Track Moves to Husky Stadium for Outdoor Home Opener

March 14, 2002

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On the Track: Washington's track and field squads take to the Husky Stadium turf this week for the Husky Classic, the first of two outdoor meets in Seattle for the Huskies this season. Several Northwest colleges will be sending full squads to the meet, including Central Washington, Northwest College, Pacific Lutheran, Portland State, Portland, the University of Puget Sound, and partial squads from Seattle Pacific, Western Washington and Washington State. The meet begins on Friday with the javelin throw, and continues Saturday morning with the long jump at 9:30 a.m. Track events begin at 11:00 a.m. Admission is free.

Last week: Husky sophomore Eric Garner earned All-American honors with a 13th-place finish in the mile run at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Garner, who ran in the first of two heats at the race, placed fifth in his heat in 4:07.06, but failed to qualify for the finals when the second heat ran at a blistering pace. Junior Courtney Inman, also competing in the mile at the NCAA meet, nearly matched her own school record with a time of 4:46.83, good for 14th overall. The weekend of Mar. 9 also marked the opening of the outdoor track season for Washington's other competitors, who combined for 19 individual victories and both the men's and women's team titles at Pacific Lutheran's Salzman Invitational. Senior Shavon Hawkins earned victories at 100m and 200m, while junior Brittiny Roberts became just the fifth Husky female to leap 40 feet in the triple jump.

Rankings Remarks: Both Washington's men's and women's squads rank 24th in this week's U.S. Track Coaches' Association Dual Meet Power Rankings, which simulate head-to-head competition between the nation's top collegiate teams. The Husky men earned 243.81 points in this week's rankings, fourth among Pac-10 schools and just over 50 points behind top-ranked Tennessee, who earned a score of 295.68. On the women's side, the Huskies earned 246.7 points, more than all but two Pac-10 teams and trailing the 318.24 points tallied by No. 1 Florida. Both Husky squads were unranked in this week's Trackwire 25, which ranks teams per expected performance at the NCAA Championships.

Indoor Season Recap: The 2002 indoor track season was a roller-coaster ride for Washington's coaches, athletes and fans. The Huskies christened their new indoor track and field home, Dempsey Indoor, with six collegiate meets, including a series of thrilling duals between the women's squads of Washington and the University of Oregon. The new track surface at Dempsey Indoor proved to be one of the nation's fastest, with a total of six indoor school records established on the home track, including an exciting 3:58.93 mile time by sophomore All-American Eric Garner at the Indoor Qualifier, one of four four-minute miles run at the meet. Senior LeTesha Moore set a school record in the 60m dash at Dempsey Indoor's debut in January, and was soon joined atop the record list by senior Kelsey Sheppard, who set the 60m hurdles mark with an 8.73-second mark. Freshman pole vaulter Kate Soma broke the school's indoor record in just her second collegiate meet, and then extended that mark by nearly six inches more later in the season. Perhaps the facility's best treats were saved for last, with no fewer than 45 athletes establishing NCAA qualifying marks at the UW Indoor Qualifier in March, including indoor school records by Garner (mile), Courtney Inman (mile) and Sabrina Monro (3,000m).

Garner-ing Acclaim: Over the past few weeks, sophomore Eric Garner has established himself as not only the Huskies' man to beat in 2002, but one of the school's top distance competitors of all-time, capping his indoor season with an All-American performance in the mile (13th place, 4:07.06) at the NCAA Indoor Championships. A 2000 graduate of Kelso High School, Garner battled injuries through his first year and a half at Washington, running competitively for the first time in February of 2001. Since then, Garner has steadily improved, culminating with a stunning 3:58.93 mile win at the UW Indoor Qualifier on Mar. 2, the first-ever four-minute mile in Washington state and the third-fastest in the nation this year. Garner became just the second Husky to cover a mile in under four minutes, joining Greg Gibson, who ran 3:59.1h in 1974. Garner also holds the school's all-time top mark at 3,000m, with an 8:02.56 mark from the Feb. 9 UW Invitational at Dempsey Indoor, a full four seconds ahead of David Bazzi's mark of 8:06.57 in 2001.

Courtney, Queen of the Mile: British Columbia native Courtney Inman became the first Husky woman ever to run a mile in under 4:50 when she bested the NCAA's provisional-qualifying mark with a thrilling 4:45.40 at the UW Indoor Qualifier at Dempsey Indoor on Mar. 2. Inman shaved more than five seconds off the previous indoor school record of 4:50.65 set by Margaret Butler in 2000. The junior foreshadowed her record-setting mile with a time of 2:11.90 in the 800m at the Feb. 2 UW Quad Classic, the third-fastest time ever indoors at UW. As a prep at W.J. Mouat in Abbotsford, B.C., Inman competed on the Canadian Junior Pan Am and Junior World teams. In 1998, she capped her prep career with a run to the semi-finals of the World Junior Track and Field Championships in France, and helped the Huskies' cross-country squad to a best-ever ninth-place NCAA finish. A stress fracture, howvever, cut short her 1999-2000 season, and kept her out of action until midway through the 2001 season, when she posted a Pac-10 qualifying mark at 800m. Limited by the injury again during the 2001 cross-country season, Inman returned for the postseason, running fifth on the squad in a 14th-place team finish at the NCAA Championships.

Leading the Pac: Already this season, eleven Huskies have earned berths at the 2002 Pac-10 Championships. Four Husky distance runners bettered the Pac-10 standard for 5,000 meters at the UW Indoor Qualifier, including senior Mike Hill, junior Kate Bradshaw, and freshmen Jamie and Lisa Gibbs. School-record holders Eric Garner and Courtney Inman have each run mile times that convert to qualifying marks at 1500m outdoors while senior sprinter Kelsey Sheppard will return to the Pac-10 meet with a qualifying time in the 400m dash. Freshman pole vaulter Kate Soma bested the Pac-10 standard by nearly than two feet with a school-record vault of 12-11 1/2 a the UW Invitational, while fellow vaulters Sandy Erickson (12-9 1/2), Alexis Jaime (11-6 1/4) and Tayler Wilkins (10-11 3/4) have all eclipsed the conference qualifying mark as well. Joining the terrific vault quartet in the field events will be triple jumpers Brittiny Roberts and Marcus Kelly, both top-10 Pac-10 finishers in the event in 2001, high jumper Frank Remund, the ninth-place conference finisher in 2001, and shot-putter Kameko Gay, who threw the hammer at the 2001 conference meet.

An Honor Overdue:In compiling Washington's all-time indoor top-10 marks this season, it appears that a school record set in the season-opening UW Open Indoor Track and Field meet was overlooked. Washington senior LeTesha Moore blazed to victory in the 60-meter dash in 7.60 seconds, faster than any female Husky runner to come before. The mark is just one of five indoor top-10 times run by the Everett, Wash., native this season, who ranks ninth all-time in the 200m at 25.32, and sixth at 400m with a personal-best 56.13-second mark. A five-time top-10 finisher at the Washington state high school meet while prepping at Cascade High School, Moore redshirted her freshman season before leading the school's sprint relay squads to top-five placings at the 2000 Pac-10 Championships.

Shepparding Records Her Way: Senior Kelsey Sheppard, a graduate of Lake Washington High School in Kirkland, has kept Husky track researchers busy this season. Sheppard added the indoor 400m and 60m hurdles marks to her growing records basket, which includes top-10 marks in the 100m- and 400m-hurdles, the 400m dash, and both the indoor and outdoor 4x400m relays.

Pole Results: No unit in the Husky arsenal has been more effective in 2002 than the women's pole vaulters. Four women's vaulters have met or exceeeded the Pac-10 qualifying standard, while junior Sandy Erickson, sophomore Alexis Jaime and freshman Kate Soma combined to post three of Washington's top-four all-time indoor marks. Soma's NCAA provisional and school-record mark of 12-11 1/2 at the UW Invitational eclipsed her own school record of 12-5 1/2 set just two weeks prior at the Husker Invite. In just five weeks of competition, the Portland, Ore., native raised the school's indoor pole vault record by nearly a foot, from the previous record of 12-0 3/4 set by MerryJane Bendico in 2001. Erickson, UW's outdoor record holder in the event at 12-11 1/2, placed fourth at the Pac-10s in 2000, while Jaime was 17th in the Pac-10 in 2001.

A Dazzling Debut: Junior transfer Sabrina Monro set the national track and field community abuzz with her stellar 2001 cross country season, but the terrific results from her Husky track debut on Mar. 9 still came as a surprise to some, considering the foot injury that has kept her off the track since November. Running for the first time in a Washington uniform, Monro cruised to an indoor school record of 9:32.28 in the 3,000 meters at the UW Indoor Qualifier, besting the NCAA provisional qualifying standard in the process. Perhaps most encouraging for Husky fans is that the school-record mark is 18 seconds slower than Monro's personal best, set while competing for the University of Montana in 2000. The runner-up at the 2000 NCAA Cross Country Championships, Monro transferred to UW this past summer, and established herself as a national title contender with four consecutive wins, including course records at the Sundodger Invitational in Seattle and the pretigious Roy Griak Invitational in Minneapolis. Running at the front of the pack at the Pac-10 Championships in Tempe, Ariz., Monro suffered a foot injury that forced her to drop out of the race. A hurting Monro returned three weeks later to help Washington to a 14th-place finish at the NCAA Championships.

USA's Top Dawg: As a reflection of the high esteem in which he is held by track and field coaches and administrators around the country, Husky head coach Orin Richburg was elected to head the U.S. National Team at the 2001 World Track and Field Championships, the most prestigious honor for a track-and-field coach in a non-Olympic year. Richburg capitalized on the opportunity, directing the U.S. to a meet-high 19 medals, including nine golds. In his 17th year at UW, Richburg is responsible for molding the Husky track squad into one of the nation's elite dual-meet teams, as evidenced by both teams' top-10 finishes in the 2001 U.S. Track Coaches' Association Dual Meet Power Rankings. Richburg was an All-American sprinter at Kent State, and has mentored four Olympic athletes in his 17-year tenure at Washington.

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