Road to Beijing Stops in Eugene for Track Hopefuls
June 26, 2008
The Olympic dreams of many current and future Huskies will be on the line beginning this Friday, as the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials take place at Hayward Field. The meet, which runs until July 6, will determine the roster for Team USA that will travel to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
Friday's schedule begins with one of UW's best and brightest Olympic hopefuls, Brad Walker, in the pole vault. Walker broke Jeff Hartwig's American record less than a month ago at the Prefonatine Classic, held at the same site as the Trials. His vault of 19 feet, 9 ¾ inches is the best vault in the world this year. Walker, a two-time NCAA Champion at Washington, will be looking to make his first Olympic team.
Husky assistant coach Pat Licari still coaches Walker, and will have another of his protégées in action on Friday, as recently graduated senior Norris Frederick is entered in the long jump with the eighth-best mark. Frederick competed at the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa just two weeks ago, and finished sixth in the long jump and seventh in the high jump, bringing his career All-America total to nine.
Qualifying also begins on Friday in the women's discus, where former Husky and two-time Olympian Aretha Thurmond is one of the top contenders. Track & Field News ranks Thurmond No. 1 heading into the Trials. Thurmond is joined in the field by former Husky Cecilia Barnes, who is seeded fifth in the discus.
Finally on Friday, Washington's other nine-time All-American will be in action. Ryan Brown, a 2007 graduate and two-time NCAA Champion, will take part in the 800-meter qualifying rounds.
The top contender among current Huskies is junior sprinter Jordan Boase. Coming off a fourth-place finish at NCAA's, Boase heads to Eugene with the sixth-fastest time in the 400-meter dash. He will be opposing such track luminaries as Jeremy Wariner, the 2004 gold medalist, and LaShawn Merritt, both of whom have run under 44-seconds this year. Quarterfinals for the 400 are on June 29.
The biggest Husky presence will be felt in the women's 1500-meter run, in which four current and future Huskies should be entered in a field of 30. Seniors Michelle Turner and Amanda Miller, sophomore Katie Follett, and incoming freshman Christine Babcock all still await approval of their provisional times, but appear to be as good as in. Quarterfinal rounds in the 1500 are scheduled for July 3rd.
Turner owns the fastest time of the bunch, as she ran 4:14.94 to win the NCAA West Region this year. Follett is the reigning Pac-10 1500-meter Champion and has run 4:15.78. Miller was the top Husky finisher at NCAA's, earning her fourth All-America award in a career-best time of 4:16.68. And Babcock, a national high school record-holder, has run 4:16.42.
Although Turner and Miller just concluded their collegiate track careers, both still have cross country eligibility remaining and are expected back in the fall to run along with Follett and Babcock.
The foursome could be competing on the same day as their mentor, as women's distance assistant coach Kelly Strong is entered in the steeplechase. The finals of the steeplechase are also set for July 3, with the prelim on June 30. Strong was recently ranked 8th in Track and Field News.
2004 NCAA pole vault champion and five-time All-American Kate (Soma) Conwell is ranked 13th in the event, which enters qualifying on July 3. She will be joined in Eugene by husband Will Conwell, a 2006 graduate entered in the men's discus, which begins July 3. Conwell is currently a volunteer assistant throws coach with the Huskies.
Washington's most-decorated female athlete, Ashley Lodree, will take her shot in the 100m hurdles that get underway on July 5. Lodree, a 2007 graduate, was a six-time All-American and the school record-holder in four events.
Former Husky Justin St. Clair rounds out the Husky field, as he will also take part in the javelin throw, with qualifying on July 4.
Check back on this page throughout the Trials to keep track of how the current and former Huskies are faring.
2008 USA Olympic Team Trials - Track and Field
Eugene, Ore. - Hayward Field
June 27-July 6
Friday, June 27
Brad Walker - Men's Pole Vault Qualifying, 5:50 p.m.
Norris Frederick - Men's Long Jump Qualifying, 7:30 p.m.
Aretha Thurmond - Women's Discus Qualifying, 7:50 p.m.
Cecilia Barnes - Women's Discus Qualifying, 7:50 p.m.
Ryan Brown - Men's 800m Run Quarterfinal, 8:20 p.m.
Saturday, June 28
Men's 800m Run Semifinal, 4:40 p.m.
Sunday, June 29
Men's Pole Vault Final, 2:40 p.m.
Women's Discus Final, 3:15 p.m.
Men's Long Jump Final, 3:15 p.m.
Jordan Boase - Men's 400m Dash Quarterfinal, 4:24 p.m.
Monday, June 30
Men's 400m Dash Semifinal, 7:25 p.m.
Kelly Strong - Women's 3000m Steeplechase Semifinal, 7:40 p.m.
Tuesday, June 1 - Wednesday, June 26
Thursday, June 3
Kate Conwell - Women's Pole Vault Qualifying, 7:10 p.m.
Christine Babcock - Women's 1500m Run Quarterfinal, 7:30 p.m.
Katie Follett - Women's 1500m Run Quarterfinal, 7:30 p.m.
Amanda Miller - Women's 1500m Run Quarterfinal, 7:30 p.m.
Michelle Turner - Women's 1500m Run Quarterfinal, 7:30 p.m.
Men's 400m Dash Final, 8:15 p.m.
Will Conwell - Men's Discus Throw Qualifying, 8:30 p.m.
Women's 3000m Steeplechase Final, 9:45 p.m.
Friday, July 4
Justin St. Clair - Men's Javelin Throw Qualifying, 5:30 p.m.
Women's 1500m Run Semifinal, 8:25 p.m.
Saturday, July 5
Ashley Lodree - Women's 100m Hurdles Qualifying, 11 a.m.; Quarterfinal, 1:15 p.m.
Sunday, July 6
Men's Discus Throw Final, 2:20 p.m.
Women's 100m Hurdles Semifinal, 3:35 p.m.; Final, 5:40 p.m.
Women's Pole Vault Final, 3:40 p.m.
Women's 1500m Run Final, 4:05 p.m.
Men's Javelin Throw Final, 4:15 p.m.