CWU Track and Field athletes head to NCAA DII Nationals

Angelique Whistocken throws the javelin at the CWU Final Qualifier on Friday May 5 at Tomlinson Stadium.

Angelique Whistocken throws the javelin at the CWU Final Qualifier on Friday May 5 at Tomlinson Stadium.

Courtesy of CWU Athletics

Courtesy of CWU Athletics

Angelique Whistocken throws the javelin at the CWU Final Qualifier on Friday May 5 at Tomlinson Stadium.

Simo Rul, Staff Reporter

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CWU track is sending two athletes to compete at the NCAA DII Outdoor National Championships in Bradenton, Florida beginning on Thursday, May 25.

Emily Bland

Junior hurdler Emily Bland, a transfer from Everett Community College (ECC), heads to nationals after finishing first overall at the GNAC, and breaking the record in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 1:00.58.

Bland said she credits assistant coach Brittany Aanstad and her training, which has paid off and helped her reach her goals.

“At the beginning of the season, we would do 10-200s, which is the most I’ve ever done with 200s,” Bland said. “A lot of hill workouts that are about 250 meters to 300 meters long.”

Bland and fellow teammate Ali Anderson battled for the school record all season long, but Bland now owns it.

“Feels pretty great [to have the record] because me and another teammate, we’ve been competing against it for a while, so like finishing the year off with it is pretty great,” Bland said. “But I know next year is going to be even tougher.”

Bland said she is excited to go to nationals because she didn’t think she was going to make it. She wants to put her best foot forward and not psych herself out.

“I expect to at least [set a personal record] (PR), but I really want to make it to finals,” Bland said.

A PR for Bland would be anything under a minute.

“I would expect it to be bigger, I’m running with a lot [of] faster people, [with] about the same times as me or faster,” Bland said.

Angelique Whistocken

Senior javelin thrower Angelique Whistocken goes into nationals ranked  seventh in the nation.

Whistocken had nationals on her mind this year, because she barely missed the cut last year. This will be Whistocken’s last collegiate competition, putting a final checkmark in her career.

“It feels good [to go to nationals]. It feels like all of the hard work, and the ups and downs that came along with it paid off,” Whistocken said.

Recovering from injury

Two years ago, Whistocken suffered a knee injury practicing the hurdles. She did not know if she would be able to continue track.

“It’s awesome [to overcome the injury], Whistocken said. “Two years ago when I tore my ACL, I definitely thought that it was over, that I wasn’t going to do anything with my career at all.”

The recovery process was long and tough.

“I didn’t feel normal for probably like a year and a half to where I felt comfortable without doing anything without my brace on,” Whistocken said. “It took probably six months to where I could walk and run.”

Whistocken said her expectation is to get all-American at her final collegiate meet.

National attention

It’s big for CWU to have athletes going and being on the national stage.

“It’s very important, at that championship level, you want to see your jersey compete on that stage [and] represent,” Aanstad said.

Aanstad thinks athletes should focus on doing their best, as they already know the only outcomes.

“I always tell them that you can go in, and three things can happen,” Aanstad said. “You can go in, and you can do exactly how you’re placed to do. You can go, you can do worse, or you can go, and you can do better. Obviously the goal is to do better.”

Aanstad said she would be happy if they performed to the level that they have been performing this season.

“I think Emily has a lot of untapped potential,” Aanstad said. “She’s PR’d by two seconds this year. Two seconds in a 400[meter race]. I think she’s gonna kill it.”

Many of her fellow track and field athlete and coaches think very highly of what she has been through.

“It’s really big for Angelique, Angelique is a very talented athlete. I think Angelique could probably go and set foot on almost any sports team here at CWU and make an impact,” Aanstad said. “She’s had definitely some unlucky incidents, but she deserves to be there. She’s as talented as any athlete in any event there.”

Aanstad said that this year Bland and Whistocken led the charge in the noticeable improvement of themselves and their teammates..

“I think it’s been a really good year for both our 400-hurdlers and our jav[elin] throwers as a whole, and I think that this is kind of the tip of the iceberg for CWU hurdlers and CWU jav[elin] throwers there is a lot more to come,” Aanstad said.

Head coach Kevin Adkisson said that both Whistocken and Bland reached their goal, a goal that is shared by every top track athlete.

“Number one we want to be able to see them go and compete their best on the year,” Adkisson said “It’s something they’ve worked eight plus months for. Especially people like Angelique and Emily, this was the goal. I think they knew coming into the year that it was something they were striving for, was to get to nationals.”

Bland a transfer from ECC is making her first appearance at nationals.

“For Emily if it’s one more PR [personal record], which would be one more school record. For her, she’s in kind of a low end, she’s coming in as the last person who made it. Going and just giving her best performance of the year, and seeing how far up she can get,” Adkisson said.

Whistocken will be making her last possible appearance for CWU.

“She’s going in ranked seventh, we hope that she’ll be able to put together a big throw to match or prove upon the one that got her there,” Adkisson said. “So she can maybe finish out as an All-American, and just have that real awesome experience.”

Missing out

The Wildcats have two athletes going to nationals, but there were a few others that barely missed the cut, including sophomore hurdler Mariyah Vongsaveng who broke multiple school records in the indoor and outdoor season this year.

“That’s always the heartbreaker,” Adkisson said. [Vongsaveng] “broke [a] school record last week at [the] GNAC [Tournament] into a headwind, if she [would have] had calm wind or tailwind she would have been going to nationals.”

Adkisson said Armando Tafoya, and Alexa Shindruk were close to making it to nationals. NCAA sends close to the Top 20, and they were close to that. Vongsaveng was twenty-fourth, and the NCAA took 23 athletes.

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CWU Track and Field athletes head to NCAA DII Nationals