AUSTIN, Texas – Earlier today, eighteen athletes from the Northern Arizona University track & field team squeezed in their last practice of the week before tomorrow's NCAA West Regional meet.
For the Lumberjacks, Brooke Andersen and Tiana Hatler-Stefick will lead things off in the women's hammer throw competition Thursday morning at 9 a.m. MT. On the track, it will be sprinter Ashley Taylor in her bread-and-butter event—the 400-meter hurdles—at 2:30 p.m. MT. A full list of Lumberjacks competing tomorrow can be found below.
We spoke with NAU Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Mike Smith at the pre-meet today and talked with him about our athletes and the excitement level building up to such a high-profile meet.
NAU Athletics Communications: Coach, you bring 18 athletes spread out across all event groups to NCAA West Regionals. What does it mean to the program, as well as the school, to have these athletes here in Austin this week?
Coach Mike Smith: "You're right. We have a full representation of NAU track & field at this meet: jumpers, throwers, sprinters, middle distance and distance. The well-roundedness of our program is the most exciting thing about being here. Our athletes are competing at a national level, and I think we're going to show the country what we've been seeing all season long. We have really determined athletes that rise to the occasion to compete no matter what. I don't expect it to be any different this week."
NAU AC: Put us in the shoes of the NAU athletes…what are they trying to accomplish here at regionals?
CMS: "There are two goals. One, we obviously want to advance athletes to NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., in a couple weeks. However, we also have athletes here that are gaining valuable experience—should they not advance to NCAA finals—that they can use for next year. We have a large number of athletes that are returning to compete next year, and just being here is going to be a great experience for them."
NAU AC: As you mentioned, experience is huge. Can you talk about the advantage some of your athletes have, if any, given the fact they competed at this very venue earlier this season at Texas Relays?
CMS: "Anytime a team competes at a venue multiple times during a single season—which is the case for our sprinters, throwers and jumper—you know the lay of the land better and it's definitely helpful. That was strategic in our schedule. You saw our men's cross country program do the same thing in the fall, and they went onto win the national championship. We're hoping competing at Texas Relays earlier this season will help us this week."
Lumberjack Competitors – Thursday, May 25 (All times in MT)
- Brooke Andersen & Tiana Hatler-Stefick (HT) – 9 a.m.
- Adam Keenan (HT) – 1:30 p.m.
- Ashley Taylor (400mH) – 2:30 p.m.
- Geordie Beamish & Nathan Weitz (1500m) – 4 p.m.
- Kossi Tchenawou (100m) – 4:55 p.m.
- Shanice McPherson (LJ) – 5:15 p.m.
- Jasmine Malone & Nicole Fotinos (400m) – 5:20 p.m.
- Maggie Carruth (800m) – 6:10 p.m.
- Matt Baxter & Cory Glines (10,000m) – 7:40 p.m.
Make sure to follow @NAUTrackFieldXC on Twitter for continuous updates throughout the meet as well.