Six More Cougars Qualify for NCAA Track & Field Championships

May 26, 2007

EUGENE, Ore. -- Six more Washington State University track and field athletes have earned the right to compete at the NCAA Div. I Outdoor Championships after earning top five finishes at the NCAA West Regional Championships at Oregon's Hayward Field Saturday. The six are hurdlers John Cassleman and Robert Williams, triple jumper Moreno Zapata, sprinters Justin Woods and Jaycee Robertson, and thrower McKenzie Garberg. They join thrower Matt Lamb and long jumper Rickey Moody, who advanced Friday, and heptathletes Diana and Julie Pickler who have automatic qualifying marks.

Senior All-American and men's team captain Cassleman (Pullman, Wash.) ran a 400m hurdles time of 51.10 seconds to take second place in the final and earn a return trip to the national championships where he finished fifth in 2006. UCLA's Brandon Johnson won the West Regional intermediate hurdles title in a time of 49.98.

'This weekend was a little slower than I thought it was going to be,' Cassleman said. 'I was a little disappointed (with my time) because the race felt faster except for the wind on the backstretch and my strides were out a little and that messes with the flow of the race which is essential to my race. But place is always my enemy and I've always felt that time is just an indicator of where you are and it helps with analysis.'

Sophomore Zapata (Tacoma, Wash.) catapulted into second place in the men's triple jump when he took flight with a 6.5 meters per second wind for a lifetime-best distance of 51-feet, 9 1/4 inches (15.78m) on his final jump of the day. Zapata's best non-wind-aided jump of the day was his first, a distance of 49-6 1/2 (15.10m). The triple jump winner was Arizona's Daniel Marshall who jumped 51-9 3/4 (15.79m), also with a 3.6 mps wind.

Cougar sprinters Justin Woods and Jaycee Robertson had a productive day with Woods (sophomore, Buena Vista, Calif.) qualifying for nationals in both the 100m and 200m dashes, and Robertson (senior, Spanaway, Wash.) qualifying in the 200m after a narrow miss in the 100m. Woods took fifth place in the 100m dash with a time of 10.47 while Robertson finished sixth in a time of 10.55. Robertson came back 45 minutes later to take fourth place in the 200m dash in a time of 21.20 with Woods fifth in a time of 21.21. There were no prelims in either sprint race, only Saturday finals. After the conclusion of the 200m race, both Robertson and Woods noted that the lack of prelims was not a good thing for them.

'After the 100m, I honestly thought my career was over,' said Robertson, who will be making his fourth appearance at the NCAA Championships. 'On my way to the start of the 200m, I thought about everything I've been through in the past four years, how much I really deserved to be here and how much I really worked to get to this point and not to give up now. I got stuck in lane eight randomly (because of no prelims) and you can hardly see the field so I was at an immediate disadvantage from the start. If you can't see the field it's harder to know where you're at or when to go and when to press or not press.'

Woods, who will be making his second appearance at the national meet said, 'It's really cool to be going back to the NCAAs. It was harder than I thought it was going to be. I thought it would be easier since we'd have more rest but you don't realize that the prelims give you more of an advantage because you actually get to run on the track. Today was kind of difficult but regionals is just to qualify to the top five and go to the NCAAs so I'll take it. Hopefully I can run both races (100m and 200m). My favorite between the two changes from time to time; every time I say it's one think I come out and PR in the other so I don't want to choose anymore.'

Robert Williams (sophomore, Riverside, Calif.) captured fifth place in the 110m hurdles after running a PR time 14.05 seconds. Williams' Friday prelim race equaled his PR time of 14.08 seconds and was seventh fastest in the prelims.

'I was just trying to run steady and I did and I finished pretty good,' Williams said. 'I'm pumped up to go to the NCAA Championships. I think I can keep dropping my time down.'

McKenzie Garberg (junior, Benton City, Wash.) took fifth place in the women's discus with a throw of PR throw of 173-6 (52.89m), a four-foot improvement from her previous PR and the fourth-best mark in school history. Garberg was able to bounce back for the afternoon discus competition after a disappointing ninth-place finish in the morning's hammer throw after tossing a distance of 192-8 (58.73m).

In other Saturday finals, Jon Jeffreys (junior, Spokane Valley, Wash.) threw the javelin 193-5 (58.96m) for 11th place. Trent Arrivey (freshman, Woodinville, Wash.) did not clear the opening height of 6-9 (2.06m) in the men's high jump. Freshman Princess Joy Griffey (Federal Way, Wash.) finished eighth in the 100m dash final with a time of 11.86w after running 11.73 in the prelims.

In the women's triple jump, Sarah Burns (junior, Tacoma, Wash.) finished 10th with a leap of 40-11 1/2w (12.48m), Kaylee Gardner (senior, Bellingham, Wash.) was 11th with a PR leap of 40-11 (12.47m), and Catie Schuetzle (sophomore, Spokane, Wash.) finished in 18th place with a distance of 39-5 3/4 (12.03m).

The men's steeplechase was a two-section timed race with all three Cougars running in the first section. Alex Grant (junior, Bellingham, Wash.) was fourth in the section but 15th overall with a time of 9:08.90, Sam Ahlbeck (redshirt-freshman, Renton, Wash.) finished fifth in the section and 16th overall with a time of 9:09.45, and Chris Concha (junior, Reno, Nev.) was 14th in the section and 31st overall with a time of 9:54.12.

The women's steeplechase was also run in two timed sections. Meghan Leonard (junior, Newberg, Ore.) finished 12th in the second section and 12th overall with a time of 10:34.27, Collier Lawrence (junior, Reno, Nev.) ran a time of 10:55.67 which was eighth in the first section and 24th overall, and Kayle Peterson (senior, Port Orchard, Wash.) ran a time of 10:55.67 which was ninth in the first section and 27th overall. Sara Trané (sophomore, Pixbo, Sweden), the 2007 Pac-10 steeplechase champion, ran a time of 10:59.62 and finished a disappointing 17th in the second section and 25th overall.

In team scoring, the Cougar men took sixth place with 46 points as USC scored 83 points to take the team title. The Cougar women's team finished tied for 22nd with six points. Arizona State's women won the team title with 94 points. The NCAA Championships take place June 6-9 at Sacramento.

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