Huskies Challenge Nation's Elite At NCAA's
June 9, 2009
ON THE TRACK: The 2009 track and field season reaches its climax this week, as the University of Arkansas hosts the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Washington will bring 19 athletes to Fayetteville for the four-day meet that runs from Wednesday through Saturday at John McDonnell Field.
Washington's 19 representatives is up from 13 a year ago and features several athletes that will be eyeing national titles and All-America honors. Eleven Huskies will be competing at the outdoor national meet for the first time in their careers.
The Husky men's team, ranked 21st in the nation, is looking to extend a string of three straight Top-25 finishes. Last year the Dawgs finished 16th with 19.33 points, their highest point total since 1983. The women are poised to bounce back from a rare national meet where they did not score. The national rankings, compiled based on projected point scoring, peg the women's team at No. 15 heading into NCAA's.
Leading the men's group will be decorated seniors Jordan Boase and Austin Abbott, each with five All-America honors to their names. Boase (Bothell, Wash.), the Pac-10 and West Region 400-meter champion, will be among the favorites to win the 400m dash title after placing fourth a year ago and third at the 2009 NCAA Indoor meet. Abbott, a Chehalis, Wash. native, will already go down as one of the best mid-distance runners in school history, but will hope to go out with a bang in his final meet. He is seeded 11th in the 1,500-meters in one of the deepest events at this year's nationals.
The highest-ranked individual Husky is sophomore pole vaulter Scott Roth (Granite Bay, Calif). The 2009 Pac-10 and West Region champ has cleared 18-4 1/2 this season to rank second in the NCAA. Roth had three close attempts at 18-8 at Regionals and will look to join former Husky vaulters Brad Walker and Kate Soma on top of the podium. One of his top competitors will be from his own team, as senior Jared O'Connor (Clifton Park, N.Y.) returns to NCAA's where he was a surprise runner-up finisher in 2008. O'Connor's experience and skill in adverse conditions makes him a definite contender once again.
Four surprising sprinters will also represent U-Dub this week, their mere presence a testament to teamwork and perseverance. Junior Jeff Gudaitis, and seniors Kenjamine Jackson (Seattle, Wash.), Randy Bacon (Tacoma, Wash.), and Joe Turner (Fresno, Calif.) comprise the men's 4x100m relay, which qualified for nationals for the second straight year despite Turner being the only holdover from last year's group. The foursome ran a season-best 40.18 at Regionals to earn the third and final auto spot, upsetting several higher-ranked teams. Gudaitis (Tacoma, Wash.) also was a surprise qualifier in the open 400m. He and Bacon and Jackson have never competed at nationals, and the latter two will get to end their careers at the premiere meet.
The Husky throws group was absent from the 2008 outdoor meet, but is back with a vengeance this season, as four Huskies, two men and two women, will be flexing their muscles. Junior Zack Midles (Olympia, Wash.) and sophomore Elisa Bryant (Seattle, Wash.) will both be throwing the hammer, while sophomores Kyle Nielsen (Langley, B.C.) and Brooke Pighin (Port Alberni, B.C.) will hoist the javelin. All four will be making their NCAA Outdoor debuts.
The Washington women's distance corps, dominant since the start of cross country season in the fall, will put the finishing touches on its historic year this week with five NCAA competitors. Junior Katie Follett (Fort Collins, Colo.) won the Pac-10 title at 1,500m for the second straight year this season, but will actually run the 5,000m at NCAA's, where she is ranked third. Junior Anita Campbell (Vancouver, B.C.) was the Pac-10 Champion at 10,000-meters and seeded eighth going to Arkansas. UW's third Pac-10 track champ is redshirt freshman Mel Lawrence (Reno, Nev.). She is the fourth overall seed in the steeplechase and looking for her first All-American track honor. Finally, freshman Christine Babcock (Irvine, Calif.) and junior Kailey Campbell (Seattle, Wash.) are both entered in the 1,500-meter run. On the men's side, junior Jake Schmitt will compete in the 10,000-meters for the second-straight year.
Last, but proven not to be least, is senior vaulter Andrea Peterson, perhaps UW's most unlikeliest qualifier. Peterson had the meet of her life at Regionals just over a week ago, setting a new PR by seven inches to finish second with a clearance of 13-9 3/4. She was ranked just 17th going into Regionals, but now will get to enjoy her first career NCAA Championships in her final Husky meet.
Follow along on GoHuskies.com all week for blog posts, video interviews, and daily recaps. Live results can be found on Arkansas' website, www.arkansasrazorbacks.com.
EVENT SCHEDULE: Following are the event times for all events featuring Husky athletes. All times listed are Central.
Wednesday, June 10 10:30 a.m. Hammer Men Qualifying 1:00 p.m. Hammer Women Qualifying 4:30 Pole Vault Men Qualifying 5:15 4 x 100 Relay Men Semifinal 5:30 Javelin Women Qualifying 7:15 400 Meters Men First Round 7:15 Pole Vault Women Qualifying 7:50 3000 Steeplechase Women Semifinal 8:00 Javelin Men Qualifying 8:40 5000 Meters Women Semifinal
Thursday, June 11 7:55 p.m. 1500 Meters Women Semifinal 8:10 1500 Meters Men Semifinal 8:55 10,000 Meters Women Final 9:45 10,000 Meters Men Final
Friday, June 12 (Television 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.) 11:00 a.m. Hammer Women Final 1:00 p.m. Hammer Men Final 3:45 Pole Vault Men Final 5:30 Javelin Women Final 6:15 4 x 100 Relay Men Final 6:25 3000 Steeplechase Women Final 7:00 Pole Vault Women Final 7:25 400 Meters Men Semifinal 7:30 Javelin Men Final 8:15 5000 Meters Women Final
Saturday, June 13 (Television 12:00 - 2:00 p.m.) 12:12 p.m. 400 Meters Men Final 1:09 1500 Meters Women Final 1:21 1500 Meters Men Final 1:45 4 x 400 Relay Men Final
NCAA SELECTION PROCESS: Automatic NCAA Championships berths were granted to the top-five finishers in each individual event, and top-three relays, from each of the four Regionals contested nationwide May 29-30. Athletes qualified for Regionals by meeting pre-determined standards, or by winning their conference title. The NCAA supplemented the Championships field with the highest-ranking competitors (6-7 per individual event and 5-6 per relay) from the national performance lists, provided the athlete competed in their event at a Regional meet and was not among the finishers to earn automatic berths. The lone exceptions are the 10,000 meters and multi-events, in which athletes qualify directly for the NCAA Championships by meeting provisional and automatic standards.
LAST YEAR AT NCAA OUTDOORS: The Washington men's track and field team placed 16th in the final standings at the 2008 NCAA Championships at Drake Stadium. Washington finished with 19.33 points, its most at NCAA's since 1983, and coupled with last year's 15th-place finish, the Huskies have now had back-to-back Top-20 finishes for the first time since 1978-79. The Husky women did not score for the first time since 2002, but senior Amanda Miller made sure the women did not go home empty-handed, as she earnd All-America honors in the 1500-meters. The men's team produced six All-America performances, led by junior Jared O'Connor continuing his amazing run that began with a West Regional title and ended in a second-place tie in the pole vault. Windy conditions bothered the field but O'Connor cleared each of his heights on first attempts. Senior Norris Frederick ended his career as one of the most decorated Huskies in history, as he once again added All-America honors in the long and high jumps, the only jumper in the country to achieve the double feat. Frederick's nine All-America honors tied Ryan Brown for second-most in UW history, behind only the 10 of Ja'Warren Hooker. Senior Carl Moe also ended his career with a PR and his first individual All-America honor, as he placed eighth in the steeplechase. Junior Jordan Boase closed out his historic season with a fourth-place finish in the 400m dash. Boase was running sixth with 150 meters to go before he unleashed his finishing kick, pulling closer with each second until he crossed alongside Baylor's LeJerald Betters just behind the top two. Both Boase and Betters ran 44.83, but taken out to thousandths of a second, Betters finished in 44.825 and Boase was fourth in 44.828. In the men's 800m final Austin Abbott made a move over the final 200 meters but did not have quite enough to pick off as many runners as he had in the early rounds, and settled for seventh in a time of 1:48.46. He added a fifth All-America honor to his growing list of achievements, and his first since the 2007 Indoor meet. Miller closed out her outstanding track career with an 11th-place finish in the 1500m run. As the seventh-placing American, Miller qualifies for her fourth career All-American honor. The quick pace left Miller in the second pack, but she closed well and finished in 4:20.71. Her fourth All-America honor came at the third different distance of her career, following awards for the 800-meters and mile run. It also helped wipe away the disappointment of the preliminary rounds, where Katie Follett and Michelle Turner, the top-two 1500m finishers in the West Region, were unable to advance to the final after getting obstructed by a crash in front of them. The 16th-place finish for the men also helped erase a disappointing ninth-place finish at Pac-10's. At NCAA's, the Huskies ranked fourth among Pac-10 schools, finishing ahead of Washington State (23rd), Arizona (23rd), UCLA (34th), Stanford (56th), and California (71st).
REGIONAL RECAP: A trio of Pac-10 champs added Regional titles to their trophy cases as a total of 14 Huskies grabbed national championship bids over the two days of the NCAA West Regionals at Oregon's Hayward Field. Several Huskies earned dramatic and unexpected berths in NCAA's, along with several top-ranked Huskies who delivered on their seeding. Taking home Regional titles were senior Jordan Boase in the 400-meters, sophomore Scott Roth in the pole vault, and redshirt freshman Mel Lawrence in the steeplechase, all of whom were also Pac-10 titlists just two weeks prior. The performance of the meet came from senior vaulter Andrea Peterson, who was seeded just 17th coming in to what was potentially her final competition with a best clearance of 13-0 1/4. Peterson went on to PR on consecutive vaults, clearing 13-9 3/4 to wind up second overall and earn her first trip to NCAA's. That mark was the second-best in school history. The next Huskies to outperform their seeds was the men's 4x100m relay comprised of junior Jeff Gudaitis, and seniors Kenjamine Jackson, Randy Bacon, and Joe Turner. Fifth at Pac-10's and seeded sixth coming in, the quartet ran a season-best 40.18 in the final to place third and earn the last NCAA spot. This will be the second-straight year that the men's 4x1 travels to nationals, although Turner is the only sprinter to run on both units. Gudaitis then came back later in the day to place fourth in the 400m dash final and qualify in that event as well by upsetting several runners with faster PRs. Probably the most dramatic qualifier was junior Zack Midles, who was sixth in the hammer entering his final throw, and needed an improvement to continue his season. Midles came through with a mark of 210-9 that jumped him into fourth and on to his first NCAA meet. Women's weight throw All-American Elisa Bryant also earned her first NCAA Outdoor trip with a fifth-place women's hammer finish, and sophomore Kyle Nielsen was fifth as well in the javelin. In the women's 5k, Katie Follett and Anita Campbell were second and fourth, respectively, and senior Jared O'Connor won a jump-off for the final auto spot in the pole vault with a new PR of 17-7.
HUSKIES COLLECT FIVE PAC-10 TITLES: Washington athletes turned in a slew of historical performances at the 2009 Pac-10 Championships at Oregon's Hayward Field, with five athletes taking conference crowns, the most since UW also won five titles in 1998. Sophomore Scott Roth started things off with a dominant win in the pole vault. He set a new PR of 18-4 1/2, the second-best vault in the NCAA this year and second-best in UW history. Then UW's women's distance stars claimed the spotlight with runaway wins of their own. Redshirt freshman Mel Lawrence won the steeplechase in a Pac-10 meet record time of 9:54.13, more than 20 seconds ahead of the runner-up. The former meet record belonged to current Husky assistant coach Kelly Strong from her days at Arizona State. Shortly thereafter, junior Anita Campbell claimed her first Pac-10 title in the 10,000-meters, crushing the field by a full minute. The next day UW added two more titles. Senior Jordan Boase rolled to a win in the 400-meter dash in 45.64 seconds, then junior Katie Follett successfully defended her Pac-10 1,500m title, edging Stanford's Alicia Follmar at the line by 0.04 seconds. Follett becomes the first Husky woman ever to win back-to-back Pac-10 titles in any event. The wins for Boase and Lawrence were also the first ever for Washington in those events. The Husky women had not won a conference title in a running event from 2002-07, but now have earned four in the past two years. Other performances of note included third-place finishes for junior Zack Midles in the hammer throw and freshman Christine Babcock in the 800-meters. Jared O'Connor was fourth in the pole vault, and Kyle Nielsen took fourth in the javelin. In the women's throws, Elisa Bryant was fifth in the women's hammer as was Brooke Pighin in the javelin. Freshman Jeremy Taiwo had a tremendous third-place finish in the decathlon one week earlier, scoring 7,299 points to put himself in contention for an NCAA bid.
PAC-10 PROWESS: While UW's teams have never claimed a Pac-10 title outright, Washington does have an impressive string of 10 consecutive seasons with at least one individual title. The run was extended with ease this year as the Huskies captured five individual crowns, its most since 1998. That 10-year streak is Washington's longest-ever run of individual champions, besting a seven-year run from 1974-1980, highlighted by Scott Neilson's four titles in the hammer. Washington athletes have combined for 22 Pac-10 titles over the 10 years of the streak, with the single-season high coming this year.
HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: The final USTFCCCA rankings before NCAA's were released on Monday, with the Washington men coming in at No. 21 and the women sitting at No. 15. These last rankings are based solely on the declared start lists for NCAA Outdoors, and assign points to the athletes to estimate their likelihood of scoring points at NCAA's. In individual events, Scott Roth is the highest-ranked Husky, currently second nationally in the pole vault with a best clearance of 18-4 1/2. Mel Lawrence has the nation's fourth-best steeplechase time on the women's side of 9:52.77. Several other Huskies are currently ranked in the Top-10 in their events entering nationals. Jordan Boase ranks 10th nationally in the 400-meter dash, sophomore Kyle Nielsen ranks seventh in the javelin throw (239-2), Katie Follett (15:48.72) sits third in the 5,000-meter run, and Anita Campbell has the eighth-best mark (33:40.22) in the 10,000m. Christine Babcock's best 1,500m time (4:16.50) ranks eighth and Jared O'Connor (17-7) is tied for 10th in the pole vault.
HUSKIES MAKE STATEMENT AT PENN RELAYS: In its first trip to the legendary Penn Relays in 16 years, the UW track and field team picked up second- and third-place finishes in its two relays on April 17 at University of Pennsylvania's Franklin Field. Washington had not sent a squad to Penn since 1993, head coach Greg Metcalf's senior season at UW. First up was the Women's 4x1500-meter Championship of America, featuring the Husky quartet of juniors Kailey Campbell and Katie Follett, redshirt freshman Mel Lawrence, and true freshman Christine Babcock on the anchor. Campbell opened with a 4:18 split, putting UW right in the mix. Follett then took the baton and turned in her best showing of the season with a 4:16 split, as she took over the lead over the final 20 meters and handed off to Lawrence in first place. Lawrence held the lead for much of the third leg, but Georgetown and Tennessee put on a kick and opened up a small lead heading into the final leg. Lawrence still ran 4:20 for her leg, a four-second PR. On the anchor leg, Tennessee and Georgetown both sported multiple-time All-American seniors, while Babcock was running just her third college 1,500m. Babcock pulled away from Villanova, but Tennessee's Sarah Bowman led the Vols to the win in 17:08.34 followed by Georgetown in 17:11.80, and then the Huskies in 17:14.55. All three teams broke the previous meet record of 17:15.62 set by Michigan in 2007. Several hours later, it was time for the Men's Sprints Medley Championship of America, featuring four Husky seniors: Joe Turner, Kenjamine Jackson, Jordan Boase, and Austin Abbott. Turner and Jackson ran well over the first two 200m legs, but it was Boase who shocked the onlookers when he went into overdrive and powered from the back of the pack all the way into first place for the hand-off to Abbott. Abbott led early on the final leg, before letting Tennessee's Joe Franklin move in front and sticking right behind him. Abbott looked in good position for his patented finishing kick, but Franklin was very strong and was able to hold off Abbott, as Tennessee thwarted UW again for the win in 3:17.77. Abbott and the Huskies finished second in 3:18.81, ahead of Albany, and two-time defending champion LSU which took fourth.
CAMPBELL RETURNS TO TOP FORM: Washington junior distance standout Anita Campbell suffered through a challenging 2008, where injuries forced her to redshirt the track season despite coming off a career-best 20th-place finish at the 2007 cross country championships. Campbell came back this past fall to help lead the team to its first national title in cross country, and she earned First Team All-Pac-10 honors in her final season. Though her cross country career came to a close, Campbell has looked stronger than ever this track season, and she still has one to come in 2010. This season Campbell has added the 10k to her workload, and made it look easy thus far. The Vancouver, B.C. native decimated the field at the Pac-10 Championships, winning the 10k title by a full minute and is all but assured of an NCAA berth in the 10k. Campbell was also named the Pac-10 Women's Track Athlete of the Week for the week of April 13-19. She was the first Husky woman to win the weekly award in four years. Campbell ran her first 5,000-meters outdoors since the 2007 season on April 17 at the Mt. SAC Relays, and crossed the line in 15-minutes, 45.85-seconds, the second-fastest time in Washington history. The time was a 15-second personal best. Campbell and Wisconsin's Gwen Jorgensen are the only two women that rank in the Top-10 in the NCAA at both 5k and 10k distances. Campbell already set the indoor school record earlier this year in a time of 16:09.26 and went on to place 13th at NCAA Indoors. Campbell is the first Husky woman to earn Pac-10 Athlete of the Week recognition since five-time All-American sprinter and hurdler Ashley Lodree won the honor on April 25, 2005. Three-time Olympian Aretha (Hill) Thurmond is the only other UW woman to win the award. A total of fourteen Huskies have combined to win the award on nineteen occasions, with senior sprinter Jordan Boase the most recent recipient in 2008.
BOASE FOCUSED ON FINAL GOAL: 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 is coming off another outstanding indoor season and will be hunting for his first national title outdoors this spring. Boase ran an indoor PR of 46.09 seconds to win his second straight MPSF 400-meter title, and headed to NCAA Indoors as one of the clear favorites. Boase won his preliminary heat with ease, but in the final he was assigned to the outside lane and just beaten to inside position when the lanes converged. Trapped in third, Boase had to slow down to move around one competitor, and was unable to track down the winner of the heat. The winner, Michael Bingham of Wake Forest, actually came out of the first heat, and Boase settled for third for the second straight year. Outdoors Boase has yet to be pushed, but claimed the Pac-10 title at 400-meters in 45.64 seconds which ranks him in the Top-10 again this season. He followed that with his first West Regional win and will be among the favorites in Fayetteville.
ABBOTT POSITIONED 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 will go down as one of the greatest mid-distance runners in school history with a strong final season. Abbott has added to his legacy this this season by breaking the school mile record and submitting the second-best 1,500-meter time in school history outdoors. At the UW Last Chance Meet, in his final appearance in the Dempsey Indoor as a Husky, Abbott ran 3:58.23 to break the school record in the mile run. Abbott was already one of just three four-minute milers in Washington history, but he overtook the marks set by Eric Garner (3:58.93; 2002) and Greg Gibson (3:59.24; 1974) with a powerful finishing kick. Garner was running in the very same heat, competing for Brooks Eastside, and finished in 4:00.66. Gibson was also on hand to witness the record-setting run, and the three gathered for a photo after the race. 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. 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, where he placed seventh to earn his fifth All-American honor and first in more than a year. He focused on the 800-meters for the majority of this indoor season, and was ranked in the top-10 with an indoor PR of 1:48.56, but chose to run the mile at NCAA Indoors after his record-setting run. Abbott found himself out of his comfort zone at Nationals, up front and setting the pace rather than hanging back and waiting to kick, and he failed to make the final. However, Abbott bounced back in short time at the start of the outdoor season, as he won the top 1,500-meter race at the Stanford Invitational on March 27, running 3:41.62, which was the fastest performance by a Husky since Bruce Stirling set the school record of 3:39.89 in 1987. Abbott's time still ranks 11th in the NCAA this outdoor season.
FOLLETT ADJUSTS ON THE RUN: Katie Follett has quietly racked up a total of five All-American awards over just the past two years over both track and cross country. Follett ranks in UW's all-time Top-10 in the 800-meters, 1,500-meters, mile run, 3,000-meters and 5,000-meters, and this season became the first Husky woman ever to win back-to-back Pac-10 Championships, as she successfully defended her 1,500-meter crown in May at Oregon. Follett was not favored heading into the final, but controlled the pace from the front throughout, then broke into a full sprint on the backstretch and held off Stanford's Alicia Follmar as the two were nearly neck-and-neck the entire final 200-meters. Typifying her do-it-all nature, Follett won't even contest the 1500 at Nationals, choosing to move up to the 5k where she ranked in the top-five much of the year with a PR of 15:48.72. The Fort Collins, Colorado junior has earned All-America honors the past two years in cross country (19th in 2007 and 26th in 2008) and earned indoor track All-America honors in the mile run, 3,000-meters, and distance medley relay. The only missing piece from that puzzle is upcmoing this week, as she looks for her first All-America honor in outdoor track.
LAWRENCE EMBRACES STEEPLECHASE: What a difference a year can make. At this time last year, Mel Lawrence was on the sidelines, redshirting her freshman track season with an injury. In the fall of 2007, Lawrence was one of the top freshmen in the Pac-10 during the cross country season, earning All-Pac-10 Second Team and helping the Huskies to eighth at NCAA's. It turned out to be just a hint at what was to come. Despite the redshirt season, Lawrence came back in the fall of 2008 vastly improved. The Reno, Nevada native ran second or third for UW at every meet, including a runner-up finish at the Pac-10 Championships, and earned All-America honors for a 25th-place finish at NCAA's as the Huskies took the team title. Now with her first track season nearing conclusion, it seems almost unfair that Lawrence is just a redshirt freshman. She set the school indoor 3k record in 9:08.50, and placed 12th in the event at NCAA's. Outdoors she has found success at every distance from 1500m to 5000m, and sandwiched between the two is the 3000m steeplechase. Lawrence was the junior national champion in the steeplechase in 2006 and this outdoor season has picked up where she left off. It took Lawrence only one attempt at the steeple to smash the school record, which she did in the WSU dual meet, running xxxx. Her next steeple, just the second of her college career, came at the Pac-10 Championships in Eugene. Lawrence opened up an early lead, but was briefly passed halfway through the race by USC's Zsofia Erdelyi. Little did Erdelyi know that Lawrence was targeting the last thousand meters to really accelerate. Her lead did not last a full lap, and Lawrence went on to break 10-minutes for the first time, running 9:54.xx to claim UW's first Pac-10 title in the event. Lawrence also got the added bonus of breaking the Pac-10 meet record, which belonged to none other than Husky assistant coach Kelly Strong from her days at Arizona State. Two weeks later, Lawrence was back at Hayward Field, and cruised to another win, making her three-for-three in steeple wins, and lowering her PR once more to 9:52.77. At NCAA's, Lawrence will face perhaps the best athlete in the entire meet, Colorado Olympian and American record-holder Jenny Barringer, so a fourth-straight win will be hard to come by, but again, she's just a freshman. Sometimes reminders are necessary.
THROWING UNIT TAKES FLIGHT: Owning the most storied tradition of possibly any unit at Washington, this year's corps of throwers has shown major progress from a year ago and looks poised to add its own chapter to a legacy that includes numerous Olympians, All-Americans, and National and Pac-10 Champions. During the indoor season, sophomore Elisa Bryant became UW's first ever women's weight throw All-American, as she took eighth-place with a lifetime-best and school-record toss of 65-8 3/4. A Regional qualifier in the hammer throw last year as a freshman, Bryant broke the school record with a major PR at the UW-WSU dual meet, throwing 190-6. She has continued to develop in the discus as well, and earned her first Regional mark in that event with a PR of 165-2. Washington's biggest improvement in any event this year might be in the javelin, where sophomores Kyle Nielsen and Brooke Pighin have each rocketed up among the nation's elite in their first few outings this year. Nielsen, a native of Langley, B.C., made Regionals last season as a freshman, but smashed his personal best throw in each of his first two competitions this year. Nielsen went 225-11 at the Stanford Invite, a PR by 13 feet, and followed that up with a mark of 239-2 at the Jim Click Shootout. Nielsen currently ranks seventh nationally and leaped up to third in the UW Top-10 lists, ahead of former All-Americans and Pac-10 Champions. Pighin, a transfer from Fresno State, has immediately filled a major need for the women. Like Nielsen, Pighin is a British Columbian, coming from Port Alberni, and made Regionals as a freshman. Pighin set a new personal-best at the UW-WSU dual, throwing 168-11, which was the second-best throw by a Husky in the past 10 years and currently ranks her 15th nationally. The men's hammer throw continues to be another major strength for UW, as junior Zack Midles (Olympia, Wash./Capital) earned his first career NCAA bid at Regionals, jumping from sixth to fourth on his final throw to get the auto nod. Midles' best throw of 211-6 ranks fourth in UW history. He repeated his third-place finish in the hammer at Pac-10's last month. Freshman Angus Taylor (Richmond, B.C./Vancouver College Prep) also qualified for Regionals in his first year on Montlake. After missing out on the 2008 outdoor meet altogether, Washington will now have four throwers at nationals in 2009.
VAULTERS BUILD MOMENTUM: Washington has been a consistent national pole vault power under coach Pat Licari, producing two national champions, eight different All-Americans, and American record-holder and 2008 Olympian Brad Walker. Two of those eight All-Americans are currently honing their craft on this year's squad and rank among the nation's best yet again. Sophomore Scott Roth, a two-time All-American as a freshman in 2007, is back from injury and vaulting higher than ever before. He took his collegiate career to yet another level by winning the Pac-10 Championships with a new PR of 18-4 1/2 that ranks second nationally and is the second-best vault in UW history behind only Walker. At Pac-10's, Roth had the bar raised to 18-9 after he clinched the win, but a gust of wind dislodged the bar just as he was going up for his attempt, and he checked his vault and came down on the ground. Roth was allright but chose to pass on his remaining attempts. Still, he has his eyes on record-setting heights. Returning to nationals for the second straight year is senior Jared O'Connor, the 2008 NCAA Outdoor Runner-Up and `08 West Region Champion. O'Connor had a lifetime-best clearance of 17-7 at this year's Regionals, winning a jump-off for the fifth and final qualifying spot. While big things were expected from that All-American duo, senior Andrea Peterson is surely one of the biggest surprises among the NCAA field. Peterson was vaulting well, scoring at the Pac-10 meet for the first time with a season-best of 13-0 1/4, but her career looked likely to finish at Regionals where she was seeded 17th. That was until Peterson PR'd on consecutive vaults and wound up second at 13-9 3/4, which was the second-best vault in school history. Now the senior will make her first NCAA appearance her final Husky competition, and has incredible momentum on her side. Two more vaulters joined the Husky Top-10 ranks this season despite just missing out on nationals. Junior Ryan Vu set a huge PR at the WSU dual. Vu hit new PR's multiple times in the same day, winding up at 17-6 1/2, a foot higher than his previous best and ninth-best in school history. On the women's side, transfer student Lara Jones had never cleared 13-feet in her career before coming to UW this season. Jones since up and over 13-3 1/2 outdoors, the seventh-best mark in school history. She was likely one bar away from NCAA's at Regionals, placing 10th.
2009 INDOORS IN REVIEW: The NCAA Indoor Championships on March 14 put the capper on another outstanding indoor track and field campaign for the Huskies. With six collegiate meets at UW's Dempsey Indoor facility, Washington was once again one of the focal points of the national indoor track scene. Many of the fastest times in America were turned in at the Dempsey, with Husky athletes contributing a good number themselves. A whopping 36 new times or marks were written into the UW indoor Top-10 lists this season, with seven new school records. Washington sent 12 athletes to the NCAA Indoor meet in College Station, Texas, and they returned to Seattle with nine All-America honors between them. UW's indoor All-Americans included: senior Jordan Boase, who took third in the 400m for the second straight year; Katie Follett who took fifth in the 3K; Elisa Bryant, eighth in the weight throw in her first NCAA meet; the eighth-place women's DMR comprised of Christine Babcock, Falesha Ankton, Kailey Campbell, and Follett; Jake Schmitt, ninth in the 5K to earn his first All-America award; and freshman Jeremy Taiwo, who was 12th in the heptathlon just three months into his college career. Both teams scored six points at Nationals, which put the men in a tie for 33rd and the women in a tie for 35th. Once again Washington played host to the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Championships with the men placing sixth, though just four points out of second, and the women taking fifth, but only six points from third. UW earned four titles at the MPSFs, including Boase with a win in the 400m, Schmitt in the 5K, Taiwo in the heptathlon, and the women's distance medley relay. Highlighting the school record showings was senior Austin Abbott in the mile run. Abbott went 3:58.23 at the Last Chance Meet to break Eric Garner's school record, with Garner running in the same heat. Other records were set by Boase in the 400m (46.09), Taiwo in the heptathlon (5,559), Mel Lawrence in the 3K (9:08.50), Anita Campbell in the 5K (16:09.26), the women's DMR (11:05.80), and Bryant in the weight throw (65-8 3/4). The women's 3,000-meter list was the most drastically altered, as Lawrence, Follett, Anita Campbell, and Lauren Saylor ran the four fastest times in school history, respectively.
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.
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 removed 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 finished in the Top-25 at six consecutive NCAA Championship meets from 2006-08, 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 145 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 track team being named the 2008 Outdoor Scholar Team of the Year, and the 2008 National Champion women's cross country team being named National Women's Scholar Team of the Year. Six UW individuals have earned Academic All-America honors. 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.