Big Sky Conference

Five more Lumberjacks headed to NCAA Championships

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Five more Lumberjacks are headed to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon after another standout day for the Northern Arizona men at the NCAA West Region outdoor track and field championships in Lawrence, Kansas on Saturday.

NAU’s Andy Trouard climbed the ranks in the 1,500 meters like no other athlete. The Lumberjack entered the regional with the 46th-best qualifying time in the event. Only 48 qualify. Saturday, Trouard stayed with the front pack the whole race and battled down the stretch to take second in his heat for an automatic qualifier. He ran the third-fastest final 400 meters and rallied to finish in 3:43.61, placing fourth overall.

Trouard is one of seven individual NAU men athletes who will complete at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon next month. NAU also will send the four members of its 4×100 relay team — DeShon Norris, James Fisher, Isiah Kennedy and Kossi Tchenawou — after the foursome ran a time of 40 seconds flat in the short relay to finish 11th and punch their ticket to nationals. The group came into the meet ranked 18th, but picked up one of the three at-large bids by time taking fourth in their heat. For the first time since the 1980s, a Big Sky men’s 4×100 team will compete at the national stage.

Idaho earned two national meet qualifiers on Friday — Kinsey Gomez in the women’s 10,000 meters and Arphaxad Carroll in the men’s long jump. On Saturday, Southern Utah’s Jayson Kovar added a third school that will be represented nationally in Eugene. Kovar ripped a throw of 186 feet, nine inches in the discus to take seventh in the regional and qualify nationally. He will be the Big Sky’s first NCAA men’s discus competitor since 2005.

Montana triple jumper Samantha Evans, Fisher in the men’s 200 meters and Sacramento State discus thrower James Kinloch all placed in the top 20 but just missed NCAA qualifying marks. Evans jumped 42 feet even to place 14th in the triple jump, just 1.5 inches from the top 12. Fisher placed 18th in the 200 in 20.87 seconds. Kinloch threw the discus 179-10 for 19th place.

Other top finishers from Saturday’s action included NAU’s Micael Ljungberg (22nd, discus), Sac State’s Chloe Berlioux (23rd, 1,500), Portland State’s Chaquinn Cook (24th, triple jump) and NAU’s Nathan Weitz (24th, 5,000).

Montana State sophomore Kyle Douglass threw 166-10 in the discus to finish 34th.

The Big Sky added Saturday’s group of qualifiers to five from Friday. Idaho’s Kinsey Gomez (10,000) and Arphaxad Carroll (long jump) each earned national bids Friday, as did NAU’s Adam Keenan (hammer), NAU’s Futsum Zienasellassie (10,000) and Caleb Hoover (steeplechase). Zienasellassie was scheduled to compete in the 5,000 Saturday, but was a late scratch.

The NCAA Championships will take place June 8-11 at the University of Oregon.

About Colter Nuanez

Colter Nuanez is the co-founder and senior writer for Skyline Sports. After spending six years in the newspaper industry with stops at the Missoulian, the Ellensburg Daily Record and the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the former Washington Newspaper Association Sportswriter of the Year and University of Montana Journalism School graduate ('09) has cultivated a deep passion for sports journalism during his 13-year career covering the Big Sky Conference. In August of 2014, Colter and brother Brooks merged their passions of writing and art to found Skyline Sports.

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