Romero, Frederick Win Pac-10 Track Titles
May 13, 2006
EUGENE, Ore. - Senior Juan Romero won the javelin and sophomore Norris Frederick won the long jump, leading the Washington men to fourth place through one day of competition at the 2006 Pac-10 Championships at Hayward Field. UW's women are eighth in the two-day meet, which concludes Sunday.
Frederick and Romero are the first UW teammates to win Pac-10 titles on the same day since 2002, when Mike Hill won the steeplechase and Brad Walker won the pole vault. Their wins also extend Washington's streak of consecutive years with at least one Pac-10 champion to seven, matching the longest such streak in school history.
Those wins, plus top-four finishes in the pole vault and hammer throw, helped UW finish day one in fourth place with 39 points, trailing only Arizona (53.5), UCLA (49) and defending champion Oregon (42.5). Arizona State leads all women's teams with 82.5 points, while Oregon is second at 50, and Stanford third at 40.
'Our men had a phenomenal first day,' said fourth-year head coach Greg Metcalf. 'Juan Romero's win in the very first event was huge, and just lifted our whole team. The important thing is to build on this tomorrow and keep that momentum going. If we can do that, this could end up being a pretty special weekend.'
Frederick entered Saturday's long jump a significant favorite, but had to pull out a lifetime best on his final attempt for the win. Frederick traded the lead throughout the competition with Arizona's Jordan Powell, whose third-attempt best of 25 feet 2 ¼ inches led Frederick by two inches entering the Husky sophomore's fifth attempt. Frederick, however, took the lead back with a 25 foot, 4 1/2 leap, then clinched the win with a lifetime-best 25-10 effort on his sixth and final attempt.
Frederick's winning jump - nearly four inches beyond his previous lifetime best - is the best this year by a U.S. collegian, and ranks third overall in the current NCAA rankings. It is also the second-best mark in UW history, trailing only Phil Shinnick's then-world-record leap of 27-4 in 1963.
Frederick had cleared 25 feet just twice in 2006 entering Saturday's meet; the sophomore did so three times in five attempts Saturday, including the huge final effort to clinch the title - the first Pac-10 title by a UW long jumper since 1985.
'I knew I was going to do this,' Frederick said afterward, 'I knew I had it in me. I've been slumping for too long; it's time to get it going.'
Frederick said that as he jumped, he thought not about winning the individual title, but about the team points at stake.
'We're trying to win a Pac-10 title here,' Frederick said. 'Winning means a lot to me, but my team needed me to get 10 points in this event - that was the only thing I came out here to do, and that's what I did.'
While Frederick might have felt the weight of expectation as he jumped, Romero felt no such pressure in the javelin - the senior from Renton was seeded just sixth in the event, his lifetime-best of 220-10 nearly 14 feet behind the Pac-10 leader. Romero, however, launched his first attempt 233 feet, 11 inches, then watched as thrower after thrower failed to match it.
The final competitor in the throwing order, Romero launched his last attempt with the knowledge that he had won the Pac-10 title, then turned and raised his arms to an appreciative crowd before receiving a hug from UW volunteer assistant coach Aretha Thurmond.
'I've been waiting my whole life for this,' said a choked-up Romero in the interview tent after receiving his Pac-10 trophy. 'This is amazing.'
Romero's throw was the best by a UW javelin thrower in more than a decade, and the sixth-best in UW history. It is the seventh-best collegiate mark this year, and the eighth-best by an American in 2006. Romero redshirted the 2005 season with an injury, and competed only four times in 2006 prior to Saturday's win.
'No one was picking me to win,' Romero said. 'I knew I had to do it myself. This just means so much to me.'
His Pac-10 title is the first by a UW men's thrower since 1996 - that title, won by Troy Burkholder in the javelin, marked the end of a 32-year period during which UW throwers won 17 Pac-10 throwing titles, including a sweep of all four throwing events at the 1976 Pac-10 Championships.
'We want to get Washington throwing back to what it used to be,' said Thurmond earlier in the week.
Romero's win wasn't the only sign Saturday that Thurmond's vision may be coming sooner than anyone thought.
Two other Husky throwers earned top-three finishes, with junior Martin Bingisser placing third in the hammer and senior Tiffany Zahn taking second in the javelin. Like Romero, Zahn launched a career-best throw on her first attempt, a 161-foot, 9-inch effort that was her best since 2003, and a four-foot improvement over her previous lifetime best. Zahn has never finished lower than fifth in four years of Pac-10 Championships competition, while Bingisser placed third for the third-consecutive year.
Other scorers for UW on Saturday included seniors Sam Roberts (4th, 17-0 ¾) and Seth Perrins (8th, 16-6 ¾) in the pole vault, junior Mike Sayenko in the 10,000 meters (6th, 31:11.57), and sophomore Brad Liber in the steeplechase (9:05.05). In addition, nearly every UW runner competing in preliminary action qualified for Sunday's finals, including defending Pac-10 champion Ryan Brown at 800 meters and 2006 Pac-10 leader Shane Charles in the 400-meter hurdles.
Also competing Sunday will be UW quarterback Isaiah Stanback, whose preliminary time of 10.48 seconds was the sixth-fastest in qualifying, and the eighth-fastest in UW history. Washington qualified two athletes for the finals in the 400-meter (Bruce Jackson, 7th, 47.47 and Alex Harcourt, 8th, 48.05), 800-meter (Brown, 3rd, 1:50.85 and Abbott, 4th, 1:50.87) and 1,500-meter (Abbott, 2nd, 3:47.59 and Carl Moe, 9th, 3:47.87) runs, as well as the 400-meter hurdles (Charles, 1st, 51.15 and Phil McCary, 7th, 52.27), and will have competitors in finals of the discus, high jump, triple jump, 5,000 meters and both relays as well.
Lauran Dignam (4th, 400m, 54.38), Dani Schuster (6th, 800m, 2:09.42), Amy Lia (5th, 1,500m, 4:29.87), Annaliese Chapa (11th, 1,500m, 4:31.11) and Ashley Lodree (4th, 100m hurdles, 13.38) all qualified for finals for the UW women.
For complete results from the 2006 Pac-10 Track and Field Championships, visit www.gohuskies.com.