Western Washington University is sending eight athletes to compete at the 2015 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships on May 21-23 at Grand Valley State University Stadium in Allendale, Michigan. The selections were announced Tuesday, May 12, by the NCAA.
The Viking participants are Alex Donigian in the men’s 100 meters, John Haskin and Slater Hirst in the men’s javelin, Travis Milbrandt in the men’s 110 hurdles, Ryan Macdonald in the men’s discus, Haley O’Connor in the women’s 1,500, Katelyn Steen in the women’s 3,000 steeplechase and 5,000, and Katie Reichert in the women’s javelin.
Eight matches the second largest contingent for WWU since it joined the NCAA in 1998. The Vikings sent nine athletes in 2009 and eight in 2011 and 2014.
It will be the third appearance for Reichert and the second for Donigian, Haskin, Hirst and Steen.
“They all have expectations of placing among the top eight (to earn first-team All-America honors) and two or three are shooting for national championships,” said WWU head track coach Pee Wee Halsell (28th year). “I just want them to go out there and perform their best and compete.”
“I feel like some good things are going to happen and that we are going to score some points.”
Reichert is ranked third nationally in the javelin with a personal-best effort of 165-7. Last year, she placed second at nationals with a mark of 165-2, just one inch behind champion and teammate Bethany Drake. That earned Reichert, who finished seventh in 2012, United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association NCAA Division II All-America honors for the second time.
Steen is making her sixth national appearance overall, also going three times in cross country and once in indoor track.
Steen ranks second nationally in the steeplechase with a school record 10:13.01 and ninth in the 5,000 at 16:35.53. Last year, she placed fourth in the steeplechase at outdoor nationals to earn All-America recognition.
Last winter at indoor nationals, Steen finished fourth in the 5,000 and 10th in the 3,000 to receive first and second-team All-America honors, respectively. In cross country, she is a two-time All-American, placing fifth at nationals in 2014 and 34th in 2013.
Steen has been the USTFCCCA West Region Female Athlete of the Year for both cross country and indoor track during the 2014-15 academic year.
Donigian has the nation’s third best time of 10.27 in the 100, but also has run a wind-aided school record 10.22 at the Mt. SAC Relays. He placed fifth at nationals last spring.
Last winter, Donigian finished second in the 60 at indoor nationals in 6.72, just .001 behind the champion. He was 14th in the 60 at indoor nationals in 2014.
Besides the outdoor 100, he also holds WWU records for the outdoor 200 (21.42), indoor 60 (6.72) and the indoor 200 (21.63).
Hirst placed fourth nationally in the javelin in 2014 with a school-record mark of 216-7 and Haskin, who has thrown a personal-best 212-3 this spring, was eighth. Haskin currently ranks 13th in the country and Hirst 14th.
Making their national debuts will be Milbrandt, Macdonald and O’Connor.
Macdonald ranks sixth nationally in the discus (177-4), Milbrandt 14th in the 110 hurdles (14.21) and O’Connor 17th in the 1,500 (4:29.71). The mark and times are all school records.