By Jeff L. Hoskisson
EOU Sports Information
MARION, IN – For Eastern Oregon junior, Isaac Updike, the only way he wants to go is up— meaning first place—at this week’s NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Marion, Indiana. Updike and the Mountaineers will take part in the three-day event which gets underway Thursday and continues through Saturday.
Updike will vie for the championship in the 3000 steeplechase and along with 10 other teammates hope to lead the Mountaineers to a top 10 team finish. Eastern will send the following into action in Indiana: Kody Coxen, Ryan Booth, Hans Roelle, Asa Miller, Travis Simpson, Max Van Fossen, Brian Wickham, Carson Hendryx, Pancho Saldana, and Ryan Roosenau.
“This group is led by a few guys with strong national experience,” offered EOU Head Track and Field Coach Ben Welch. “Ike, Kody, Ryan, and Hans are all familiar with being at a national championship. We hope that they can get the other guys excited and perform well.”
3000 Steeplechase (Trials – Thursday at 7:10 p.m. EST/Finals – Saturday at 2:20 p.m. EST)
In his freshman season, Updike finished eighth in the 3000 steeplechase. Last year as a sophomore he was fifth. This year the goal is to be number one. Updike enters this year’s championships as the number one seed having run 8:57.93. He is the highest ranked returner from last year’s meet. Louis Falland of Cornerstone is closest to Updike entering the meet. He has run 9:10.89 and was the eighth place finisher last year.
“Ike is competing in his eighth national championship, counting indoor and cross country,” said Welch. “He is experienced at this and is looking to move up to the top spot this time around.”
Kody Coxen should give Eastern two runners in Saturday’s final. Coxen has run 9:16.33 this season, the ninth best in the country. Last year, Coxen finished 13th.
800 Meters (Trials – Friday at 2:20 p.m. EST/Finals – Saturday at 5 p.m. EST)
Ryan Booth and Hans Roelle should give the Mounties a strong chance to score two in the 800, something they did at the indoor championships. Booth, an all-American in the event in 2011, comes into the meet as the fourth ranked 800 meter runner with Roelle 8th. Indoor champion Monte Larsen of Morningside leads the event at 1:50.05 with Clay Sheperson of Oklahoma Baptist second at 1:50.20. Cascade Collegiate Conference for Zach Boyd-Helm of Southern Oregon is ranked third at 1:51.16 with Booth at 1:51.26. Roelle has run 1:51.85.
High Jump (Friday at 6 p.m. EST)
Asa Miller, an indoor all-American in 2011, and Travis Simpson give Eastern two chances in the high jump. Both are tied for 18th on the entry list at 6-8. The duo will jump on Friday to try and earn all-American honors.
Hammer Throw (Thursday at 1 p.m. EST)
The hammer throw is full of Mounties. Max Van Fossen, Brian Wickham, and Carson Hendryx are all ranked in the top 16. Van Fossen has the furthest throw of the group at 174-9. Wickham is not far behind at 174-1 and Hendryx has tossed the ball and chain 171-9. They will do battle with event leader Anthony Stockton of William Woods who has the best mark of 200-4. Adam Riddle and Bo Johnson of conference for Concordia are second and third entering the competition.
Discus Throw (Friday at 5 p.m. EST)
Wickham will have a second opportunity to reach the podium on Friday when he contests the discus throw. His best of 158-8 is 19th on the list behind event leader Zach Lindsley of Doane, 193-2, and Willy Irwin of Concordia, 191-9.
Javelin (Thursday at 6:30 p.m. EST)
Pancho Saldana gives Eastern the best chance of a high finish in the javelin. Saldana enters the competition as the fourth seed at 202-7. Andy White of British Columbia leads the way at 224-11. Luke Fischer of Northwest, who Saldana finished second to two weeks ago in the conference championships, is ranked second at 213-8. Zach Pio of Concordia of California is third at 203-8.
Decathlon (Day One – Thursday starting at 10 a.m./Day Two – Friday starting at 9:30 a.m. EST)
Ryan Rosenau will get things started this week for the Mounties on Thursday morning in the decathlon. The two-day ten-event contest will give Rosenau a chance to see if he can continue his season trend of improving each time out. He enters the event ranked 11th with a mark of 6034 points. Austin Basterrechea of the College of Idaho is the top decathlete entering the meet at 6933. Basterrechea did not finish the event last year due to injury but was 12th in 2011. Rob Keeney of Doane, who sits second on the list, was third in 2011 and redshirted last year due to injuries.