Junior Bethany Drake and senior Katie Reichert led the way for the Vikings as Western sent a school record 12 athletes to Bradenton, Florida to compete in the NCAA Division II Track and Field Championships May 26-28.
Drake hurled her javelin 177-feet-9 inches which shattered her career best throw of 171-7 and set a Western and Greater Northwest Athletic Conference record. It was good enough for the third best throw in Division II history.
Reichert recorded a career best throw of 177-3 on the last throw of her career. She now holds the second best throw in Western and GNAC history, just behind Drake.
It’s a familiar result for the duo; at the 2014 nationals, Drake finished first with Reichert right behind her. Drake said she was happy with how the meet went. This was the most competitive year in Division II javelin history, she said.
While Drake’s throw of 165-3 feet in 2014 won the national title, this year it would have only been good for eighth place. The 2016 champion, Allison Updike of Azusa Pacific, won the event with a record toss of 183-10.
“It was really cool to get to compete alongside such quality competitors,” Drake said. “To get to do it with Katie during her senior year was pretty cool especially coming off of our sophomore years.”
Drake said Reichert took her under her wing her freshman year and got a chance to follow in her footsteps. Drake and Reichert’s friendship grew their sophomore year although they still remained fierce competitors.
“She showed me what it means to buy into the system and put in the work and see what can happen from it,” Drake said. “It’s challenging at times to be best friends and yet each other’s biggest competitor. It pushes us both to be better I think.”
Before the event, Reichert said she was feeling good but the pressure of this being her last year was in the back of her mind.
“It puts pressure on you if you let it,” Reichert said. “You want to do something cool on your last throw but you also have to think about the fact that you’ve had four years of incredible experience.”
Senior men’s javelin thrower John Haskin strained his groin on his first throw of the preliminariess but placed fifth in the meet. Haskin had been battling the injury all year and thought he had it under control, he said.
“Even going into the finals I felt like I was okay,” Haskin said. “As the finals started up I realized there was nothing I could do.”
Western’s women finished 20th in a field of 60 schools. The men’s team finished 47th in a field of 72.
Following the tournament, six Vikings were selected as All-Americans on Tuesday, May 31. Drake, Reichert and Haskin were all selected as first-team All-Americans. Joining them as second-team All-Americans were senior sprinter Alex Donigian, senior hurdler Travis Mildbrandt, and freshman javelin thrower Anosi Laupola.