With a career-best throw on her third and final attempt in the javelin, Northern Arizona’s Jade Childs closed out the first event of the Big Sky Conference Track and Field Championship with a third-place finish on the podium.

Childs entered competition in fourth place on Thursday, just six points ahead of Montana State’s Danielle Muri. The sophomore held off Muri and jumped Portland State’s Cecelia Jackson during the final three events to take third place and six points toward the team standings for Northern Arizona’s women. Entering the championship meet ranked fourth, Childs improved on her positioning with a career-best 4,974 points. It was the second straight year Childs posted a record-breaking performance at the final meet, having finished fifth during her freshman season with 4,651 points.

“You can always count on her no matter what she does during the year,” said Eric Heins, Northern Arizona’s director of track and field. “At conference times, and championship times in team scored events, she really steps up. Having family here over the weekend, she is excited for that.”

Childs edged out Muri by 21 points, thanks to a 2:34.96 run in the 800-meter to close out the competition. Muri followed closely behind at 2:36.89, but earned 23 points less as a result. Childs passed up Jackson thanks to a 108-01 (32.95 meters) throw in javelin, well ahead of the Portland State freshman’s 63-03 (19.28 meters). The throw gave her 533 points to Jackson’s 276, ensuring Childs’ move into the top three during the second day.

“Yesterday I went to bed kind of disappointed,” Childs said. “I knew to wake up and have a good attitude and do my best. It turned around in favor for me.”

Montana’s Lindsey Hall captured the heptathlon title, scoring 5,401 points after entering the meet ranked first with a 5,550 score. Montana State’s Carley McCutchen finished second, just behind Hall with 5,391 points after a second-place finish in the 800m.

“Lindsey Hall is a great heptathlete, so it’s always fun to compete with her,” Childs said. “I was just shooting to come close to her.”

Having placed fourth in both the 100-meter hurdles and the shot put on Wednesday, Childs recorded her highest event place of third in the long jump on Thursday. In the first event of the day, Childs recorded a 18-10 (5.74 meters) but fell to fifth place overall after being jumped in the standings by Northern Colorado’s Alisha Allen.

However, she moved back into fourth after her fifth-place finish in javelin before ultimately taking third with her 10th-place finish in the 800m.

Both Hall and McCutchen are seniors, with Childs finishing as the highest underclassman. 

With still two more years remaining, Childs said that despite the finish, she may not necessarily be the favorite next season.

“There are always freshman and sophomores who come up that end up being better than you think,” Childs said. “But I know I am going to continue to grow and get better.”

With the heptathlon finished, Childs will move on to the rest of the meet; the sophomore is set to run with Northern Arizona’s 4x100 relay team on Saturday. 

With the heptathlon and decathlon now completed, the championship meets gets underway today at 10 a.m. beginning with the women’s hammer throw. 

At 10:30 a.m., the women’s high jump begins at Lumberjack Stadium. Northern Arizona’s Lauren Stuart looks to defend her conference title in the hammer throw, while Lauren Laszczak enters the high jump as the favorite.

The men’s and women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase and the 10,000-meter run will have their champions decided on the track today. The steeplechase is set to begin at 3 p.m. and the 10,000m at 6:30 p.m. Field events will run throughout the day.

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