If the opening weekend of the college indoor track & field season in Arizona is any indicator, 2018 is going to be very interesting.
All three major universities in the state competed in last weekend’s Friday Night Challenge, hosted by Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, using the event to begin shaking off the rust and getting the early jitters out of the way. Each school got some outstanding performances from their athletes.
Jordan Geist appeared to be more than ready as the University of Arizona freshman set the No. 2 shot-put mark in the country and top throw by a freshman in his college debut. The 2017 Pennsylvania Gatorade Player of the Year took first place in the shot with a heave of 63′ 9.75″ and also won the weight throw with a mark of 59′ 11.75″.
“I thought we had a fairly successful first meet,” said head track & field coach Fred Harvey. “We thought this would be a great opportunity to get some game film and see where our folks are at. We had some really good performances across the board.”
Arizona’s throws coach, too, was happy to be able to get Geist started on a very promising college career. “I thought it was good to get this one out of the way,” added T.J. Crater. “He definitely got a little excited, but that is his first meet…and I expect some really big things in the next couple of weeks as he gets into his rhythm, and into his groove of competing again.”
While at Knoch High School, his hammer toss of 238 feet set the top high-school mark in the country and was the third-best in U.S. high-school history.
For Arizona State University, it was Magdalyn Ewen stepping into the circle and setting a record of her own. The redshirt senior from Minnesota broke the 11-year-old school record by throwing the shot 60’6″ and thus become the only woman so far this season to record a mark of more than 18 meters (her throw at NAU translates to 18.44 meters). Her new record broke the old mark set by Sarah Stevens by nearly a foot.
“I feel really good,” she said after the meet. “I didn’t foul on any of my throws, which is usually a big thing for me, and I threw over 18 meters twice – which is like two PRs (personal records) for me.”
Not to be outdone by its bigger Pac-12 neighbors, NAU did a little record-smashing of its own. Kossi Tchenawou, a senior from Colorado, set a new school record in the 60-meter dash in a time of 6.72 seconds. Tchenawou, whose personal best prior to the event was 6.83, also won the 200m dash.
“That’s a big mark, there’s no doubt about it,” Director of Cross Country and Track & Field Michael Smith said about the 60m record. “That’s a national-caliber performance. Kossi is the energy and the lifeblood of that sprint group and his excitement is tangible. When he puts it together, he just performs in a big way. He just loves to compete.”
Meanwhile, back at the field events, in a battle between two of the top weight throwers in the country, NAU’s Brooke Andersen (in photo above) denied Ewen’s attempt to win both shot and weight throws, taking first place in the weight throw with a heave that landed at the 21.06m mark.
The Lumberjacks captured 11 wins in the 30 events, while ASU won five events, The Wildcats brought back to Tucson individual first-place finishes in seven events, including a 1st- and 2nd-place sweep in the men’s high jump, as well as victories in both the men’s and women’s 4×400 relays.
(Photo: NAU Athletics)