FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona University track and field program hosts its fourth and final indoor meet of the 2017 season this Friday, Feb. 17: the NAU Tune-Up.
In years past, this meet has been exactly what it implies: a last-chance meet for athletes sitting on the fence of making the cut for their respective conference championships. This year, though, the J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome will be packed to the brim as an anticipated 600 or so athletes will be competing in the one-day-only meet.
In total, 18 universities and colleges will be sending athletes and/or teams to Flagstaff this weekend, including schools such as Stanford, Arizona State, Arizona, Washington State and conference foe Southern Utah. A slew of athletes from track and field clubs around the area will also be in attendance.
With Big Sky Conference Indoor Championships a week away, the Lumberjacks are hoping they can fine tune some minor adjustments here and there to better prepare themselves for the meet in Pocatello, Idaho. So far this season NAU leads the conference in nine different event categories.
Three of those athletes are senior thrower Adam Keenan and redshirt-junior distance runners Paige Gilchrist and Matt Baxter, all three of whom earned Big Sky Athletes of the Week honors earlier this week for their performances last weekend.
Keenan surpassed the 20-meter plateau for the first time in his career at the Don Kirby Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M., doing so twice in his six throws and notching a new career-best in the weight throw (67-1.25, 20.45m). Currently, Keenan ranks 31st in the country in that event.
Gilchrist and Baxter, on the other hand, competed at the Iowa State Classic, and both crushed it en route to setting huge PR's. After shattering her old personal best in the mile event by 23 seconds at Mountain T's, Gilchrist responded in Ames, Iowa, doing the same thing to her previous PR in the 5000m (16:09.04). That time leads the conference by 10 seconds, is No. 2 all-time on NAU's indoor list and sits at 28th-best in the NCAA. Gilchrist also leads the conference in the mile event in 2017.
To his credit, Baxter—a 2016 USTFCCCA All-American and NCAA Cross Country national champion—hustled his way to a 13:44.27 time in the men's 5K at ISU, ranking him No. 8 in the NCAA. As of today, it looks as those Baxter is poised to make a legitimate all-American run at NCAA Indoor Championships early next month.
Other Lumberjacks that lead their event categories in the Big Sky include four-time 200-meter dash champion James Fisher, high jumper Obang Odol, long jumper Shanice McPherson, sophomore Jasmine Malone (400m) and Big Sky weight throw record holder Brooke Andersen.
The NAU Tune-Up will begin Friday afternoon with the field events at 3 p.m. MT, while track events get going at 4 p.m. MT. For a full schedule of events, please click here.
Additionally, live stats from the meet can be found here.