Big Sky Breakdown

NAU pair, Idaho’s Carroll earn All-America honors

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By Brad Wall

Big Sky Conference Communications

 EUGENE, Oregon — Northern Arizona’s Futsum Zienasellassie and Adam Keenan have enjoyed two of the most decorated and successful seasons of any Big Sky Conference athlete in any sport. And both athletes’ seasons are likely not over. The Lumberjack pair both earned All-America honors at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships Wednesday here.

The No. 20-ranked NAU men picked up 10 points on the first day of the meet, sitting in a six-way tie for fourth place in the team standings and already matching their program best point total.

Zienasellassie earned eight of those points by finishing second in the 10,000 meters in 29:10.68 for his fifth career All-America finish and first in outdoor track. Coming into the meet with the nation-leading time, Zienasellassie made a strong late push running three of the final eight lap splits the fastest in the field. He stayed neck and neck with Oregon’s Edward Cheserek, but Cheserek surged ahead in the final lap to claim his 14th overall NCAA title.

Zienasellassie capped a stellar track season with the Lumberjacks, adding today’s All-America finish to his fourth-place spot in the indoor 5,000. Also a three-time All-American in cross country, Zienasellassie will now gear up for the U.S. Olympic Trials, having met the Olympic and trials standard with his Big Sky record time of 27:52.70. The NAU men have now had at least one All-America finisher in four straight outdoor meets and eight of the last nine.

In Keenan’s lone outdoor season as a Big Sky competitor, he has continuously set a new bar in the hammer throw. He did it once more Wednesday, taking seventh in the event with a toss of 227 feet, 10 inches (69.45m) to become an All-American. Keenan started his day off with a toss of 226-03, then had a couple setback throws before coming on strong surpassing 227 feet on his final two attempts.

Keenan became just the second Big Sky male All-American in the hammer, also matching the league’s best finish by Nevada’s Kim Johansson in 1991. He added those honors along with his Big Sky all-time and championship records off 230-1. Having competed at the national level previously for Canada, Keenan will likely get a chance to do so this summer.

NAU’s Caleb Hoover also got himself into scoring position, taking third in his heat of the 3,000-meter steeplechase semifinals. Hoover set a new personal best of 8:33.77, improving on his No. 5 spot on the all-time Big Sky list and moving on to Friday’s finals ranked third overall. He will look to contend for a second career All-America finish in the event, having placed seventh in the steeplechase final in 2014. Getting even a single point for the Lumberjacks Friday would net them their best point total in program history.

Northern Arizona wasn’t the only school with some success Wednesday, as Idaho’s Arphaxad Carroll finished 16th in the long jump to become a second team All-American. Entering his third attempt with a previous best of 22-3 ¾, Carroll leaped 24-3 ½ despite a decent headwind to vault from 23rd place to 16th overall. He edged 17th-place Trey McRae from Charlotte by half an inch for second-team honors.

Five of NAU’s league-high eight athletes also competed Wednesday. Andy Trouard took 19th in the 1,500 meter semifinals with a time of 3:50.42. He was 12th in the second heat, but would have been in contention for a top five auto-qualifier spot had he been in the first heat. The Lumberjacks’ 4×100 relay of DeShon Norris, James Fisher, Isiah Kennedy and Kossi Tchenawou made history becoming the second Big Sky 4×100 team to reach the NCAA meet since Idaho in the 1980s, but couldn’t make more. An injury led to the team not finishing the race.

 

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