Second Day at NCAA Track & Field Championships Traumatic for Diana Pickler

June 7, 2007


SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Washington State University's Diana Pickler went from the first day lead in the women's heptathlon to last place after being disqualified in the 200m while Julie Pickler is in seventh place in the heptathlon and John Cassleman advanced to the men's intermediate hurdles semifinals during the second day of competition at the NCAA Div. I Track & Field Championships at the Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex.

Diana Pickler (Sachse, Texas) posted the top time of 23.75 seconds in the 200m dash, the fourth and final event of the heptathlon first day and was in the lead the field of 26 women with 3,728 points, a 38-point lead over second-place contender Gaelle Niare, a senior from Southern Methodist, who scored 3,690 points. But all of those statistics changed when Pickler was disqualified from the 200m dash according to Rule 5-5-2b that deals with running over the lane line in the turn. Cougar Head Coach Rick Sloan immediately filed a protest, per NCAA regulations, and then went to the CBS television production truck to watch a video tape of the race which he found to be inconclusive. Sloan did not view the official footage of the race which was recorded by the NCAA from a different angle than CBS's cameras.

After the protest was denied, Meet Referee Shirley Crowe said, 'I reviewed the incident with two umpires at the place of infraction and reviewed the video with Fred Newhouse (another official), and it is clearly a violation of running more than two steps inside of the lane.'

Niare then moved to the heptathlon lead and WSU's Julie Pickler, Diana's twin sister, moved from eighth place to seventh place, with 3,466 points. Diana Pickler was not allowed any points from the 200m dash and her 2,723 points dropped her to 25th.

'I have one more appeal process that I probably will not go through with,' Sloan said. 'I've spoken to the meet referee who is a close friend and he's seen the footage and he said that we're basically wasting our time and that the ruling is not going to be overturned. NCAA Rules say that if you have two consecutive left feet on or over the inside lane line on a turn that you are subject to disqualification.'

Sloan reported that Diana Pickler was, 'not doing well right now.' When asked if she will continue to compete, Sloan replied, 'She'll do the US Championships in two weeks. She's not going to get into the scoring (at the NCAA Championships) with only six events and she's not going to be an All-American so I'd rather save the energy and put it into the US Championships. I think she would have gone of 6200 points (here). Five years leading to this one moment and then have it snatched away after doing four events...that's the breaks of the game. You can't allow yourself to be in that situation. Everything that we have done in preparation was geared to this meet and then once we concluded this meet we would roll it over to three or four days of rest, three or four days of training and then back to three or four days of rest and go to the US Championships. Everything has been focused to this point. Five years have been focused to this point. And I think (to say) it's unfortunate would be an understatement.'

When asked how this might affect Julie Pickler's performance Sloan said, 'They are twin sisters and they are connected in more ways than one. I'm sure that she is distraught as well. But I know that in all the years I've worked with Julie that she is a very tough-minded individual and when she shows up at the practice track (Friday) I'm sure she'll be focused on her performance and come out and do a great job.'

Diana Pickler opened the heptathlon by breaking her own school record in the 100m hurdles, running a time of 13.25 seconds, the fastest-time of the day. This is the fourth time this season Diana Pickler has broken the WSU women's 100m hurdles record. Julie Pickler clocked in with a time of 13.96 seconds, her fastest 100m hurdles race this year and the ninth-best time of the day.

In the high jump, Diana Pickler cleared 5-feet, 11 1/4 inches (1.81m) on her second attempt but missed on all three attempts at her lifetime-best height of 6-0 1/2 (1.84m). Julie Pickler cleared the bar at her PR height of 5-8 3/4 (1.75m) on her second attempt. Moving to the shot put, Julie Pickler threw a distance of 38-10 1/4 (11.84m), eighth-farthest overall, while Diana Pickler tossed the steel ball 38-6 3/4 (11.75m), tied for ninth-best overall.

In the final event of the day, Julie Pickler ran a time of 24.70 seconds, 12th-fastest on the day.

'I have mixed feelings about my performance today,' the four-time All-American Julie Pickler said. 'I was happy with the hurdles since this was the first time I've been under 14 seconds this year, and I tied my PR in the high jump but I was really looking to get 5-10 since I've been jumping at it and really close at it (in practice) but I'll take what I can get. Shot was a little off the mark and my 200m was not good at all and I was really disappointed with that. It was so hard and I don't know why but it was one of the hardest 200m I've ever run. I was mad because I wanted to have a PR day and be over 3500 points but I didn't. I can come back in three really strong events. There are a lot of girls who have really strong first days and you don't know what they are going to do the second day. I didn't expect to be on top after the first day but I can come back and have three really strong events and come out with a PR so I'll hope for that. I'm just really sad for Diana and I hope I can go out there and do it for her.'

John Cassleman (senior, Pullman, Wash.) was the 16th and final competitor to qualify for the men's 400m hurdles semifinals Friday evening after running a time of 51.88 seconds in the Thursday first round. Cassleman's PR time is 49.53, run in 2006, and his top time this season is 50.82, run at the Pac-10 Championships.

In the men's 200m dash prelims, both Justin Woods (sophomore, Buena Vista, Calif.) and Jaycee Robertson (senior, Spanaway, Wash.) ran a identical times of 21.68 seconds for 27th place. The top 18 runners in the prelims advanced to the semifinals Thursday evening.

Friday at the NCAA Track & Field Championships finds Julie Pickler completing the heptathlon with the long jump, javelin throw and 800m, Moreno Zapata (sophomore, Lakes, Wash.) in the men's triple jump qualifying, Cassleman running in the men's 200m hurdles semifinals, and discus throwers McKenzie Garberg and Matt Lamb vying for All-America honors in the women's and men's discus finals.

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