Northern Arizona’s David McNeill Wins Heavy-Duty 3k Qualifier at Washington
SEATTLE, Wash. – Senior All-American David McNeill of the Northern Arizona track and field team ended the open races at the Husky Classic with a bang when he scorched past the field in a time of 7:47.52 to win the men’s 3,000-meter race. The national-leading mark set by McNeill also gives him the school indoor record previously held by former indoor 3k National Champion Lopez Lomong (7:49.74).
McNeill also broke the course record at the Dempsey Indoor facility set last year by Oklahoma State’s German Fernandez (7:47.97).
“Two weeks ago, I couldn’t even do 3k of tempo running,” an elated McNeill said. " It would have been easy for me to say ‘I don’t want to come to Washington because I am not prepared,’ but I knew that racing and training are different, so I came here and gave it a go. It worked out I guess.”
McNeill was also thrilled to have broken the school record previously held by his former teammate Lomong.
“I kind of feel bad for erasing such a legend’s name from the board, but he still has a few other ones there, so I don’t feel too bad,” joked McNeill. “It is special to be able to say that you have broken an Olympian and U.S. flag-bearer’s indoor record. It is one of the career highlights for me.”
Interim Director of Track and Field & Cross Country Eric Heins was excited to see McNeill run the record-setting time, especially after his rough transition back to altitude at the beginning of the season.
“David is just an amazing athlete,” Heins said. “He came back from winter break and had a little bit of a rough transition back to Flagstaff. I think we did too much with his training and got a little bit fatigued. No previous workouts said that he could go out and run that time today, but you know once he gets onto the track he will put up a great performance.”
Six other Lumberjacks aside from McNeill raced today on the campus of the University of Washington.
Junior Jordan Chipangama gave it a go in the mile invite today at the Husky Classic, collecting an NCAA provisional qualifying mark of 4:01.75. Senior Nell Rojas (3k), junior Astrid Leutert (3k) and sophomores Ahmed Osman (3k) and Darius Terry (mile) all collected Big Sky qualifying marks in their respective events.
Also performing outside of Flagstaff on Saturday was senior thrower Javier Villarreal who came up with a mark of 17.52m (57-05.75) to finish sixth overall in the men’s shot put at the Iowa State Classic.
The women’s squad placed five more members into the championship meet Saturday at the Walkup Sydome, and had over a dozen other Lumberjacks improve upon season-best marks at the NAU Invitational. The women now have the maximum 22 qualifiers, and the men are still looking to round out their postseason roster with one more member.
The five members from the women’s squad to qualify for the Big Sky Championships were sophomores Jenne Childs, Simone Holder and Lisette Michaels, Chanda Penney and freshman Torin Shriver.
Child’s turned in a qualifying time in the 60-meter hurdles, finishing fifth overall in a time of 9.11. In the 60-meter dash, Holder clocked a time of 7.86, hitting the Big Sky qualifying mark on the dot. The duo of Shriver (11:01.63) and Michaels (11:04.83) qualified in the 5,000m event via their 3,000m times. They finished second and third, respectively.
Penney became the fourth women’s jumper to qualify for the Lumberjacks in the triple jump after she leaped 37-7.75.
The Lumberjacks conclude their regular season next Friday when the host the NAU Tune Up. The meet is scheduled to begin at 3:45 p.m. MST.