Six, Probably Eight, Cougars Advance to NCAA Track Championships

May 28, 2005

EUGENE, Ore. -- What a difference a day makes. After battling 90-degree temperatures and clouds of blowing pollen during Friday's competition at the NCAA West Region Track & Field Championships at Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus, Saturday brought 60-degree temps with blowing rain, thunder and lightening and a one hour and 40-minuite delay late in the day.

But for the Washington State University Cougars, there were some sunny moments as six competitors placed in the top five of their events and automatically advanced to the NCAA Championships, June 8-11, at Sacramento.

Both Cougar women javelin throwers Jenna Dean (junior, Glenwood, Wash.) and Rachel Bertholf (senior, Colbert, Wash.) will be making their first trips to the NCAA Championships. Dean took second place with throw of 164-2 (50.04m) on her first attempt. Bertholf, struggling with a sore hip, placed fifth with a best toss of 158-1 (48.18m), thrown on her third attempt. Bertholf passed on her final attempt. Oregon's Sarah Malone won the javelin with the second-farthest throw by a collegiate woman this year, a distance of 186-10.

James McSwain's 100m dash final time of 10.48 was second to USC's Wes Felix's 10.45, running into a -0.4mps headwind. McSwain will run at the NCAA Championships in two weeks.

John Cassleman (sophomore, Pullman) will also be making a trip to Sacramento after finishing second in the men's 400m hurdles in a time of 50.93 seconds. Cassleman ran a strong final 50 meters to overtake UCLA's Jonathan Williams and finish second to UCLA's Brandon Johnson who won in a time of 50.12.

Jaycee Robertson (sophomore, Spanaway) finished fourth in the men's 200m dash final with a time of 21.15 as USC's Felix won his second event of the day in a time of 20.58.

'Can you believe it?' Robertson exclaimed after the race. 'I felt so bad after the 4x100m relay that I knew I had to make it up in this race. I used to hate the 200m but I love it now!'

Tyson Byers (redshirt sophomore, Spokane Valley) finished tied for third place in the men's pole vault clearing 16-7 1/4 (5.06m). On Byers' third attempt at 17-1, the bar hung up on the standard for just a second giving hope that it would stay up. Paul Nicoletti (senior, Snohomish) was one of 11 competitors (out of 23 total) who did not clear a height. Robison Pratt and Trent Powell from BYU tied for first place in the vault, both clearing 17-1 (5.21m).

Friday, WSU's Tamara Diles, women's pole vault, and Drew Ulrick, men's discus, earned top eight places and should be included in the NCAA at-large berths extended Monday. Heptathlete Julie Pickler and Diana Pickler plus decathlete Darion Powell have reached NCAA Automatic Qualifying marks and will also compete in Sacramento.

The Cougar men's 4x100m relay team of Martin Boston, McSwain, Eric Nygard and Robertson finished fifth in the final with a time of 39.96 seconds after running the third-fastest qualifying time Friday and season-best time of 39.91. Arizona State won the relay with a time of 39.14 followed by USC in a time of 39.43. The top two regional relay teams advance to the NCAA Championships.

Meghan Leonard (freshman, Newberg, Ore.) finished 20th in the women's 3000m steeplechase with a time of 10:49.82. In the men's steeplechase, Alex Grant (sophomore, Bellingham) finished 19th with a time of 9:13.58.

In the women's triple jump, Kaylee Gardner (sophomore, Bellingham) took eighth place with a best leap of 40-0 3/4W (12.21m), while Sarah Burns (freshman, Tacoma) finished 11th with a leap of 38-11 3/4w (11.80m). In the men's triple jump, Martin Boston (junior, Hayward, Calif.) finished 10th with a best leap of 49-5 3/4 (15.08m) after waiting out the storm delay between warming up and the start of the second flight. Jamil Smith (senior, Palmdale, Calif.) finished 11th with a best leap of 49-1 1/2w (14.97m).

Haley Paul (freshman, Phoenix, Ariz.) finished 11th in the women's 1500m final with a time of 4:33.67 after running a prelim time Friday of 4:29.33. BYU's Heidi Magill won the race in a time of 4:18.19.

Robin Mikesh (junior, Sumner), the 2005 Pac-10 women's high jump champion, needed two attempts to clear the opening height of 5-7 1/4 (1.71m) and missed on all three attempts at 5-9 1/4 (1.76m) finishing tied for ninth place. Cal Poly's Sharon Day won the high jump clearing 6-0 1/2 (1.84m).

McKenzie Burgess (redshirt freshman, Benton City, Wash.) took 13th place in the women's discus with a best toss of 152-3 (46.40m). Arizona's Ilona Rutjes won the discus with a throw of 183-7 (55.97m).

In the men's final team standings, USC won with 103 points and the Cougs finished ninth with 33.5 points. In women's team standings, Stanford was first with 110.5 points while WSU finished 14th with 13.5 points.

The NCAA Track & Field Championships will take place June 8-11 at Sacramento.

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