Prep All-Americans Hooks, Roth Headline Early UW Track Signees

Nov. 21, 2005

SEATTLE - Prep All-Americans Whitney Hooks of Everett and Scott Roth of Granite Bay, Calif., are among seven high-school seniors who have signed letters of intent to attend the University of Washington in 2006, head coach Greg Metcalf announced Monday.

The seven, which include five women's distance runners, one women's thrower and one men's pole vaulter, are the only student-athletes expected to sign with Washington during the early signing period, which began Nov. 9.

Headlining the class are shot putter Hooks and pole vaulter Roth, each of whom ranked among the top preps in the nation in 2005.

Hooks was outstanding during her junior season at Everett's Cascade High School, winning her third-straight 4A state title in the shot put and adding a state discus crown. The junior's shot put best of 49 feet, 2 inches ranked seventh among U.S. preps, and is the third-best mark of any prep thrower returning in 2005. Hooks is coached in high school by former UW All-American thrower Bill Stengele, and will be mentored at Washington by former Husky All-American and two-time U.S. discus champion Aretha (Hill) Thurmond, who joined the UW staff as a volunteer assistant earlier this month.

'Whitney is incredibly talented, and we couldn't be more excited to have her coming to the University of Washington,' Metcalf said. 'I have no doubt that she's capable of the same kind of success that Bill and Aretha enjoyed here in years past. It will be fun for all of us to watch her continue to develop over the next four years.'

Also coming to Washington is Roth, who joins a Husky pole vault unit that has seen at least one UW vaulter win an NCAA title in each of the past three seasons. The nation's top-ranked prep vaulter as a junior in 2005, Roth won the gold medal at the 2005 USA Youth Outdoor National Championships, and was the silver medalist at the 2005 IAAF World Youth Games in Marrakech, Morrocco. Roth's best mark of 17-2 ¾ during the 2005 outdoor season ranked fourth in the IAAF's World Youth Rankings, and would have earned the high-school junior eighth place at the 2005 NCAA Championships.

'The unprecedented success that our pole vaulters have enjoyed over the past 3-4 seasons has really made Washington the place to be in this country for collegiate vaulters,' Metcalf said,'and having someone of Scott's ability and character want to join our team just confirms that. He's gone higher at this point in his career than [former Husky and two-time NCAA champion] Brad Walker had, so if he can make the same kinds of improvements with [assistant coach] Pat Licari, it's exciting to consider how good he could be.'

Also signing with UW were a bevy of women's distance runners, including two from California, and one each from Utah, Hawaii and Colorado.

Leading the group are Salt Lake City native Samantha Gaffney and Honolulu native Lauren Ho, who have combined for a remarkable 15 state titles during their three-year prep careers. Gaffney swept state cross country honors all four years at Salt Lake's Judge Memorial High School, and is a seven-time all-region and all-state honoree. Ho, meanwhile, boasts seven state titles and was the ninth-place finisher at the Footlocker West Regional Cross Country Championships, just one spot of shy of qualifying for junior nationals.

'Both Samantha and Lauren are going to be outstanding competitors for the University of Washington,' Metcalf said. 'They're fired up to be Huskies, and we're fired up to have them. They're going to accomplish great things.'

Katie Follett will join the Huskies next fall after her senior season at Fort Collins (Colo.) High School, where she has won 15 individual conference titles and earned 10 all-state accolades in just three years, while winning 23 of the 34 cross country races she has entered.

She will be joined by Northern Californians Mo Huber of Lafayette and Lindsey Kirschman of Redding, each top-10 finishers at the California state cross country meet and two of the state's top returning competitors on the track. Huber has neever finished lower than 14th in four years of state cross country competition, and is the state's No. 1 returnee at 1,600 meters with a best of 4:57. Kirschman, meanwhile, placed 10th at the state cross country meet last fall, and is a three-time top-five state finisher on the track.

'All three of those young ladies bring different things to the table, but the one thing they have in common is a nose for the finish line,' Metcalf said. 'What I noticed about all three of them is a belief that they will win every race they enter. We're going to have some very competitive practices next fall, that's for sure.'

Washington is expected to sign more high-school seniors in May, when the spring signing period begins. The Huskies open the 2006 track season on Jan. 14 with the UW Indoor Preview at Dempsey Indoor.

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