Panthers host Big Blue Classic

Mark Shanahan, Staff Reporter

Teams that are scheduled to compete this weekend with Eastern include Bradley, Central Michigan, Illinois State, Indiana State, Loyola-Chicago, Milwaukee, Lewis University, Grand Valley State, McKendree, Millikin and Oliver Nazarene.

Last year, senior Eric Gordon placed second in the decathlon with 6,083 points. Junior Sara Fisher was third in the heptathlon scoring 3,102 points. Senior Kristen Paris won the 800-meter run for the women. Both the men and women’s teams finished in second in team standings at this meet last year.

The two-day Big Blue Classic will begin with the men’s hammer throw, men’s long jump and women’s shot put at 1 p.m. on Friday afternoon. The running events will begin at 5:30 p.m. with the 5,000-meter run. The action on Saturday begins at 9:30 a.m. with the women’s discus. The prelims for the men’s 110-meter hurdles will kick off the running events at 11:30 a.m.

The Panthers opened up the outdoor season with a solid showing at the SIU Bill Cornell invite. Eastern had four individual first-place finishes last weekend led by junior Riley McInerney who won the men’s steeplechase with a time of 9:07.66. That time ranks him 10th in the NCAA West Region.

Junior Jamal Robinson won the men’s 100-meter dash with a time of 10.60. Junior Rachel Garippo won the women’s steeplechase with a time of 11:20.71, which ranks as the ninth best time in school history.

Sophomore Haleigh Knapp took home the women’s high jump last weekend with a height of 5’8”. The height ranks 11th in the NCAA West Region and is the fifth best in Eastern school history.

Knapp has used a new approach to the high jump and hopes to build off of her success from last week.

“Considering it was my first meet jumping from a new approach, I hope to take what I learned last weekend and make the necessary adjustments to my approach hopefully resulting in better jumps,” she said.

The sophomore also sees a few benefits of having a home meet.

“There’s always a sense of comfort at home meets,” she said. “I think it takes away some of the competition nerves when you get to compete where you practice everyday.”

The women also had three other Eastern top-ten marks last week from Anita Saffa, Brion Portis and Janie Howse. Saffa is now eighth in school history with her times in both the 100 and 200-meter runs. Portis is now tenth in school history in the triple jump and Howse is fourth all time in the hammer throw.

Both teams will look to continue their success in the first of only two home meets this season.


Mark Shanahan can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]