ENMU athletes 16th in NCAA Division II nationals

CNJ staff

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Things didn’t go quite as well as had been hoped on Saturday for Eastern New Mexico University’s entrants in NCAA Division II outdoor track and field competition.

Senior Zach Gerleve fouled on each of his first two throws in javelin, then threw 185 feet, 3 inches on his final throw in flight competition. It was not enough to get him into the finals, and Gerleve finished 16th out of 18 competitors.

Junior Kyle Harris, competing in men’s triple jump, went 45 feet, 1/2-inch on his opening attempt in flight competition, then suffered a hamstring injury during his second try and passed on his final attempt. He also finished 16th out of 18.

Harris came in ranked 14th and Gerleve 17th among qualifiers in their events.

“It wasn’t their best performances, for sure,” ENMU track coach Eric Boll said. “But we know if either one had done what they were capable of, they could’ve been All-Americans (top eight).”

The top nine in flight competition advanced to the finals. Gerleve and Harris were the first two ENMU athletes to participate in NCAA national track competition.

Boll said Gerleve slipped on his first attempt before getting off a throw that he thought would have been between 195 and 200 feet.

“He barely fouled on (that) throw,” Boll said. “He kind of fell over the board a little bit.”

Gerleve’s top throw this season was an even 200 feet, a distance which would have placed him seventh on Saturday, Boll said. Senior Nate Reider of Shippensburg (Pa.) won it with a throw of 217-2.

Harris’ season best was 49-4 in a meet at Angelo State. That would have left him 10th in flight competition and just out of the finals.
He came into nationals nursing an ankle injury, but Boll said that wasn’t the problem on Saturday.

“He was way behind the board on his first (jump),” Boll said. “Kyle kind of tweaked his hamstring on the second one.”

Abilene Christian went 1-2 in the event with junior Davy Manga (53-8 1/4) and senior Vladyslav Gorbenko (52-4 1/2).

Boll said three other ENMU athletes — sophomore Logan Capps and freshman Steven Aragon in men’s javelin, and freshman Deidra Brown in women’s javelin — were provisional qualifiers this year and he hopes they can build on what they’ve done.

“I think if (Gerleve or Harris) had been here before, it would’ve helped,” Boll said. “Hopefully for Kyle, this experience will help him for next year.”

Abilene Christian ran away to its sixth consecutive men’s national championship, while the Wildcats were second on the women’s side to Lincoln, Mo.

ACU sophomore Jessica Withrow of Muleshoe captured the women’s heptathlon on Friday after finishing second in the national event last year.