Blowing past the competition: NAU track & field sweeps Big Sky Indoor Championships for 11th time in school history

Nur Malaspina

For the 11th time in school history, the Northern Arizona men’s and women’s track & field teams swept the Big Sky Indoor Track & Field Championships on Saturday.

The men captured their ninth consecutive Big Sky indoor team title and 23rd overall. No other school has more than six men’s indoor championships. The women are back atop the conference for the third time in four years and the 14th time overall in program history.

“I’m really proud of the way both teams fought for these championships,” said Mike Smith, director of Track & Field and Cross Country. “They were full team efforts. We stress that how we compete is just as important as the outcome. The way we went about that on both sides was fantastic.”

The sweep of both team titles is the third in the last four years as well. Coincidentally, the last three times the Big Sky Indoor Track & Field Championships have been hosted in Pocatello, NAU has claimed both team championships (2014, 2017, 2020).

The Lumberjack men ran away with the championship, scoring 141.5 points. Host Idaho State was a distant second with 89.5 points.

The NAU women hoisted the trophy after outlasting Sacramento State, last season’s women’s indoor champions and the preseason favorite to repeat. The Lumberjacks recorded 103 team points, just edging out the Hornets’ total of 100.5.

“The women’s team came down to two points and that was a matter of tenacious, unrelenting focus and belief,” Smith said. “Halfway through Friday night and even halfway through Saturday, we thought it was a long shot, but it shows how special track & field is because things can change in just a few events. We capitalized at the end of the meet.”

Senior Mikayla Malaspina and freshman Abdihamid Nur also collected individual honors. Malaspina, who narrowly missed becoming the fifth Big Sky woman to be a triple indoor champion in a single year, was named the Big Sky’s Most Valuable Women’s Athlete. Nur, who swept the 3000-meter and 5000-meter races, earned Big Sky Men’s Freshman of the Year.

Malaspina and Nur were at the forefront of a dominant performance by both squads’ distance runners. On Saturday alone, NAU placed five of the top eight in the men’s and women’s miles, five of the top eight in the men’s 3000-meter and four of the top eight in the women’s 3000-meter. NAU’s distance team took home three total event wins on Saturday.

In the men’s 3K, Nur recorded his second gold-medal performance of the weekend with a time of 8:17.30. He became the eighth Lumberjack male to be a double indoor champion in the last eight years. He also joins senior Tyler Day as well as former Lumberjack greats Futsum Zienasellassie and Matt McElroy to win both the indoor 3K and 5K in the same year since 2013.

Throughout the final day of competition, there was never any serious doubt in who would win the men’s title. However, the women’s championship came down to the last event between NAU and Sacramento State. Even though Sacramento State won the women’s 4×400-meter relay it was not enough to overtake NAU for the win. The NAU women’s team of Madeline Wilson, Miracle Onyemaobi, Chloe Barylski and Melanie Loff took fourth in the 4×400-meter relay event. It was just enough to seal the deal and become indoor champs. 

NAU’s top finishers:

Men’s high jump:
6. Jack Normand 1.94m 

Men’s triple jump:
5. Cameron Rayford 14.52m

Men’s shot put: 
3. Parker Joens 18.31m
6. Jake Arnold 17.27

Men’s mile: 
1. Luis Grijalva 4:09.79
2. Theo Quax 4:12.11
3. Geordie Beamish 4:12.33
6. Cade Burks 4:14.16
8. Ryan Raff 4:16.7

Men’s 60m hurdles:
6. Carter Bracken 8.09

Men’s 60m dash:
7. Joseph Hylton 6.89

Men’s 800m:
3. Geordie Beamish 1:54.24

Men’s 3000m: 
1. Abdihamid Nur 8:17.30
2. Blaise Ferro 8:18.70
3. Tyler Day 8:19.15
4. Luis Grijalva 8:22.40
7. Ryan Raff 8:24.26 

Women’s 60m dash:
2. Jada Jackson 7.59

Women’s mile: 
2. Mikayla Malaspina 4:54.78
5. Pipi Eitel 5:00.41
6. Bryn Morley 5:00.85
8. Annika Reiss 5:04.70

Women’s 200m dash: 
4. Miracle Onyemoabi 24.40
5. Jada Jackson 24.72

Women’s 400m:
3. Miracle Onyemaobi 55. 30

Women’s 800m:
2. Melanie Loff 2:09.63
7. Bryn Morley 2:15.83

Women’s 3000m: 
1. Mikayla Malaspina 9:47.05
6. Jesselyn Bries 9:59.69
7. Delaney Rasmussen 10:00.37
8. Pipi Eitel 10:00.96

Women’s 4x400m relay: 
4. Madeline Wilson, Miracle Onyemaobi, Chloe Barylski and Melanie Loff