Brad Walker Wins U.S. Pole Vault Title
June 23, 2005
CARSON, Calif. - Former Husky Brad Walker completed his sweep of 2005 USA pole vault titles Thursday, winning the event at the 2005 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. Walker also won the vault at the USA Indoor Championships in February, and will represent the United States at the IAAF World Championships in Helsinki, Finland, in August.
Former Husky Aretha (Hill) Thurmond also competed Thursday, attempting to defend her back-to-back U.S. titles in the women's discus. An updated version of this release will be distributed immediately upon the conclusion of that event.
Ranked seventh in the world and fourth among American men entering the competition, Walker was the only vaulter to clear 18 feet, 10 ¼ inches, soaring over the bar on his first attempt. As the only vaulter remaining in the competition, Walker made three attempts at 19-6 -- two inches beyond his 2005 season best -- but missed on each.
Walker's win came at the expense of three Olympic medalists, including 2000 gold medalist Nick Hysong, who placed second, and 2004 silver medalist Toby Stevenson, who was third. Tim Mack, who won the gold medal in Athens a year ago, placed seventh.
The 2004 UW alum set the Pac-10 record and earned a pair of NCAA indoor titles during his four-year career at Washington, and was the sixth-place finisher at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials.
'The goal was just to make the World Championships team, so to come out and win the whole thing is just icing on the cake,' said UW assistant coach Pat Licari, who continues to train Walker at UW's Dempsey Indoor. 'The wind was a little swirly out here, but it wasn't too bad. Brad was just mentally tougher than those guys, and it paid off with a national title.'
Walker's national title was the second this month for Licari, who coached UW senior Kate Soma to the NCAA Championship just two weeks ago. Including Walker's win Thursday, Husky athletes have won four U.S. titles and three NCAA championships since 2002. In addition, former Husky Christian Belz has won a pair of Swiss national crowns in distance-running events, and 2003 UW alum Sabrina Monro won an international cross country championship in March.
Walker and Thurmond were among five Huskies competing Thursday. Former Husky Mat Schwinn placed 18th in the men's discus, while Husky freshman Norris Frederick was fourth in the junior men's high jump, and 2005-06 UW signee Annaliese Chapa of Portland was 13th in the junior women's 800 meters.
Frederick's fourth-place finish, at 6-10 ¼, was a three-spot improvement over his placing in the same event at last year's USA Junior National Championships. Then a Roosevelt High School senior, Frederick also placed seventh in 2004 in the junior men's long jump, an event in which he will compete again Friday. Frederick competed at the 2004 World Youth Championships in both events, and was an 2005 NCAA Championships participant in the long jump indoors, and the high jump outdoors.
'For someone so young, Norris has a ton of big-meet experience, and that really helps him at a competition like this,' said UW head coach Greg Metcalf. 'He knows what to expect and isn't intimidated by anything.'
Schwinn, meanwhile, earned 18th-place in his second USA Championships appearance, having placed 20th at last year's U.S. Olympic Trials. Just as he did last year, the 2003 UW alum recorded just one legal mark, tossing his third attempt 160 feet, 5 inches. The Castle Rock, Wash., native has been outstanding thus far in 2005, recording the nation's 11th-best mark with a 199-foot, 1-inch toss in Vancouver in April.
The top-three finishers in each senior-level event earn berths at the IAAF World Championships in Helsinki, Finland, in August, while the top-three finishers in the junior-class events qualify for the July's World Youth Championships in Marrakech, Morocco.
Eight more Huskies will be in action this weekend at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, which continue through Sunday. For a complete event schedule and results, visit www.usatf.org.