The Flagstaff running community shows up in force for races, workouts, social events and celebrations.
This weekend, we can show nearly 500 athletes how we show up for a track and field meet.
The Big Sky Indoor Championships will be held in the Walkup Skydome Thursday through Saturday, and there are plenty of reasons to trek over to check it out, including the opportunity to watch some members of the two-time national champion cross country team compete. An indoor meet is its own sort of fun, an intimate setting where you sit almost on top of the athletes and can more easily access the field events than at outdoor venues.
With a league championship on the line, and both the Northern Arizona University men and women defending their titles, it is a rare opportunity to get this up close and personal experience. The Lumberjack men are going for their seventh consecutive league crown. NAU plays host to the meet every three years, and with victories in 2015, 2012 and 2009, the men haven’t lost the title on home turf since 2006.
“It's going to be awesome to see not only some of the best athletes in the Big Sky Conference, but to be able to watch some of the best athletes in the nation compete right here in Flagstaff,” said Matthew Schaefer, graduate assistant and sports information director for NAU track and field. "The talent across the board on both the NAU men's and women's teams rivals some of the best the program has produced in recent years.”
Among the nationally ranked Lumberjack men are hurdler Khalil Dorsey and distance runners Andy Trouard, Matthew Baxter and Blaise Ferro, who has the top freshman 5000-meter time in the country.
Ashley Taylor was recently named Big Sky Women’s Track Athlete of the Week for her school record of 2:05.92 in the 800m, which is ninth best in the country this year, the best in the Big Sky indoor season and the third best time in Big Sky Conference history. Other nationally ranked teammates include weight thrower Brooke Andersen, 400m runner Jasmine Malone and distance runner Paige Gilchrist.
NAU men and women are expected to have strong relay teams as well in an attempt to hold off Southern Utah and the rest of the Big Sky.
Schaefer and NAU Athletics will make it easy to keep up with the action. The meet home page is http://www.nauathletics.com/sports/2018/2/8/2018-big-sky-indoor-championship-central.aspx. It will include links to event details, ticket information and records. The meet will be streamed live from NAUAthletics.com. More information will be coming this week at that link.
“Fans should take advantage of the multi-day event to see some of the top athletes in school history compete right here in the Skydome in what will be an outstanding atmosphere as the teams battle for the conference crown,” Schaefer said.
Allow me to get you started on your meet planning. Thursday will be the pentathlon, starting at noon, and the first day of the heptathlon, starting at 12:15 p.m.
On Friday, the heptathlon continues at 10:30 a.m., followed by field event finals at 3 p.m. and running events starting at 3:45 p.m. Two finals, in the 5000m and distance medley for both men and women, close out the schedule on Friday night.
More field event finals begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, and running finals start at 11:45 a.m. with the opening ceremony. The team championships will be handed out at the awards ceremony, scheduled for 3:20 p.m.