Landing comfortably within the qualification standards, redshirt senior Emily Mackay placed third in the 5000-meter event at the NCAA East Regional Meet on Saturday night to advance to the NCAA Division I Track and Field Championships. Her appearance at the national meet will mark her second in 2021 after earning All-American honors during the 2021 cross country season back in March.
“I’m very excited to represent Binghamton in Eugene,” Mackay said. “I’m excited to compete at [Hayward Field] and just soak it all in. I think it will be a great experience for sure.”
Mackay finished the race just shy of her personal best, clocking in at 15:48.72. She was beat out for silver by Notre Dame graduate student Katie Wasserman by less than a second.
“The placement was impressive and the time was almost identical to [Mackay’s] best time going in,” said Binghamton head coach Mike Thompson. “We just knew that if she ran as well as she could that that’s where she would be.”
Mackay’s appearance at the NCAA National Championship will make her the second female athlete in BU program history to compete at the meet. Her third-place finish is also the highest of any Binghamton track and field athlete at an NCAA regional meet since 2007 when Rory Quiller won the pole vault event.
Earlier the same Saturday of the four-day event, redshirt sophomore Aziza Chigatayeva ran a time of 10:25.12 in the 3000-meter steeplechase. She took 23rd overall of 47 finishing athletes to conclude her outdoor season.
“[Chigatayeva] was seeded 39th, finished 23rd, so she ran very well,” Thompson said. “It was a tough day, it was very hot and it’s harder to run distance races when it’s very hot. We were happy with how she did.”
Also concluding his season at the regional meet was redshirt junior Dan Schaffer. He opened up the meet for the Bearcats on Wednesday night in the 1500-meter preliminary race where he ran a personal best time of 3:44.62 to finish 19th overall and advance to the quarterfinals on Friday. While he did not qualify for the national competition, he bested his time from Wednesday after crossing the finish line with a time of 3:42.05. He placed 15th overall in the event.
“[Schaffer] ran well, it was a good performance,” Thompson said. “It was just a tough competition.”
Rounding out BU’s four competitors at the meet was graduate student Matt Baker who competed in the triple jump. He concluded his collegiate career after jumping 49-4.25 feet to take the 34th spot overall in the event. Baker had only competed at two meets prior to the regional competition during the 2021 outdoor season due to injury.
“The performance obviously wasn’t his best,” Thompson said. “He’s been injured and missed a lot of training time and I think it just finally caught up with him.”
Schaffer and Chigatayeva were also hamstrung by injury earlier this year leading up to the 2021 cross country season. Both are slated to return next year for the Bearcats.
Mackay is set to appear at the NCAA Division I Track and Field Championships in the 5000-meters. The event is scheduled to start on Saturday, June 12 at 4:55 p.m. in Eugene, Oregon.