[Spokane, WA.] - The Sasquatch track and field teams along with 26 other colleges and universities from around the Pacific Northwest competed in the Spokane Challenge Invitational at the Podium Indoor Track Facility January 13th and 14th
Starting the meet off with a bang, was team captain Jaxson Nichols. The NWAC defending conference champion in the high jump moved into the school’s all-time top-twenty performers with a runner up performance clearing 6’ 8.75” a new lifetime best.
Leading the way for the men’s sprint crew was Zach Merrifield. The freshman from Butte, Montana turned in season best performances in both the 60m sprint and the 200m. Merrifield ran a quick 7.15 in the 60m and then came back to lead the group in the 200m with a season best of 23.26.
Close behind in the 60m were teammates Dalton Wild in 7.28, Andre Gonzalez in 7.37, Isaiah Cunningham 7.56. In the 200m Dalton Wild was close to his season best running 23.33, while Cameron Galbreath turned in a 25.07.
In the men’s 400m sophomore and former Sasquatch hoopster Michael Byers turned in his best performance of the year in leading a group of men to some top marks. Byers raced to a solid time against outstanding competition of 51.32, close behind were freshmen Shaun Salveson in 52.37 and teammate Maximus Richmond running a season best 52.79.
The depth of the men’s sprint and relay crew will be a key factor in the drive for an NWAC title this season.
Another major component for the men will be the strength and depth of the jumps crew. In the men’s long jump freshman Rajay Britton was once again the leader for the Sasquatch. Britton finished 10th overall in a field of over forty-five long jumpers with a leap of 21’ 5.25” Close behind were Gonzaga Prep Freshman Brendan Kelly at 20’ 7”, Caldwell, Idaho freshman Andre Gonzalez at 20’1.75”, Isaiah Cunningham at 20’ 1.50 and Jaxson Nichols at 20’.25”
Leading the way in the men’s pole vault and jumping both a season best and equaling his lifetime best mark was West Valley’s Gavin Hoskinson with a jump of 14’ 6” good for 12th place overall. Another vaulter hitting his season best and equaling his all-time best mark was Pilot Weishaar with a jump of 13’6”. Jacob Erlandsen rounded out the top three for the Sasquatch with a jump of 12’ 6”.
Rounding out the meet were throwers Dan Close, Jaxson Orr and Jacob Action. On Friday night Close and Orr both compete in the men’s 35-pound weight throw with each achieving personal and season best mark. Close led the way with a mark of 45’ 3.50” good for 14th place overall. Orr was very close behind and finished in 16th place out of 32 competitors with a season best of 43’10.75”
On Saturday Orr was just under his season best in the men’s shot-put competition launching a throw of 39’ 1”. Joining Orr was teammate Jacob Action who reached 32’ 3” with the 16-pound implement.
The 2023 version of the Sasquatch women’s team is one to be excited about. While the 2022 team earned six NWAC All-American awards at the championships a lack of depth made a top three finish somewhat of a challenge and the team finished in sixth place overall.
Flashing forward to this year’s team we see one of the most diverse and perhaps athletic teams in recent CCS history. The track program has worked in cooperation with three other sports teams at CCS to assemble this year’s version. Student-athletes representing women’s soccer, volleyball and basketball are all part of the team this season.
Leading the way on Saturday was soccer standout and NWAC champion freshman Lizbeth Soto. With just a few weeks of track practice under her belt Soto made a very solid debut in her first races of the season.
Soto a freshman from Caldwell, Idaho opened the year with a top 30 finish in the 60m sprint, running an early season time of 8.41. The first event of the day for her was the women’s long jump where she opened with a 17th place finish of 16’.50”. Later in the afternoon she picked up a quality finish in the 200m winning her heat and running a very respectable 26.88.
Teammate and 400m specialist Madison Douglas was just behind in the 200m with a time of 28.30. In the 400m Douglas finished in a season and personal best of 1:03.41 against a quality field.
Much like on the men’s side, one of the strengths of this year’s women’s team will be in the throwing events. Talent and depth will go a long way headed toward the NWAC championships in May.
Saturday saw five athletes compete in the women’s 20-pound weight throw. Leading the charge and throwing just under her season best were Sam Emigh with a toss of 37’ 3.75”. Following her were freshmen Faith Wersland from Cle Elum with a mark of 35’6.75”, Isabella Carpenter from Central Valley with a mark of 33’3”, Madison Fager from Shadle Park throwing 25’6”, and also Saira Schoener Central Valley with a mark of 24’ 7”.
In the women’s shot-put the same crew mixed up the order of finish with Isabella Carpenter leading the way with a season best of 33’5.75”, Faith Werslan nest in 30’ 9”, Sam Emigh next at 28’ 9“, followed my Madison Fager at 23’.
The teams both look to hit full stride over the next couple of weeks. Up next is the Lauren McClusky Memorial Invitational at the University of Idaho scheduled for January 20-21 at the newly resurfaced track dedicated to Lauren McClusky inside the Kibbie Dome in Moscow, Idaho