Eastern expects best-ever finish at Big Sky championships - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Eastern Washington - Track & Field

Eastern expects best-ever finish at Big Sky championships

Bonnie Bercheid is the two-time defending discus champion and will look for a third title as a senior. (Photo: EWU Athletics) Bonnie Bercheid is the two-time defending discus champion and will look for a third title as a senior. (Photo: EWU Athletics)

Eastern Washington Athletics

Bonnie Berscheid, Cameron Moore and Aaron Mettler look to defend titles as the Eastern Washington University track and field teams compete in Missoula, Mont., at the 2009 Big Sky Conference Outdoor Championships on May 13-16. The men's decathlon and women's heptathlon take place the first two days, followed by the regular portion of the meet on Friday (May 15) and Saturday (May 16).

Both the men's and women's teams are looking for their best-ever finishes in school history. The men have placed third on four occasions while the women have placed sixth seven times. School records for point totals are 108.5 by the men in 2006 and 79 by the women in 1999.

Last year, Eastern's men finished sixth with 74 points and the women placed seventh with 75.5 points. This year, Eastern met the Big Sky qualifying standard 49 times, including 26 for the men and 23 for the women.

"We are looking for one of our top finishes ever," said head women's track and field coach Marcia Mecklenburg. "We think we have the ability to score more points maybe than we have ever scored before. We always pretty much put it together at the Big Sky meet -- we tend to really step it up and compete well there. We are expecting that for this meet."

"Much like indoors, we go into it as a well-kept secret," said head men's track and field coach Stan Kerr, whose squad finished a best-ever third in February's BSC indoor championships. "We know we have a very solid and deep team. We are looking for a number of really outstanding individual performances that will put us in a good position."

Berscheid (formally Millard) is the two-time defending discus champion and will look for a third title as a senior. Sitting in a tough field, she is currently ranked fifth in the conference with her throw of 156-2, which qualifies her for the NCAA West Regionals. Her throw is less than seven feet behind the top-ranked throw of 163-1 by Maria Braun of Northern Arizona.

"This is a really good year in the discus," said Mecklenburg. "She didn't come out nervous this year or anything. She came out going, `all right, this is going to be a good year for the competition.'"

Moore will defend his title in the triple jump and is currently ranked second in the conference with Sacramento State's Philip Burks with a mark of 48-0. Montana State's Kevin Ludwig, who defeated Moore by 4 1/2 inches at February's indoor championships is currently first with a mark of 49-7 3/4.

"Cameron is extremely focused," said Kerr. "Cameron is a gamer and is ready to jump."

Currently sitting fifth in the conference, Mettler is looking to defend the javelin title he won last season as a freshman. Mettler has a best throw of 213-2 this season to rank behind four others with efforts between 214-4 and 216-6.

"Aaron is working on his four-peat," said Kerr. "He won as a freshman and has peaked well this season. He is ready to defend his title, but that field is tightly-packed."

Big Sky Conference indoor high jump champion Adam Stewart is currently tied with Idaho State's Jacob Keller for second in the conference with a mark of 6-8 3/4. The leader with a mark of 6-9 is Weber State's Chris Struckman, who was third behind Stewart and Keller at the indoor championships.

Looking for her first conference title is senior Nicole Luckenbach, who currently ranks first in the hammer with a throw of 185-7. Her school-record mark qualified her for the NCAA West Regionals and ranks her six feet ahead of the next-best competitor.

"It is tough going in leading the conference because of the pressure that is on you," said Mecklenburg. " Nicole has been throwing well all year and it is her goal to win."

Krystal Deyo is currently ranked second in two events -- the 100 meters and the long jump. In the 100, she is just two seconds behind the leading time of 11.88. Deyo's best long jump of 19-8 1/4 qualifies her for the NCAA West Regionals and set a new school record. She is just three inches behind the top mark of 19-11 1/2.

Deyo is also the anchor leg for the women's 4x100-meter relay, which is tied for second in the conference with a time of 46.76.

"Krystal is the one to watch with the Eastern crew," said Mecklenburg. "She is going to be the big point producer for us. Krystal is ready and she competes well at the conference championship meets. We are expecting big things from her."

Sophomore Chelsi Friese is currently second in the pole vault with a mark of 12-7 1/2, ranking behind the vault of 13-1 1/2 by Montana State's Ellie Rudy. A senior, Rudy has won two NCAA Championships indoors and holds the Big Sky record both indoors and outdoors.

"It is Ellie Rudy's final season so I know she is not going to want to lose it," said Mecklenburg. "Chelsi has her work cut out for her, but you never know from one day to the next what is going to happen. I think Chelsi is ready to pull it off and she can win."

Amanda Peterson, who finished fourth in the javelin at the 2008 BSC Championships, is one of several Eagles hoping to earn All-Big Sky honors with a top-three finish. She currently ranks second with a throw of 150-10.

Big Sky indoor shot put champion David Howard could also score heavily for the Eagles in the throws. He currently ranks third in the conference in the discus with a mark of 160-6, is sixth in the shot put with a throw of 53-1 3/4 and is 11th in the javelin with a toss of 196-1. He is also a possible entrant in the hammer throw.

"We are hoping to get David in all four throwing events," added Kerr. "People know who David is and what he is capable of."

The Eagles have seven athletes who have met the standard for the NCAA West Regionals on May 29-30 in Eugene, Ore. They include Luckenbach (hammer), Peterson (javelin), Michelle Coombs (javelin), Mettler (javelin), Friese (pole vault), Deyo (long jump) and Berscheid (discus).

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