'Fab Four' Join Huskies For 2006 Home Track Finale
May 2, 2006
On the Track: Another exciting regular season of track and field at UW comes to a close Saturday with the annual celebration of Washington's track history, the Ken Shannon Invitational at Husky Stadium. The third-annual event, and post-meet Alumni Banquet, have become a significant factor on the UW track and field schedule, providing the team's final chance to tune-up in advance of the Pac-10 Championships, May 13-14 at Oregon's Hayward Field. This year's meet, named in honor of legendary head coach Ken Shannon, features some of the Northwest's finest collegiate and post-collegiate athletes, while the post-meet banquet provides fans the chance to meet and mingle with current UW track and field athletes, as well as some of Washington's most distinguished track and field alumni. Events begin with the women's pole vault at 11 a.m., and conclude at 4:15 p.m. with the always-exciting men's 4x400-meter relay.
'Fab Four' Lauded at Alumni Banquet: Perhaps the highlight of each year's Ken Shannon Invitational is the post-meet alumni banquet, honoring the legends of Washington track and field history. This year's banquet will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the 'Fab Four' -- throwers Scott Neilson, Rod Ewaliko, Borys Chambul and Russ Vincent -- who swept the throwing events at the 1976 Pac-10 Championships, a feat never accomplished before or since. All four will be on hand for Saturday's banquet, which will also include a number of famous UW track alumni, as well as coach Ken Shannon and the current members of Washington's track and field team. For information on attending the banquet, contact assistant coach David Bazzi at email@example.com.
About Coach Shannon: Husky Hall of Fame Coach Ken Shannon is one of the nation's most respected track & field coaches. In his 31 years at Washington, the Huskies recorded seven top-12 finishes at the NCAA Championships and earned 81 All-American certificates. Coach Shannon's Husky teams produced 39 conference champions and 18 NCAA champions, while 10 of Shannon's athletes set all-time collegiate records. Known not only as an outstanding collegiate coach, Coach Shannon has also played a significant role on the world stage. Shannon mentored numerous U.S. and foreign Olympians, and was selected by Team USA as an assistant coach for the 1984 and 1976 Olympic Games, the 1986 Goodwill Games, the 1979 Pan-Am Games, and the 1978 World University Games. The annual Ken Shannon Invitational Track & Field meet at Husky Stadium is a memorable opportunity to honor Coach Shannon, his family and the indelible legacy that he has left on the UW Track & Field Program.
Event Schedule: Following is a complete schedule for events for Saturday's Ken Shannon Invitational at Husky Stadium. All times are Pacific and subject to change:
9:00 a.m. Hammer (M)*
10:00 a.m. Hammer (W)*
11:00 a.m. Javelin (W)
11:00 p.m. Long Jump (W)
11:00 p.m. Pole Vault (W)
12:00 p.m. Javelin (M)
12:30 p.m. Long Jump (M)
12:30 p.m. Shot Put (W)
12:30 p.m. Steeplechase (W)
12:45 p.m. Steeplechase (M)
1:00 p.m. High Jump (W)
1:00 p.m. 4x100m Relay (W)
1:05 p.m. 4x100m Relay (M)
1:10 p.m. 100m Hurdles (W)
1:20 p.m. 110m Hurdles (M)
1:30 p.m. 400m Dash (W)
1:40 p.m. 400m Dash (M)
1:50 p.m. 100m Dash (W)
1:55 p.m. 100m Dash (M)
2:00 p.m. Triple Jump (W)
2:00 p.m. Discus (W)
2:00 p.m. Pole Vault (M)
2:00 p.m. Shot Put (M)
2:00 p.m. 800m Run (W)
2:10 p.m. 800m Run (M)
2:20 p.m. 400m Hurdles (W)
2:30 p.m. 400m Hurdles (M)
2:30 p.m. High Jump (M)
2:40 p.m. 200m Dash (W)
2:45 p.m. 200m Dash (M)
2:55 p.m. 5000m Run (W)
3:15 p.m. Triple Jump (M)
3:15 p.m. Discus (M)
3:20 p.m. 5000m Run (M)
3:40 p.m. 1500m Run (W)
3:55 p.m. 1500m Run (M)
4:05 p.m. 4x400m Relay (W)
4:15 p.m. 4x400m Relay (M)
* -- at West Seattle Stadium
Meet Results: Results will be posted throughout the meet in the posted 'Results' area, on the wall above Section 21 in Husky Stadium. Packets of results will also be made available at the finish line for coaches and meet officials only immediately following the meet. Final results will be faxed to all participating schools and posted online upon the meet's conclusion, along with a full recap of the event.
Multi-Eventers Jump-Start Pac-10s: While their UW teammates are wrapping up the regular season at Saturday's Ken Shannon Invitational, multi-eventers Blake Bidleman and Liz Fuller will kick off competition in the decathlon and heptathlon, respectively, at the Pac-10 Championships at Oregon's Hayward Field. Held Saturday and Sunday -- a week in advance of next week's full Pac-10 Championship meet ¬-- the multi-events provide teams a chance to earn a jump in the scoring entering next week's meet. Bidleman and Fuller, both ranked among the top-10 in the conference in their events, will seek to continue Washington's rich multi-events history -- Huskies won six of the 10 Pac-10 decathlon titles from 1977-86, including three by Mike Ramos. Fans can follow the multi-events live both Saturday and Sunday at www.GoDucks.com.
Historic Husky Stadium: While Dempsey Indoor hosts the Huskies from January to March, when the weather warms up, Washington's track and field teams head outdoors to 72,500-seat Husky Stadium, the largest on-campus track and field facility in the Pac-10 Conference. On the shores of Lake Washington and with vistas of Mount Rainier, Husky Stadium provides competitors with a unique combination of world-class competition and breathtaking natural scenery. The facility has hosted some of the world's most prestigious meets, including the 1990 Goodwill Games, the 1971 NCAA Championships and the 1990 and 1997 Pacific-10 Conference Championships, and will be the site of three collegiate events in 2005. For more Husky Stadium history and records, visit the official website of UW athletics at www.GoHuskies.com.
Monster PR of the Week: Senior Lauran Dignam's school-record performance of 54.31 seconds in the 400 meters deservedly stole the headlines for the UW women at Saturday's UW-WSU Dual. What escaped mention, however -- but can't escape Monster PR of the Week -- was an equally impressive run in the same race by junior Kinyatta Leonhardt. Leonhardt's third-place time of 55.53 seconds knocked more than two seconds off of her previous UW season-best, and was more than a half-second improvement upon her collegiate best of 56.22 seconds, set in 2004 at Seattle Pacific University. Leonhardt was an NCAA Division-II All-American at SPU in 2005 before transferring to UW, and will have one more year of eligibility remaining in 2007.
Rankings Report: A series of dual-meet wins and oustanding individual performances have Washington's men's team riding high in the national rankings, earning 11 points and a No. 25 ranking from Trackwire, which predicts team scores at the upcoming NCAA Championships. Shane Charles earned six points with a projected third-place finish in the 400-meter hurdles, while Will Conwell netted five more with a No. 4 projection in the discus. Hammer thrower Martin Bingisser also earned a mention for the UW men at No. 11, while Norris Frederick was the 11th-ranked competitor in the long jump. The UW women scored four points in the ranking -- six shy of that needed for top-25 mention --all on the strength of a projected fifth-place hurdles finish for junior Ashley Lodree. Junior Amy Lia was the only other UW woman ranked by Trackwire, earning a No. 11 nod in the 1,500 meters. Miami's women jumped into a tie with Texas for first place overall (61 points) while Florida State's men (59) continued to lead by nine points over LSU.
Bound for Provo: With just two meets remaining before the 2006 NCAA West Regional, Washington has qualified 27 athletes for the event, which will determine berths at the 2006 NCAA Championships. Included among UW's qualifiers are a region-leading long jump mark for sophomore Norris Frederick, and a pair of top-five regional marks in the 800- and 1,500-meters for sophomore Austin Abbott. This year's NCAA West Regional, May 26-27 at BYU, is one of four regionals nationwide at which athletes will seek automatic NCAA Championships berths, while also seeking to improve their marks on the NCAA's descending order list, from which provisional qualifiers will be selected (see note below). The 2005 Regional was history-making for UW, which crowned its first two Regional champions -- Kate Soma in the pole vault and Ryan Brown at 800 meters -- and saw 11 Huskies earn automatic NCAA berths, more than the team's total from the previous three Regionals, combined. For a complete list of UW's 2006 regional qualifiers, see the box on page three.
NCAA Selection Process: Automatic NCAA Championships berths will be granted to the top-five finishers in each individual event, and top-three relay teams, from each of the four Regional Championships contested nationwide, May 26-27. Athletes qualify for Regionals by meeting pre-determined NCAA standards, or by winning their conference title. The NCAA will then supplement the Championships field with the highest-ranking competitors (roughly 6-7 per individual event and 5-6 per relay) from the national performance lists, provided the athlete completed their event at a Regional competition and was not among the finishers to earn automatic NCAA berths. The lone exceptions are the 10,000-meter and multi-events, in which athletes qualify directly for the NCAA Championships by meeting pre-determined provisional and automatic standards.
UW Men Scoring Big: If the regular season has been any indication, Washington's men's team could be in for big things during the 2006 postseason. The Huskies are 3-1 in scoring competitions this year, the lone blemish a 19th-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships. In February, the UW men defeated seven of the other eight Pac-10 track squads for the MPSF Indoor Conference title at Dempsey Indoor, the first conference title of any kind for a UW men's squad since 1928. The Huskies then proved they could win on the road with an upset of seventh-ranked Oregon at Hayward Field in April's Pepsi Invitational -- just UW's second win in Eugene since 1967 -- and a resounding 21-point dual-meet defeat of conference rival Washington State in Pullman. Washington will score next at the Pac-10 Championships, May 13-14, where they hope to better their fifth-place performance of a year ago.
Balanced Attack: One look at the current Pac-10 rankings reveals the secret behind the success of Washington's men's track and field team in 2006 -- traditionally recognized for its success in the distance and throwing events, Washington boasts legitimate Pac-10 title contenders in every event area, and has at least one athlete among the conference's top-five in 11 of 21 events. Following is a complete list of UW athletes currently ranked in a scoring position (eighth or higher) in the Pac-10 Conference:
Name, Event, Mark, Pac-10 Ranking
Norris Frederick, Long Jump, 25-5, 1st
Shane Charles, 400m IH, 50.12, 1st (tie)
Austin Abbott, 1500m, 3:41.27ci, 2nd
Martin Bingisser, Hammer, 212-9, 3rd
Will Conwell, Discus, 200-0 3/4, 3rd
Jeremy Mineau, 10000m, 28:49.69, 3rd
Austin Abbott, 800m, 1:49.45, 4th
Relay, 4x400m, 3:07.03i, 4th
Norris Frederick, High Jump, 7-0 1/4i, 5th
Brad Liber, Steeple, 9:05.25, 5th
Relay, 4x100m, 40.07, 5th
Juan Romero, Javelin, 220-9 1/2, 6th
Jeremy Mineau, 5000m, 13:54.03i, 7th
Warren Eickhoff, High Jump, 6-10 1/2i, 7th (tie)
Sam Roberts, Pole Vault, 17-0 1/2, 7th (tie)
Blake Bidleman, Decathlon, 6,240, 8th
Kevin Peters, 10000m, 29:22.47, 8th
Carl Moe, 1500m, 3:45.56ci, 8th (tie)
Projected Pac-10 Scoring Total: 77.5 pts
Remember Me?: To the casual Husky fan, senior Will Conwell may have fallen off the radar in 2003 when he gave up a career as a UW linebacker to throw the discus. After redshirting the 2003 season with two broken wrists, Conwell burst back onto the scene in 2004, taking fourth place at the Pac-10 meet, before adding a fifth-place finish in 2005. A 177-foot discus thrower entering the 2006 season, Conwell has made a rapid ascent up the collegiate rankings, culminating with a 200-1 toss at San Diego in April that ranks sixth on the NCAA performance list, and is the eighth-best by an American thrower this year. The Kent, Wash., native's effort earned him the Pac-10's Field Athlete of the Week award on Apr. 24 -- just the 10th time a UW men's athlete has received the conference honor -- and vaulted him to No. 4 in the Trackwire collegiate rankings, which predict the order of finish at the NCAA Championships. Once expected to follow his uncle, UW legend Ernie Conwell, to football glory, Conwell has instead followed in his famous uncle's track and field footsteps-- the elder Conwell was a five-year track letterwinner at Washington, ranks fourth in UW history in the shot put, and placed fifth in the event at the 1996 NCAA Championships.
Charles Sets National Record: Senior Shane Charles has never had any problem clearing hurdles. The native of St. Andrew's, Grenada, leapt over his most recent hurdle on Apr. 15, crushing his own national record in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 50.12 seconds at Cal. That time -- tied with UCLA's Brandon Johnson for first in the Pac-10, and second in the nation -- was three-tenths faster than the previous record of 50.46 seconds he set in 2005, and earned Charles the Pac-10's Men's Track Athlete of the Week honor. Charles also ranks among the best in UW history in the 4x100- and 4x400 meters, holds UW's indoor record at 800 meters, and was an All-American indoors in the 1,600m relay. Charles set Grenada's junior national record in 2001, and was an All-American at Central Arizona JC before enrolling at UW in 2004-05. Since then, he has leapt over every hurdle placed in front of him, including a third-place finish in the 4x400 meters at the 2006 NCAA Indoor meet that was UW's best since 1976. Only two hurdles remain for Charles -- Pac-10 and NCAA titles. The senior was third at Pac-10s a year ago, but did not compete at the NCAAs after falling over the second hurdle at the 2005 West Regional. Charles ranked 10th nationally entering the regional, and needed only to finish to qualify for NCAAs.
The `Lo' Down: Finally, Ashley Lodree can get back to business. The junior from Richmond, Calif., was on fire at the end of the 2005 season, clocking the seven-fastest hurdles times of her life in her final seven races of the year, including a 13.17-second effort in the semifinals at the U.S. Nationals that tied the UW record she set two weeks prior in the NCAA final. Nine months later, Lodree picked up where she left off with a 13.20 posting in her season debut in March, then followed that up with a wind-aided 13.09 performance at Mt. SAC to claim the No. 5 spot in the current NCAA rankings. Lodree enters 2006 looking to improve upon her fifth-place finish at last year's NCAAs, while adding to the three All-America honors she has already earned, including two indoors in the 60m hurdles (10th, 2005; 9th, 2006) and last year's outdoor effort. With more than a year remaining in her UW career, Lodree could surpass Kate Soma's UW record of five All-America honors, while also seeking UW's first-ever NCAA hurdles title. Lodree boasts top-10 all-time marks all 11 of the events she has attempted in her UW career, including four school records -- no other woman in UW history has ever ranked on as many of UW's all-time lists, while just one, distance runner Regina Joyce, has held as many UW records.
Relay Rewards: There's never been a better time to run on a UW relay than right now. Currently ranked 17th nationally, the Huskies 4x400-meter squad is seeking to do something never before accomplished at UW: qualify for three-straight NCAA Championship events. Two Husky foursomes earned All-America honors at March's NCAA Indoor Championships -- the first time in UW history that has happened -- including a third-place finish for Washington's 4x400-meter relay that was the best-ever for a UW relay indoors, and the best by a UW 4x4, indoors or out, since winning the 1976 NCAA outdoor championship. In fact, since LaMonte Vaughn, Jr., took over UW's relay program in 2005, five of the Huskies' six relays have qualified for the NCAA Championships, with the sixth -- the 2005 indoor 4x400-meter squad -- falling just one spot shy on the NCAA's provisional-qualifying list. Of those five, three have earned All-America honors -- a feat accomplished by just three UW relays in the previous 30 years -- including back-to-back fifth-place finishes for UW's distance medley relay. Washington has had multiple relays at back-to-back NCAA Championships -- something that had not occurred even once previously in 85 years of NCAA competition -- and has put three of its four relays atop the UW record books, with the fourth (the 4x100-meter relay) clocking UW's second-fastest time ever, and the fastest by a UW sprint relay in 22 years.
Elite Company: In leading both UW's 4x400-meter and distance medley relay squads to All-America honors at March's NCAA Indoor Championships, junior Ryan Brown and senior Bruce Jackson became two of just 10 Huskies ever to earn multiple All-America honors at one meet. Sprinter Ja'Warren Hooker, UW's most prolific All-American with 10 career honors, holds the UW meet record with three All-America awards at the 1998 NCAA Indoor Championships, and is the only Husky ever to accomplish the All-America double more than once. Brown's honors, furthermore, were the third and fourth of his career, a total matched by just nine men in UW history, and exceeded by only four -- Hooker (10), Scott Neilson (7), Rick Noji (6) and Steve Anderson (5). History is also in the making on the women's side, where junior Ashley Lodree's three All-America honors are tied for the fourth-most ever by a UW woman. Like Brown, Lodree has potentially three NCAA meets remaining to break the UW women's record (5), set by pole vaulter Kate Soma from 2002-05.
Passing the Baton: Washington's homegrown 4x400-meter squad -- featuring three runners from the Seattle area -- was electric at the 2006 NCAA Indoor Championships, breaking a storied UW record with a time of 3:07.03 to finish third overall, the best-ever finish for a Washington relay indoors. That the relay should have success should come as no surprise, considering that the Huskies return three of the four competitors from last year's squad which broke a 30-year-old UW outdoor record with a 3:03.85 at Pac-10s - including a 44.8-second anchor by returnee Bruce Jackson - and ran 11th at the NCAAs, after a 14th-place finish in 2004. Joining returnees Jackson (Seattle/Nathan Hale HS), Ryan Brown (Renton/Renton HS) and Grenada's Shane Charles are Seattle-area natives Jordan Boase of Bothell, an NCAA 4x100-meter participant in 2005 and an All-American on the 4x4 indoors this season; junior transfer Alex Harcourt of Kent, whose lifetime best of 46.57 tops any current Husky; and senior Phil McCary of Kirkland, the team's alternate in 2005 and an NCAA Championships participant in 2004. Those latter three vie for the spot vacated by Lake Washington alum Sean Williams, who ran on nine of Washington's 20 top-10 4x4s, indoors and outdoors, before graduating in 2005.
Brown is Back: Less than two years ago, Ryan Brown was out of track and field, having walked away from a promising career. Barely a year after returning to the sport last January, however, Brown is a Pac-10, West Regional and MPSF Champion, and is one of just 10 athletes in UW history to earn four-career All-America honors. Brown's turnaround began in last year's Pac-10 800-meter final, as the Renton native outkicked Pac-10 favorite Jon Rankin of UCLA down the homestretch to win in 1:47.31, the second-fastest in UW history and the eighth-best by a collegiate athlete in 2005. Just two weeks later, Brown outkicked Rankin again to win the same event at the NCAA West Regional, and capped the year with matching 10th-place finishes in the 800- and 4x400 meters at the NCAA Championships. In February, Brown made it two straight in conference championship finals, winning the MPSF Conference 800-meter crown in 1:50.35 to lift the UW men to their first-ever indoor conference title, before capping his indoor campaign with a pair of All-America honors in the 4x400 (3rd) and distance medley (5th) relays. Brown competed just one year at Renton High School, going undefeated at 800 meters as a senior. He walked on to the UW squad in 2002-03 and was terrific indoors, before leaving the team in the summer, stating a desire to focus on school over sports. Brown returned to the track in 2005, leading UW's DMR to a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships and breaking UW's indoor 800-meter record, before embarking on his epic outdoor campaign.
Brains And Brawn: In just two-plus years, junior Martin Bingisser has already captured an indoor conference title and posted UW's best marks in a decade in the hammer and weight throws --but it's his achievements outside the cage that set him apart. A two-time third-place hammer finisher at the Pac-10 Championships and the 2006 MPSF champion in the weight throw, Bingisser earned his bachelor's degree in philosophy in June after just three years of college, and is currently enrolled in the UW School of Law. The Interlake High School graduate, who plans to use his final two years of eligibility while pursuing his J.D., has been on a tear since transferring from Cal State Northridge in 2004, culminating with a 64-foot, 8 3/4-inch toss at March's indoor conference meet -- just the second weight throw competition of his UW career. Bingisser's throw, UW's best since 1985, echoed his success in the hammer, where the Bellevue native ranks third in UW history -- and 13th in the nation this year -- with a lifetime-best of 212-9, set at the UW-WSU Dual in April. In addition to his academic and athletic prowess, Bingisser is among the country's leading hammer scholars -- his website, HammerCenter.com, provides comprehensive coverage of the hammer at the prep and college level, plus videos and other instruction tools.
Dazzling Debut: Sophomore Norris Frederick has done everything he could to back up the hype that accompanied his signing with UW. After earning All-America honors indoors with a sixth-place finish in the long jump, Frederick went outdoors and broke UW's freshman long jump record, qualified for the NCAA Championships in the high jump, and nabbed top-five Pac-10 finishes in both. In 2006, Frederick hasn't slowed a bit, clearing 25 feet, 2 1/2 inches to win the MPSF Conference long jump crown, capturing a second-straight indoor All-America honor, and clearing a lifetime outdoor-best 25-5 1/4 (wind-aided) to climb to third in the current NCAA rankings. The 20-year-old Roosevelt High School alum is already the only UW athlete ever to long jump 25 feet and high-jump seven feet in his career, boasting career bests of 25-6 1/4 and 7-0 1/2, respectively. Frederick launched six long jumps over 25 feet indoors in 2005, the best a 25-foot, 6 1/4 inch leap that led all NCAA freshmen indoors, and ranked eighth in the IAAF World Junior rankings. Frederick placed sixth in the long jump at the 2005 NCAA indoor meet -- tops by a UW long jumper since 1965 -- and is one of just 12 Huskies ever to clear seven feet in the high jump. As a prep, Frederick ranked second among U.S. prep high jumpers in 2004 with a best of 7-1, and fourth among U.S. prep long jumpers at 24-10 1/2. Frederick literally jumped out of his shoes at the 2004 World Junior Championships, tearing apart the footwear which guided him to five state prep titles. With borrowed shoes, he placed 19th in both events, and closed 2004 ranked among the top-35 under-20 athletes in the world.
Stanback on Track: Husky football fans looking for a post-spring fix should keep an eye on the track -- Washington's track and field team includes four members of the UW football team. The most accomplished of the four is junior Isaiah Stanback, the second-place finisher in the 60-meter dash at March's MPSF Championships, and an 11-game starter at quarterback in 2005. Joining him are junior wide receiver Corey Williams, UW's top sprint hurdler indoors; freshman linebacker Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, a 58-foot prep shot-putter; and junior defensive end Brandon Ala, a prep All-American in the discus. Washington also boasts the talents of former UW gymnast and pole vault All-American Carly Dockendorf, while basketball players Jill Bell, Cheri Craddock and Angie Jones have each competed in track and field in recent seasons. Perhaps to repay their debt, the UW track team loaned senior J.R. Wolfork, a 2005 NCAA Championships qualifier in the long jump, to the Husky football squad in the fall; Wolfork appeared in all 11 games and forced a fumble on special teams.
You Might Recall: The practice of mining talent from other UW programs has unearthed countless gems for UW's track program in the past. A glance at UW's career top-10s reveals several such performers, including 110m hurdles record-holder Spider Gaines, a tailback for the UW football team in the 1970s, and sprinter Ja'Warren Hooker, the UW record-holder at 100m, 200m, and 400m and a Husky wide receiver from 1997-98. Others on the list include football players Ernie Conwell (No. 5, shot put), Dana Hall (No. 3, 110m HH), Sterling Hinds (No. 3, 100m/200m), Pete Kaligis (No. 6, shot put), Orlando McKay (No. 2, 400m), Brent Merritt (No. 6, 400m) and Tony Parrish (No. 5, triple jump), basketball players Tara Davis (No. 1, triple jump; No. 2, long jump) and Heather Reichmann (No. 2, javelin) and All-American volleyball star Makare Desilets (No. 5, high jump). UW's two-sport stars have excelled on the world stage, too -- Herman Brix and Paul Jessup, stars of UW's football teams in the 1920s, each competed at the Olympics, and set world records in the shot put, and discus. Among current Huskies, football players Isaiah Stanback (No. 8, 60m), J.R. Wolfork (No. 9, long jump), and Shelton Sampson (No. 3, 200m) and former footballer Will Conwell (No. 5, discus) each rank among UW's all-time best, as does former gymnast Carly Dockendorf (No. 2, pole vault).
Vault Supremacy: The 2005 season left little doubt that Washington reigns supreme in the world of collegiate women's vaulting. An NCAA-record five UW women's vaulters competed at the NCAA Championships in 2005 -- including four each indoors and out -- while three earned All-America honors, and senior Kate Soma brought home the 2005 NCAA outdoor title. The story should be much the same in 2006, as four of the five return, including senior All-Americans Ashley Wildhaber (5th, indoors) and Carly Dockendorf (6th, outdoors), junior Stevie Marshalek and sophomore Kelley DiVesta. All five, including the departed Soma, boast bests above 13 feet, a feat never before accomplished by any NCAA quintet, while three of the five -- including Soma, Wildhaber and Dockendorf -- rank among the 10-best vaulters in Pac-10 history:
All-Time Pac-10 Pole Vault Top-10
Name, School, Year, Mark
1. Chelsea Johnson, UCLA, 2004, 15-0
2. Amy Linnen, Arizona, 2002, 14-10 1/4i
3. Becky Holliday, Oregon, 2003, 14-8
4. Tracy O'Hara, UCLA, 2000, 14-7 1/4
5. Kate Soma, Washington, 2005, 14-3 1/2i
6. Tamara Diles, Wash. State, 2002, 14-3 1/4i
7. Nikki McEwen, Oregon, 2003, 14-1 1/4
7. Connie Jerz, Arizona, 2003, 14-1 1/4
9. Carly Dockendorf, Washington, 2005, 13-9 1/4
9. Ashley Wildhaber, Washington, 2005, 13-9 1/4i
9. Andrea Dutoit, Arizona, 2001, 13-9 1/4
Double-Duty Dockendorf: There is no doubt that pole vaulter/gymnast Carly Dockendorf -- the nation's No. 2 returning vaulter -- is one of the finest two-sport athletes in Washington sports history. The Port Moody, B.C., native added to her legend last March with a 17th-place finish in the vault at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Arkansas, just 19 hours after competing in Utah for the Husky gymnastics team. Dockendorf then closed the 2005 campaign with a sixth-place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, her vault of 13-9 1/4 equal to the ninth-best mark in Pac-10 history, and the fifth-best mark ever by a Canadian citizen. Balancing two sports is nothing for Dockendorf -- as a prep, Dockendorf competed in volleyball, wrestling, rugby and soccer, in addition to gymnastics. The UW senior scaled back to just two sports in college, earning back-to-back NCAA gymnastics berths in 2003 and 2004, and four-straight NCAA track berths from 2004-06, including an All-America performance outdoors last season. Amazingly, Dockendorf has been pole vaulting for less than four years, having begun the sport only after watching Husky vaulters train during her freshman gymnastics season in 2002. Dockendorf began her two-sport double on a full-time basis in 2003, winning All-America honors on the gymnastics floor while placing eighth in the pole vault at the Pac-10 Championships. She completed her gymnastics eligibility in 2005 with the most perfect 10s (six) of any UW gymnast all-time, and has one full year of track eligibility remaining in 2006.
Athletics Canada All-Time Women's Pole Vault Rankings
Name, Year, Mark
1. Dana Buller, 2005, 14-9 1/2
2. Kelsie Hendry, 2005, 14-7 1/2
3. Stephanie McCann, 2004, 14-5 1/4
4. Ardin Tucker-Harrison, 2002, 13-9 3/4
5. Carly Dockendorf, 2005, 13-9 ¼
Rare Double: From the first time she entered a vault competition -- going 12-1 1/2 at Husky Stadium in 2002 -- it was obvious that senior Carly Dockendorf, already a decorated UW gymnast, was in an elite class of athletes. In 2004, though, Dockendorf moved into a class all her own, qualifying individually for the NCAA Championships in both track and field and gymnastics. While it is not uncommon for an athlete to compete in multiple NCAA Championships in one year, to do so in two unrelated sports in which qualification is based on individual, not team, performance is extremely rare. She nearly repeated the feat in 2005, qualifying for the NCAA Track Championships indoors and out, but falling just one-tenth of a point shy of qualifying for the NCAA gymnastics meet in April.
10,000-Meter Talent: Those who only follow UW track and field outdoors may not have heard of redshirt freshman Jeremy Mineau, but they certainly have now. Making his outdoor debut in March before a hometown crowd at Stanford, the Menlo Park, Calif., native obliterated UW's freshman record in the 10,000 meters and climbed to second on UW's all-time list. Mineau's time of 28:49.69 -- second this year by a collegiate freshman and 13th in the nation overall -- was just the third sub-29 minute 10K in UW history, and was just 15 seconds shy of David Bazzi's school record. Mineau had already made a name for himself during the indoor and cross country seasons, where he has been one of UW's top competitors since the start of 2004-05. Mineau broke a storied UW indoor record at 5,000 meters this season, clocking a 13:54.03 in February, and was UW's top finisher, in 93rd, at the 2005 NCAA Cross Country Championships. Should Mineau earn his first NCAA track berth this season (the top 23-25 athletes in the final 10,000-meter rankings will be selected to the Championships field in June), he will have history on his side -- both of UW's other sub-29 minute runners, Bazzi in 2001 (28:34.54) and Curt Corvin in 1986 (28:58.2h) went on to earn All-America honors in their sub-29 seasons.
Four-Minute Man: Sophomore Austin Abbott ran into the history books at February's Husky Classic, becoming just the third UW runner ever to break four minutes in the mile. Abbott's time of 3:59.47 was UW's third-fastest ever, and one of just 10 four-minute miles by collegiate athletes indoors this year. A graduate of W.F. West High School in Chehalis, Wash., Abbott enjoyed a banner freshman season in 2005, capturing All-America honors in the distance medley relay, and placing third in the Pac-10 1,500-meter final. Abbott also set UW freshman records in the 800 meters indoors, and the 1,500 outdoors, including a half-mile best of 1:49.64 that was briefly a UW record. While his four-minute mile and subsequent second-place MPSF Championships finish earned him fame this winter, and a certain NCAA Championships berth in the mile, Abbott unselfishly chose to forgo the mile in favor of the DMR at March's NCAA Indoor meet, ultimately anchoring the team to a second-straight fifth-place NCAA finish. The sophomore will have a chance to make up for that decision this spring -- Abbott currently ranks second in the West Region in the 800 meters and third at 1,500 meters, and can earn his first NCAA Championships individual berth with a top-five finish in either event at next month's Regional.
20 Years of Spear Success: From Fred Luke and Duncan Atwood to Darryl Roberson and Helena Uusitalo, Washington has a long-standing tradition of excellence in the javelin. Since 1982, when women's track and field joined the NCAA, the Huskies have sent at least one javelin thrower to all but four NCAA Championships, including All-American performances by Megan Spriestersbach in 2004, and Heather Reichmann in 2003. The list of Washington's javelin greats includes four Pac-10 Champions (Uusitalo, `87; Roberson, `88-89; Troy Burkholder, `96), three NCAA champions (Uusitalo, `86, Tom Sinclair, `79 Cary Feldman, `71) and three U.S. Olympians (Atwood, `80, `84; Rod Ewaliko, `80; Fred Luke, `72). In UW history, only the four NCAA titles won in the hammer -- all by Scott Neilson -- eclipse the Huskies' national-championship prowess in the spear, which includes a UW-record 27 All-Americans all-time. So far in 2006, seniors Tiffany Zahn -- a three-time top-five Pac-10 finisher -- and Juan Romero are taking steps to preserve that tradition, each boasting marks among the region's top-10.
Walker Wins World Gold: While his former teammates were making history at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March, former Husky Brad Walker was making history of his own at the 2006 IAAF World Indoor Track and Field Championships in Moscow, Russia. The 2004 UW grad lived up to his No. 1 world ranking with a gold-medal winning performance, the first of his international career. Walker's win wasn't without drama -- the Spokane native suffered a head injury during qualifying-round warmups, and then went to his final attempt before 19-0 1/2 for the win. The 24-year-old Walker won his second-straight U.S. indoor title in February, and has won three straight U.S. crowns overall, including the 2005 U.S. outdoor title. Walker set a Pac-10 record and won two NCAA indoor championships at Washington from 2000-04, and has since excelled professionally, winning three U.S. titles and two world-championships medals. His lifetime best of 19-6 1/2 in the vault ranks sixth in U.S. history, and was the world's leading mark last season.
Former Husky Returns: One new face on the Husky squad will be familiar to all who follow Washington track and field -- former Husky Aretha (Hill) Thurmond returns to Montlake this year as a volunteer assistant throws coach, working alongside her husband, first-year UW assistant coach Reedus Thurmond. A four-time All-American during her time at Washington, the former Aretha Hill has made an even bigger name for herself since graduating from the UW in 1998, winning back-to-back U.S. discus titles in 2003 and 2004, and representing the United States at the 1996 and 2004 Olympic Games. Thurmond, who was elected captain of the U.S. team at the 2005 World Championships, boasts a discus best of 216-1 that is the third-best in U.S. history, while her collegiate best of 215-3 is Pac-10 record, and is the second-best ever by a U.S. collegian. Interestingly, Thurmond is one of five former Huskies on the UW coaching staff, including head coach Greg Metcalf (UW, `93), assistant coach David Bazzi (UW, `01) and volunteer assistants Duncan Atwood (UW, `78), and Jacob Predmore (UW, `00).
2006 MPSF Champions: The Husky men defeated seven of the other eight Pac-10 teams for the 2006 MPSF indoor conference title at Dempsey Indoor in March, the Huskies' first-ever indoor conference crown and first conference title of any kind since 1928. The three individual titles, won by sophomore Norris Frederick (long jump) and juniors Martin Bingisser (weight throw) and Ryan Brown (800 meters), equaled the third-most conference titles in UW history -- indoors or out -- and continued a string of three-straight years with at least one indoor conference winner. The Huskies saw a 30-point day-two lead dwindle to just seven by meet's end, after scratches in the pole vault and triple jump and a dropped stick in the 4x400-meter relay. Still, UW's 107 points were enough to hold off Stanford (100) and four-time defending champ UCLA (88).
NCAA Indoor Championships Redux: Washington's track and field teams combined for 10 All-America honors at the 2006 NCAA Indoor Championships, equaling a UW single-meet record set just last year. An all-time best nine of those honors went to UW men, including top-five finishes in the 4x400-meter and distance medley relays, and a 12th-place effort in the long jump for sophomore Norris Frederick. Washington's 4x4 -- including sophomore Jordan Boase, junior Ryan Brown and seniors Shane Charles and Bruce Jackson -- earned a third-place finish, best-ever by a UW relay indoors, while the distance medley relay squad of Brown, Jackson and sophomores Carl Moe and Austin Abbott matched the 2005 DMR's fifth-place NCAA finish. The UW women were also outstanding, with junior Ashley Lodree netting her third-career All-America honor (9th, 60m hurdles), and pole vaulters Carly Dockendorf (12th) and Stevie Marshalek (14th) each earning top-15 finishes.
Ridiculous Records: Washington's athletes kept the team's indoor record-keepers busy in 2006, combining for 51 marks among the UW's all-time top-10 indoors, including five school records -- two by junior Ashley Lodree. Washington's highly-acclaimed indoor facility, Dempsey Indoor, has certainly had an effect on UW's indoor list, with 27 school records and an eye-popping 234 marks among UW's all-time top-10 having been achieved since the start of the 2002 season, UW's first in the facility. For a complete list of the top-10 indoor marks set in 2006, visit www.GoHuskies.com.
Head Coach Greg Metcalf: Former Husky All-American Greg Metcalf is in his fourth year as Washington's head coach of track and field and cross country, and his ninth year overall on the UW staff. Metcalf was recently named the 2006 MPSF Men's Coach of the Year, after leading the UW men to three individual conference crowns and the Huskies' first-ever indoor team title. In his first three-plus seasons at the helm, Metcalf has led the UW women to three top-20 finishes at the NCAA Championships, and has guided the Husky men to three-consecutive top-30 indoor finishes, including a tie for 19th in 2006. Individually, 15 UW distance runners have earned NCAA berths, with six grabbing All-America accolades, a list which does not include the team's All-America distance medley relays in 2005 and 2006. In addition, Metcalf has led the Huskies' women's cross country team to the NCAA meet eight of his first nine years at the helm. In eight years atop Washington's distance program, Metcalf has coached 17 All-Americans, six Pac-10 champions, 13 school-record setters and 74 NCAA Championships competitors. A 1993 UW graduate, Metcalf was a two-time All-American in the steeple, and ran in the 1996 U.S. Olympic Trials.
Star-Studded Staff: Washington's assistant coaching staff in 2006 is in no way short on accolades. Ninth-year vaults/jumps coach Pat Licari has coached 12 All-Americans, including NCAA champions Brad Walker and Kate Soma. Second-year sprints/hurdles coach LaMonte Vaughn, Jr., meanwhile, has had a banner first year-and-a-half, mentoring Ashley Lodree to three All-America honors and guiding five of UW's six relays to NCAA berths, including three to All-America honors. First-year throws coach Reedus Thurmond was a three-time All-American at Auburn, and captured the SEC discus title as a senior, while fifth-year distance coach David Bazzi, a Washington alum, was the 2001 Pac-10 champion at 10,000 meters, and still holds three all-time school records. Rounding out the all-star cast is fourth-year distance coach Kelly Strong, who graduated from Arizona State in 2002 with five All-America honors and three Pac-10 titles, and is largely credited with putting together recruiting classes annually ranked among the nation's best. Ironically, the most accomplished members of the Husky coaching staff are two of the the team's volunteer assistants -- former Huskies and U.S. Olympians Aretha (Hill) Thurmond and Duncan Atwood. A four-time All-American, two-time Olympian and two-time U.S. champion, Thurmond enters her first year at UW, assisting husband Reedus Thurmond with the UW throwers. Atwood, meanwhile, was a two-time Olympian and three-time U.S. champion, and has helped UW javelin throwers earn two All-America honors in his three years working with the team.