Froidmont lands number one time in conference as Lumberjacks continue to impress
The NAU track and field team hosted the NAU Open this past Saturday, their third home meet of the season. The tournament was a smaller meet, but featured some bigger-name schools, such as UA and ASU, and proved anything but intimidating for the Lumberjacks, as freshmen inspired and veterans led.
Belgium native and red-shirt junior Armaud Froidmont sprinted the men’s 400-meter dash in 46.82 seconds, earning him the No.1 time in the Big Sky Conference (BSC), the ninth ranked mark in the nation and a new personal best.
“I was scared. It’s been a while since I’ve run a 400,” Froidmont said. “And then, during the race I didn’t think about anything at all. I was just in the zone. I don’t think I’ve ever been that much in the zone. I knew every time what I should do.”
Not too long after this feat, Froidmont ran anchor for the men’s 4×400 meter relay along with red-shirt senior Dennis Givens, freshman Dai’Tyevon McFadden and sophomore Adel al Nasser, notching yet another win for the Lumberjacks with a time of 3:10.74.
“Finishing off with the 4×4, running 3:10 up here and beating [ASU] that just ran 3:09 last week has got to be a biggest highlight,” said Director of Track and Field and Cross Country Eric Heins.
Veteran runners on the men’s squad contributed to NAU’s success at the Open. Junior sprinter Mile Di Sabella ran a time of 21.87 in the 200-meter dash to secure a conference qualifier slot. Givens followed Di Sabella with a time of 21.91.
Givens, who sat the past two seasons due to two knee surgeries, is back competing this season.
“Dennis Givens, again, the guy underwent two knee surgeries, he’s back here and it’s just awesome to see him running the way he is,” Heins said. “That’s got to really be one of the highlights for me to see him. He’s one of those guys who’s been here as long as I have, and to see him go through those two years and not being able to run and now he’s contributing the way he is, is pretty awesome.”
Red-shirt senior throwers Pascal Tang and Karl Gehrke displayed dominance in the weight throw as Tang won the competition with a distance of 19.08 meters, and Gehrke guaranteed himself a conference qualifier with a throw of 17.26 m. Tang also competed in the men’s 60-meter dash for the first time in his career and finished with a time of 7.66.
“That was a lot of fun,” Tang said. “I actually thought I could run faster than that, but [for] never training or anything, either way I can say I ran 60 meters in college.”
Sophomore mid-distance runner Caleb Potts improved his time by two seconds in the 800-meter dash from the past weekend’s Mountain T’s Invitational coming in at 1:54.39. Off the track, freshman Deante Kemper jumped over seven feet this weekend, but fell shy of first place, coming in second to ASU sophomore standout Bryan McBride, who increased his career-best height in the high jump to 7-3.
In the shot put pit, red-shirt freshman Gus Margiotta also increased his mark of last week, throwing 16.39 m.
For the women’s squad, red-shirt senior Nicole Elliot landed herself not only the win, but also a new personal best in the weight throw with a distance of 19.19 m.
“Coming in I was a little anxious, I guess, just because I’m really trying to get to nationals,” Elliot said. “But I had good two practices Monday and Tuesday and warm ups felt good, and then it just sort of clicked.”
Sophomore high jumper Lauren Laszczak placed first with a height of 1.62 m. On the track, the Lumberjacks swept the 800-meter run with sophomore Carissa Gwerder, freshman Shayla Freeman and red-shirt senior Jackie Shea coming in with times of 2:19.11, 2:21.15 and 2:21.84, respectively. Freshman Darriel Banks impressed with veteran-like performances in the sprints. Banks’s times resulted in 7.56 in the 60-m dash and 24.77 in the 200-m dash. Senior Rashida McKinnon notched a notable mark in the 60-meter with a time of 8.01.
“Rashida McKinnon, competing the way she [did] today was awesome,” Heins said. “It really is a testament to her because it’s her fourth year and looking like she’s going to have her best year ever, and hopefully finish off her season the way she’s going right now is going to be great for her to finish off her career on a high note.”
This weekend, the Lumberjacks will split up, as distance runners will head to Seattle for the Husky Classic on Feb. 10 and 11, while the rest of the team hosts their fourth consecutive home meet in the Walkup SkyDome on Feb. 11 for the NAU Invitational.
“We’ll take some of the distance runners to Seattle so that they can mix it up at sea level. By going to Seattle, one, it gives them a chance to get into a bigger meet where there’s more people around, to kind of get out of that comfort zone where they’re some of the top runners,” Heins said. “So one, just competing is going to be a big thing. And two, is trying to get national [qualifying time], or at least on the list.”