Northern Arizona University’s track and field team began competition at the NCAA Division 1 Outdoor Championships West Preliminary Thursday in Fayetteville, Ark.
The Lumberjacks had seven athletes compete during day one of competition.
Kylene Knutsen opened up the day for the Lumberjacks competing in the women’s javelin. Knutsen posted a best mark of 140-5 (42.81 meters), good for 35th in the field of 48. The sophomore came into the event ranked 20th in the region with a best of 160-5 (48.9m).
“It’s been incredible to be able to compete against some of the top-level school’s athletes,” Knutsen said. “I didn’t compete as well as I hoped to, but I have two more years left, so I just have to come back stronger.”
Shawn Collins began the weekend for the Lumberjack men as he competed in the men’s shot put. Collins’ throw of 53-6.5 (16.32 meters) led him to a 10th-place finish in his flight and 44th overall. The sophomore came into the event ranked 48th in the region.
“It was a great experience,” Collins said. “I didn’t throw as well as I could’ve, but I still think I did alright.”
Ashley Taylor made her debut on the national scene competing in the women’s 400-meter hurdles. The freshman was clocked at 59.57 in the event. Taylor’s performance garnered her a fourth-place finish in her heat and left her just one spot short of the finals at 25th in the region.
“There were a lot of good athletes to run against,” Taylor said. “The race was okay, there were some bad weather conditions to work against. I could’ve done better over a few hurdles, but I can definitely see myself learning from this.”
Jessica Weise wrapped up the field events for NAU on the day, competing in the women’s shot put. Weise contributed a seventh-place finish in her flight with a best mark of 48-7.25 (14.81m). The junior came into this weekend ranked 31st with a season-best mark of 50-9.25 (15.47m).
“I am glad to be here because last year I didn’t make it in,” Weise said. “I will take some time off and then get back into conditioning. Now my focus is on getting better and continuing to chase my dreams.”
Closing the night for the Lumberjacks were Matt McElroy, Josh Hardin and Tim Freriks racing in the 10,000-meter run. The top-12 finishers in the event advanced to the final heat in Oregon. McElroy fell just short of qualifying, finishing 16th after a 29:46.72 effort.
Following McElroy were Hardin and Freriks, who competed in the final race of their collegiate careers. Hardin was clocked at 30:39.34 on the way to a 29th-place finish, while Freriks finished the race in 31:20.51 to take 37th overall.