WWU Vikings

WWU posts four top five finishes on final day at NCAA II Nationals

Western Washington University had four top five finishes Saturday, May 23, to close out the 2015 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships held at Grand Valley State University.

Leading the Vikings was Slater Hirst, who placed second in the men’s javelin, bettering his school record by nearly 14 feet with a throw of 230-5. That effort came on his final attempt.

Katelyn Steen finished third in the women’s 5,000 meters with a time of 16:46.36 as did Alex Donigian in the men’s 100 with a 10.38 clocking.

Finishing fifth in the women’s javelin was Katie Reichert, who moved up two places with a mark of 161-8 on her last effort.

WWU’s Haley O’Connor was 10th in the 1,500 (4:35.66) and John Haskin 18th in the men’s javelin (185-8).

As a team, the Vikings tied for 12th in the women’s standings with 18 points. That was the second only to Azusa Pacific, which was sixth, among West Region schools.

WWU tied for 23rd in the men’s division with 14 points.

“That was just amazing stuff,” said WWU head coach Pee Wee Halsell. “To bring three women and finish 12th was outstanding … Katie (Reichert) got us started today with that last throw. All of our athletes came in and competed well.”

Hirst’s throw of 230-5 in the men’s javelin put him in the lead, but TAMU-Kingsville’s Javan Gray followed with a winning mark of 233-8 on his final effort.

“Making Slater’s throw even more amazing was that his calf had cramped up a bit earlier in the competition,” Halsell said. Hirst was fourth nationally last year with a mark of 216-7, then the school standard.

Donigian’s 100 finish was the best in Great Northwest Athletic Conference history. He placed fifth at nationals last spring.

Minnesota State’s Emmanual Matadi won the event in 10.21, followed by Missouri Southern’s Jeffrey Fraley in 10.31.

“Alex had a great start and ran a great race,” said Halsell.

Donigian entered with the nation’s third-best time of 10.27, He also had run a wind-aided school record of 10.22 at the Mt. SAC Relays on Apr. 17.

In the 5,000, Steen trailed only Hillsdale’s Emily Oren (16:36.10) and Kendra Foley (16:43.14) from host GVSU.

“Katelyn (Steen) ran a smart race,” Halsell said. “She took a slight lead at the 3,000 mark and held it to the last 800 meters.”

Steen closed out a stellar four-year career which included six national appearances, two in outdoor track, one in indoor track and three in cross country.

“She’s been an amazing person to coach and an absolute joy for the program,” said Halsell. “She matured through hard work and believing in herself and became a tremendous competitor.”

Steen was second in Friday’s steeplechase final. Her time of 10:13.93 was less than a second off her school and GNAC record. She had finished fourth in 2014.

Reichert’s fifth place in the women’s javelin was her third top 10 national finish. She finished second last year (165-2), losing out by just one inch, and was seventh in 2012. Her personal best is 165-7.

O’Connor came to nationals ranked 17th in the 1,500 with a school-record time of 4:29.71, and Haskin had thrown a personal-best 212-3 this spring.

On Friday, Ryan Macdonald finished 10th in the men’s discus with a mark of 176-6 and Travis Milbrandt placed fifth in his heat and 16th overall in the men’s 110-hurdle preliminaries.

MacDonald entered the meet ranked sixth nationally in the discus at 177-4, and Milbrandt was 14th in the 110 hurdles with a time of 14.21. Both the mark and time were WWU and GNAC records.