Cougars Find Bright Spots at Pac-10 Track & Field Championships

May 14, 2006

EUGENE, Ore. -- Washington State hurdler John Cassleman and pole vaulter Tamara Diles claimed second-place finishes in their events to highlight the final day for Cougars at the 2006 Pac-10 Track & Field Championships, Presented by 76 ProClean Gasolines.

USC won the men's title and Arizona State won the women's title as more than 7,000 spectators were in attendance at the University of Oregon's Hayward Field Sunday. The WSU women's team finished in eighth place with 40 points, missing seventh place by one point, and the Cougar men's team finished ninth with 37 points.

Cassleman ran a lifetime-best and second-fastest in school history time of 49.53 seconds for second place in the 400m hurdles. Cassleman, a junior from Pullman, became only the third man in WSU history to run the intermediate hurdles under 50-seconds. Washington's Shane Charles held on at the finish line to win the race with a time of 49.51.

'I really puffed my chest out at the end of that race but it just wasn't quite enough,' Cassleman said. 'I'll have another chance to win but am really happy about today.'

For the second year, WSU's Tamara Diles took second place in the women's pole vault, tied with Washington's Carly Dockendorf, after clearing the bar at 13-7 1/4 (4.15m). UCLA's Chelsea Johnson defended her title with a collegiate record height of 15-1 (4.60m). These three women will compete again at the NCAA West Regional meet in two weeks.

'The Pac-10 is very tough, obviously,' Diles said. 'I'm disappointed because I know I could have jumped higher but there were good things happening today so I'm excited for regionals when I get bigger poles because I was on my brand new pole and I blew through it. I did everything I could to make the next bar but it just wasn't enough pole. I think things are coming together and it's going to be good the next two weeks.'

Freshman Matt Lamb took third place in the discus with a PR, improved NCAA RQ and WSU freshman record toss of 189-9 (57.84m), breaking Cougar All-American and Olympian Ian Waltz' 1996 toss of 189-7 (57.78m). Junior Drew Ulrick threw the discus 171-0 (52.12m) for 11th.

Sara Trané, a freshman from Sweden, finished fourth in the women's 400m hurdles with a time of 1:01.39, and heptathlete Diana Pickler finished fifth in the women's 110m hurdles with a time of 13.74 seconds.

McKenzie Burgess Garberg placed fifth in the women's discus with a toss of 163-6 (49.85m). She also tossed the hammer a PR and improved NCAA RQ of 190-7 (58.09m) which is second best on the Cougar women's all-time list but ninth in the competition Sunday.

Senior Martin Boston, who had not competed since March 18 due to a leg injury, finished seventh in the men's triple jump with an NCAA RQ mark of 49-9 1/4 (15.17m) leap, while freshman Moreno Zapata tied for eighth with a leap of 48-8 1/4 (14.84m).

In the men's high jump, Kyle Eaton and Ryan Thomas both cleared the bar at 6-6 3/4 (2.00m) with Eaton seventh and Thomas tied for eighth in the final standings.

The Cougar men's 4x100m relay team, without the services of senior James McSwain (home recovering from an ankle injury) and freshman Robert Williams (back spasm Saturday), ran with an order of Eric Nygard, Brian Woods, Justin Woods and Jaycee Robertson to finish sixth with a time of 41.11. Robertson and Justin Woods came back to place in the 100m dash with Robertson's 10.53 sixth and Woods' 10.55 seventh. Woods, a freshman from Buena Park, Calif., also ran in the 200m dash final and finished sixth with a time of 21.14. The men's 4x400m relay of Brian Woods, Cassleman, Josh Leyk and Nygard finished eighth in a time of 3:16.98.

WSU women's 4x100m relay squad of Nicole Hatcher, La Shawnda Porter, Diana Pickler and Catie Schuetzle finished fifth with a time of 46.38. In the 4x400m relay, the Cougar team of Nicole McClendon, Brandi Probasco-Canda, Porter and Lorraine King ran a time of 3:45.60 for seventh.

In the women's 5000m race Haley Paul ran a time of 18:04.45 for 19th and Isley Gonzalez finished 24th with a time of 18:52.60. Danny Wolf was 13th and Andrew Jones 19th in the men's 5000m race with times of 14:3.16 and 14:49.07, respectively.

The women's triple jump found Cougars finishing 13th with Sarah Burns' 37-10 1/2, 14th with Catie Schuetzle's 37-8 1/2, and Kaylee Gardner (36-11 1/2) was 16th.

'On one hand, (I have) disappointment because of the failure of us to finish further up the ladder on the hierarchy here in the Pac-10,' Sloan said. 'But with the recruits we have coming and the way some of the people stepped up and performed here, I think our future looks pretty good and I'm enthusiastic about what might happen next year. At this point in time we are looking on to the regional meet and the people who are qualified there and we are trying to get as many qualified there for the national championships and show a Cougar presence in Sacramento.'

The NCAA West Regional Championships will be held May 26-27, at Provo, Utah.


'Overall, I'm disappointed with the outcome of the meet but knowing that we were here without James McSwain, also without Diana Pickler and Julie Pickler at various times during the past two weekends, it probably affected the Cougars to a certain extent; not having our star athletes in uniform and participating in all they are capable of doing. But also the fact that we had a dozen people contract this flu-bug, I think that took a little of the edge off some of our people. For the most part, we had some great performances from the people who did compete here.

'We couldn't get the breaks we were looking for and in a meet of this caliber. We have to have some things roll our way to stay in a competitive mode. We just didn't get the breaks we were looking for the whole weekend.

'Senior captain Tamara Diles in her final Pac-10 Championship tied for second. We had a situation where she is jumping great but we don't have big enough poles for her, she's jumping so well. I bought a brand new pole, she used it to make 13-7 and then it wasn't strong enough to get her over the next bar. So I have to buy more poles.

'John Cassleman had a great, great run in the intermediate hurdles and then he ran 46.4 on the final leg of the men's 4x400m relay. John is running very, very well now and he's going to be a big factor for us at the national championships.

'Sara Trané had a strong, gutty effort for fourth place as a freshman coming into the conference meet. She was way back halfway through the race and she kept running people down at the end.

'I was very happy with Justin Woods, the freshman and the way he performed, scoring in the 100m and 200m. That helps the future of the Cougar sprint corps. I think Rob Williams, another freshman, probably would have done well in the hurdles but unfortunately picked up a back spasm and was barely able to finish.

'Eric Nygard, coming back from chemotherapy, we used Eric up today. He ran yesterday in the 400m hurdles and didn't make a qualifying mark to get to run in the finals today so Eric ran the leadoff leg in the 4x100m relay and then came back at the end of the day to anchor the 4x400m relay. Even though he is not in top shape, not 100 percent, he is still a workhorse. If we'd asked Eric to run six races, he would have been there for all six, giving everything he has. That is all you can ask of an athlete and I wish the rest of our team would look at him as an example of heart and what it takes to be a champion.

'Matt Lamb, breaking the school freshman record of Ian Waltz who broke the record of John Van Reenan. There is a great lineage there and Matt is going to be a great thrower for the Cougars in the years to come and he's doing a great job right now. Looking forward to the regional meet and getting him qualified for the national meet in his freshman year.

'On the women's side, I'm pleased with Diana Pickler coming back and getting fifth in the hurdles, running 13.69 and 13.74, both legal times, so that tells me we are not far from getting her back to her health and going strong again.

'The performer of the meet for us was McKenzie Garberg with two big performances with a big PR for her in the hammer throw, even though that didn't score. And coming back in the discus to throw 163, she is becoming a very consistent performer and someone we rely on very heavily in all of our meets and certainly now in the championship meets as well.'

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