Roth and Lawrence Go Top-3 At Nationals
June 12, 2009
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Washington track endured another rain delay at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, but made it worth the wait by adding four All-Americans, two on the men's side and two for the women. Sophomore Scott Roth was the runner-up in the pole vault, and redshirt freshman Mel Lawrence placed third in the women's steeplechase.
The third day of nationals at Arkansas' John McDonnell Field was also highlighted by a pair of All-American honors for sophomore javelin throwers Kyle Nielsen and Brooke Pighin. Junior Katie Follett placed 12th in the 5,000-meter final, and senior Jordan Boase saw his outstanding college career end one race prematurely, as he could not find his legs in the semis, running 46.55.
In her first NCAA Outdoor meet, the rookie Lawrence from Reno, Nev. looked every bit the part of a future champion, as she ran a huge PR of 9:40.98, once again crushing her own school record. No other woman in the entire final ran a PR besides Lawrence, who was 12 seconds under her previous best. She adds her first track All-America honor to the one she earned in the fall for cross country.
The winner of the steeple was the heaviest favorite in the entire meet, as Colorado's Jenny Barringer was a 2008 Olympian in the event and the American record-holder. She would go on to win in 9:25.54, but Lawrence, seeded fourth, battled down to the wire for second. For much of the early race, Lawrence ran alone in fourth, behind Barringer, Nicole Bush of Michigan State, and Bridget Franek of Penn State. Eventually Lawrence pulled even with Bush and Franek, and moved into third going into the final lap. She stayed on Bush the entire way, and looked to pass on the final stretch, but Bush held on for second-place by less than one second, finishing in 9:40.49.
Barringer and Bush are both seniors, making Lawrence a major threat next season. This steeplechase was the first time all year she was actually not alone in first from the gun, thus accounting for her big drop in PR.
'I tried to build over the last (thousand meters). I noticed I was getting closer and closer towards (Bush and Franek). I could hear Coach Metcalf's (advice) on the sidelines and I trust him with my life,' Lawrence said. 'I was digging that last hundred. I went over that last barrier and I was going for it and she just was just a little bit stronger than I was, but it was an awesome last hundred for me.'
It was high drama in the men's vault later in the evening, as Roth battled for his first national championship. Roth was one of just two vaulters to make it over the bar at 17-feet, 10.5-inches, but trailed BYU's Bob Low based on one earlier missed attempt. However, Rice's Jason Colwick, the top-seeded vaulter this year, had yet to even enter the competition.
The bar was raised to just over 18-feet, and Roth cleared on his first attempt. Low missed all three of his chances at the height and settled for third. Colwick finally came in at that point, and promptly cleared on his first attempt as well. Roth continued his hot streak by clearing 18-2 ½ on his first try once again, but Colwick kept up the gamesmanship by passing to the next height. That meant Roth had to go again, this time at 18-4 ½. He missed his first try and Colwick followed with a first attempt clearance. That meant a later clearance for Roth at that height would do no good, so he had to raise the bar again, this time to 18-6 ½, which would have been a new lifetime-best. Roth only had two attempts left, and came very close on his final effort, but the bar wouldn't stay put. Colwick went on to clear yet another bar, winning at 18-8 ¼, one of the highest marks in the world this year.
'I just got out-vaulted today. I had really great jumps in really good conditions. I was jumping well and I was happy with how it was going, but I just simply got out-jumped,' said Roth. 'It's really cool to jump with a guy like that because it's kind of a wake-up call. But I was still able to clear a lot of bars and to take second-place is very exciting.'
This was Roth's first national meet since the 2008 indoor meet. He redshirted the following outdoor and indoor seasons with an injury, but has now proven to be all the way back in earning his third All-America honor. Roth duplicated the second-place finish of teammate Jared O'Connor from last year's meet. O'Connor unfortunately struggled this evening in his final Husky meet. After clearing every qualifying bar on first attempts on Wednesday, O'Connor was unable to make 16-8 ¾ today, a typically pedestrian height for the senior.
Washington's two javelin throwers both came up huge in the finals today, earning their first All-America honors in their first national meets. The fellow Canadians each outperformed their seed and scored for the Dawgs. Nielsen (Langley, B.C.) was seventh heading into his final throw, then reached back for his best throw of the day, hefting the javelin 231-feet, 6-inches, to move up to sixth where he would finish. It was the best finish for a UW male in the javelin since Justin St. Clair also took sixth in 2000.
'I came in here hoping to be All-American and after the prelims I kind of saw where everyone was at and thought, `Okay, I've got a shot at going top-five here if I bring my A-game.' I was a little off today but I pulled it out there on my last throw and it bumped me up to sixth-place,' Nielsen said. 'I was feeling pretty tired the whole competition, but (Assistant Coach Reedus Thurmond) said to put it all on the line because I've got nothing else left. I got a little bit of support from the Husky team here and threw my heart into it.
On the women's side, Pighin (Port Alberni, B.C.) took advantage of the second life granted to her after a subpar performance at West Regionals briefly put her very inclusion in the NCAA meet in jeopardy. One athlete had to withdraw for Pighin to earn a ticket to Fayetteville, but once she arrived here she certainly made the most of her second chance. Her very first throw traveled 165-feet, 9-inches, which kept her in seventh for much of the final. She matched that distance exactly on her final throw, but remained seventh until the end. Fifth-place was less than a foot ahead of Pighin's best. She picked up two points for the team, and earned her first All-America honor.
'It's been a long time coming. I kind of expected to get to this point through my whole collegiate career,' Pighin said. 'It was nice to finally get out here and be able to get a shot at redemption on Wednesday and then another shot here (in the final) to really prove myself. I threw about where I've been throwing. I hoped to break the 180-mark at this meet, but hey I can't really complain too much. It's a great group of girls and we had a lot of fun out there.'
In the team standings, the Husky men are tied for 15th with 11 points. They have Austin Abbott running in the 1,500m final on Saturday. The women likewise have Christine Babcock in the 1,500m final tomorrow, and are alone in 10th-place with 14 points. Both 1,500m finals will be shown live tomorrow on CBS, a telecast that starts at 10 a.m. Pacific.
Washington Track & Field
2009 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships
June 12, 2009 - Fayetteville, Ark.
Day 3 of 4
John McDonnell Field
400m Dash (Semifinal 1 of 2): 8. Jordan Boase, 46.55 (does not advance); Pole Vault (Final): 2. Scott Roth, 18-2 ½ (All-American); -- Jared O'Connor, NH; Javelin (Final): 6. Kyle Nielsen, 231-6 (All-American).