Junior Alex Barry places 4th in men’s javelin, sophomore Raquel Pellecer finishes 6th in women’s javelin. PHOTO: WWU Athletics
WWU Track & Field: Pair of Vikings Earn All-America Javelin Honors at NCAA Championships
May 27, 2018
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Western Washington University junior Alex Barry placed 4th in the men’s javelin with a personal-best throw while sophomore Raquel Pellecer finished 6th in the women’s javelin as both earned All-America accolades at the NCAA Division II Track & Field Outdoor Championships on Saturday at the Irwin Belk Complex on the campus of Johnson C. Smith University.
Barry (Sequim, WA) and Pellecer (Sandy, OR/Portland State) were two of three Vikings competing Saturday, with freshman Natalie Vetto (Kirkland, WA/Lake Washington) finishing 16th in the women’s javelin.
Barry (Sequim, WA) entered the national championships seeded No. 10 with a top mark of 65.63m (215-4) and bettered his personal best three times over six attempts on Saturday. He earned First Team All-America honors in his second trip to the national championships after finishing 14th as a freshman in 2016.
He finished 1st in Flight 1 during the preliminaries, opening the competition with a throw of 67.80m (222-5) before improving on his second attempt with a mark of 68.03m (223-2) to rank 4th heading into the final, which featured the top nine throwers after the preliminaries.
Barry’s best throw of the competition – and his third personal-best improvement over his series of six throws – was 68.38m (224-4) on his final throw of the competition. He moved from No. 8 to No. 5 on the GNAC all-time top-10 list with Saturday’s performance and remains No. 2 on the WWU top-10 list, the same spot his previous personal best held entering the national championships.
“They had good days, especially Alex,” head coach Pee Wee Halsell said of the WWU competitors. “Alex really lit it up with besting his PR three times. The competition was fun to see, so that was good and he competed well.”
The finish for Barry marks the sixth All-American men’s javelin finish for WWU since 2010 as he became the fourth WWU men’s javelin All-American in the NCAA Division II era.
Pellecer’s top mark came during her first throw of the competition with a mark of 45.32m (148-8). She advanced to the finals as part of the top nine throwers in 5th after the preliminaries. Pellecer finished the competition 6th as her best mark in the finals of 44.88m (147-3) on her last throw was shy of her top throw for the competition.
Entering the championships seeded No. 6, Pellecer’s first season competing for the Vikings featured a personal-best mark of 48.01m (157-6) during the GNAC Outdoor Championships to rank No. 7 in WWU history and No. 9 in GNAC history.
The All-American finish for Pellecer extended a stretch of five consecutive years in which the WWU women have had at least one All-American in the event. The Vikings have had at least one All-American in the women’s javelin in seven of the last eight years overall and Pellecer’s finish was the 13th All-American honor for WWU women’s javelin throwers (six student-athletes earning All-America honors) in the NCAA Division II era.
Vetto, one of five freshman in the event, entered the championships seeded No. 14 in her true freshman season and posted her best throw of 41.75m (136-11) on her first attempt of the competition. She followed with marks of 40.40m (132-6) and 38.84m (127-5) to complete the preliminaries and placed 16th.
Vetto’s personal best during her freshman year also came at the GNAC Outdoor Championships with a throw of 46.38m (152-2) to rank No. 9 on the WWU top-10 list and No. 17 in GNAC history.
“Raquel competed well, I’m pleased that she was an All-American and with how she competed,” Halsell said. “And Natalie here (at nationals) as a freshman is a good thing, to compete and get the national experience.”
Both events showcased the depth and tradition of talent in the javelin for the GNAC. The conference finished with three All-Americans in each of the javelin events. The GNAC sent four men’s javelin throwers and seven women’s javelin throwers to the national championships.
“It makes for a really good, competitive setting to get ready for the national meet,” Halsell said of the javelin competition in the conference.“It’s great, it’s an amazing opportunity we get to have in our backyard and it helps us to be ready for this national meet.”
Barry was the top GNAC finisher on the men’s side, followed by Beau Ackerman (5th) of MSU Billings and Brian Chalkley (7th) of Saint Martin’s. Women’s All-Americans from the conference were Ellie Logan (3rd) of Northwest Nazarene, Pellecer, and Darian Wilson (7th) of Western Oregon.
Barry’s finish netted 5 team points for the Vikings in the men’s team standings while Pellecer’s finish scored 3 teams points in the women’s standings. Competition continues throughout the afternoon on Saturday with final team standings still to be determined.
“We had our ups and downs…but overall it’s a good, positive way to end the season,” Halsell said. “We’ll take the excitement back into next year and go from there. It really ended the season well for our teams.”
The javelin events for WWU on Saturday wrapped up competition for the Vikings at the national championships, which began with seniorAnna Paradee (Tacoma, WA/Decatur) in the women’s pole vault on Thursday before the three javelin throwers competed on Saturday.
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