Track and Field Battles Nation's Best at Cal Invitational

March 21, 2002

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On the Track: Recently-crowned indoor NCAA champion Tennessee awaits the Husky men's track and field squad this week at the California Invitational in Berkeley, Calif. Washington's teams will also open Pac-10 competition, against squads from Cal and Stanford. UC-Davis, Nevada and Kent State round out the field for Saturday's meet. The Husky women also face stiff competition at the meet, as Stanford's women's squad placed fifth at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Hammer events will be conducted on Friday, with the rest of meet to take place Saturday, Mar. 23 at Edwards Stadium and Goldman Field on the University of California campus.

California Invitational Event Schedule
Friday, March 22

2:00 p.m. -- Hammer (Women)
4:00 p.m. -- Hammer (Men)

Saturday, March 23
9:30 a.m. -- Javelin (W/M)
10:30 a.m. -- Shot Put (W/M)
(after men's SP) -- Discus (W/M)
11:00 a.m. -- Long Jump (W/M)
(after men's LJ) -- Triple Jump (W/M)
11:15 a.m. -- Pole Vault (Women)
12:00 p.m. -- 4x100m Relay (W/M)
12:15 p.m. -- Steeple (Women)
12:30 p.m. -- 3000m Steeple (Men)
12:50 p.m. -- 1500m Run (W/M)
1:00 p.m. -- High Jump (Men)
1:15 p.m. -- 100m Hurdles (Women)
(after women) -- 110m Hurdles (Men)
1:30 p.m. -- Pole Vault (Men)
1:40 p.m. -- 400m Dash (W/M)
2:00 p.m. -- 100m Dash (W/M)
2:20 p.m. -- 800m Run (W/M)
2:30 p.m. -- High Jump (Women)
2:40 p.m. -- 400m IH (W/M)
3:00 p.m. -- 200m Dash (W/M)
3:30 p.m. -- 3000m Run (Women)
3:45 p.m. -- 5000m Run (Men)
4:05 p.m. -- 4x400m Run (Women)
4:10 p.m. -- 4x400m Relay (Men)

Last Week: Washington's track squads faced a unique challenge at last week's Husky Classic in Husky Stadium, the traditional kickoff event of the outdoor track season. Mother Nature chose to welcome the Huskies to the 2002 outdoor season with a steady snowfall, forcing the majority of field events indoors. Washington's athletes turned the surprising spring flurry into a positive, however, winning 25 of 34 events and posting nine Pac-10 qualifying marks, including four on the track. Senior Kelsey Sheppard led the way for the Husky women, winning the 400m intermediate hurdles in 59.95 seconds, less than a second shy of the NCAA's provisional-qualifying standard. Junior Sabrina Monro made her outdoor track debut, clocking a 4:36.67 in the 1500m that was well under the Pac-10 standard. Other Pac-10 qualifiers included Jenny Gregorak in the pole vault (10-11 3/4), Seth Jens in the javelin (203-7) and Brad Goodrich in the 400m hurdles (53.03), while Kate Bradshaw (5,000m) and pole vaulters Kate Soma, Sandy Erickson and Alexis Jaime each bested the Pac-10 standard in events in which they are already qualified.

Rankings Remarks: Washington's men's and women's track squads each finished the indoor season ranked in the top-25 of the 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 to rank 24th, a placing duplicated by the women, who earned 246.7 points. The initial outdoor rankings, published by Trackwire magazine, debut next week.

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).

Leading the Pac: Last week alone, five more Huskies earned invitations to the Pac-10 Championship meet, despite a persistent snowfall that held up times throughout the meet. On Friday, sophomore Seth Jens earned his second Pac-10 bid in as many years in the javelin, while Saturday featured qualifying marks from Kelsey Sheppard (400m IH), Sabrina Monro (1500m), Brad Goodrich (400m HH) and Jenny Gregorak (pole vault). For Sheppard, the mark was her second conference qualifier, having earned a bid in the 400m dash during the indoor season. Those five join 11 other 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 indoor mile times that convert to qualifying marks at 1500m outdoors, as has sophomore Todd Arnold. 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 (11-11 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.

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. At last week's Husky Classic, Sheppard guaranteed a return bid to the 2002 Pac-10 Championships with a qualifying mark of 59.95 seconds in 400m hurdles. Sheppard has qualified for the conference meet in the intermediate hurdles in each of her four years at Washington, with a best finish of fourth in 2000, following up on that performance with a top-20 finish at the NCAA Championships. Sheppard has also qualified for the conference meet in the 400 meters, with an indoor school-record mark of 55.11 seconds.

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, leaving room for improvement this season. Monro showed at the Husky Classic that even a steady snowfall can't slow her down, running a Pac-10 qualifying mark of 4:36.67 in the 1500m through poor weather conditions. 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 prestigious 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.

Battling Back: In addition to Monro, several other Husky athletes have worked their way back from injuries in 2002. Distance runner Kate Bradshaw, a Pac-10 qualifier at 5,000m, missed much of the indoor season with an foot injury. She was joined in the training room by fellow long-distance specialists Lisa Gibbs, Laura Halvorsen, Jason Fayant and Dustin Duke, each nursing lingering injuries from the 2001 cross-country season. Two other Huskies, sprinter LeTesha Moore and jumper Brittiny Roberts, missed time during the indoor season with minor ailments. Of these eight athletes, all key to Washington's success during the regular and post-season, five currently lead the squad in their respective events, with Moore holding down the top spots in the 200m and 400m dashes. Gibbs made her return a dramatic one, running the second-fastest indoor 5,000m mark in school history, while Roberts has since become just the fifth Husky woman to clear 40 feet in the triple jump.

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.

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.

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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