Men win fourth straight GNAC title in huge upset
Western Washington University sprinter Alex Donigian (Jr., Mission Viejo, CA/Trabuco Hills) won both the 100 and 200 meter dashes and ran the second leg on a victorious 4x100 relay in helping the Viking men to a 176-174 upset of heavy favorite Alaska Anchorage at the 14th annual Great Northwest Athletic Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships which concluded Saturday, May 9, at McArthur Field on the campus of host Western Oregon University.
Running the third leg for the winning 4x100 quartet was Brett Watson (Sr., Ferndale), who was named the Outstanding Male Athlete of the Meet. On Friday, his winning long jump mark of 24-1 3/4 broke a school record that had stood since 1966 and he won his third league title in the high jump by clearing 6-7.
Donigian's winning times were 10.44 in the 100 and 21.56 in the 200. The victorious relay was clocked in 41.79. Alex Binkerd (Fr., Redmond), a transfer from Washington, ran the leadoff leg and the anchor leg was run by Nate van Tuinen (Jr., Yakima/Riverside Christian).
Watson also ran a leg on the 4x400 relay, which placed fourth in a season-best 3:16.31 as WWU clinched the title. UAA finished second to Simon Fraser by a fraction of a second, 3:13.84 to 3:13.92. A win by the Seawolves would have given them a tie for the championship.
Together, Watson and Donigian scored 46-1/4 points for the Vikings, Watson finishing with 23-3/4 and Donigian with 22-3/4.
The title was the fourth straight for WWU and the sixth overall. The Vikings entered the meet as a 45-1/2 point underdog to UAA and their two-point victory in the nine-team field was the closest in GNAC history. They held a 20-point lead, 72-52, after Friday's competition.
"This team is made of heart and it showed with an amazing swing of 47-1/2 points," said WWU head coach Pee Halsell (27th year). "And for Watson to get that award was very fitting. He's been the glue for this team."
"There were lots of great performances all the way around. It was a total team effort."
The Vikings' only other event winner Saturday was Travis Milbrandt (Jr., Longview/Mark Morris) in the men's 110 hurdles with a time of 14.38. In Friday's qualifying heats, he had the best clocking of 14.21, breaking school, conference, meet and stadium standards.
Placing second in the pole vault (14-10) on Saturday was Gordie Kordas (So., Blaine).
On Friday, WWU's Ryan Macdonald (Sr., Bellingham/Sehome) captured the men's discus for the second straight year with a toss of 166-1 1/2 and placed second in the shot put with a personal best mark of 48-9 1/2. And Matthew Lutz (Jr., Bremerton/Olympic) was runner-up in the men's steeplechase with a time of 9:13.84.
WWU placed fourth in the women's division with 88 points. Seattle Pacific won its seventh conference crown with 183 points, snapping a streak of two titles by runner-up UAA (154). Central Washington was third (90).
The Vikings' Haley O'Connor (Sr., Sammamish/Eastlake) set a school record of 4:29.17 as she placed second in the 1,500. Katie Reichert (Jr., Longview/Kelso) was runner-up in the javelin (145-9 1/2) as was Miranda Osadchey (So., Dupont/Steilacoom) in the high jump (5-5 3/4).
On Friday, WWU's Katelyn Steen (Sr., Sammamish/Eastlake) set meet and stadium records in winning a second straight 3,000-meter steeplechase in 10:14.16, and Megan Mortensen (So., Tacoma/Franklin Pierce) took the discus with a mark of 142-10 3/4.
The Outstanding Female Athlete of the Meet was UAA's Jamie Ashcroft.