WOU Men’s & Women’s Indoor Sweep To Team of the Week
Western Oregon swept the GNAC Indoor Championships to take the first women's indoor title in program history and the first men's title since 2012. | Photo by Loren Orr
Western Oregon swept the GNAC Indoor Championships to take the first women's indoor title in program history and the first men's title since 2012. | Photo by Loren Orr

Monday, February 27, 2023

PORTLAND, Ore. – Western Oregon men’s and women’s track and field proved to be the class of the field in Spokane, sweeping the GNAC Indoor Championship titles to earn GNAC Team of the Week honors.

 The Western Oregon women claimed their first conference indoor championship in program history on Tuesday while the WOU men picked up their first title since 2012.

On the women’s side, the Wolves finished with 122 points, 12 points ahead of second place Simon Fraser, and were led by senior Jenelle Hurley who was named the Female Field Athlete of the Meet. Hurley won the pentathlon with 3,585 on Monday and finished second in the long jump with a leap of 17 feet, 11.75 inches. Hurley was second only to senior teammate Ujunwa Nwokoma who won the long jump with a leap of 19 feet.

Hurley also won the women’s high jump with a clearance of 5 feet, 5.25 inches. She was one of three Wolves women in the top four of the high jump along with Amity Deters in third and Kalulusno Ngaida in fourth.

Another critical performance from the Western Oregon women came from senior Ana Popchock who unleashed an almost 18-inch season best to repeat as triple jump champion on her final leap of the meet. Popchock jumped 38 feet, 2.75 inches to take the win, two inches clear of the closest competitor.

Junior Maliyah Thompson represented WOU on the podium in the sprints, taking third place in the women’s 60 meter dash with a time of 7.61 seconds. Thompson also finished second in the 60 meter hurdles in 8.68 seconds while Pophchock nabbed a fifth-place finish in 9.14 seconds.

On the distance side, senior Caitlin Heldt snagged fourth place in the women’s 3,000 meters in a time of 10:25.32 while freshman Holly Hutton also brought home points with a sixth-place finish in the mile with a time of 5:09.98

The Western Oregon men surged on Tuesday, overcoming a 22-point deficit to first-place Northwest Nazarene at the start of day two to take the title with 131 points, six ahead of second-place Western Washington. The Wolves took a trio of wins at the GNAC championships, all on the second day of the meet.

Junior Justin Conklin claimed the first win of the meet for the Wolves men with a time of 8.33 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles. The second win of the meet also came in the sprints as junior Dominique Loggins won the finals of the 60-meter dash in a time of 6.87 seconds to claim his second individual title in the event. The final win came as part of Western Oregon’s 1-2 finish in the shot put led by senior Dayne Gordien with a throw of 53 feet, 2.75 inches. He was followed by sophomore teammate Mark Warren with a mark of 48 feet, 2.5 inches. Warren also finished third in the men’s weight throw with a throw of 52 feet, 11.5 inches.

The Western Oregon men picked up consistent points in the sprints with Amari Hendrix and Alex Driesner finishing fourth and fifth in the men’s 200 meters, respectively, while Joel Yasin picked up a sixth-place finish in the 400 meters. Keeton Sanchez also notched a sixth-place finish in the 800 meters.

The Wolves ran strong in the distance events as well. Junior Hunter Hutton claimed second place in the men’s mile with a time of 4:09.11. He was one of three WOU runners to finish in the top six of the mile along with Easton Pomranky in fifth and Emmett Klus in sixth. Hutton pulled in another haul of points with a third-place finish in the 3,000 meters in a time of 8:27.41 followed by teammate Bailey Smith in fourth in 8:28.40.

Both teams really got out and competed hard from the first event to the last event," Head coach Octavious Gillespie-Bennett said. "There are a lot of emotional lows and highs throughout a conference championship and both teams navigated them so well and competed with a lot of energy. I'm really happy for both programs and all of our great student-athletes that have put so much work into their academic and athletic careers. We are excited to see what the programs can accomplish outdoors next."