GCU wins WAC title; Desert Vista pole vaulter leads locals


The Grand Canyon University outdoor track & field season opens in a couple of weeks when the Antelopes head to Tucson to compete in the Willie Williams Invitational.

But it’s the indoor season that just wrapped up that has created this season’s excitement on campus.  Both the men’s and women’s teams pulled off a very difficult conference three-peat, winning the third of three straight Western Athletic Conference (WAC) team championships.

And that historic season wouldn’t have been possible without the athletes acquired over the last few years from Arizona high schools.

Ryan Girk, a senior from St. Mary’s High School in Phoenix, recorded double wins to help the GCU effort at the WAC Indoors, where the ‘Lopes won 13 individual titles and set five new school records.  Girk won the 60 meters (6.84) and the 200 meters (21.44).

A couple of other seniors from local schools capped off their final college indoor competition with individual wins, and were also among those setting new school records.  Isaac Allanarem from Desert Edge High School in Goodyear broke his own record by posting a 47.01 winning time in the 400 meters, and Briana Myers from Tucson’s Santa Rita High School broke the school record in the 60-meter hurdles (8.44).

And sophomore Paige Hildebrandt from Peoria’s Sunrise Mountain High School ran a 5:02:13 women’s mile to win that event and set another new school record.

But the spotlight at the meet shone brightest on Scott Marshall, a senior from Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, who not only set a new GCU pole-vault record by clearing 5.51 meters (18’1″) on his second attempt at that height, but also entered the school record books with another first.

Marshall’s vault tied for ninth overall in the country, which helped him become the school’s first qualifier for the NCAA Division I Indoor Championships, an honor accorded to the nation’s top 16 in the event.  The university just completed a four-year transition from D-II to a fully-accredited Division I program.

He was recruited to Wake Forest after finishing high school with a No. 4 national ranking, but decided after one season to return to Phoenix and compete for GCU, where the associate head coach was Todd Lehman, the man who first introduced Marshall to the sport 10 years ago.

Marshall’s next goal is to hit 5.7 meters, the qualifying height for the Olympics of World Championships.

Another local former prep star didn’t break any records, but did win his second consecutive individual title in the 60-meter hurdles.  William Winfield IV, from Chandler High School, ran the 60 hurdles in 7.98 seconds to win that event again.

And Anthony Stennis, a sophomore from Camelback High School in Phoenix, helped the 440-relay team to a title after finishing fifth in the 60 hurdles.

A couple of other notables: Kayla Finnegan (Wilson), a fifth-year senior from Oklahoma won the women’s triple jump with a leap of 12.18 meters, and Latoya Gilding, a sophomore from Jamaica, won her first WAC title by hitting 14.32 meters in the women’s shot put.

(Photo GCU Athletics)