FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona University track and field team packs its bags and heads west to California for some weekend action at the Bryan Clay Invitational, Mt. SAC Relays and the Long Beach Invitational.
A total of five Lumberjacks—all field athletes—will compete at Mt. SAC Relays in Torrance, Calif., Thursday and Friday, while nine throwers are registered to compete at Jack Rose Track in Long Beach, Calif., this Friday and Saturday. The majority of the squad, though, can be found competing all day Friday at the Bryan Clay Invite in Azusa, Calif.
"Splitting up the squad like this and competing at three different meets allows us to pick and choose the best situations for our student-athletes," said Director of Track and Field and Cross Country Mike Smith. "It presents a great opportunity for our team to put ourselves in the perfect scenarios to get done what we need to get done.
"At the same time, it allows us to continue to prepare our men and women to defend their Big Sky Outdoor Championships in a couple weeks, as well as seek out NCAA West Regional qualifying marks."
As we approach the middle of the outdoor season, NAU is looking to build on the momentum it created last Saturday at the Jim Click Shootout in Tucson, Ariz. Brooke Andersen, coming off her third first-place finish of the season in as many tries, will throw in the women's hammer event Thursday at Mt. SAC and Friday at Long Beach.
The three Lumberjacks that were named Big Sky "Athlete's of the Week" this past Monday are also gearing for weekend action. Shawn Collins, the No. 25 ranked shot putter in the NCAA, throws at Long Beach on Saturday while Shanice McPherson will run the final leg of the women's 4x400-meter relay team on Friday at Bryan Clay. The Big Sky indoor and outdoor record holder in the women's long jump will take a break from her bread-and-butter event this weekend.
Additionally, Canadian sprinter Ashley Taylor is eager to get back on the track and run in the 400m hurdles in Azusa after logging a sub-minute time last weekend in Tucson. Last year at this very meet, Taylor joined forces with current Lumberjacks Jasmine Malone and Nicole Fotinos, and former sprinter Bria Edwards, to break the NAU 4x400m relay record with a 3:41.30 time that is still standing.
Other notable performers for the 'Jacks include Adam Keenan (hammer throw – Mt. SAC, Friday), Obang Odol (high jump – Mt. SAC, Friday), Tyren Wolfe (4x1, 4x4, 100m – Bryan Clay, Friday) and Fotinos (4x1, 4x4, 400m – Bryan Clay, Friday).
Not to be forgotten, the NAU distance group will be out in full force Friday at Bryan Clay, with Matt Baxter, Geordie Beamish, Cory Glines, Peter Lomong and Nathan Weitz all competing in the men's 1500m run. Mikayla Malaspina will also make her outdoor season debut this weekend, running in the 5000m event on Thursday and the 1500m event on Friday in Azsua.
"You know, you need a certain part of the season to build up momentum, shake off the rust and work on technique," said Smith. "I feel like we've had those early seasons meets to accomplish that, and this weekend you'll see our full squad at their best."