U.S. Olympians, NCAA Champions Await Husky Track Squads at Stanford Invitational

March 28, 2002

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On the Track: Full men's and women's track squads from the University of Washington, fresh off second-place finishes at last week's Cal Invitational, will join literally thousands of the nation's top collegiate, post-collegiate and high school track and field athletes for this week's Stanford Invitational, one of the premier events of the outdoor track and field season. The two-day meet will host complete teams from Alabama, Cal, Stanford, Washington and Washington State, as well as U.S. National and NCAA Championships qualifiers from across the nation such as U.S. Olympian Gail Devers and Calvin Harrison. A full day of events are scheduled for each day of the meet, which kicks off Fri., Mar. 29. For a complete schedule of events, visit http://gostanford.fansonly.com/sports/c-track/spec-rel/101901aab.html.

Last week: Seniors Mike Hill and Kelsey Sheppard became the Huskies' first two qualifiers for the 2002 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships with impressive victories, respectively, in the steeplechase and 400-meter hurdles. The two victories helped propel the Husky track squads to matching second-place finishes at the California Invitational in Berkeley. Washington's men's squad fell only to indoor national champion Tennessee, while the Husky women earned an impressive victory over Pac-10 rival Stanford, who placed fifth at the NCAA Indoor Championships earlier this month. Hill and Sheppard's marks were each Pac-10 qualifiers as well, two of 14 such marks posted by Husky athletes at the meet. Seven of those marks either bettered a Husky's previous qualifying mark or were lesser than a previous qualifying mark, while seven others were posted by first-time qualifiers in 2002. Husky athletes adding their names to the list of those already qualified for the conference meet included Marc James in the 400-meter hurdles, 2001 All-American Brad Walker in the pole vault, freshman James Sims in the triple jump, indoor mile record holder Courtney Inman in the 800m, freshman Laura Halvorsen in the steeple and Kameko Gay in the hammer.

Rankings Remarks: Strong marks at the Cal Invitational gave the Husky track and field squads a boost in this week's U.S. Track Coaches' Association Dual Meet Power Rankings, which simulate dual-meet scoring between the nation's top collegiate squads. The Husky men jumped two spots to 22nd with 243.81 points, while the women climbed one spot to No. 23 with 246.7. Tennessee leads all men's teams with 295.68 points, while Florida's women are No. 1 at 318.24. The Trackwire 25, which ranks teams per expected performance at June's NCAA Championships, debuts Apr. 2.

Leading the Pac: The Cal Invitational added seven more Huskies to the list of those earning invitations the Pac-10 championships, bringing the season total to a remarkable 22 before the end of March. Senior Mike Hill added a qualifying mark in the steeplechase to his Mar. 2 qualifier at 5,000m, while junior Courtney Inman, a qualifier at 1500m, added an 800m qualifying mark to her impressive 2002 season. Kameko Gay also became a double-qualifier, adding a Pac-10 mark in the hammer throw to her shot put qualifier from the indoor season. Additional qualifiers included freshmen James Sims (triple jump) and Laura Halvorsen (steeplechase), sophomore Marc James (400m IH) and two-time All-American pole vaulter Brad Walker. Those seven join 16 other Huskies who have already qualified for May's conference championships, which will be held this year at Washington State University in Pullman, Wash. Field event qualifiers include sophomore Seth Jens in the javelin, Frank Remund in the high jump, Marcus Kelly and Brittiny Roberts in the triple jump, and pole vaulters Kate Soma, Sandy Erickson, Alexis Jaime, Tayler Wilkins and Jenny Gregorak. Senior Kelsey Sheppard boasts qualifying marks in both the 400-meter dash and 400-meter hurdles. Others boasting marks that will place them a the starting line in Pullman include Sabrina Monro (1500m), Brad Goodrich (400m HH) Kate Bradshaw (5000m), Jamie Gibbs (5000m), Lisa Gibbs (5000m), and Eric Garner (1500m).

Washington's 2002 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships Qualifiers

Mike Hill
Senior, Bellevue, Wash. (Bellevue)

Boasts a provsional-qualifying mark of 8:53.16 in the 3000m steeplechase that currently ranks among the nation's best.

Shaved eight seconds off of his PR with an 8:53.16 win in the steeplechase at the at the California Invitational on Mar. 23 in just his second race outdoors - and seventh overall - this season.

Ran the second-fastest indoor 5000m time in school history with a mark of 14:13.89 at the UW Qualifier on Mar. 2, besting the NCAA's indoor provisional and Pac-10 outdoor qualifying standards.

Was among the leaders in the steeplechase at the 2001 Pac-10 Championship meet before injuring his knee after striking a barrier.

Placed eighth in the steeplechase at the 2000 Pac-10 meet, in 9:09.78.

Kelsey Sheppard
400m Hurdles
Senior, Kirkland, Wash. (Lake Washington)

Provisional-qualifying time of 58.85 in the 400-meter hurdles currently ranks eighth in the nation in 2002.

One of just five Husky women all-time to complete the 400-meter hurdles in under 59 seconds,with a career-best mark of 58.29 that ranks fourth all-time at Washington.

Notched a pair of indoor school records during the 2002 winter season, running the 400 meters in 55.11 seconds and the 60m hurdles in 8.73 seconds.

Also owns all-time top-10 marks outdoors in the 400m, 100m hurdles and 400m hurdles, and indoors in the 4x400m relay.

Placed 20th in the 400-meter hurdles at the 2000 NCAA Championship meet.

A six-time Pac-10 qualifier, with bests of fourth at 400m hurdles (2000) and 13th at 100m hurdles (2000).

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 Cal Invitational, Sheppard routed a strong field with in the 400m hurdles with a win in 58.85 seconds, eighth-fastest in the nation this season. Sheppard is one of just five women in Husky track history to complete the 400m hurdles in under 59 seconds, boasting a career-best of 59.25 that ranks fourth all-time at UW. She placed 20th in the intermediate hurdles at the NCAAs in her only previous trip, following a terrific 2000 season in which she placed in the top-15 at the Pac-10 Championships in both hurdles events, including a fourth-place mark in the 400m IH. A six-time conference qualifier, Sheppard has bettered the Pac-10 standard already this season in the 400m hurdles and the 400-meter run, extending a string of four-straight seasons with a Pac-10 qualifying mark.

One More Hill to Climb: Bellevue's Mike Hill is making quite a splash - literally - in his senior season. The Huskies' star steeplechaser managed to avoid the perils of the pond at last week's Cal Invitational and ran away with a 24-second victory over a competitive field, finishing in an NCAA provisional-qualifying 8 minutes, 53.16 seconds. Running his first steeplechase since a 14th-pace finish at the 2001 Pac-10 Championships, Hill shaved eight seconds off of his personal best and set himself up for a season-long run at his first NCAA Championships appearance. A distance specialist, Hill was one of Washington's most consistent competitors during the 2001 cross-country season, and has managed to avoid serious injury throughout his Husky career, priming the senior for what could be his most impressive track season to date. Already in 2002, Hill boasts Pac-10 qualifying marks in the steeplechase and 5000 meters, having notched a time of 14:13.89 at the UW Indoor Qualifier that ranks as the second-fastest indoor 5000-meter mark in school history. Hill's best Pac-10 finish came during the 2001 season, when he placed eighth in the steeple in 9:09.78.

As Easy As One, Two, Three: Not many women in Husky track history can boast the same accomplishment as that achieved by sophomore Brittiny Roberts at the season-opening Salzman Invitational. Roberts, a graduate of Bullard High School in Fresno, Calif, joined an exclusive club with a leap of 40 feet, zero inches in the triple jump. Only four other Husky women - Tara Davis (1995), Michelle Reid (1997), Angie Tasker (1989) and Suzanne Silvis (1994) - have ever cleared 40 feet in the triple jump, with Davis' leap of 41-7 3/4 setting the standard. Even more remarkable is that Roberts added more than a foot to her previous career-best of 38-7, set during a run to the Pac-10 championships in 2001, where she will return for the second-consecutive season.

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 herfirst Husky track performances in March still came as a surprise to some unfamiliar with the tenacious worker, 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. 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, which she bettered the following week with a 4:33.01 at the Cal Invitational for her first track victory in a Husky uniform. 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 UW to a 14th-place finish at the NCAA Championships.

Garner-ing Acclaim: Already in 2002, sophomore Eric Garner has established himself as not only the Huskies' man to beat this season, but one of the school's top distance competitors of all-time. Garner used the 1500 meters at last week's California Invitational to show that his record-setting indoor season was no fluke, torching the field for a victory in 3:46.67. The Kelso, Wash., native was making his first appearance since earning All-American honors in the mile with a13th-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Garner battled injuries through his first year and a half at Washington, running competitively for the first time in February of 2001. Since then, he has steadily improved, culminating with a stunning 3:58.93 mile win at the UW Indoor Qualifier on Mar. 2, the first-ever indoor four-minute mile in Washington state and the third-fastest in the nation in 2002. 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 returned to the track scene two weeks later at Saturday's California Invitational and picked up right where she left off, posting a Pac-10 qualifying mark of 2:10.42 in an 800-meter win. Inman also boasted a top 800-meter time indoors, with a mark of 2:11.90 at the Feb. 2 UW Quad Classic that ranks third all-time 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.

Pole Results: No unit in the Husky arsenal has been more effective in 2002 than the pole vaulters. Four women's vaulters and one men's vaulter have met or exceeded 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 indoor competition, the Portland, Ore., native raised the school's indoor 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. Meanwhile, junior Brad Walker sent notice of his return from offseason surgery with a victory at the Cal Invite, vaulting 16-8 3/4 to best the Pac-10 qualifying standard. A two-time All-American, Walker boasts a career-best of 17-7 that ranks sixth all-time at UW.

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.

Huskies on the Web: For of the latest news and information about Husky track and field including stats, releases, bios, schedules and athlete profiles, visit the official website of Husky Athletics at www.gohuskies.com.

Have A Question?: Have a question about something in this release, or a general question about Husky track and field? Contact SID Brian Beaky at bbeaky@u.washington.edu.

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