Elliot, Tang impress, Chipangama runs sub-four mile
The NAU Track and Field team hosted the NAU Tune-Up on Feb. 16, its last meet before the Big Sky Conference (BCS) Championships this weekend. For both the men and women squads, excitement came from the throwing pitch to the mid-distance races on the track.
Field events took center stage as red-shirt senior Nicole Elliot found her way to yet another career best for the fourth consecutive week, claiming a meet title in the women’s weight throw with a distance of 19.92m. Elliot was two inches shy of the school record set by Anna Soderberg in 1997. Junior Kasandra Vegas threw a personal best mark of 16.70m and red-shirt sophomore Lauren Stuart earned a career high in the shot put, tossing the shot 13.17m.
“The highlights were definitely down at the north end of the track facility here with the throws,” said director of track and field and cross country Eric Heins. “The women’s throwers look a lot stronger going into conference than they did just a week ago.”
Thrower extraordinaire, red-shirt senior Pascal Tang landed himself another meet title and personal best in the men’s weight throw with a shot of 20.29m, claiming the No. 2 spot on NAU’s all-time weight thrower records, and falling about 4 feet shy of the Big Sky record.
“[Tang] throwing over 66 feet for the first time ever, he just skipped over 65 feet I believe. It looks like he can say ‘now I’ve got a shot at the national meet now.’” Heins said.
Fellow red-shirt senior thrower Karl Gehrke launched a career-high throw of 17.82m and claimed third place at the tune-up.
On the track, red-shirt senior Jordan Chipangama returned from an injury last season and executed quite a show in the men’s mile race. With the NAU football team showing full support from the stands and fellow teammate Diego Estrada setting a pace for the first 800-meters, Chipangama joined Estrada as the second Lumberjack this season to run a sub-four minute mile.
“That was actually the key of the race, without [Estrada] I don’t think I was going to PR, it helped a lot,” Chipangama said. “My credit goes to him.”
A kick at the end allowed Chipangama to pass ASU junior Nick Happe, securing the victory and 3:59.47 altitude-converted mile time.
“The weight I look? Didn’t seem like I was light at all,” Chipangama said. “I was feeling like I was probably 200 pounds. The race was getting tough and tough. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be, but above all I was happy with my time. I haven’t run that fast since 2009.”
For the men’s sprinting squad, red-shirt junior Arnaud Froidmont received his second Big Sky qualifying mark in the 200-meter dash with a time of 22.05.
Representing the women’s mid-distance team, red-shirt senior Haley Lawrence ran her way to not only a meet title, but to the BSC Championships with a winning time of 2:17:20 in the women’s 800-meter race.
“I just kind of zoned out and with the bell lap,” Lawerence said. “I just kind of kicked it in the best I could at the end.”
Last weekend at the NAU Invitational, as well as the Husky Classic in Seattle, Washington, the men’s team secured all 22 available slots to send into BSC Championships. After Thursday’s results, 18 Lumberjacks will represent the women.
This Friday and Saturday the Lumberjacks will host the Big Sky Conference Indoor Championships in the Walkup Skydome.
On hosting the championships, Heins stated, “It means a lot of work. It’s great because I don’t have to leave home. It’s something special, a little extra motivation by hosting it. Hopefully we’ll get a lot of alumni back, a lot of family in to watch and we got a great facility, the stands are going to be gone.”