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Vikings Build Day 1 Lead Behind Franks, Sterkel Victories
Mac Franks (left) won the steeplechase for Western Washington while Alaska Anchorage's Coleman Nash won an exciting 10,000 meters to close day one. Photos by Jacob Thompson & Caleb Dunlop.
Mac Franks (left) won the steeplechase for Western Washington while Alaska Anchorage's Coleman Nash won an exciting 10,000 meters to close day one. Photos by Jacob Thompson & Caleb Dunlop.

Friday, May 13, 2022

ELLENSBURG, Wash. – Paced by victories by junior Mac Franks in the steeplechase and sophomore Ethan Sterkel in the long jump, Western Washington set the foundation for its third straight conference title on day one of the GNAC Men’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships, Friday at Central Washington’s Recreation Sports Complex.

Franks opened the day by winning the steeplechase, leading four Vikings’ runners to finish in the top eight with a time of 9:00.76. The defending champion in the event, freshman teammate Jeret Gillingham, placed second in a time of 9:07.43.

Sterkel collected the Vikings’ only field-event victory of the day, capturing the long jump on his first attempt with a mark of 23 feet, 11 inches.

Western Washington also enters Saturday with two of the six top qualifiers in Friday’s running-event preliminaries. Freshman Drew Weber broke his own school record in the 800 meters with a top-qualifying time of 1:49.48 that just missed the conference meet record of 1:49.31. The time improves Weber to No. 6 on the GNAC all-time list and a tie for 15th in Division II this season. Freshman Lucas Brenek was the top qualifier in the 400 meters in a time of 48.95 seconds.

Through six events, not including the decathlon from last week, Western Washington is in the lead with 82 points. In addition to the 24 points earned in the steeplechase, the Vikings picked up 19 points in the long jump and 14 points in the high jump. Northwest Nazarene is in second place with 52 points followed by Montana State Billings with 21 points.

Alaska Anchorage sophomore Joshua Wagner was an even closer miss in the meet record for the 110-meter hurdles, with his top-qualifying time of 14.22 seconds just a hair off the record of 14.21 seconds. Central Washington senior Austin Albertin was the top qualifier in the 400-meter hurdles in a time of 54.13 seconds.

Western Oregon freshman Dominique Loggins laid out his case to repeat as 100-meter champion, earning the top qualifying spot with a time of 10.82 seconds. Northwest Nazarene freshman Hunter Braseth was the top qualifier in the 200 meters with a time of 21.94 seconds.

The evening on the track capped with a competitive 10,000 meters that saw Alaska Anchorage sophomore Coleman Nash and Northwest Nazarene junior Tyler Shea battle for first and second the entire race. It came down to a sprint over the final lap with Nash running 59.69 seconds over the final 400 meters to edge Shea for the title in a time of 31:11.39.

In the field events, Nighthawks freshman Steven Schmidt added the high jump championship to his decathlon title last week, winning with a clearance of 6 feet, 8.25 inches. Freshman teammate Gerohm Rihari also cleared 6-8.25 with Schmidt awarded the title based on fewer misses.

Competing in just his third collegiate meet, Northwest Nazarene freshman Laurenz Waldbauer captured the javelin title with a mark of 215 feet, 3 inches on his second throw of the competition. He and Simon Fraser freshman Jarrett Chong (215-3) were the only two competitors to surpass 200 feet on the day.

Montana State Billings junior Forrest Cross had a personal best of over nine feet to win the discus championship, saving his best mark for last to take the gold with a throw of 159 feet.

Saturday’s action at the GNAC Men’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships begins at 10:15 a.m. with the triple jump. Running events begin at 2:50 p.m. with the 4x100-meter relay. Live results for the competition are available at GNAC.live.

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