior Ethan Sterkel in the long jump and sophomore Kasey Provo in the pole vault, the Vikings vaulted out to the lead after day one of the GNAC Men’s Indoor Track and Field Championships on Monday at The Podium.

The three victories gave the Vikings the team lead after five events with 49 points, putting the Vikings on track to win their third straight men’s indoor title. Western Oregon sits in second place with 35 points followed by Northwest Nazarene at 30.5 points, Simon Fraser with 23 points and Alaska Anchorage with 22 points.

McDermott gave WWU its first champion in the 5,000 meters since 2011, passing up Alaska Anchorage sophomore Coleman Nash and Northwest Nazarene junior Tyler Shea over the final two laps for the win in a time of 14:52.36.

In the field events, Sterkel repeated as long jump champion, adding a second gold medal to his one from 2020 with a mark of 23 feet, 10 inches on the second attempt of the competition that improves his No. 4 spot on the GNAC all-time list. Provo outdueled Western Oregon junior JJ Walker for the pole vault title, winning with his clearance of 15 feet, 3 inches.

The Vikings will carry two of the top qualifiers into Tuesday’s running finals. Freshman Tyrell Woodard led a close competition in the 60 meters, qualifying first in a time of 6.97 seconds. He finished just ahead of Western Oregon freshman Dominique Loggins, who ran 6.99 seconds, and Seattle Pacific junior David Njeri and Central Washington senior Bobby Widmar, who both ran 7.00 seconds.

Senior Mac Franks is the top qualifier in the 800 meters, running a time of 1:51.07 that improved his school record and moved him to No. 6 on the GNAC all-time list.

The Vikings also have the leader in the heptathlon after four events in freshman Ryan Kenny, whose 2,652 points is just five points ahead of Northwest Nazarene freshman Steven Schmidt. Kenny was the winner in the 60 meters, running 7.28 seconds, while tying for second in the high jump (6-1.5) and taking fourth in both the long jump (20-9.75) and the shot put (34-7.75).

Schmidt set the conference meet heptathlon record in the high jump, clearing 6 feet, 8.75 inches to surpass the previous record of 6 feet, 7 inches set by NNU’s Micah Tranch in 2017. Western Oregon sophomore Deshaun Stevens won the heptathlon long jump (21-9) and Saint Martin’s sophomore Andrew Boyd won the shot put (39-3.75).

Northwest Nazarene senior Colton Burr was the champion in the weight throw. While leading the entire competition, Burr saved his best for last with his final attempt, a mark of 57 feet, 6.25 inches.

In the distance medley relay, Simon Fraser’s quartet of Aiden Good, Jordan Schmidt, Tomas Chapman and Aaron Ahl cruised to the victory in a time of 10:09.88. Western Oregon rallied over the final two laps to finish second in 10:11.85.

Simon Fraser sophomore Callum Robinson is the top qualifier for Tuesday’s finals in both the 200 and 400 meters and led the way in impressive fashion. He opened the day by running the top time in the 400 in a time of 48.98 seconds. About an hour later, Robinson set the meet record in the 200 meters with a time of 21.50 seconds. That surpassed the previous record of 21.56 seconds set by Concordia’s Carlos Ortiz in 2018.

Alaska Anchorage sophomore Joshua Wagner is the top qualifier in the 60-meter hurdles in a time of 8.28 seconds. His time was .27 seconds clear of the second-place competitor, Saint Martin’s Andrew Boyd, who finished in 8.55 seconds.

The second and final day of the GNAC Men’s Indoor Track and Field Championships will begin at 9:30 a.m. with the high jump. Running events begin at 11:20 a.m. with the mile.