Huskies Send 11 to NCAA Indoor Championships
March 7, 2007
On the Track: The University of Washington contingent will be 11 strong this weekend in Fayetteville, Ark., with eight men and three women traveling to Arkansas' Randal Tyson Track Center for the 2007 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. The two-day meet begins Friday and continues through Saturday evening, with live results available throughout the meet at www.gohuskies.com.
NCAA Championships on TV: Washington's 11 athletes hope to make this week's NCAA Championship meet must-see TV for Husky fans. While there will be no live broadcast of the event, ESPN will televise the Championships on a tape-delayed basis beginning next Tuesday, Mar. 13, at 11:30 a.m. PST. All fans are strongly recommended to check their local listings to confirm time and channel in their area.
What to Watch For: The 11 Huskies competing in Fayetteville this weekend bring with them impressive credentials, having combined for one NCAA title, two Pac-10 titles, seven MPSF indoor conference titles and 16 career All-America honors. Washington's men, who enter the meet ranked No. 6 nationally by the nation's coaches, boast a particularly strong lineup with eight total entries, including reigning NCAA 800-meter outdoor champion Ryan Brown and a double-entry in the high- and long-jumps for two-time All-American Norris Frederick. Washington also boasts two competitors ranked among the top-five nationally in the pole vault in freshman Scott Roth (2nd, 18-1 3/4) and junior McKane Lee (5th, 17-9 3/4), and will be seeking a third-consecutive top-five finish in the men's distance medley relay. The Huskies' women, too, boast an impressive cast, with four-time All-American Ashley Lodree -- entered in both the 60-meter dash and hurdles -- seeking to tie or break Kate Soma's UW women's record of five career All-America honors, and milers Amanda Miller and Dani Schuster fielding two of the nation's top-12 times in that race.
Name Yr. Event Mark Nat'l Rank Event Start TimeAustin Abbott (2) Jr. 800m Run 1:49.00 9th (tie) Prelim - Fri., 2:45 p.m. Final -- Sat., 4:45 p.m. DMR 9:35.89 10th Final -Fri., 7:35 p.m.Ryan Brown (6) Sr. 800m Run 1:48.51 4th Prelim - Fri., 2:45 p.m. Final -- Sat., 4:45 p.m. DMR 9:35.89 10th Final -Fri., 7:35 p.m.Norris Frederick (2) Jr. Long Jump 25-10 3rd Final - Fri., 4:00 p.m. High Jump 7-2 1/4 11th Final - Sat., 4:45 p.m.James Fredrickson Jr. DMR 9:35.89 10th Final -Fri., 7:35 p.m.Brian Govier* Fr.. DMR Final -Fri., 7:35 p.m.Alex Harcourt Sr. 400m Dash 46.43 9th (tie) Prelim - Fri., 3:50 p.m. Final - Sat., 5:05 p.m.McKane Lee Jr. Pole Vault 17-9 3/4 5th Final - Fri., 3:35 p.m.Ashley Lodree (4) Sr. 60m Dash 7.34 19th (tie) Prelim - Fri., 4:15 p.m. Final - Sat., 5:15 p.m. 60m Hurdles 8.16 7th Prelim - Fri., 3:05 p.m. Final - Fri., 5:10 p.m.Amanda Miller (1) Jr. Mile Run 4:41.36 8th Prelim - Fri., 4:45 p.m. Final - Sat., 4:15 p.m.Carl Moe (1) Jr. DMR 9:35.89 10th Final -Fri., 7:35 p.m.Scott Roth Fr. Pole Vault 18-1 3/4 2nd Final - Fri., 3:35 p.m.Dani Schuster So. Mile Run 4:43.33 12th Prelim - Fri., 4:45 p.m. Final - Sat., 4:15 p.m.
All times Pacific.
() - Indicates career number of All-America honors won entering this week's meet.
* - Brian Govier will travel as an alternate for the distance medley relay.
Event Schedule: Following is a schedule of events for all events including UW athletes at this weekend's NCAA Indoor Championships. For a full event schedule, visit www.GoHuskies.com. All times listed below are Pacific and subject to change:
Friday, March 9
2:25 p.m. -- 800m Run Prelim (M)
3:05 p.m. -- 60m Hurdles Prelim (W)
3:35 p.m. -- Pole Vault (M)
3:50 p.m. -- 400m Dash Prelim (M)
4:00 p.m. -- Long Jump (M)
4:15 p.m. -- 60m Dash Prelim (W)
4:45 p.m. -- Mile Run Prelim (W)
6:10 p.m. -- 60m Hurdles Final (W)
7:35 p.m. -- DMR (M)
Saturday. March 10
2:45 p.m. -- High Jump (M)
4:15 p.m. -- Mile Run Final (W)
4:45 p.m. -- 800m Run Final (M)
5:05 p.m. -- 400m Dash Final (M)
5:15 p.m. -- 60m Dash Final (W)
Did You Know? Washington has boasted at least one NCAA champion in each of the past four years, while Husky athletes have won 34 All-America honors since the start of the 2004-05 campaign. Ten Huskies have earned All-America honors at each of the past two NCAA indoor meets, both UW single-meet records.
How They Got Here: All athletes who meet the NCAA's automatic-qualifying standards in their events are guaranteed inclusion in the NCAA Championships field. In the event that there are not enough automatic qualifiers to provide full fields, athletes are selected in descending order of performance from those who have met the provisional standard in each event, creating fields of approximately 14-18 per individual event and 10-12 per relay. Two of UW's 12 total entries came from automatic-qualifying performances (see chart at right), with the remaining 10 selected from the provisional-qualifying list.
2006 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 in 2005. 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. Washington's women were also outstanding, with junior Ashley Lodree netting her third-career All-America honor (9th, 60m hurdles), and Carly Dockendorf (12th) and Stevie Marshalek (14th) each earning top-15 finishes in the women's pole vault.
NCAA Championships By the Numbers: Twenty-six UW athletes have combined for 31 NCAA titles overall -- a total which ranks 20th among NCAA institutions all-time -- including two in 2006, and at least one in the last four-straight seasons. Additionally, the Huskies have placed 288 athletes on the All-America podium, including a stunning 34 since the start of the 2004-05 season alone. At least one Husky has earned All-America honors in each of the last 14 years, and 44 of the last 46 years, including a single-meet record 10 each at the 2005 and 2006 NCAA Indoor Championships. In addition to the single-meet records set indoors in 2005 and 2006, Washington also set single-season records in both years, with Husyk athletes combining for 15 All-America honors in 2005 and 19 in 2006. A regular top-five finisher in the 1920s, Washington's men have placed among the top-15 at the NCAA meet nine times since 1970, including a high of fifth (tied) in 1979. The Husky women, meanwhile, boast five top-25 finishes, including a high of 10th in 1988, and a tie for 15th last year.
History in the Making?: With a near-record number of NCAA qualifiers, and perhaps the most experienced NCAA Championships contingent in UW history, Washington could bring several historical milestones within reach at this week's NCAA Championships. Six-time All-American Ryan Brown, who last year became just the second Husky to earn four All-America honors in one season, has the chance to close to within two of Ja'Warren Hooker's UW career record of 10 All-America honors., and could also become just the fifth Husky to win multiple NCAA track and field titles. Senior Ashley Lodree, meanwhil e -- herself a four-time All-American -- could tie or break the UW women's career record of five All-America honors set by pole vaulter Kate Soma (2002-05). The Huskies' men, meanwhile, will be looking to extend a streak that has seen at least one UW male competitor earn a top-10 NCAA Championships finish -- indoors, outdoors, or both -- in each of the past 46 years.
Rankings Report: Washington's men held their position in both polls this week, remaining No. 6 overall in the USTFCCCA Coaches' Poll and No. 12 in the Trackwire 25. The Huskies received 18 points in the Trackwire ranking (which derives projected team scores for the NCAA Championships by predicting the order of finish in each individual event), well off its season-high of 34 earlier in the year, and good for a share of 12th with 18-time NCAA indoor champ Arkansas and Pac-10 rival Oregon. Reigning NCAA outdoor champs Florida State, meanwhile, were usurped from the No. 1 position for the first time all year by Wisconsin, which edged the Seminoles by a 46-43 margin to claim the mantle of favorite heading into this week's championships. Washington's women, meanwhile, received three points from Trackwire to fall below top-25 mention, as MPSF champ and national No. 1 Arizona State closed the regular season with a 49-38 cushion over co-runners-up Michigan and LSU. The USTFCCA also ranks Arizona State, Michigan and LSU 1-2-3, with Washington again falling outside the top-25.
2007 MPSF Redux: Senior Ryan Brown won his second-straight MPSF 800-meter crown and ran the decisive leg of the Huskies' winning 4x400-meter relay, leading Washington to its second-consecutive MPSF Indoor Track and Field crown. Brown's individual and relay wins were two of seven by Husky athletes at the two-day meet, including Norris Frederick's second-straight long jump title, Ashley Lodree's sweep of 60-meter dash and hurdles crowns, and a sweep in the mile by juniors Austin Abbott and Amanda Miller. The UW men finished with 109 team points, well ahead of Arizona (88), No. 8 Oregon (86), and No. 6 Stanford (79.5). The UW women, meanwhile, excelled despite losing junior Amy Lia to illness and failing to score a point in the pole vault for the first time since rejoining the MPSF in 2004. Washington's 74.5 points were good for fourth place overall, with No. 1 ASU (135) snapping No. 5 Stanford's four-year streak of MPSF wins with a 135-96 rout. In all, athletes competing at the two-day meet combined for 90 NCAA qualifying marks, and set five meet records.
Just Dandy, Thank You: Trackwire magazine projects the UW men for 18 points at this week's NCAA Indoor Championships, with expected contributions from just three of the eight men competing in Fayetteville. Trackwire expects the bulk of UW's scoring to come from senior Ryan Brown, whom the magazine ranks No. 1 overall in its final Dandy Dozen individual rankings, which predict order of finish at this week's meet. Trackwire also projects a top-five finish for pole vaulter Scott Roth, picking the UW freshman third overall, and ranks junior long jumper Norris Frederick No. 7 in that event. Besides those three, no other UW men are projected to score, despite national performance rankings that might suggest otherwise. Junior McKane Lee, the nation's fifth-ranked pole vaulter, is entirely unranked by Trackwire, as are No. 9 quarter-miler Alex Harcourt and No. 11 high jumper Frederick. Junior Austin Abbott also ranked lower than his ninth-best entry mark would indicate, at No. 12, while the men's DMR was 10th. Only one of UW's three women's entries is projected to score, with senior Ashley Lodree meriting a No. 7 ranking in the hurdles, and junior Amanda Miller a No. 10 ranking in the mile.
Monster PR of the Week: Washington had nearly too many worthy candidates to count for this week's Monster PR of the Week honor, but in the tradition of the award, it will go to an athlete -- or in this case, athletes -- whose achievements, while notable, might have fallen below the typical record-setting, qualifying radar. To that end, this week's honorees are the entire women's high jump unit. Redshirt freshman Allison Lombardo, junior Lindsay Todd and freshmen Kristina Shoemake and Robyn Robblee combined to add seven inches to their personal bests at the UW Last Chance Qualifier, including matching marks of 5-4 1/4 by Lombardo, Todd and Shoemake.
Ridiculous Records: Washington's athletes have certainly kept the team's indoor record-keepers busy in 2007, combining for 50 marks among the Huskies' all-time top-10 indoors, including five school records -- two by hurdler Ashley Lodree. Washington's highly-acclaimed indoor facility, Dempsey Indoor, has certainly had an effect on the Huskies' indoor list -- UW's all-time top-10 indoor lists for men and women include 336 marks, 154 of which (46%) have been achieved since the start of the 2002 season, UW's first in the facility. For a complete list of additions to UW's indoor top-10s, see page five of this release.
Huskies in the U.S., World Rankings:Following is a list of where Washington's top athletes currently rank on the 2007 USA Track and Field and IAAF world indoor performance lists:
Name, Event, Mark, USATF Ranking, IAAF Ranking
Ryan Brown, 800m, 1:48.51, 4th, --
Norris Frederick, LJ, 25-10, 4th, --
Norris Frederick, HJ, 7-2 1/2, 17th (tie), --
Scott Roth, PV, 18-1 3/4, 10th, --
Alex Harcourt, 400m, 46.43, 10th (tie), --
Ashley Lodree, 60m HH, 8.16, 13th, --
Austin Abbott, Mile, 4:00.59, 14th, --
* NOTE: USATF and IAAF rankings are adjusted for track size.
Brown is Back: Just two years ago, Ryan Brown was out of track and field, having walked away from a promising career, stating a desire to focus on school over sports. In the two years since returning to the sport in January 2005, however, Brown has won NCAA, Pac-10, West Regional and MPSF 800-meter titles, and captured a stunning six All-America accolades. Brown's turnaround began in the 2005 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, then continued two weeks later when Brown outkicked Rankin again to win the 2005 NCAA West Regional. After filling in the intervening 12 months with All-America performances in the 800m (10th, 2005 Outdoors), 4x400m (3rd, 2006 Indoors) and DMR (5th, 2006 Indoors) Brown was back atop the podium at the 2006 NCAA Outdoor Championships, again outkicking the field in the final 100 meters for his first NCAA title, and the first by a Husky men's runner since 1998. Brown's time of 1:46.29 in the NCAA final shattered the school record and was the fastest by a collegian in 2006, and was more than a full second faster than his previous lifetime best. The junior returned less than two hours later to lead the Huskies' 4x400-meter relay squad to eighth, in the process becoming one of just four Huskies ever to earn six-career All-America honors. Brown, who last month won conference infoors titles in the 800 meters and 4x400-meter relay, will compete this weekend in both the 800 meters and distance medley relay, events in which he is seeded fourth and 10th, respectively. Brown has been ranked No. 1 nationally at 800 meters by Trackwire magazine for most of this season, and boasts a school-record season-best of 1:48.51.
Elite Company: In capturing two All-America honors at the 2006 NCAA Indoor Championships, senior Ryan Brown became one of just 10 Huskies ever to earn multiple All-America honors at one meet, a feat he then duplicated outdoors. 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 besides Brown to accomplish the All-America double more than once. Brown's honors, furthermore, helped extend his career total to six, equaling Rick Noji for third on UW's all-time list behind only Hooker (10) and Scott Neilson (7). History is also in the making on the women's side, where senior Ashley Lodree's four All-America honors are tied for the second-most ever by a UW woman. Like Brown, Lodree has potentially two NCAA meets remaining to break the UW women's record (5), set by pole vaulter Kate Soma from 2002-05.
The `Lo' Down: Senior Ashley Lodree entered rare air at the 2006 NCAA West Regional -- and that's not just a reference to the thin air of BYU's Clarence Robison Track. The Richmond, Calif., native became the first Husky ever to break 13 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles with a wind-aided time of 12.99 seconds (after altitude adjustment) in the regional prelim, then backed it up with a wind-legal 13.04-second, altitude-adjusted time in the final. The latter mark crushed Lodree's own school record of 13.17 set twice in 2005, while the former mark was the 10th-fastest, wind-aided or otherwise, in Pac-10 Conference history. Already a four-time All-American, including two indoors in the 60m hurdles (10th, 2005; 9th, 2006) and two outdoors in the 100m hurdles (5th, 2005; 7th, 2006), Lodree enters 2007 with a chance to 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 in 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. Lodree has already this season broken her own school records in the 60-meter dash (7.34) and 200-meter dash (24.22), and just barely missed an unprecedented triple win at the MPSF Indoor Championships, capturing 60-meter dash and hurdles titles, and placing second in the 200 meters.
Jumping Out of His Shoes: Junior Norris Frederick, the nation's No. 3 collegiate long jumper in 2007, literally jumped out of his shoes at the 2004 World Junior Championships, tearing apart the footwear which guided him to five state prep titles. Undeterred, the Roosevelt High School senior strapped on borrowed shoes and placed 19th in both the high and long jumps. It takes more than an equipment malfunction to ground Frederick: already a Pac-10 champion, two-time All-American and three-time NCAA Championships participant, Frederick in June became the first Husky ever to compete in both the long and high jumps at the same NCAA Championships. Those appearances were Frederick's third in the long jump (6th, 2005 indoors; 12th, 2006 indoors; 22nd, 2006 outdoors) and second in the high jump (14th, 2005; 15th, 2006), and include a pair of All-America honors, both in the long jump indoors. And as if that wasn't enough, Frederick has both literally and figuratively raised the bar higher in 2007 -- just two months into his junior campaign, Frederick has already notched lifetime bests of 7-2 ¼ in the high jump and 25-10 in the long jump, both good for berths at nationals and respective No. 11 and No. 3 national rankings. One of just seven Huskies ever to long jump 25 feet -- something he has done 16 times already -- and one of just 12 to high jump seven feet, Frederick is the first ever to do both, and has a realistic shot at two of UW's most hallowed school records -- Rick Noji's 7-6 ½ mark in the high jump from 1990, and Phil Shinnick's seemingly-untouchable world-record mark of 27-4 in the long jump from 1963. Despite battling pneumonia, Frederick managed to successfully defend his MPSF long jump title last month with a jump of 25-2 1/2, and was third in the high jump.
Frederick, Metcalf Honored by USTFCCCA: Fifth-year Washington head coach Greg Metcalf was named West Region Men's Coach of the Year and junior long jumper Norris Frederick was named West Region Men's Field Athlete of the Year on Tuesday by the USTFCCCA.Metcalf, whose USTFCCCA honor was the first of his five-year head coaching career, has been instrumental in the revival of Washington track and field since his hiring in 2002. His first four seasons have seen Washington produce five individual NCAA titles, six individual Pac-10 titles and 44 All-America award winners, including a record-breaking 19 All-Americans in 2006 alone. Washington's men, who scored just 37 points at the Pac-10 Championships in Metcalf's first year, nearly tripled that total with a record 99 points in 2006, and have won back-to-back MPSF Indoor Conference Championships. Frederick, meanwhile, won his second-straight MPSF long jump title last month, and was the Pac-10 long jump champion a year ago. Frederick is the only Husky ever to long jump 25 feet and high jump seven feet in their career, and boasts season- and career-bests of 25 feet, 10 inches and 7'-2 ½', respectively, that rank him No. 3 and No. 11 nationally entering this weekend's meet.
Vault Legacy: From Brad Walker to Kate Soma to an NCAA-record five women's vaulters over 13 feet in 2005, there is little doubt that Washington reigns supreme in the world of collegiate -- and in Walker's case, international -- pole vaulting. In just the past four years, Washington pole vaulters current and past have stood atop the podium at the NCAA Championships, the USATF Championships and the IAAF World Championships, combining for two world-championship medals, three USATF titles, three NCAA titles, three Pac-10 titles and nine All-America honors. Reigning world indoor champion Walker, who has taken on an active role at UW this season as a volunteer assistant coach, holds the world's No. 3 ranking in the pole vault, while both he and Soma rank among the NCAA's all-time top-10 in their respective events.
Roth Sets Bar High: Fans used to watching the world's best pole vaulters wear the purple and gold roared loud and long for freshman vaulter Scott Roth during the 2007 indoor campaign. Roth responded with lifetime-best clearance sof 17-6 ½ and 18-1 at the season's first two meets, and an outstanding 18-1 3/4 clearance at the UW Last Chance Qualifier, the latter good for second on the current NCAA performance list and an automatic berth at this week's NCAA Championships. That Roth should succeed right from the start is little surprise. The Granite Bay, Calif., native has led all U.S. prep pole vaulters in each of the past two seasons, and boasted a prep-best clearance of 17-4 that was among the best in U.S. prep history. Already over 18-1 3/4 this season, Roth has a chance to break the age-group record of 18-3 set by Oregon's Tommy Skipper in 2004, and also has the chance to become the first freshman to win an NCAA pole vault title since Skipper captured the NCAA outdoor crown that same year. Should Roth do so, he would add to UW's already-impressive pole vault legacy -- including NCAA champions Brad Walker and Kate Soma, and numerous All-Americans.
Best in NCAA History: Washington's pole vaulters haven't just been good the past 10 years -- they've been record-good. During the 2005 season, Washington's women's vaulters broke three NCAA records, including most women's vaulters at a single NCAA Championships (4), most women's vaulters to compete at NCAAs in one year, indoors and out (5), and most women's vaulters over 13 feet in one season (5). In fact, whereas prior to 2005, no team had ever sent more than three women's vaulters to the NCAA meet, Washington sent four each to the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships, with three earning All-America honors and senior Kate Soma bringing home the 2005 NCAA outdoor title. Washington should remain a vaulting force in 2007, as two of the five return, including two-time NCAA qualifier Stevie Marshalek and three-time NCAA qualifier Kelley DiVesta. Those two will attempt to have their photos placed alongside former teammates Soma, Carly Dockendorf and Ashley Wildhaber on the Huskies' All-American wall.
Mid-Distance Madness: Just as it did at the NCAA Outdoor Championships last June, Washington dominated the middle-distance events at the 2007 MPSF Indoor Championships at Dempsey Indoor, sweeping three of four conference crowns in the 800 meters and mile run. Juniors Austin Abbott (4:02.82) and Amanda Miller (4:48.98) gave UW its second sweep of MPSF mile titles since 2004, when Eric Garner and Ingvill Makestad combined to win the men's and women's miles at the first MPSF meet held at UW's Dempsey Indoor. Junior Ryan Brown finished off the mid-distance trifecta with his win in the 800 meters, successfully defending the title he first won in 2006. In fact, since rejoining the MPSF in 2004, Washington's middle-distance athletes have combined to win six of the 16 middle-distance championships contested at the MPSF meet, while also capturing one Pac-10 title, one NCAA West Regional title and two NCAA Championship crowns.
Four-Minute Man: Washington junior Austin Abbott made history at last yaer's Husky Classic, becoming just the third Husky runner ever to break four minutes in the mile. His time of 3:59.47 was UW's third-fastest ever, and one of just 10 four-minute miles by collegiate athletes in the nation in 2006. 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 earning a third-place finish in the Pac-10 1,500-meter final. Abbott also set UW freshman records in the 800 meters indoors, and the 1,500 meters outdoors, including a half-mile best of 1:49.64 that was a UW school record for two weeks. While his four-minute mile and subsequent second-place finish at the MPSF Championships earned him fame last winter, Abbott unselfishly chose to forgo the mile in favor of the DMR at March's NCAA Indoor Championships, ultimately anchoring the team to a second-straight fifth-place finish. Proving that the karmic gods exist, however, Abbott earned a second chance to compete as an individual at the NCAA meet during the outdoor season, placing 10th in his 1,500-meter prelim. He will again forgo the mile this weekend -- despite the nation's 10th-fastest qualifying time of 4:00.90 -- to run the 800 meters and DMR, in which he is seeded ninth and 10th, respectively.
Relay Rewards: There's never been a better time to run on a UW relay than right now. Washington's win in the 4x400 meters at the 2006 NCAA West Regional was the first in the postseason by a UW relay since 1975, and clinched the team's third-straight NCAA Championships bid -- a feat never before accomplished at UW. Three Husky foursomes earned All-America honors in 2006 -- the first time in UW history that has happened -- including a third-place finish for Washington's 4x400-meter relay indoors that was the best-ever for a UW relay indoors, and the best by a UW 4x400-meter squad, indoors or out, since winning the 1975 NCAA outdoor title. Prior to the arrival of assistant coach LaMonte Vaughn, Jr., who took over UW's sprint/relay program in 2005, Washington had failed to qualify a relay for the NCAA Championships since 1998 -- in the two-plus years since Vaughn's hire, seven of the Huskies' 10 relays have qualified for the NCAA Championships, while four have earned All-America honors -- a feat accomplished by just three UW relays in the previous 30 years. Washington had multiple relays at both the 2005 NCAA Outdoor and 2006 NCAA Indoor meets -- 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. Washington's DMR duplicated the 4x4's record-setting feat by qualifying for its third-straight NCAA Championship meet with a time of 9:35.89, good for 10th in this week's NCAA field.
Amazing Amy: Junior Amy Lia pulled off one of the most memorable come-from-behind wins in recent NCAA Championships history in the 1,500-meter final at the 2006 NCAA Outdoor meet, coming from 25 meters back over the final half-lap to capture her first NCAA title. It's hard to fault the casual observer for ruling out Lia when she was running last with 250 meters to go -- the sophomore from Bothell, Wash., had placed last in the 1,500-meter final a year before, just barely staved off elimination in the semi-final round, and was the lowest-seeded of any of the 12 finals competitors. But as the racers entered the final turn, Lia suddenly surged forward on the outside, catching and passing the leaders at the 100-meter mark and taking one quick look over her shoulder before sprinting to the finish. Lia's effort was remarkable not only for her win -- the first by a UW women's track athlete at the national meet since Regina Joyce's AIAW 3,000-meter crown in 1981 -- but for her winning time of 4:14.63, a nearly three-second PR and the fastest by any collegiate women's athlete during the 2006 collegiate season. Lest anyone think Lia's performance was a fluke, the junior-to-be backed it up with a ninth-place finish at the USATF Outdoor Championships, and a fifth-place effort as a member of Team USA at the NACAC Under-23 Championships. The junior, who has battled illness the past couple of weeks, will not compete any more indoors this season, in order to prepare for a defense of her NCAA 1,500-meter crown outdoors.
Former Huskies Return: Two new faces on the Husky squad will be familiar to all who follow Washington track and field -- former Huskies Will Conwell and Brad Walker return to Montlake in 2007 as volunteer assistant coaches, Conwell working with UW's discus throwers, and Walker with the Husky pole vaulters. Both bring impressive pedigrees to the UW staff: 2006 graduate Conwell was a four-time top-five finisher and ranks among the Huskies' all-time best in the discus and weight throw. Walker, meanwhile, has won three USATF titles and two world championship medals, and elevated himself to No. 1 in the IAAF World Rankings in the pole vault since graduating in 2004 as a two-time NCAA champion and Pac-10 record holder. Remarkably, not even Walker, however, can match the accolades of fellow UW volunteer assistant Aretha (Hill) Thurmond. A four-time All-American during her time at Washington from 1995-98, the former Aretha Hill boasts three U.S. discus titles, is a two-time U.S. Olympian, and ranks third in U.S. history -- and second in NCAA history -- in the event.
Head Coach Greg Metcalf: Former Husky All-American Greg Metcalf is in his fifth year as Washington's head coach of track and field and cross country, and his 10th year overall on the UW staff. Metcalf had a banner 2006 campaign, coaching middle distance runners Ryan Brown and Amy Lia to NCAA titles, and earning MPSF Men's Coach of the Year honors after guiding the UW men to three individual conference crowns and the Huskies' first-ever indoor team title. In his first four seasons at the helm, Metcalf has led the UW women to four top-25 finishes at the NCAA Championships, and guided the Husky men to 19th- and 22nd-place NCAA finishes in 2006. Individually, 15 UW distance runners have earned NCAA berths, with two earning NCAA titles and eight 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 10 years at the helm, and guided the UW men to a 12th-place NCAA cross country finish in 2006. In nine years atop Washington's distance program, Metcalf has coached two NCAA champions, six Pac-10 champions, 19 All-Americans, 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 2007 is in no way short on accolades. Tenth-year vaults/jumps coach Pat Licari has coached 12 All-Americans, including NCAA champions Brad Walker and Kate Soma. Third-year sprints/hurdles coach LaMonte Vaughn, Jr., meanwhile, has had a banner first two years, mentoring Ashley Lodree to four All-America honors and guiding five of UW's six relays to NCAA berths, including four All-American relays. Second-year throws coach Reedus Thurmond mentored two conference champions and three NCAA qualifiers in his first year, including a pair of All-America performers, while fifth-year distance coach Kelly Strong was a five-time All-American and three-time Pac-10 champion at ASU, and guided Amy Lia to an NCAA title in 2006. The newcomer to the group is first-year men's distance coach Jimmy Bean, an All-Midwest Region performer at Division-III Greenville (Ill.) University and a highly-touted coach and recruiter. Ironically, the most accomplished members of the Husky coaching staff are two of the team's volunteer assistants -- former Huskies Aretha (Hill) Thurmond and Brad Walker. The two are each among the premier athletes in the world, combining for six U.S. titles and two Olympic appearances, and each ranking among America's all-time top-four in their respective events.