As is customary to their tradition, the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks will fill up the distance races in Friday’s second day of the Big Sky Conference Indoor Championship meet at the Walkup Skydome.
While the heptathlon and pentathlon began Thursday, Northern Arizona’s first competitors will wait until Friday to begin their title defenses. The men enter the meet having won the past six titles, beginning in 2012 when they also hosted the meet. The women will look to become back-to-back champions after last year’s win in Pocatello, Idaho, as both teams entered the indoor season as unanimous favorites for the titles.
Much of Friday’s action on the track consists of preliminary runs ahead of Saturday’s finals, but the 5000-meter race and the distance medley relay will cap off Friday night with medal races. Scheduled to begin at 6:40 p.m., the women’s 5000m will precede the men's, and the distance medley races follow at 7:20 and 7:35 p.m. respectively.
Northern Arizona will fill up the field in both 5000m races. Eight Lumberjack men are listed among the 31-man field on the heat sheet and four women will run among the 27 for their final.
The heavy Northern Arizona influence continues in Saturday’s finals of the mile and 3000m. Five men will run across the two sections of the mile with 25 total runners, and another nine Lumberjacks will run in the two 3000m sections consisting of 47 runners.
In the two women’s races, five women will run among the field of 24 in the mile, with another eight among the 45 total runners in the 3000m. Northern Arizona’s women enter the meet with the fastest times in all three individual distance races. Paige Gilchrist tops the Big Sky rankings in both the mile and 5000m. Delaney Rasmussen leads the field in the 3000m, and trails only Gilchrist in the mile.
For the men, Andy Trouard leads a quartet of Lumberjacks inside the top eight of the mile with the third-best qualifying time, as well as holding the best 3000m time in the Big Sky, while Blaise Ferro sits second in the 5000m.
The women also pace the conference in the shorter distances. Jasmine Malone and Nicole Fontinos sit first and second respectively in both the 200m and 400m. Ashley Taylor enters with the best 800m time and nationally ranked weight thrower Brooke Andersen also enters as the favorite in her premier event.
Khalil Dorsey, a member of Northern Arizona’s football team, enters the meet with the fastest 60m hurdle time. While they do not sit at the top of the Big Sky, Isaiah Kennedy, Kossi Tchenawou and James Fisher are among the top four of the 60m and 200m.
While the heptathlon will finish in the morning, field events begin at 3 p.m. on Friday with the men’s weight throw and women’s high jump. Meanwhile, action on the track will start at 4 p.m. with the preliminaries of the 60m hurdles.