Wildcats Cook On Home Oval With 11 Victories
Branden Wise notched an NCAA Championships provisional qualifying mark in the javelin at the CWU Wildcat Invitational. His throw of 193 feet, 8 inches ranks 31st in Division II this season.
Branden Wise notched an NCAA Championships provisional qualifying mark in the javelin at the CWU Wildcat Invitational. His throw of 193 feet, 8 inches ranks 31st in Division II this season.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

HOME IS WHERE THE VICTORIES ARE: Central Washington made a solid showing at home, picking up seven individual victories and all four relay victories in the CWU Wildcat Invitational in Ellensburg on Saturday.

The performances yielded one GNAC Athlete of the Week selection and one provisional qualifier for the NCAA Championships. The Men’s Track Athlete of the Week award went to senior Austin Albertin, who took the GNAC lead in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 53.54 seconds. The performance just missed the NCAA provisional qualifying mark. Albertin also ran legs on both of the Wildcats’ winning men’s relays. The 4x100-meter relay won in 42.54 seconds while the 4x400-meter relay team won in 3:18.19.

The provisional qualifying mark went to junior Branden Wise, who placed second in the men’s javelin with a mark of 193 feet, 8 inches that ranks second in the GNAC this season and 31st in Division II.

The CWU women picked up four victories in the sprints. Junior E’lexis Hollis in the 100 meters in 12.04 seconds. Junior Juliette Williams ran a personal-best 24.72 seconds to win the 200 meters, the second-fastest time in the GNAC this season. Senior Lauryn Chandler won the 100-meter hurdles in a time of 14.28 seconds while senior McCall DeChenne took the 400-meter hurdles in 1:02.85.

The Wildcats also picked up women’s relay victories with a time of 47.31 seconds in the 4x100-meter relay and 3:54.55 in the 4x400-meter relay.

Freshman Steiner Christiensen was the winner of the men’s 3,000 meters in 8:55.47. Senior Erica Cabanos rounded out the CWU victories, capturing the women’s triple jump with a season-best mark of 37 feet, 10.5 inches.

THOMASON VAULTS INTO NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS CONVERSATION: Seattle Pacific junior Emily Thomason did not join the team until four weeks ago. She is not waiting to make her impact known.

Just weeks after transferring to SPU from Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon, Thomason won the women’s pole vault at the CWU Wildcat Invitational with a mark of 12 feet, 4 inches, that was four inches ahead of second-place teammate Lizzy Daugherty. The mark ties Thomason for No. 8 on the GNAC all-time list and ties her for 34th in Division II this season, earning her GNAC Women’s Field Athlete of the Week honors.

The victory had its share of dramatics as Thomason cleared bars at 12 feet and 12 feet, 4 inches on her third and final attempt.

Thomason headlined five individual winners for Seattle Pacific on the day. The Falcons swept the 400-meter races with junior Aniya Green winning the women’s race in 58.21 seconds and sophomore Isaiah Archer winning the men’s race in 48.39 seconds. For Archer, it was his third win as many meets.

Freshman Matise Mulch was a 12-second winner in the women’s 3,000 meters. Her time of 10:26.92 was 12 seconds better than second-place teammate Maya Ewing. Junior David Njeri was the winner in the men’s triple jump with a mark of 47 feet, 1 inch. It is the third time he has won the event outdoors this season.

VIKINGS SUCCESSFUL ON RIVAL’S OVAL: Western Washington picked up five event victories and saw five athletes pick up top-10 program marks as it competed at the CWU Wildcat Invitational.

The Vikings swept the gold medals in the steeplechase. Freshman Laura Halsell won the women’s edition in a time of 11:35.42 while junior Alex Ritter took the men’s section in a time of 9:52.58.

Freshman Elie Bassett was the winner in the women’s 800 meters in a time of 2:16.35 while sophomore Caitlyn Cheney placed second in both the 100 meters (12.43) and the 200 meters (25.28) as she raced in her hometown.

In the field events, sophomore Trent Kibler won the men’s high jump with a season-best clearance of 6 feet, 4.75 inches that ranks third in the GNAC this season. Junior Matty Lagerwey won the women’s long jump with a leap of 18 feet, 4.25 inches.

THE SCHMIDT SHOW CONTINUES IN PROVO: Sophomore Steven Schmidt continued his dominance in the combined events, placing second amongst a field of Division I competitors to lead Northwest Nazarene at the BYU Robison Invitational in Provo, Utah.

Schmidt provisionally qualified for the NCAA Championships in the decathlon, finishing with a school-record score of 6,910 points. The performance eclipsed the previous NNU record of 6,815 points set by Payton Lewis in 2017 and moves Schmidt to No. 6 on the GNAC all-time list. The score is 10th in Division II this season. Only Weber State’s Caleb Whitney, whose score of 7,213 points ranks 27th in Division I, placed higher than Schmidt. The performance earned Schmidt selection as the GNAC Men’s Field Athlete of the Week.

Schmidt finished in the top three out of 12 competitors in eight of the decathlon’s 10 disciplines, including first-place finishes in the high jump at 6 feet, 7.25 inches, the pole vault at 15 feet, 11 inches, and the javelin at 173 feet, 9 inches.

Schmidt was not the only NNU athlete to notch a school record along the Wasatch Range. Senior Abbey Wood set the Nighthawks’ record in the women’s 100 meters, running a time of 11.93 seconds to place second in the preliminaries. She surpassed the previous NNU record of 11.95 seconds set by Taylor Deskins in 2016. Woods went on to place seventh in the finals in 12.01 seconds and ninth in the 200 meters in 24.12 seconds. The performance in the 100 earned Wood selection as the GNAC Women’s Track Athlete of the Week.

LYNN INCREASES CHAMPIONSHIP STOCK IN THE HORIZONTAL JUMPS: Montana State Billings senior Kendall Lynn continued to perform at a high level in the long and triple jump, leading the Yellowjackets’ performances at the Montana Open.

Lynn broke her own school record in the women’s triple jump, winning with a mark of 39 feet, 4 inches that surpassed her previous record of 38 feet, 3.25 inches that she set at the Yellowjackets/Battlin’ Bears Open three weeks ago. The mark is an NCAA Championships provisional qualifier and ties her for 29th in Division II this season.

The performance leads the GNAC this season while her long jump season best of 18 feet, 3 inches ranks third.

Lynn’s victory was one of four top-three finishes for Montana State Billings in the two-day meet. The women’s 4x400-meter relay team placed second in a time of 4:10.09. Junior Bradley Graves took third in the men’s 110-meter hurdles in a season-best 15.49 seconds while senior Forrest Cross was third in the men’s discus with a mark of 151 feet, 6 inches. The men’s 4x400-meter relay team also placed third in a time of 3:29.70.

ADD CWU WILDCAT INVITATIONAL: Alaska Anchorage senior Collin Sample won the men’s long jump at the CWU Wildcat Invitational with a mark of 22 feet, 11.75 inches to rank No. 4 on the GNAC all-time list. Sample and Central Washington’s Christopher Hines both finished at 22 feet, 11.75 inches, but Sample was awarded the victory based on having the better second-best mark…Seawolves’ senior Mikayla Mader won the women’s high jump with a mark of 5 feet, 0.25 inches, ranking No. 10 in UAA history…Saint Martin’s sophomore Isaac Cortes led a one-two finish in the men’s 800 meters, winning with a time of 1:54.82. Sophomore Kainalu Pagente was second in 1:56.14.

THE WEEK AHEAD: The majority of the conference’s teams will be in Bellingham on Saturday, competing in the Ralph Vernacchia Invitational hosted by Western Washington. Alaska Anchorage, Central Washington, Saint Martin’s and Simon Fraser are scheduled to join the Vikings. Central Washington and Western Oregon will send athletes to the Oregon State High Performance Meet in Corvallis on Friday and Saturday. Montana State Billings and Northwest Nazarene will be at the ISU Bengal Invitational on Friday and Saturday in Pocatello, Idaho.

IN THE POLLS: The Simon Fraser women’s team continues to be the only GNAC squad listed in the USTFCCCA Division II Outdoor Team Indexes, which were released on Tuesday. Despite not competing last week, the Red Leafs moved up one spot to No. 22.

Western Washington is the top GNAC team in the USTFCCCA Men’s West Region Index at No. 3, followed by Central Washington at No. 7, Western Oregon at No. 9 and Simon Fraser at No. 10. The women’s regional index finds Western Washington at No. 6, Simon Fraser at No. 7 and Western Oregon at No. 9.

GNAC COMBINED EVENTS CHAMPIONSHIPS ON DECK: The first event of the 2023 outdoor championship season begins Monday as the conference’s top multi-event athletes head to Nampa, Idaho for the 2023 GNAC Combined Events Championships. The two-day event, featuring the men’s decathlon and women’s heptathlon, run Monday and Tuesday at the Bohner Track on the campus on Northwest Nazarene University.

In the decathlon, the local favorite will be hard to best. Nighthawks sophomore Steven Schmidt has the top score in the conference at 6,910 points, which ranks No. 10 in Division II. The defending champion in the event, Schmidt is already 500 points better than the 6,499 points that he won with in 2022 in Bellingham, Washington.

In addition to the outdoor titles, Schmidt won the GNAC title indoors in the men’s heptathlon in 2022 and 2023.

Western Oregon senior JJ Walker has the second-best score entering the meet at 6,152 points. Central Washington senior Braydon Maier, who won the decathlon in 2018 and 2020, has the third-best mark at 5,993 points. Wildcats sophomore Drew Klein, who finished runner-up to Schmidt in 2022, scored just 4,955 points in his only decathlon of the season at the Bryan Clay Invitational. He was disqualified from the 110-meter hurdles and did not finish the 1,500 meters.

In the heptathlon, Western Oregon senior Jenelle Hurley enters with the top score in the conference. Her 4,720 points ranks 20th in Division II this season. Hurley was the runner-up in 2022 with 4,821 points, 115 points behind champion Elena Cano of Alaska Anchorage. Hurley will aim to become the first WOU athlete to win the heptathlon since Mandy Keifer won it in 2009.

Like Schmidt, Hurley was the indoor combined event champion in February, winning the women’s pentathlon.

Central Washington senior McCall DeChenne has the second-best score in the GNAC this season at 4,447 points. DeChenne placed third last year with a score of 4,751 points. Alaska Anchorage junior Carlotta Duenninger, who ranks third in the GNAC with 4,376 points, will compete in the GNAC Combined Events Championships for the first time.

Team points from the GNAC Combined Events Championships will carry over to the GNAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships, which take place May 12 and 13 in Monmouth, Oregon.