Huskies Make Final NCAA Push At UW Last Chance Qualifier
March 5, 2009
ON THE TRACK: The Dempsey Indoor season draws to a close this weekend, with the UW Last Chance Qualifier, which as the name suggests is the final chance for athletes to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships, less than two weeks away in College Station, Texas. The meet begins at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday with free admission for all spectators.
The meet is of a much smaller scale than the typical meet at the Dempsey, but will still feature some very competitive races as the majority of entrants are those with a legitimate shot at NCAA's that are trying to better their standing on the national level and get off the bubble, to borrow a term from March Madness. The field events begin with the women's pole vault at 10:30 a.m. while track events kick off at 11 a.m. and will last until approximately 3:30 p.m.
Several members of Washington's 16th-ranked men's team will be looking to hit NCAA qualifying marks this Saturday or else improve their current marks. One Husky athlete currently 'on the bubble' is junior Jake Schmitt in the 5,000-meters. Schmitt currently ranks 17th in the nation, and will try to improve his time on Saturday. In the men's pole vault, senior Jared O'Connor will look to better his provisional mark of 17-1.
The men's mile will be one of the most intriguing races of the day, with senior Austin Abbott running his first mile at the Dempsey since 2007. Abbott is one of three four-minute milers in UW history, and while he has focused mostly on the 800-meters, and has earned an NCAA trip in the 800 this indoor season, Abbott showed he still has great potential in the mile by running a blazing 1600m leg in the DMR last weekend, helping UW qualify for nationals in the relay. The field will also include former UW four-minute miler Eric Garner, and Oregon All-Americans A.J. Acosta and Galen Rupp.
The women's mile will feature several Huskies, three of which have earned NCAA Provisional times but will look to shave off as much time as possible. Junior Katie Follett, sixth in the mile run at last year's NCAA's, will lead the way. She currently ranks 19th nationally.
In her final Dempsey Indoor appearance, Falesha Ankton will try to run a new PR in the 60m hurdles. Ankton is tied for 40th with a best of 8.41 seconds, and while she is already qualified for nationals as part of the distance medley relay, she would like nothing better than to qualify as an individual as well.
Also right on the cusp for the women is senior Lara Jones, who joined the Huskies this season from Duke. Jones has already improved her lifetime-best clearance by six inches in just a few months working with coach Pat Licari, but may need to vault just a bit higher to make NCAA's. Jones currently is tied for 18th. Fellow senior Andrea Peterson will also look to make the jump to nationals, as she sits in a tie for 28th.
MEET RESULTS: Results of all UW home indoor track and field meets are posted throughout the meet to the official site of UW athletics, www.GoHuskies.com. A link to a complete event schedule and live results will be posted on the track and field sport page the morning of each meet, allowing fans the opportunity to follow along with the action as events conclude. Simply go to GoHuskies.com, and click on 'track' from the 'sports' pull-down menu to find the live results link on each meet day.
HOW TO GET TO COLLEGE STATION: 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.
HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: Both the Husky men's and women's teams rose to new season-highs in this week's USTFCCCA Rankings. The men moved up six spots to 16th this week, while the women improved two places to 19th. Washington is now one of just 11 schools in the nation to have both men's and women's teams in the Top-20. The rankings assign points in each event based on the current national leaders to try and approximate NCAA scores. Washington gained big points this rankings period on the men's side from the men's DMR, which went from unranked nationally all the way up to fifth. Freshman Jeremy Taiwo's school-record pentathlon score also pushed him up to 13th in the NCAA and helped UW's team score. On the women's side, Mel Lawrence's NCAA Auto time in the 3,000-meters ranks sixth nationally and is now pulling in the second-highest point total for the Dawgs behind UW's fifth-place DMR. For a complete list of UW's NCAA qualifiers and their national rankings, check page four of this release.
WOMEN'S CROSS COUNTRY TAKES NCAA BY STORM: This past fall, the Husky women's cross country team grabbed the national spotlight, dominating every race they entered en route to the program's first National Championship. At the start of the season, the women were given a No. 3 national ranking, but quickly jumped up to No. 1 after dominating wins at the Sundodger and Tiger Invitational. UW confirmed its top billing with a huge win at Pre-Nationals. The Huskies then headed for a showdown with second-ranked Oregon at the Ducks' home course for the Pac-10 Championships. Washington turned the expected battle into an historic route, sweeping the top six places to record a perfect 15 points and snap Stanford's 12-year run of conference titles. Freshman Kendra Schaaf won the race by 30 seconds in a conference record time, becoming UW's first individual champion since 1982. After another routine win at West Regionals, the women went to NCAA's as the overwhelming favorite and did not disappoint, defeating Oregon once again by 52 points to win the national title. Freshman Christine Babcock led the way with a 7th-place finish, followed by Schaaf (12th-place), sophomore Mel Lawrence (25th), junior Katie Follett (26th), senior Amanda Miller (35th), sophomore Lauren Saylor (41st), and senior Anita Campbell (51st). The top five all earned All-America honors, with Saylor just missing out by one-tenth of a second. Schaaf was named Pac-10 Athlete of the Year, a first ever for Washington, and Babcock was named Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year. Head coach Greg Metcalf swept the coaching awards, as he was named the Pac-10, West Regional, and National Coach of the Year. Now with the track season in full swing, UW's distance stars are making their mark inside the Dempsey as well. Three members of the NCAA Championship team--Babcock, Follett and junior Kailey Campbell--have already crushed the school record in the distance medley relay along with sprinter Falesha Ankton in the 400-meter leg. The foursome ran 11:05.80 at the UW Invitational to hit the NCAA Automatic mark and break the school record set just last year by nearly seven seconds. Follett, Campbell, and Lawrence all ran NCAA Provisional times in the mile in their first attempts, with Babcock hitting the NCAA Auto mark in the mile soon after. Lawrence shattered the school's 3,000-meter school record at the MPSF Championships and ranks in the Top-10 in the NCAA, while Anita Campbell broke the school's indoor 5,000-meter record and should be in position for her first NCAA Indoor appearance. All told the women's distance crew has put 11 new marks on the all-time indoor Top-10 lists this season, with school records in the 3k, 5k, and DMR.
BOASE READY FOR ENCORE: Few could have predicted the season that awaited Jordan Boase heading into 2008, when the two-time All-American in the 4x400m relay returned to the team after a year off from the sport. Even after Boase started the year by breaking the indoor school record in the 400-meters, and placing third at the NCAA Indoor Championships, he still remained something of an unknown nationally. That all changed at the Sun Angel Classic in April in Tempe, when Boase took over the NCAA lead with a school record 44.82, which was the second-fastest run in the world at the time. Boase would go on to battle USC's senior sprinter Lionel Larry, with Larry getting the edge for the Pac-10 title as both went under 45-seconds. The Bothell, Wash. native also ran the lead-off leg for UW's 4x100m relay, which won the Pac-10 title for the first time in program history, and qualified for nationals. At the national meet, Boase placed fourth in an extremely fast 400m final, running 44.83 despite having been limited in training by an injury. Boase went on to make the semifinals of the U.S. Olympic Trials, before a painful blister stopped him one race short of the final. But a fully healthy Boase gave notice that he is ready for the long season ahead when he made his 2009 season debut in early February in Nampa, Idaho at the United Heritage Invite. Boase set an indoor personal best over 200-meters, winning the event in 20.85 seconds, which ranks fourth in the NCAA and was the second-fastest time in UW history behind Ja'Warren Hooker. At the Husky Classic, Boase ran the 400m for the first time since the Trials, and laid down a 46.15, which gave him the 2009 world lead at the time and broke the Dempsey record. Not bad for a season-opener. Boase followed that up with a 46.09 two weeks later to win the MPSF 400-meter title for the second year in a row. Boase will now rest up and shoot for his first NCAA title on March 14.
ABBOTT IN PERFECT POSITION FOR FINISHING KICK: The most decorated current Husky in terms of All-American honors this season is senior Austin Abbott, a native of Chehalis, Wash. who could go down as one of the greatest mid-distance runners in school history with a strong final season. Abbott has five All-America awards to his name, three coming as part of UW's distance medley relay, which placed fifth at NCAA's in 2005, 2006, and 2007. Abbott also took fourth in the 800-meters indoors in 2007, overshadowed somewhat by teammate Ryan Brown, who won the title. But following his best individual finish, Abbott was hampered by injury and only competed once on the track over the next year. It was not until the 2008 Pac-10 Championships that Abbott would get back to his old form, as he broke a longstanding personal-best in the 800, running 1:48.14 for a fourth-place finish. Abbott went on to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, and in each of the qualifying rounds found himself trailing on the last lap, but dug deep and passed several runners on the final stretch to continue moving on to the final, where he placed seventh to earn his fifth All-American honor and first in more than a year. Abbott is also one of the top milers in school history, and one of just three Huskies to have broken the four-minute barrier. Abbott looks to be assured of another nationals trip this indoor season, as he ran an indoor PR of 1:48.56 at the Husky Classic that ranks sixth in the nation. Then at the MPSF Championships, Abbott showed why he was a part of three-straight Top-5 distance medley relays, as he ran the anchor leg for the UW foursome that cruised to a second-place finish in 9:36.21. That time puts the men's DMR at fifth in the nation, its favorite spot in recent years. With one more DMR leg, Abbott stands to earn All-American honors for the fourth time in the event and will certainly be going for a top-five finish once again in the 800.
NEWCOMERS MAKE DEMPSEY HOUSE A HOME: A talented freshman class and several impressive transfer student-athletes have already made a significant impact for the men's and women's teams. Jeremy Taiwo (Renton, Wash./Newport) broke the school record in the heptathlon in his first ever attempt, scoring 5,317 points at the UW Invitational. He then significantly upped that mark to 5,559 points to win the heptathlon at the MPSF Championships and put himself in solid position to make NCAA's in his first year. A similarly skilled athlete on the women's side, freshman Kelly McNamee (Spokane, Wash./Ferris) scored 3,559 points in her first pentathlon, the sixth-best mark in school history. McNamee's true forte right now is in the high jump, where she looks to have an NCAA Indoor Championships bid locked up after clearing 5-11 1/2, the best jump indoors by a Husky in more than 20 years. In the sprints, a large women's class is expected to rebuild the Huskies' depth, and while only a few women have debuted thus far, Puyallup's Amber Finley (Tacoma Baptist) leads the team with a 57.07 400m time. In men's sprints, freshmen Jordan Polk (Portland, Ore.) and Adam Long (Los Angeles, Calif.), having just completed their first years on the UW football team, have shown great potential in the short sprints. Cal State Northridge transfer Kenjamine Jackson, a former Kentwood graduate, leads the team in the 60m dash with a best of 6.87 seconds, and he scored in both the 60m and 200m dashes at MPSFs. Former NCAA Championships competitor Lara Jones, a native of Seattle and a Lakeside alum who joins the team from Duke, has improved her PR by six inches in just a few months working with coach Pat Licari. Jones cleared 13-5 1/4 at MPSFs and is in contention for an NCAA spot. The top freshman thrower thus far has been Angus Taylor (Richmond, B.C.), who already ranks eighth in UW's Top-10 in the weight throw with a best of 59-5 3/4. Pac-10 Cross Country Newcomer of the Year Christine Babcock (Irvine, Calif.) has easily carried her success onto the track, as she has hit the NCAA Auto mark in the two events she's run, the mile and DMR. Also, while Mel Lawrence (Reno, Nev.) has already completed two outstanding cross country seasons, she is in the midst of her debut track season and crushed the indoor 3k record at MPSFs to hit the NCAA Auto mark and punch her ticket to nationals.
LAST TIME OUT - MPSF CHAMPIONSHIPS: Washington once again played host to the MPSF Championships from Feb. 27-28 and the meet was as close and competitive as ever. The Husky men placed sixth, but were only four points out of second. UCLA scored 28 points in the final field event, the pole vault, to leapfrog several teams for the men's title. The Husky women finished fifth for the second straight season, and were just six points out of third. Washington won a total of four MPSF titles. On the first day, junior Jake Schmitt captured the men's 5,000-meter run, the first title at the distance for a Husky athlete since 2001. Shortly thereafter, the women's distance medley relay ran away from the field to win by six seconds. On Saturday, senior Jordan Boase defended his 400-meter title in a Dempsey facility record time of 46.09 seconds. Lastly, freshman Jeremy Taiwo wrapped up the two-day heptathlon event with a commanding victory, breaking his own school record with 5,559 points. Other noteworthy performances came from the men's DMR (Joey Bywater, Jeff Gudaitis, Ryan Soberanis, Austin Abbott) which ran the fifth-fastest time in the NCAA this season to place second and likely earn an NCAA bid. Redshirt freshman Mel Lawrence broke the school 3k record by eight seconds in running an NCAA Auto time of 9:08.50, good for second-place. Christine Babcock and Katie Follett went 2-3 in the mile, Abbott was second in the men's 800m, and Falesha Ankton placed second as well in the 60m hurdles. Daria Amiad-Pavlov and Elisa Bryant both placed third in the triple jump and weight throw, respectively. Kailey Campbell ran the second-fastest 800m time in school history, taking third in the race. All told, the two day meet produced 11 NCAA Automatic qualifying mark and another 106 Provisional marks. Four MPSF records were also broken this year.
DEMPSEY INDOOR: Now in the midst of its eighth season, Washington's Dempsey Indoor has solidified its reputation as one of the nation's top indoor competition venues. The facility includes a permanent 307-meter MONDO track (six lanes on the straightaway, five on the oval) and a full 100-yard FieldTurf infield equipped to host the shot put, weight throw, long jump, triple jump, high jump and pole vault events. Dempsey Indoor has hosted dozens of Olympians; already this year fans have witnessed 2008 U.S. Olympians Kara Goucher, Amy Yoder-Begley, Loree Smith, Sharon Day, Galen Rupp, and Andrew Wheating. The Dempsey produces numerous top-10 world marks every year and has seen 32 UW indoor school records broken, and hundreds of NCAA qualifying marks. The facility is also the annual host site of the MPSF Championships. In addition to its competitive use, the building serves as an indoor practice facility for many UW teams. Following is a list of new facility records set during the 2009 season:
2009 Dempsey Indoor Records
Men's 60m Hurdles 7.77 (tied); Myles Bradley, Stanford, 2/27
Men's 400m 46.09; Jordan Boase, Washington, 2/28
Men's 800m 1:47.03; Andrew Wheating, Oregon, 2/14
Men's 3,000m 7:47.97; German Fernandez, Oklahoma State, 2/14
Men's DMR 9:28.35; Arkansas, 1/30
Men's Heptathlon 6,174; Ashton Eaton, Oregon, 1/30-1/31
Women's 60m 7.31 (tied); Charonda Williams, Arizona State, 2/28
Women's 200m 23.44; Charonda Williams, Arizona State, 2/27
Women's 3,000m 8:53.88; Jennifer Barringer, Colorado, 1/31
Women's 5,000m 15:01.70; Jennifer Barringer, Colorado, 2/14
Women's Pentathlon 4,276; Sharon Day, Asics, 1/30
HEAD COACH Greg Metcalf: Former Husky All-American Greg Metcalf is in the midst of his seventh season as head of Washington's track and field program, and his 12th year overall on the staff, and remains the driving force behind UW's rise to national prominence. A native of Ephrata, Wash., Metcalf is just a few months away from capturing the program's first ever national team championship, as the 2008 Husky women's cross country team went undefeated to with the NCAA title. Metcalf earned Pac-10 and National Coach of the Year honors for his efforts, and also guided the men's cross country squad to 18th at nationals, its second Top-20 finish in the past three years. The track and field squads have also enjoyed a prolonged period of unprecedented success the past several years. The men have finished in the Top-25 at the last six NCAA Championship meets, including consecutive Top-10 indoor finishes in 2007 and 2008. At the 2008 NCAA Outdoor Championships, UW placed 16th with its most points since the 1983 season. The men also won the MPSF Championships in both 2006 and 2007, and Metcalf was named conference coach of the year on both occasions. The women have also had four Top-25 NCAA finishes since 2005, and sent three team members to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 1500-meters. Husky track and field individuals in Metcalf's tenure have combined for six NCAA titles, nine Pac-10 crowns and 133 NCAA Championships appearances, while breaking school records on 60 separate occasions. In addition to their athletic prowess, Metcalf's teams have been among the brightest at a school renowned for its high academic standards. His teams are eight-time recipients of the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) All-Academic honor, including the men's team being named the 2008 Outdoor Scholar Team of the Year, and six UW individuals have earned Academic All-America. Washington is the second head coaching position for Metcalf, who served in 1996-97 as the head cross country and assistant track coach at Auburn University. A four-time Academic All-Pac-10 honoree at Washington, Metcalf earned All-American honors at the 1992 and 1993 NCAA Championships. His best collegiate mark of 8:41.17 ranks fourth all-time among Husky steeplers. He also was a steeple finalist in the 1996 U.S. Olympic Trials.