Championship Berths On The Line For Husky Track At NCAA West Regional
May 24, 2004
On the Track: With the nation's 10th-ranked women's team and 26th-ranked men's team, Washington unleashes 30 athletes this weekend at the NCAA West Regional Championships in Northridge, Calif., their only mission to return home with automatic qualifying spots for June's NCAA Championships. With 13 women's teams and eight men's squads ranked among the top-25 in one of the two major polls, the West Regional is perhaps the nation's most competitive, especially with the promise of NCAA competition guaranteed only to the top-five finishers in each event, and the top-three relays. Competition at Cal State Northridge begins Friday, May 28, and concludes Saturday.
Seeding the Field: Four Huskies enter the West Regional seeded among the top-five in their events, rankings which, if matched, would earn automatic NCAA Championships berths. The list includes Kate Soma (2nd, pole vault), Megan Spriestersbach (4th, javelin), Todd Arnold (5th, 800m) and Eric Garner (5th, 1,500m). Fear not, though, if your favorite Husky is not among the top-five: four of the UW's six automatic NCAA Championships qualifiers at the 2003 Regional entered the meet ranked sixth or lower.
Event Schedule: Following is a schedule of events for the 2004 NCAA West Regional Championships. All times are Pacific and subject to change.
Friday, May 28
8:00 a.m. -- Hammer (W)
11:30 a.m. -- Hammer (M)
12:00 p.m. -- High Jump (M)
2:00 p.m. -- Pole Vault (W)
3:00 p.m. -- 4x100m Relay Prelim (W)
3:15 p.m. -- 4x100m Relay Prelim (M)
3:30 p.m. -- 1,500m Prelim (W)
3:45 p.m. -- 1,500m Prelim (M)
4:00 p.m. -- 100m HH Prelim (W)
4:15 p.m. -- 110m HH Prelim (M)
4:30 p.m. -- 400m Dash Prelim (W)
4:45 p.m. -- 400m Dash Prelim (M)
5:00 p.m. -- Shot Put (M)
5:00 p.m. -- Discus (W)
5:00 p.m. -- Long Jump (M)
5:00 p.m. -- Long Jump (W)
5:00 p.m. -- 100m Dash Prelim (W)
5:15 p.m. -- 100m Dash Prelim (M)
5:30 p.m. -- 800m Run Prelim (W)
5:45 p.m. -- 800m Run Prelim (M)
6:05 p.m. -- 400m IH Prelim (W)
6:20 p.m. -- 400m IH Prelim (M)
6:40 p.m. -- 200m Dash Prelim (W)
6:55 p.m. -- 200m Dash Prelim (M)
7:10 p.m. -- 5,000m Run Final (W)
7:30 p.m. -- 5,000m Run Final (M)
Saturday, May 29
9:00 a.m. -- Javelin (M)
10:30 a.m. -- High Jump (W)
12:30 p.m. -- Pole Vault (M)
12:30 p.m. -- Javelin (W)
3:30 p.m. -- Shot Put (W)
3:30 p.m. -- Triple Jump (M)
3:30 p.m. -- Triple Jump (W)
3:30 p.m. -- 4x100m Relay Final (W)
3:37 p.m. -- 4x100m Relay Final (M)
3:45 p.m. -- 1,500m Run Final (W)
3:52 p.m. -- 1,500m Run Final (M)
4:00 p.m. -- Discus (M)
4:00 p.m. -- 100m HH Final (W)
4:10 p.m. -- 110m HH Final (M)
4:20 p.m. -- 400m Dash Final (W)
4:25 p.m. -- 400m Dash Final (M)
4:30 p.m. -- 100m Dash Final (W)
4:37 p.m. -- 100m Dash Final (M)
4:45 p.m. -- 800m Run Final (W)
4:52 p.m. -- 800m Run Final (M)
5:00 p.m. -- 400m IH Final (W)
5:07 p.m. -- 400m IH Final (M)
5:15 p.m. -- 200m Dash Final (W)
5:22 p.m. -- 200m Dash Final (M)
5:30 p.m. -- Steeplechase Final (W)
6:00 p.m. -- Steeplechase Final (M)
6:30 p.m. -- 4x400m Relay Final (W)
6:50 p.m. -- 4x400m Relay Final (M)
Meet Results: Live results from the 2004 NCAA West Regional Championships will be posted to www.GoMatadors.com and www.NCAASports.com. In addition, a full recap of UW action will be posted to www.GoHuskies.com at the conclusion of each day.
NCAA Selection Process: The NCAA in 2004 will use Regional Championship meets to determine qualifying for the NCAA Championships. Automatic NCAA berths will be granted to the top-five finishers in each individual event, and top-three relay teams from each of the four Regionals nationwide, contested May 28-29. Athletes qualified for Regionals by meeting pre-determined NCAA standards, or by winning their conference title. The NCAA will then supplement the Championships field with the highest-ranking individuals (roughly 6-7 per individual event and 5-6 per relay) from the national performance lists, provided the athlete competed at their respective Regional meet and was not among the finishers to earn automatic NCAA berths. The lone exceptions to the Regional qualifying system are the 10,000-meter and multi-events; athletes will continue to qualify for the NCAA Championships in those events as they have in the past, by meeting pre-determined provisional and automatic-qualifying standards. ***At-large selections for the 2004 NCAA Championships will be announced at www.ncaasports.com after 5 p.m. CDT on Sunday, May 30.***
Pac-10 Redux: Eighteen top-five finishes and one Pac-10 title helped the UW to sixth on the women's side and eighth among men's teams at the 2004 Pac-10 Championships in Tucson, Ariz. The Huskies' 67 women's points were the team's most since 1998, while the men's eighth-place finish marked a one-spot improvement over its 2003 finish. Junior Kate Soma earned her first Pac-10 title with a UW-record clearance of 14-2 in the pole vault, an Olympic Trials qualifier and the sixth-best vault in Pac-10 history. Soma led three Husky scorers in the vault, including sophomore Carly Dockendorf and freshman Stevie Marshalek, the latter of whom set a UW freshman record of 13-2 1/4. Matching the women's vaulters were the men's milers, as junior Andy Fader led three UW scorers in the 1,500 meters with a fifth-place finish. Other top finishers included Martin Bingisser, third place in the hammer; and Tiffany Zahn, third place in the javelin. Also of note were performances by freshman Ashley Lodree, who scored in all four of her events and clocked the third-fastest 100-meter dash time in UW history, and junior Sean Williams, whose points in three events were capped by history-making runs in the 400-meter hurdles and 4x400-meter relay, each of which ranked among the 10-best ever at UW.
Surprise Scorers: For the second-straight year, Washington benefitted at the Pac-10 Championships from a number of competitors who spurned their conference ranking in favor of a high finish at the Pac-10 meet. Fourteen of UW's 45 points on the men's side and 17 of the Husky women's 67 points came from athletes ranked lower than eighth in their event entering the weekend, a list which includes some of the team's top conference finishers. For the second-straight year, senior Todd Arnold was the UW's top gainer, moving up 11 spots from his No. 15 800-meter ranking to place fourth. Andy Fader also turned a double-digit seed into a scoring finish for the second year in a row, climbing from 14th to fifth in the 1,500 meters, while junior Sidney Brown (11th to 4th in the high jump) and freshman McKane Lee (13th to sixth in the pole vault) also made big moves.
Monster PR of the Week: While several Huskies earned impressive personal bests at the Pac-10 Championships, senior Juan Romero's toss of 208-9 in the javelin stood above the rest. The 10th-place finisher at last year's Pac-10 meet, Romero had failed to top 193 feet in 2004, after consistently throwing in the 200-foot range last season. After unleashing a throw of 200-6 on his third attempt in Tucson, however, Romero twice more broke the 200-foot barrier, his final toss of 208-9 a 16-foot season best, seven-foot lifetime best, and good for eighth place in the Pac-10 field.
Pac-10 Prowess: While UW teams have never claimed a Pac-10 title outright, Kate Soma's win the pole vault in 2004 did extend an impressive string of five straight years with at least one individual titlist. Washington has had one titlist in each of the past two years, including Soma and 2003 vault winner Brad Walker, after putting two champions on the podium in 2002. The Huskies' longest-ever streak of individual champions was a seven-year run from 1974-1980, highlighted by Scott Neilson's four titles in the hammer.
Wait 'Til Next Year: Happy with the UW women's sixth-place finish at the Pac-10 Championships? Well, wait 'til next year. Washington's women will return athletes responsible for 62 of their 67 points at this year's conference meet, losing only fourth-place javelin finisher Megan Spriestersbach. On the men's side, the story is much the same, with 37 of Washington's 45 points returning for the 2005 campaign. The outlook may not be the same for 2006, however - of the 62 points returning for the UW women, 32 were scored by Husky juniors, while 18 of the men's 37 returning points were earned by the Class of 2005.
Beating the System: Washington took full advantage of the new regional-qualifying system in 2003, with six Huskies earning automatic NCAA berths at the West Regional, including four who entered the meet ranked 30th or lower nationally in their events, and likely would not have qualified under the old format. A total of 30 Huskies qualified for last year's regional championships, but 35 are qualified in 2004, including five in the javelin and six at 1,500 meters. For a complete list of Washington's 2004 NCAA West Regional Championships competitors, see the PDF version of this release.
Rankings Report: A strong performance at the Pac-10 Championships lifted the Washington women four spots to 10th in the USTCA Dual Meet Power Rankings, and earned the team its first mention of the year in the Trackwire 25. Washington's women scored 382.60 points in the USTCA ranking, which simulates head-to-head competition between the nation's top college teams, moving into the top-10 for the first time since March. Pac-10 champ UCLA held onto the No. 1 spot with 460.87 points, ahead of Nebraska (422.93) and BYU (420.02). Meanwhile, the UW women earned a top-25 rankings from Trackwire for the first time this year, their 11 points equaling Penn State and Auburn for 24th overall in the ranking, which predicts team scoring at the NCAA Championships. UCLA was again No. 1 with 64 points, edging LSU (57) and Texas (56). Washington's men, 25th entering the Pac-10 meet, picked up six points but dropped one place, to 26th, with a score of 356.41. BYU was ranked No. 1 by the USTCA, while Arkansas earned top honors from Trackwire. The UW men were unranked by Trackwire.
Walker Watch: If the Huskies are to capitalize on an outstanding indoor season in 2004, they'll have to do it without four-time All-American Brad Walker, who finished his collegiate career in March by winning his second-straight NCAA indoor pole vault title. The No. 6 vaulter in NCAA history, the now unattached Walker cleared 19-1 at May's Sky Athletics Invite to move to No. 2 in the world in 2004, trailing only American Toby Stevenson in his bid for a berth at the 2004 Olympic Games. Last year, the Husky led all Americans indoors and tied for third in the world with a Pac-10 record mark of 19-0 1/4 that equaled the winning height at the IAAF World Indoor Championships. Walker has matched up five times against America's best this season and has stepped up to the challenge each time, placing second at the U.S. Pole Vault Summit, fourth at the U.S. Indoor Championships, second at Mt. SAC, third at the Modesto Relays and second at the Sky Invite. Already an Olympic 'A' qualifier and America's No. 2-ranked vaulter, Walker needs only to finish among the top-three at July's U.S. Olympic Trials to earn a trip to Athens.
The Road to Athens: Walker is far from the only Husky seeking Olympic glory this summer. Chief among Washington's Olympic hopefuls is former Husky Aretha Hill, who is automatically qualified for July's Olympic Trials as the reigning U.S. discus champion. Hill, a 1996 U.S. Olympian, is one of three former Huskies - including Swiss steepler Christian Belz and Ellensburg, Wash., native Ja'Warren Hooker - seeking return trips to the Games. Both Olympians in 2000, Belz was Switzerland's top-ranked steepler in 2003, while Hooker will be among a field of 10-15 runners competing for six spots in the U.S. 400-meter pool. Should any of the three qualify for the 2004 Games, they would become just the fifth Huskies to qualify for multiple Olympics. Thrower Gus Pope hurled the disc at both the 1924 and 1928 Games, earning a bronze in 1924. Hurdler Terry Tobacco also competed twice, in 1956 and 1960, while thrower Adam Setliff tossed the discus at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics, placing fifth in Sydney. Former javelin All-American and current UW volunteer assistant coach Duncan Atwood is the fourth UW athlete to have qualified for multiple Olympics, having done so in 1980 and 1984, but competed only in the latter, missing the 1980 Olympics in Moscow as a result of the U.S. boycott.
Olympics Hopefuls: The Olympic veterans are joined by a banner crop of current and former Huskies of legitimate Olympic-caliber who are seeking their first Games invitations. In addition to Walker - the fourth-place finisher at the 2004 U.S. Indoor Championships - two other Huskies boast Olympic Trials qualifying marks, including pole vaulter Kate Soma (14-2), currently No. 8 in the 2004 U.S. outdoor rankings, and javelin thrower Megan Spriestersbach (164-2), America's 12th-ranked spearer. Former Husky Courtney Inman - Canada's fourth-ranked women's miler - is targeting the Olympic 'B' standard of 4:07.15 in the 1,500 meters, just three seconds fastest than her career-best, while assistant coach Kelly MacDonald - currently the world's fifth-ranked women's steepler - seeks a trials qualifier of 10:00.00, also a three-second PR. 2003 NCAA javelin All-American Heather Reichmann could also make the Olympic Trials with a mark of 164-0, while Canadian pole vaulter Carly Dockendorf seeks a clearance at 13-11 3/4, and 100-meter hurdler Ashley Lodree sets her sights on a 13.11-second effort.
Olympics History: Washington has qualified at least one athlete for all but four of the 19 Olympic Games held since 1924, with a record four Huskies - including head coach Ken Shannon, a U.S. assistant -participating in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Of the 36 Huskies who have competed in Olympic Games all-time, four have earned medals, and 18 have placed among the top-five in their events. Only once, in 1928, have two Huskies medaled at the same Games, with hurdler Steve Anderson and shot-putter Herman Brix earning matching silver medals in Amsterdam. The two would go on to set World Records in their events later that same year.
It's Not the Size of the Dog in the Fight: Two-time All-American pole vaulter Kate Soma may stand only an inch above 5'-0', but the Husky junior towers over UW female vaulters past and present. At May's Pac-10 Championships, the Portland, Ore., native became just the eighth Pac-10 vaulter ever to clear 14 feet, earning her first-career Pac-10 title with a mark of 14-2. The clearance moved Soma to No. 6 in Pac-10 history and No. 7 in the U.S. women's rankings, and most importantly, qualified the Husky junior for a berth at July's U.S. Olympic Trials, where the top-three finishers will earn berths in the Athens Games. In March, Soma earned her second-straight All-America accolade with a fifth-place finish at the NCAA indoor meet, backing up her seventh-place performance outdoors in 2003. One of just three Husky women ever to clear 13 feet in the vault, Soma is the only Husky female ever to have done so both indoors and out, owning school records in both. The Portland, Ore., native cleared 13-5 1/2 at June's NCAA outdoor meet, and might have gone higher if not for a broken pole that lacerated her right hand on her third attempt at 13-10. The meet marked the third NCAA appearance for Soma, who was the 12th-place finisher at the 2003 NCAA Indoor Championships, and 16th-place finisher outdoors in 2002. Soma has broken UW's indoor and outdoor records in all six of her collegiate 'seasons,' including three indoors and three outdoors, a tradition she began as a freshman by setting UW benchmarks of 13-1 1/2 outdoors, and 12-11 1/2 indoors. After entering UW with a best of 12-0 at Portland's Grant High School, Soma added 13 inches to her PR in 2002, eight more in 2003, and four more this season. Perhaps it's her support system - Soma's mother, Donna, is one of America's top vaulters in her age group, while Soma's high school coach designs shoes worn by elite vaulters Dmitri Markov and Stacy Dragila.
All-Time Pac-10 Pole Vault Top-10
Name, School, Year, Mark
1. Chelsea Johnson, UCLA, 2004, 15-0
2. Amy Linnen, Arizona, 2002, 14-10 1/4i
3. Becky Holliday, Oregon, 2003, 14-8
4. Tracy O'Hara, UCLA, 2000, 14-7 1/4
5. Tamara Diles, Wash. State, 2003, 14-3 1/4
6. Kate Soma, Washington, 2004, 14-2
7. Nikki McEwen, Oregon, 2003, 14-1 1/4
7. Connie Jerz, Arizona, 2003, 14-1 1/4
9. Andrea Dutoit, Arizona, 2001, 13-9 1/4
10. Erica Hoerning, UCLA, 2001, 13-7
The Kids Are Alright: Track and Field News knew what it was doing in the preseason when it ranked Washington's women's recruiting class of 2004 the nation's sixth-best. Three UW women's freshmen rank among America's top-10 junior-age athletes, including second-ranked sprint hurdler Ashley Lodree, fourth-ranked junior women's vaulter Stevie Marshalek, and sixth-ranked freshman steepler Dallon Williams. Proving that they may have been overlooked by Track and Field News, Washington's men's class has put up some impressive marks of its own, including a 221-foot javelin PR by Brian Harris that is the third-best by a U.S. junior in 2004. In addition to the U.S. junior rankings, the Huskies' 2004 newcomers have rewritten the UW's freshman records, with four such marks falling indoors (including two to Bothell's Amy Lia) and three more having been knocked off during the outdoor season. Prep All-American Carl Moe boasts freshman records in the mile and 1,500 meters, Martin Bingisser boasts UW's seventh-best hammer mark all-time.
Garnering Acclaim: By earning his second-career All-America honor with an eighth-place finish in the mile at March's NCAA indoor meet, and posting the UW's sixth-fastest 1,500-meter time outdoors, senior Eric Garner has ensured that his name will come up in any future discussion of Washington's legendary distance-running tradition. Currently the fifth-ranked runner at 1,500 meters entering this week's NCAA West Regional, Garner is seeking his third-straight NCAA Championships invitation, after placing 20th in the 1,500 meters last year, and eighth in March's indoors mile. A graduate of Kelso (Wash.) High School, Garner burst onto the scene in 2002 with a school-record 3:58.93 mile at Dempsey Indoor, the first four-minute mile ever by a Husky on Washington soil and the third-fastest ever by a Washington state resident. Garner earned All-America honors with a 13th-place finish in the mile that season at the NCAA indoor meet, and returned in 2003 to become the UW's most prolific postseason qualifier. Garner placed third in the 1,500 at the 2003 Pac-10 meet, and earned an NCAA berth with a fourth-place finish at the Regional. Garner already owns the all-time UW indoor marks in the mile and distance medley relay, ranks second in the indoor 3,000m and is sixth all-time indoors at 800m, and outdoors at 1,500m. At the 2004 MPSF Championships, Garner accounted for more than a quarter of the UW's 47.5 team points, winning the mile in an NCAA-qualifying 4:00.53 just 24 hours after taking sixth in the 3,000m. In addition to boasting NCAA qualifying marks again in 2004 at 800- and 1,500 meters, he is also UW's top cross country competitor, having led UW at all but one varsity meet in the past two seasons.
Spear Superiority: Maybe we all should take a year off. That's what UW senior Megan Spriestersbach did in 2003, and - if her fourth-place finish at the 2004 Pac-10 Championships is any indication - it doesn't seem to have slowed her one bit. On Mar. 26, in just her second competition since May of 2002, Spriestersbach heaved the javelin 164 feet, 2 inches, five feet beyond UW's school record, eighth-best by a Pac-10 thrower since the new javelin implement came into use six years ago, and well beyond the 'B' qualifying standard for July's U.S. Olympic Trials. The throw also reclaimed the UW record she had first set in 2002, a season in which the Lakewood, Wash., native earned her third of four-career top-10 Pac-10 finishes. Just prior to the start of the 2003 season, the decision was made to redshirt Spriestersbach, both to allow a nagging injury to heal, and to gain extra experience working with first-year coaches Bud Rasmussen and two-time Olympian Duncan Atwood. The plan was to make a run at an NCAA Championships berth in 2004; so far, the plan is working. As of May 24, Spriestersbach ranks 12th among U.S. women, and ninth among collegians, with a No. 4 NCAA West Regional ranking that has her in line to earn one of five automatic NCAA bids. Spriestersbach is attempting to reach the NCAA meet for the second time in her UW career, having placed 18th as a sophomore in 2001. Following is a list of the Pac-10's all-time top-10 javelin competitors:
All-Time Pac-10 Javelin Top-10 (New Implement)
Name, School, Year, Mark
1. Inga Stasiulionyte, USC, 2002, 186-10
2. Sarah Malone, Oregon, 2004, 179-7
3. Elisa Crumley, Oregon, 2002, 169-7
4. Leslie Erickson, USC, 2002, 168-11
5. Karis Howell, Oregon, 2000, 168-1
6. Roslyn Lundeen, Oregon, 2002, 166-11
7. Julie De Marni, Arizona, 2002, 165-10
8. Megan Spriestersbach, Washington, 2004, 164-2
9. Molly Monroe, Wash. State, 2000, 161-4
10. Seilala Sua, UCLA, 1999, 161-2
Husky Greats Give Back: Looking for a reason for the Huskies' remarkable javelin success? Look no further than former U.S. Olympian Duncan Atwood, now in his second year volunteering his time to his alma mater as a javelin coach, working with assistant coach Bud Rasmussen. The results speak for themselves: in 2003, four UW javelin throwers qualified for the NCAA Regional, and Heather Reichmann earned All-America honors with a throw of 159-6 that was 10th-best by a U.S. woman in 2003. Atwood joins two fellow Huskies on the UW staff, including second-year head coach Greg Metcalf - a two-time steeplechase All-American at UW and a participant at the 1996 U.S. Olympic Trials - and two-time Husky All-American David Bazzi, now a UW assistant coach.
20 Years of Spear Success: From Fred Luke and Duncan Atwood to Darryl Roberson and Helena Uusitalo, the UW has a long-standing tradition of excellence in the javelin. Since 1982, when women's track and field joined the NCAA, the Huskies have sent at least one javelin thrower to all but three NCAA Championships, including Heather Reichmann's All-America performance in 2003. The list of UW javelin greats includes four Pac-10 Champions (Uusitalo, '87; Roberson, '88-89; Troy Burkholder, '96), three NCAA champions (Uusitalo, '86, Tom Sinclair, '79 Cary Feldman, '71) and three U.S. Olympians (Atwood, '80, '84; Rod Ewaliko, '80; Fred Luke, '72). In UW history, only the four NCAA hammer throw titles won by Scott Neilson eclipse the Huskies' national-championship prowess in the spear, which has featured more UW All-Americans (26) than any other event. This year, five Husky javelin throwers have qualified for NCAA Regional competition, including senior Megan Spriestersbach's school-record effort of 164-2 at the Stanford Invite. Of the five, only Spriestersbach boasts NCAA Championships experience, having placed 18th in 2001.
The 'Lo' Down: It only took Ashley Lodree one meet to crush the Washington's 100-meter hurdles record. But then, everything the 18-year-old does is fast - whether breaking the UW's freshman record in the 60-meter hurdles in her first collegiate race, or reaching the NCAA Championships just five weeks after her first college meet. So, it should be no surprise that in her first collegiate 100-meter hurdles final, Lodree blazed to a wind-aided time of 13.43 seconds, breaking the UW record of 13.55 set by All-American Claudine Robinson in 1994. Lodree has since run 10 hurdles races, with seven under Robinson's old record pace, including a wind-aided best of 13.39 at the Texas Relays, and a legal record of 13.41 seconds at Drake. Lodree's efforts rank the freshman No. 4 in the world among junior-age runners in the IAAF's 2004 World Rankings, trailing only TCU freshman MaKeatha Cooper, South Carolina freshman Ronetta Alexander and Australia's Sally McClellan. Currently America's second-ranked junior - a classification roughly defined as any runner under the age of 20 as of Dec. 31, 2004 - Lodree finds herself running out of records to set. On Mar. 6, the Richmond, Calif., native knocked Robinson off the top of the UW indoor charts with a 60-meter hurdles best of 8.19 seconds that was the fastest by a college freshman in 2004, and earned her a trip to the NCAA indoor meet, where she placed 14th. Lodree also has top-10 all-time UW marks in the 100 meters and long jump (indoor), and scored in four events at the 2004 Pac-10 Championships. Lodree, however, isn't fazed by national acclaim. In 2003, she ranked among the top-five preps in both the 100- and 300-meter hurdles, placing third in the former at the U.S. Junior Nationals. Who are likely to be Lodree's chief rivals in the coming years? Following is a list of the top legal marks by U.S. junior hurdlers in 2004:
2004 U.S. Junior Women's 100-Meter Hurdles Rankings
Name, School, Mark
1. Ronetta Alexander, South Carolina, 13.29
2. Ashley Lodree, Washington, 13.41
3. Shantia Moss, Pompano Beach (FL) HS, 13.53
3. Jacquelyn Johnson, Arizona State, 13.53
3. Pavi'Elle James, Northwestern HS (Miami, FL), 13.53
6. Courtney Johnson, Indiana, 13.55
7. Alandra Sherman, Eisenhower HS (Houston, TX), 13.58
8. LeeAndrea Robinson, Kimball HS (Dallas, TX), 13.66
9. Alexis Rogers, Fairbanks HS (Houston, TX), 13.68
10. Talia Stewart, Logan HS (Union City, CA), 13.72
Aloha Record Book: Track fans in Hawaii must have figured it was only a matter of time. Having seen Honolulu native Lauran Dignam tear through the state's prep record books to the tune of nine state titles - including five in 2002 alone - island track supporters probably weren't surprised to see Dignam, now a Husky sophomore, PR by nearly two seconds in the 400 meters at May's WSU Dual, breaking Keisha Griffis' school record of 54.44 seconds by three hundredths of a second. Husky fans, on the other hand - who had never seen Dignam break 56 seconds in a Washington uniform - instead found themselves pleasantly surprised. As if to prove to those fans that the school-record mark wasn't a fluke, Dignam backed it up with another massive personal best in the 200 meters, clocking a time of 24.34 seconds to climb to sixth on Washington's all-time list. Without a Pac-10 qualifying mark in either event three weeks ago, the sophomore in one day established herself as one to watch at the conference meet, where she placed 11th in the 400, 16th in the 200, and helped the 4x400-meter relay to seventh. It's not as if Dignam's outstanding day went completely unforeshadowed. Earlier this year, Dignam showed a tendency for significant improvement with a quarter-second 200-meter personal best at the MPSF Indoor Championships, where the sophomore placed third overall. Even before her marks at the WSU dual, Dignam was already the Huskies' 2004 leader in all three sprint events, and she led the team in the 200- and 400 meters last season. Maybe it's just the Cougars that bring out the best in Dignam - her season-best 200-meter mark in 2003 also came in dual competition against Washington State.
Double-Duty Dockendorf: Washington has had plenty of two-sport athletes over the years, but few, if any, have attempted to compete in two sports in one season. That was the feat accomplished this winter by gymnast/pole vaulter extraordinaire Carly Dockendorf, who in February entered an even more select group by competing in two different sports on the same weekend - on the road. With both teams in Boise, Dockendorf found time to win the all-around competition for the Husky gymnasts Friday night, then place fourth in the pole vault on Saturday morning at the United Heritage Invitational. At May's WSU Dual, competing for just the third time since capping the 2004 gymnastics season at the NCAA Championships in April, Dockendorf climbed into a tie for seventh in Canadian history with a vault of 13-2 1/4 at the WSU Dual, a height she matched two weeks later in a sixth-place finish at the Pac-10 Championships. The mark also qualified Dockendorf for the 2004 NCAA West Regional, marking the second-straight season the Port Moody, B.C., native has qualified individually for NCAA competition in both sports. In 2003, Dockendorf set a UW gym record with three perfect 10s while pole vaulting her way to an eighth-place finish at the 2003 Pac-10 Championships, in 12-11 1/2, then the second-best outdoor mark in UW history. During the 2003 season, she established herself as one of Washington's top gymnasts, earning All-America honors and sharing the conference crown in the floor exercise with a perfect 10 at the Pac-10 Championships. A provincial pole vault champion as a prep, Dockendorf's vault best of 13-2 1/4 ranks fourth in Athletics Canada's 2004 rankings, and equals the seventh-best ever by a Canadian woman. A high ranking does not necessarily equal an Olympics berth, however - she must still better the qualifying standard of 14-5 1/4 at least twice before July 11.
Athletics Canada All-Time Women's Pole Vault Rankings
Name, Year, Mark
1. Dana Ellis, 2004, 14-6
2. Stephanie McCann, 2004, 14-5 1/4
3. Ardin Tucker-Harrison, 2002, 13-9 3/4
4. Kelsie Hendry, 2004, 13-9 1/4
5. Trista Bernier, 1998, 13-7 1/4
6. Jackie Honey, 2001, 13-6 1/4
7. Carly Dockendorf, 2004, 13-2 1/4
7. Simona Kovacic, 2003, 13-2 1/4
9. Adrienne Vangool, 2003, 13-1 3/4
10. Rebecca Chambers, 1999, 12-11 1/2
10. Melissa Feinstein, 2000, 12-11 1/2
10. Sue Kupper, 2004, 12-11 1/2
Remember Me?: To the casual fan, junior Will Conwell may have fallen off the radar early last year when he gave up football - where he was a linebacker for the Huskies - in favor of a career in track and field. After redshirting the 2003 season to rehabilitate some lingering injuries, Conwell has exploded back onto the front page in 2004, earning an NCAA Regional Championships bid with a discus throw of 173-5 in his season debut. Once expected to follow his uncle, Husky legend Ernie Conwell, to football glory, Conwell is instead focusing on matching his famous uncle's track accomplishments. A five-year letterwinner in track and field at Washington, the elder Conwell climbed as high as fourth on the UW's all-time shot put list, and was an All-American in the event at the 1996 NCAA Championships, placing fifth. Washington's current Conwell is the West Region's eighth-ranked discus thrower, and could earn an NCAA Championships berth with a top-five finish this weekend.
Multi-Talented: When Toronto native Grace Vela decided to transfer to Washington from Chicago's Lewis University in 2004, the UW coaches knew they were getting a talented multi-eventer. What they may not have known, however, is that in addition to her ability to compete with America's top collegians, Vela ranks among the top women in all of Canada. Vela finished fourth at May's Pac-10 Championships heptathlon, her score of 5,225 the second-best in UW history, third-highest by a Canadian woman this year, and 22nd in the 2004 NCAA rankings. Vela competed in four more events at the Pac-10 Championships the following weekend, meaning that including the heptathlon, Vela toed the line 11 times at the conference meet. Crisscrossing the track for simultaneous events is nothing new to Vela, however - the Toronto native currently ranks among Athletics Canada's top-10 in four events, and is provisionally qualified for the NCAA Championships in the heptathlon. A graduate of Vaughan High School, Vela was an NCAA Division-II All-American in 2003 in the 4x100-meter relay, and earned top-12 national finishes in the long jump and triple jump. Even more impressive, however, was her performance at the 2003 Great Lakes Valley Conference Championships, where the Zimbabwe-born Vela won five events to ea1rn conference Athlete of the Year honors. Following is a list of events in which Vela's marks rank among the Canadian leaders in 2004:
Event -- Vela's2004 Best, National Ranking -- Canadian Leader
Heptathlon -- 5,225, 3rd -- Kim Vanderhoek, 5,793
Triple Jump -- 38-11 3/4, 5th -- Althea Williams, 44-9 3/4
Long Jump -- 19-6 1/2, 6th -- Alice Falaiye, 21-2 1/2
100m Hurdles -- 13.98 , 7th -- Perdita Felicien, 12.60
200m Dash -- 24.93, 17th -- Krysha Bailey, 23.59
Triple Double: Teammates Brittiny Roberts and Sidney Brown became, in 2003, the first Washington women's tandem ever to triple-jump 40 feet in the same season, with Roberts' best of 41-4 1/2 ranking second all-time at Washington, and Brown's 40-1 1/4 the UW's sixth-best mark. For perspective, only three UW women in the entire decade of the 1990s ever reached 40 feet in the event, and only six (including Roberts and Brown) have done it at Washington all-time.
One for the Ages: Having been defeated by their cross-state rivals for seven-straight years, Washington's women entered the 2004 dual at Washington State determined to get back on the winning track. By the end of the day, Husky women had indeed downed the Cougars on the strength of one school record, one meet record, one of the top-10 marks in Canadian women's history, and seven marks among the top-10 all-time in UW history. Husky freshman Ashley Lodree accounted for 23 of Washington's 108 points in the historic 108-95 win, winning the 100-meter dash, 100-meter hurdles and long jump, and running on UW's 4x100- and 4x400-meter relays. Sophomore Lauran Dignam was outstanding, too, setting a UW record at 400 meters and running the sixth-fastest 200-meter mark all-time, while sophomore Carly Dockendorf set a meet record in the pole vault with a mark of 13-2 1/4, seventh-best in Canadian history. Junior Sidney Brown added the third-best triple-jump mark ever by a Husky woman, while Grace Vela climbed to 10th on UW's sprint hurdles list. The win improved the Huskies to 19-8 all-time against the Cougars, and was UW's first win in Pullman since 1996.
World-Class Walker: He may have finished his collegiate career in March, but Brad Walker's legacy at Washington will undoubtedly last for decades. The senior, who had only indoor eligibility left in 2004, capped his career in Fayetteville, Ark., with a second-straight NCAA indoor pole vault title, successfully defending the crown he won a year before. Walker needed only to clear 18-8 1/4 to win this year's title, after having crushed the field by nine inches to win the 2003 crown with a height of 19-0 1/4 that was better than all but two indoor marks in the world in 2003, and equaled the winning mark at the 2003 IAAF World Indoor Championships. Walker finished the 2003 indoor season tied for third in the world with American Derek Miles and Romain Mesnil of France, and tied Miles for the U.S. best. Even having not competed at any of the major professional meets in the summer and fall, Walker still finished among the top-12 vaulters in the final IAAF World Rankings, and was named MONDO's West District Athlete of the Year. Walker crushed his own UW record by more than six inches, and became the first Pac-10 vaulter ever to clear the 19-foot mark, shattering by three inches the record of 18-9 1/4 set by Stanford's Toby Stevenson. Having already bested the Olympic Trials standard of 18-8 1/2, Walker now needs only to finish among the top-three at July's U.S. Olympic Trials to earn a trip to Athens for the Olympic Games. The former Husky took second at the U.S. Pole Vault Summit in January, fourth at the U.S. Indoor Championships a month later, and is currently tied for second in the world outdoors at 19-1.
All-Time Collegiate Pole Vault Top-10
Name, School, Year, Mark
1. Lawrence Johnson, Tennessee, 1996, 19-7 1/2
2. Istvan Bagyula, George Mason, 1991, 19-5
3. Jacob Davis, Texas, 1998, 19-4 1/4
4. Bill Payne, Baylor, 1991, 19-2 3/4
5. Joe Dial, Oklahoma State, 1985, 19-2 1/4
6. Brad Walker, Washington, 2003, 19-0 1/4
6. Russ Buller, Louisiana State, 1999, 19-0 1/4
6. Jim Davis, Fresno State, 2000, 19-0 1/4
9. Doug Fraley, Fresno State, 1986, 18-11
10. Jeff Buckingham, Kansas, 1983, 18-10 1/2
NCAA Championships By the Numbers: When Brad Walker won his second-straight NCAA pole vault title in March, the senior joined an elite class. Only four Huskies, including Walker, have earned more than one NCAA title, including just two - Walker and seven-time champion Scott Neilson - since 1930. Neilson, one of only four athletes in NCAA history to win four-straight NCAA titles in the same event, was certainly the most prolific titlist in UW history, with three indoor weight throw crowns, and four-straight NCAA hammer titles from 1976-79. The other Huskies to earn multiple NCAA titles did so in the NCAA's infancy, including hurdler Steve Anderson, in 1929 and 1930, and Gus Pope, the shot and discus champ in 1921. Twenty-two UW athletes have combined for 27 NCAA titles overall, a total which ranks 22nd among NCAA institutions all-time. Interestingly, of the 21 Huskies to win titles prior to Walker, eight competed in Olympics, including three medalists.
2004 Indoor Season Recap: For the second-consecutive season, Seattle's Dempsey Indoor was the place to be for indoor track and field on the West Coast. Five collegiate and three open meets kept the Dempsey Indoor statkeepers busy, with numerous U.S.-leading and top-10 world marks requiring constant revisions to the facility records. Twenty such records fell between January and March, while Husky athletes recorded five school records and 46 marks among UW's all-time indoor top-10. At the NCAA Championships, senior pole vaulter Brad Walker won his second-consecutive national title -a feat accomplished by just four Huskies all-time - while pole vaulter Kate Soma and miler Eric Garner each earned their second-career All-America honors, giving the UW three individual-event indoor All-Americans for the first time since 1988. The Huskies also played host to the 2004 MPSF Championships, with Garner and miler Ingvill Makestad thrilling the crowd with dramatic mile victories, leading the Husky women and men to third- and eighth-place finishes, respectively. The season was also notable for the performances of the Husky freshmen, who combined for five freshman records. First-year hurdler Ashley Lodree was the nation's top-ranked freshman sprint hurdler, clocking a best of 8.19 seconds that broke Claudine Robinson's 10-year-old school record of 8.21.
Star-Studded Staff: Washington's assistant coaching staff in 2004 is in no way short on accolades. Eighth-year vaults/jumps coach Pat Licari has directed six All-Americans, including two-time NCAA champion Brad Walker. Second-year throws coach Bud Rasmussen founded the prestigious Iron Wood Thrower Development Camp, and in seven years at North Idaho College mentored 82 NJCAA All-Americans, 18 national champions and five NJCAA record holders. Second-year sprints/relays coach Dion Miller in 2002 led Texas Tech sprinters to 13 All-America accolades, and a Big 12 title in the 4x100-meter relay, and is one of the most dynamic recruiters on the West Coast. Third-year distance coach David Bazzi, a Washington alum, was the 2001 Pac-10 champion at 10,000 meters, and still holds three all-time school records. Rounding out the all-star cast is second-year distance coach Kelly MacDonald, who graduated from Arizona State in 2002 with five All-America honors and three Pac-10 titles, and is largely credited with putting together a women's recruiting class in 2003 that was ranked sixth in the nation by Track and Field News. Ironically, the most accomplished members of the Husky coaching staff are the team's two volunteer assistants - former Olympians Duncan Atwood and Hugo Munoz. Atwood, a UW All-American and two-time Olympian, works with the Husky throwers, while Munoz, who competed in the high jump for Peru at the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games, mentors the jumpers.
Head Coach Greg Metcalf: Former Husky All-American Greg Metcalf is in his second year as Washington's head coach of track and field and cross-country, and his seventh year overall on the UW coaching staff. In his first season at the helm, Metcalf led the UW women to 29th at the NCAA Championships, equaling their highest point total since the 1998 season, and guided seven UW distance runners to NCAA Championships appearances. In seven years directing Washington's cross country program, Metcalf has led the women's cross country team to seven-consecutive NCAA Championships, the seventh-longest active streak in the nation. Metcalf has coached nine All-Americans, five Pac-10 champions, 13 school-record setters and 62 NCAA qualifiers. A 1993 UW graduate, Metcalf was a two-time All-American in the steeplechase, and ran in the 1996 U.S. Olympic trials.