Jacks continue track and field dominance, Estrada breaks another record
By Raymond Reid
The NAU track and field team split up for separate endeavors this past Saturday, with some athletes venturing up to the University of Washington for the Husky Classic and other members staying in Flagstaff for the NAU Invitational.
The highlight of the weekend was again Diego Estrada, who broke the NAU and Big Sky Conference record in the 3,000 meter with a time of 7:44:63 at the Husky Classic, topping David McNeil’s 2-year-old time of 7:47.52.
“Diego was really impressive and ran against a stellar field,” said Director of Track and Field and Cross Country Eric Heins. “He continues to show that he is not intimidated by anyone or anything, and he runs every race the way it should be run — as hard as he can.”
This is the second school record Estrada has broken in as many events he has participated in. His other record breaking run was at the Mountain T’s Invitational, where he broke Lopez Lomong’s mile-run record with a time of 3:55.46.
Meanwhile in Flagstaff, freshman sprinter Darriel Banks furthered her impressive inaugural campaign by tying the 13-year-old school record in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.53 seconds. Banks matched the time of NAU aluma Summer McCollum, who set the record during the 1999 season.
“I feel great. I want to do it again next week,” Banks said. “This really motivated me to do well.”
Banks had already qualified for the 60-meter dash after her first college meet, and this was her encore performance.
Senior Dennis Givens ran a time of 6.99 in the 60 meter, which earned him a Big Sky Conference qualifying time, his third qualifying event of the season. He also became the first Lumberjack this season to run the 200-meter in under 22 seconds with a time of 21.67.
“It really got me a lot of confidence,” Givens said. “I can relax now and focus on the conference championship.”
In addition to Banks and Givens, senior throwers Pascal Tang and Nicole Elliot both threw season bests of 64-11.5, landing them a spot among the top throwers in the country. Junior Adel al Nasser was victorious in the 400-meter, improving on his season best with a mark of 46.92.
The Lumberjacks have now qualified over 40 athletes for the Big Sky Conference Championships, including the entire men’s squad.
“I’ve never been around a group of people like this,” said assistant coach Ed Jacoby. “Each week these athletes get a little bit better.”
NAU’s next meet will be a tune-up meet for the conference championships Feb. 16 at the Walkup Skydome with events starting at 4:30 pm.