Evans Third, Richardson Fourth at NCAA Track Championships

June 2, 2001

EUGENE, Ore. -- Washington State's women found happiness in nearly every event while the lone Cougar man met with disaster Saturday at the final night of the NCAA Track & Field Championships, at Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus.

In team standings, the WSU women tied with Illinois for 18th place with 15 points. USC, UCLA and Arizona finished one-two-three in the women's standings and the Pacific-10 Conference had six teams in the top 20 with Stanford eighth and Arizona State tied at 14th. This was the highest NCAA finish for the Cougar women since 1986 when WSU scored 20 points for 10th place.

The Cougar men, with four points from Eric Dudley's fifth place finish in the intermediate hurdles, finished tied for 48th with eight other schools. Tennessee won the men's team title with 50 points followed by Texas Christian's 49. Stanford was the top Pac-10 school at fourth with 36 points.

Whitney Evans, a redshirt sophomore from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, placed third in the women's high jump with a clearance of 1.84m/6-feet, 1/2 inch. Harvard's Dora Gyorffy won with a leap of 1.90m/6-2 3/4 while Connecticut's Tamika Toppin took second place at the identical height as Evans but cleared on an earlier attempt. Evans cleared her first two heights of 5-8 and 5-9 3/4 on her first attempts. She needed two tries to clear 5-11 1/4 and used all three to clear her final height of 6-0 1/2. Toppin cleared 6-0 1/2 on her second attempt.

This is Evans' second All-American finish in the outdoor meet and third certificate overall after finishing seventh in the 1999 heptathlon.

'I was happy with the height but unhappy with the number of misses because I lost a place because of it, but oh well,' Evans said. 'I'm normally pretty consistent with first attempt clearances so it made me nervous. I did what I wanted to do and my goal was top three so I was happy with that. (I'm) definitely happy (with choosing to compete in the high jump and not the heptathlon). Coach Sloan actually asked me a couple of times if I had any regrets and I don't at all. I'm really glad I chose to high jump. I have to focus on what I do best. I'm going home this next week and I have two or three meets in Canada and if I jump 1.88m (6-2), I can make the Worlds team so that's my biggest goal this summer.'

Ellannee Richardson, a redshirt sophomore from Gladstone, Ore., finished fourth in the women's heptathlon, coming within one point of her lifetime best total scored two years ago in her NCAA fourth place heptathlon finish. Kansas State's Austra Skujyte won the heptathlon with 5,857 points. Michelle Perry, UCLA, was second with 5,759 points while San Diego State's Aja Frary was third at 5,751 points. Richardson's 5,677 points is just below her 1999 American Junior Record score of 5,678 points.

Richardson started the day in 10th place but moved to eighth overall after finishing eighth in the long jump with a season-best mark of 5.81m/19-0 3/4. She opened up the javelin with a throw of 42.38m/139-0, but her second throw was 43.48m/142-8, just below her lifetime best of 143-2. That throw placed Richardson third in the javelin and moved her to fourth overall.

Running strongly in third place for most of the seventh event, the 800m, Richardson surged forward in the final 20 yards to win the race in a lifetime best time of 2:13.76. Her 910 points solidified her final fourth place finish.

'I came out today knowing I had to do well in these last three events to be able to place,' Richardson said. 'Nineteen feet was an okay jump for me (in the long jump). I know my last one was bigger but I ended up scratching it. When I was out (due to injury) earlier this season, we started focusing on javelin because that was pretty much all I could do and I think that helped me out a lot. I was real close to my PR today in the javelin and I had a couple of real good throws out there so I was happy with that. I knew I had to go out there in the 800 and run as fast as I could to hold the position I was in. It was kind of impossible to get up to third place because I was down by 100 points. I knew, at the same time, I had to be ahead of the fifth place person so I went out there and tried to run as fast as I could. Coming around the corner I saw the two girls (UCLA's Michelle Perry and Iowa State's Barbara Szlendakova) and I wanted to catch them so bad. It was a really tough field this year but I wanted to be in the top three: that's where I set my personal goals coming into the meet. But I didn't have a great first day which kept me from achieving that goal but I have two more years so I'm not worried about it.'

WSU's Andrea Thornton, a senior from Shelton, Wash., placed 11th in the women's hammer throw with a best toss Saturday of 58.77m/192-10. Florence Ezeh from Southern Methodist won the hammer with a meet record of 66.85m/219-4. Thornton, who finished eighth in the discus Wednesday, earned her second All-America certificate due to the number of foreign athletes in the hammer.

Cougar senior Arend Watkins ended his collegiate career with another disaster at the national meet. After a strong start in the men's 110m hurdles final, Watkins fell and did not finish the race, therefore missing his last chance at an NCAA Outdoor All-America certificate. Alabama's Ron Bramlett won the race in 13.54w but Watkins and two other of the eight competitors did not finish the race.

The meet's official 110m hurdles race description read, 'The race was expected to be between indoor champion Aubrey Herring of Indiana State and Alabama's Ron Bramlett, but that was before wreckage was strewn across the track at the midpoint of the chase. First, it was Washington State's Pac-10 winner Arend Watkins in lane five who slammed the sixth hurdle and Wisconsin's Big 10 winner Thavius Nelson was suffering the same fate in lane seven. Steps later, Herring was going face down after clobbing the seventh hurdle and Bramlett had smooth sailing from there. Bramlett, who won the SEC title earlier in the year after losing the 60-meter indoor title to Herring by .01 seconds.'

Watkins could only explain his race, 'I hit the hurdle and I fell and I looked up and two other people fell too. I actually don't know why I fell. I thought I was in the lead when I fell because I made a move on him (Bramlett). I guess that was my problem: I tried to get too anxious and make the move too early and I ended up on the ground. (Did you try to get up after that?) No, I was done, my race was done. (Where are you hurt?) My ankle and I have a heel injury and I jabbed it again. I know I hit the hurdle but I don't know what I did. I'm not too upset, I'm here, so I can't be upset at that. I gave it all I had. It was a fun season, a happy week. Hopefully it's not over yet. I'm going to go for the U.S. Outdoor Championships and see what comes after that.'

Cougar hurdles coach Mark Macdonald said, 'I've watched the race several times, over and over again (on his video camera). On hurdle five, or six, he almost hooked it (his foot comes up underneath the hurdle). But on the previous hurdle, it looked like he and Bramlett drifted together. Arend maybe drifted a little bit to the left and Bramlett drifted to the right. I think Bramlett came more his (Arend's) way and it looked like there was a little bit of contact between the two on the fifth hurdle and it made Arend be a little bit off balance as he was coming off the fifth and that is the point of the race when you are at top speed.

'At that point in the race, Arend was going by him (Bramlett), taking the lead. At that point, when there was some contact, Arend was a little bit off balance when he was at his highest speed. And then on that sixth hurdle, he hooked under it and down he went. On the tape he was definitely going by Bramlett,' Macdonald said, shaking his head.

'I'm disappointed for Arend. I think he should have been the champion,' Cougar coach Rick Sloan said. 'Snakebit again. That's too many times. Whitney did a great job. Getting over the bar on her third attempt probably cost her second place but a very big jump over the bar at 1.84m and then just kind of lost her rhythm a little bit at 1.87m, probably pressing just a little bit too hard. Fourth two years ago and now sophomore year third. I thought Ellannee did a fantastic job today. Just like at Cal (the Pac-10 Championships), her third jump in the long jump was very far, probably a lifetime best jump. And maybe those jumps just take a little bigger last step and it is putting her over the board. She came back with a great javelin throw and a lifetime best 800m and won that event. That's terrific for her to come from tenth all the way back up to fourth place. Jeannette's pole vault and Andrea's discus throw were great efforts.'

Ellannee Richardson heptathlon marks: 100m Hurdles - 13.70 (1021 points), High Jump - 1.61m/5-3 1/4 (747 points), Shot Put - 10.34m/33-1 1/4 (552 points), 200m - 24.63 (921 points) - First Day Total - 3,241 points, 10th. Long Jump - 5.81m/19-0 3/4 (792 points), Javelin - 43.48m/142-8 (734 points), 800m - 2:13.76 (910) - Final Score - 5,677 points (fourth place).

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