All-America Honors Up for Grabs at NCAA Track Championships
June 4, 2004
On the Track: Ten school records, three Olympic Trials qualifying marks and several marks ranked among the world's best in 2004 have all led up to this - the 2004 NCAA Track and Field Championships in Austin, Texas. Six UW women and four Husky men will seek to put the finishing touches on another exciting collegiate season of track and field at Washington next week, beginning Wednesday and concluding Saturday. Just three of the Huskies' 10 NCAA Championships competitors boast national-meet experience, including two-time All-American Kate Soma, the nation's second-ranked women's pole vaulter, and school javelin record-holder Megan Spriestersbach, among the favorites for All-America honors in the javelin. Follow all the action at the championships live at www.texassports.com, and visit www.gohuskies.com for daily recaps of UW action.
Event Schedule: The following schedule of events for next week's NCAA Track and Field Championships includes only those events featuring UW athletes. For a complete schedule, visit www.ncaasports.com. All times below are Pacific and subject to change.
Wednesday, June 9
10:30 a.m. -- 100m HH, Heptathlon (W)
11:00 a.m. -- Javelin, Qualifying (W)
11:00 a.m. -- Pole Vault, Qualifying (W)
11:30 a.m. -- High Jump, Heptathlon (W)
1:45 p.m. -- Shot Put, Heptathlon (W)
3:30 p.m. -- 200m Dash, Heptathlon (W)
Thursday, June 10
12:00 p.m. -- Long Jump, Heptathlon (W)
1:30 p.m. -- Javelin, Heptathlon (W)
3:40 p.m. -- 800m Run, Heptathlon (W)
6:45 p.m. -- 4x400m Relay, Prelim (M)
Friday, June 11
4:30 p.m. -- Pole Vault, Final (W)
6:15 p.m. -- Javelin, Final (W)
Saturday, June 12
7:45 p.m. -- 4x400m Relay, Final (M)
NCAA Championships on TV: As it has for several years, CBS will air the NCAA Track and Field Championships on a tape-delay basis, scheduled for Saturday, June 19, at 1 p.m. Pacific time. The two-hour broadcast typically includes all track finals, along with highlights of each of the field event competitions.
NCAA Selection Process: The NCAA in 2004 used Regional Championship meets to determine qualifying for the NCAA Championships. Automatic NCAA berths were 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 then supplemented the Championships field with the highest-ranking individuals (roughly 6-8 per individual event and 5-7 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 were the 10,000-meter and multi-events; athletes continued to qualify for the NCAA Championships in those events as they have in the past, by meeting pre-determined provisional and automatic-qualifying standards.
Last Year at the NCAA Championships: A record season in 2003 came to a fitting close at the NCAA Championships in Sacramento, Calif., with two Huskies setting UW benchmarks and three earning All-America honors. Senior Courtney Inman placed fourth in the 1,500 meters, crushing Regina Joyce's 22-year-old school record with a time of 4:10.93 that was the third-fastest in Pac-10 history. Matching Inman's accomplishment was senior Heather Reichmann, who broke the school record in the javelin with a 159-foot, 6-inch toss, good for seventh at the national meet. Sophomore Kate Soma also earned All-America honors with a seventh-place finish in the pole vault, despite a broken pole which forced her out of the competition. In all, nine Huskies competed at the 2003 NCAA Championships, with the three UW women's scorers combining for nine points and 29th-place finish, both tops by a Husky women's squad since 1988.
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.
History in the Making?: Washington's athletes enter next week's NCAA Championships with more than just high national finishes on the line; indeed, several historical milestones could be reached. The nation's second-ranked pole vault competitor, junior Kate Soma has the chance to become one of just six UW women to earn at least three All-America certificates, an accomplishment that would rank the Portland native behind only four-time All-Americans Aretha Hill and Meg Jones in UW history. Should she accomplish the feat, Soma would also become just the fourth UW woman ever to win two All-America certificates in one year, having tied for fifth at the NCAA Indoors in March. Furthermore, Soma could move into the Huskies' all-time top-10 in individual scoring at the NCAA meet, a list of which she is currently just two points shy. While Soma is the only UW woman ever to earn All-America honors in the pole vault, the story is much different in the javelin, where senior Megan Spriestersbach seeks to become the ninth Husky woman to earn the national honor. Eight UW women have combined for 11 All-America awards since 1980, both numbers tops in any event for the Husky women.
Vault Supremacy: There is little doubt that Washington reigns supreme in the world of collegiate women's vaulting. Four Husky women currently boast marks over 13 feet in 2004, a feat matched nationally only by the University of Nebraska. However, the Huskies one-up the Cornhuskers in the category of NCAA Championships qualifiers, with Washington sending three competitors to the NCAA field out of unquestionably the nation's toughest region, while Nebraska managed just two. In 2005, the results could be even more impressive - all three of the Huskies' NCAA qualifiers return, as does seventh-place West Regional finisher Ashley Wildhaber, who came just one clearance short of an automatic berth in 2004.
Regional Redux: Close calls were the name of the game for Washington at the NCAA West Regional, where 17 hundredths of a second were the difference between three and six automatic qualifiers. Two UW women earned automatic spots in the women's pole vault, with Kate Soma placing second for the second-straight year, and Carly Dockendorf earning third. Senior Megan Spriestersbach also guaranteed a bid to Austin with a runner-up finish in the javelin, breaking her own school record with a toss of 167-3, sixth-best in Pac-10 history. While the field events were kind to the Huskies, events on the track provided a series of heartbreaks, as UW runners on Saturday earned four sixth-place finishes in the span of 40 minutes. Junior Lindsey Egerdahl's two-second miss in the women's 1,500 meters seemed like a lifetime compared to senior Eric Garner's 0.15-second miss in the men's 1,500. Garner, however, was literally 150 times farther from an NCAA qualifying spot than fellow senior Todd Arnold, who was denied by just .001 - one one-thousandth of a second - in the men's 800 meters. Freshman Ashley Lodree also came within a heartbeat of a trip to Austin, placing sixth in the 100-meter hurdles by a mere two hundredths of a second, or 0.02. The sixth-place finishes were worth something in the team points, however, as Washington's women leapt to eighth after an 11th-place finish a year ago. The Husky men were 17th, and UCLA swept team titles for the second-straight year.
Monster PR of the Week: It may not have earned an automatic berth to the NCAA Championships, but Laura Halverson's record run in the steeplechase was without a doubt the highlight of UW action on the track at the NCAA West Regional. The Mica, Wash., native covered the 3,000 meters and 35 barriers in just 10 minutes, 33.28 seconds, breaking the UW record of 10:35.31 set by Kate Spigel at last year's Pac-10 Championships. A junior athletically, Halverson will graduate this year with a degree in biology, but will return for her senior year of competition in 2005.
Rankings Report: A record-setting season was reflected by the U.S. Track Coaches' Association, which ranked the UW women 11th, and the Husky men 27th, in its final Dual Meet Power Rankings of the 2004 season. Washington's women earned 382.60 points in the USTCA ranking, which simulates head-to-head competition between the nation's top college teams. Pac-10 and West Regional champ UCLA remained No. 1 with 466.73 points, ahead of Nebraska (430.22) and BYU (425.21). Washington's women were also ranked in the current edition of the Trackwire 25, the Huskies' 13 points equaled Michigan for 20th overall, while UCLA was again No. 1 with 66 points. Washington's men, meanwhile, ranked 27th in the final USTCA poll with 356.41 points, and were unranked by Trackwire. BYU claimed the USTCA's top spot, while Arkansas earned top honors from Trackwire.
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 its most since 1998, while the men's eighth-place finish bettered by one its 2003 finish. Junior Kate Soma earned her first Pac-10 title with a UW-record of 14-2 in the pole vault, an Olympic Trials qualifier and the sixth-best 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. Junior Andy Fader led three UW scorers in the 1,500 meters with a fifth-place finish, while Martin Bingisser placed third in the hammer and Tiffany Zahn took third 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.
Pac-10 Prowess: While UW's 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 news may not be so good this time next year, 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.
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. 2 in the collegiate rankings, No. 6 in Pac-10 history and No. 7 in the U.S. women's rankings, but most importantly, it 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
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 qualified for NCAA Regional competition, including second-place regional finisher Megan Spriestersbach. Spriestersbach will try to add her name to both the Huskies' javelin All-America list, as well as the Olympic rolls, as her school-record best of 167-3 has her qualified for July's Olympic Trials.
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.
Spear Superiority: Maybe we all should take a year off. That's what UW senior Megan Spriestersbach did in 2003, and - if her second-place finish at the 2004 NCAA West Regional Championships is any indication - it doesn't seem to have slowed her one bit. Spriestersbach's 167-foot, 3-inch toss on her final attempt at the Regional was three feet beyond her own school record, sixth-best by a Pac-10 women's 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. Spriestersbach's second-plaec finish at the Regional - ahead of four-time Pac-10 champion Inga Stasiulionyte - earned the Husky a trip to the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2001, when she placed 18th as a sophomore. The senior first set the UW record 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, however, 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 - consider that goal achieved. As of June 4, Spriestersbach ranks ninth among U.S. women, her season-best of 167-3 just 12 feet shy of third - an important designation in that only the top-three at July's U.S. Olympic Trials will earn automatic berths to Athens. Spriestersbach also ranks eighth among collegians, though Trackwire projects the Husky for a fourth-place finish at the NCAA meet. Should Spriestersbach finish among the top-eight, she would become the ninth UW woman to earn All-America honors in the javelin, tops in any event for the UW women. 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. Megan Spriestersbach, Washington, 2004, 167-3
7. Roslyn Lundeen, Oregon, 2002, 166-11
8. Julie De Marni, Arizona, 2002, 165-10
9. Molly Monroe, Wash. State, 2000, 161-4
10. Seilala Sua, UCLA, 1999, 161-2
Dazzling Double: From the first time she entered a UW pole vault competition - clearing 12-1 1/2 as an unattached athlete in May 2002 - it was obvious that sophomore Carly Dockendorf, already a decorated UW gymnast, was in an elite class of athletes. At last week's NCAA West Regional, however, Dockendorf moved into a class all her own, adding an NCAA Track and Field Championships invitation to the NCAA Gymnastics meet invite she earned in April. While it is not uncommon for a college athlete to compete in multiple NCAA Championships in one year - track/cross country, volleyball/basketball, and basketball/track doubles being among the most frequent - to do so in two unrelated sports in which qualification is based on individual, not team, performance, is extremely rare. In fact, an informal poll of Pac-10 sports information directors revealed no athlete, besides Dockendorf, ever to accomplish the feat.
Double-Duty Dockendorf: While official confirmation of the exclusivity of Dockendorf's double may be difficult to obtain, there is no doubt that the Husky is one of the finest two-sport athletes in UW history. Already one of the top vaulters in Canadian history, the Port Moody, B.C., native added to her legend in February 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 her 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, a height she matched two weeks later in a sixth-place finish at the Pac-10 Championships. The third-place NCAA West Regional finisher, Dockendorf enters next week's NCAA Championships with the chance to join a small class of UW athletes ever to earn All-America honors in two different sports. Dockendorf earned her first All-America honor on the gymnastics mat in 2003, setting a UW gym record with three perfect 10s, and winning a share of the Pac-10 title in the floor exercise. Less than two months later, Dockendorf placed eighth in the pole vault Pac-10 Track Championships, in 12-11 1/2, then the second-best outdoor mark in UW history. 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
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 a top collegian, they were getting one of the highest-ranked women in all of Canadian athletics. Just a junior, Vela currently ranks among the Athletics Canada's top-10 in four events, including a heptathlon best of 5,225 that is second-best in UW history. The only UW woman to score higher than Vela - school-record holder Sonja Forster, who tallied 5,266 points at the 1992 Pac-10 meet - was also the last Husky to earn an NCAA berth in the heptathlon, before Vela was announced last Tuesday as one of 26 qualifiers for the 2004 Championship meet. Vela's NCAA-qualifying score of 5,225, currently the third-highest by a Canadian woman this year, earned the Husky a fourth-place finish at May's Pac-10 Championships. The junior competed in four additional events at the conference meet the following weekend, meaning that including the heptathlon, Vela toed the line 11 times at the Pac-10 meet. Crisscrossing the track for simultaneous events is nothing new to Vela, however - the Toronto native is currently ranked third by Canada's governing body in the heptathlon, sixth in the long jump, seventh in the 100-meter hurdles and eighth in the triple jump. 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's 2004 Best, National Ranking -- 2004 Canadian Leader
Heptathlon -- 5,225, 3rd -- Kim Vanderhoek, 5,793
Long Jump -- 19-6 1/2, 6th -- Alice Falaiye, 21-2 1/2
100m Hurdles -- 13.98, 7th -- Perdita Felicien, 12.60
Triple Jump -- 38-11 3/4, 8th -- Althea Williams, 44-9 3/4
200m Dash -- 24.93, 17th -- Krysha Bailey, 23.59
Passing the Baton: It's been more than a decade since Washington has seen a men's relay cross the finish line at the NCAA Championships, but that's not for a lack of effort - over the years, Husky coaches have combed the West Coast and beyond for sprinters who could help break the streak, only to see each fall short in their quest. Maybe they should have looked closer to home. The Huskies' 4x400-meter relay squad which will toe the line Thursday in the preliminary heats of the NCAA Championships boasts not a single runner from outside the Puget Sound area, including three graduates of Seattle-area high schools. Tracking the Huskies' relay is almost like following a roundabout map from Tacoma to the UW campus, with Lakewood native Cristian Adams (Lakes HS) handing off to the Kirkland tandem of Phil McCary (Juanita HS) and Sean Williams (Lake Washington HS), before trusting the anchor leg to Seattle's own Bruce Jackson (Nathan Hale). That quartet has already run itself into the UW record books, their fifth-place time of 3:06.41 at May's Pac-10 Championship meet the 15th-fastest in the nation this year, and third all-time in Washington history. History will be on their side - of the two relays to better the Huskies' mark, both earned All-America honors, including an outdoor accolade in 1990 and indoors honors in 1998.
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, roughly defined as any athlete under the age of 20 as of Dec. 31. Sprint hurdler Ashley Lodree is the nation's second-ranked junior, while Turlock, Calif., native Dallon Williams ranks sixth in the steeple, and fellow freshman Stevie Marshalek is fourth in the pole vault. Of the three, however, only Marshalek will be competing at next week's NCAA Track and Field Championships, having earned one of eight provisional berths with a sixth-place vault of 13-2 1/4 at May's Pac-10 Championships. Marshalek's Pac-10 vault equaled the second-best ever by a UW woman, and was the best ever by a Washington freshman, breaking the old mark of 13-1 1/2 set by Kate Soma in 2002. A graduate of Kentlake High School in Kent, Wash., Marshalek came to Washington as the state's prep record holder in four divisions, including indoor and outdoor records at both the 3A and 4A levels. A prep-best vault of 12-11 1/2 indoors in 2003 ranked Marshalek sixth in Track and Field News' national prep rankings, a ranking she bettered with a fourth-place finish at the 2003 U.S. Junior National Championships. It was no surprise, therefore, when the freshman cleared 13-3 at the Huskies' indoor finale in March; the only surprise was when the NCAA Indoor Championships field was released, revealing Marshalek as the first women's vaulter left out of the Championship field, by just one centimeter.
Walker Watch: Four-time All-American Brad Walker may have finished his collegiate career in March, winning his second-straight NCAA indoor pole vault title, but that hasn't stopped the former Husky from making headlines. The No. 6 vaulter in NCAA history, the currently 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, Walker 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 six times against America's best this season, finishing second three times, and lower than fourth just once. Already an Olympic 'A' qualifier, and currently America's second-ranked men's 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 (167-3), America's ninth-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 sixth-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.
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.
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 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.