UW Track Assembles Elite Field For Husky Classic

Feb. 11, 2009

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ON THE TRACK: One of the premiere indoor track meets in America in terms of quality and size is nearly at hand, as Washington hosts the Husky Classic this Saturday, Feb. 14, at the Dempsey Indoor. Over 50 college teams and more than a thousand athletes will be competing on the track and in the field events in a meet that annually produces some of the fastest times in the nation and churns out more than a hundred NCAA qualifying marks.

Things will be underway early on Saturday, as the first running events are scheduled for 7:30 a.m., with the field events beginning at 10 a.m. However, the top heats in each running event are conducted separately beginning at approximatley 2:45 p.m., giving fans a chance to watch dozens of the nation's elite college track athletes in one high-quality heat after another. Admission is free for all spectators.

Last year's Husky Classic produced 14 NCAA Automatic qualifying marks and 98 more Provisional marks, and with the caliber of teams in attendance both of those numbers could be surpassed this year. On the men's side, nine of the Top-25 teams in the USTFCCCA rankings will be in attendance, including No. 2 Arizona State, No. 3 Oregon, No. 6 Florida State, and No. 7 Texas. BYU (ranked 12th), Michigan (13), Stanford (16), Arizona (22), UCLA (23), Oklahoma State, Colorado, Alabama, Penn State, Minnesota, Wisconsin, California, Washington State and many other teams will also be sending large or small groups on the men's side.

The women's field will feature seven ranked teams, led by No. 3 Oregon, No. 6 Florida State, No. 9 Penn State, and No. 10 Arizona State. Additional ranked teams include Arizona (12), BYU (18), and Stanford (19). Rounding out the stellar field will be women from Colorado, Georgia Tech, California, Oklahoma, Nevada, Utah, and Washington State.

Among the many highlights Saturday will be Husky senior sprinter Jordan Boase making his first home appearance since last February. The four-time All-American and Olympic Trials semifinalist is set to run the 400-meters for the first time since the Trials last summer. Boase opened his season last week in Boise, Idaho with the third-fastest 200-meter time in the NCAA this year. He will have NCAA Regional finalist Jeff Gudaitis running with him in the final heat of the 400m. The two are also scheduled to run on UW's 4x400m relay in the day's last race.

The final heat of the men's 800-meter run should also be an incredible race, as 2008 NCAA Champion Jacob Hernandez of Texas is entered with the person he edged out for the title last year, Oregon's Andrew Wheating, a 2008 Beijing Olympian. Washington's senior Austin Abbott, who was seventh in the NCAA final last year, will look to play a spoiler role. Fast times could also be turned in from Jake Schmitt in the 5,000-meters and Joseph Turner in the top heat of the 200-meter dash.

Junior Katie Follett, a three-time All-American, will as usual be one to watch among the Husky women. Follett will run the 3,000-meters against defending NCAA Champion Susan Kuijken of Florida State in a field that also includes Husky cross country All-American Mel Lawrence. The women's mile run features UW freshman Christine Babcock, the national high school 1600m record holder, in her first collegiate mile run against a field loaded with All-Americans and NCAA finalists.

In the women's 5,000-meter run, Colorado's Jenny Barringer is back two weeks after breaking the Dempsey Indoor 3,000-meter record in a time of 8:53.88 that ranks seventh in the world this year. A 2008 U.S. Olympian in the steeplechase, Barringer will head a field that includes UW All-American Anita Campbell and sophomore Lauren Saylor, who placed 41st at the NCAA Cross Country Championships.

The field events will also be littered with conference and national champions and All-American caliber athletes. Washington athletes to watch out for include senior vaulter Jared O'Connor, junior Zack Midles and freshman Angus Taylor in the weight throw and Elisa Bryant in the women's weight. Seniors Lara Jones and Andrea Peterson lead UW's efforts in the women's pole vault, while freshmen Kelly McNamee, already fourth in UW's high jump Top-10, will look to improve on her 5-8 college best. Freshman Johri Fogerson will make his official UW high jump debut. The Husky football safety from O'Dea High School is a former Washington state high jump champ. Also competing in a wide variety of jumps is freshman Jeremy Taiwo, who broke the school's heptathlon record two weeks ago.

Meet entries and the event schedule are tentative until Thursday night.

MEET RESULTS: Results of all UW home indoor track and field meets are posted throughout the meet to the official site of UW athletics, www.GoHuskies.com. A link to a complete event schedule and live results will be posted on the track and field sport page the morning of each meet, allowing fans the opportunity to follow along with the action as events conclude. Simply go to GoHuskies.com, and click on 'track' from the 'sports' pull-down menu to find the live results link on each meet day.

HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: In the third week of the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Associastion (USTFCCCA) rankings, the Washington men rank 30th while the women come in at 34th. The rankings assign points in each event based on the current national leaders to try and approximate NCAA scores. Several Huskies sit near the top of the current descending order lists, which rank all the top marks in the nation this year. On the men's side, senior Jordan Boase sits third in the 200-meters with a time of 20.85 seconds, though Boase uses the event more as a supplement to his real strength, the 400-meters. Austin Abbott's 800-meter time of 1:49.81 ranks ninth in the nation, while Jared O'Connor is tied for 16th in the pole vault and Jeremy Taiwo is 25th in the heptathlon. On the women's side, UW's distance medley relay ranks 5th in the nation. Two members of the DMR, Katie Follett and Kailey Campbell, plus redshirt freshman Mel Lawrence rank in the top-25 in the mile, and Anita Campbell is 20th in the 3,000-meters.

WOMEN'S CROSS COUNTRY TAKES NCAA BY STORM: This past fall, the Husky women's cross country team grabbed the national spotlight, dominating every race they entered en route to the program's first National Championship. At the start of the season, the women were given a No. 3 national ranking, but quickly jumped up to No. 1 after dominating wins at the Sundodger and Tiger Invitational. UW confirmed its top billing with a huge win at Pre-Nationals. The Huskies then headed for a showdown with second-ranked Oregon at the Ducks' home course for the Pac-10 Championships. Washington turned the expected battle into an historic route, sweeping the top six places to record a perfect 15 points and snap Stanford's 12-year run of conference titles. Freshman Kendra Schaaf won the race by 30 seconds in a conference record time, becoming UW's first individual champion since 1982. After another routine win at West Regionals, the women went to NCAA's as the overwhelming favorite and did not disappoint, defeating Oregon once again by 52 points to win the national title. Freshman Christine Babcock led the way with a 7th-place finish, followed by Schaaf (12th-place), sophomore Mel Lawrence (25th), junior Katie Follett (26th), senior Amanda Miller (35th), sophomore Lauren Saylor (41st), and senior Anita Campbell (51st). The top five all earned All-America honors, with Saylor just missing out by one-tenth of a second. Schaaf was named Pac-10 Athlete of the Year, a first ever for Washington, and Babcock was named Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year. Head coach Greg Metcalf swept the coaching awards, as he was named the Pac-10, West Regional, and National Coach of the Year. Now with the track season in full swing, UW's distance stars are making their mark inside the Dempsey as well. Three members of the NCAA Championship team--Babcock, Follett and junior Kailey Campbell--have already crushed the school record in the distance medley relay along with sprinter Falesha Ankton in the 400-meter leg. The foursome ran 11:05.80 at the UW Invitational to hit the NCAA Automatic mark and break the school record set just last year by nearly seven seconds. Follett, Campbell, and Lawrence all ran NCAA Provisional times in the mile in their first attempts, while Anita Campbell and Saylor both lowered their PR's and earned Provisional times in the 3,000-meters.

BOASE READY FOR ENCORE: Few could have predicted the season that awaited Jordan Boase heading into 2008, when the two-time All-American in the 4x400m relay returned to the team after a year off from the sport. Even after Boase started the year by breaking the indoor school record in the 400-meters, and placing third at the NCAA Indoor Championships, he still remained something of an unknown nationally. That all changed at the Sun Angel Classic in April in Tempe, when Boase took over the NCAA lead with a school record 44.82, which was the second-fastest run in the world at the time. Boase would go on to battle USC's senior sprinter Lionel Larry, with Larry getting the edge for the Pac-10 title as both went under 45-seconds. The Bothell, Wash. native also ran the lead-off leg for UW's 4x100m relay, which won the Pac-10 title for the first time in program history, and qualified for nationals. At the national meet, Boase placed fourth in an extremely fast 400m final, running 44.83 despite having been limited in training by an injury. Boase went on to make the semifinals of the U.S. Olympic Trials, before a painful blister stopped him one race short of the final. But a fully healthy Boase gave notice that he is ready for the long season ahead when he made his 2009 season debut last weekend in Nampa, Idaho at the United Heritage Invite. Boase set an indoor personal best over 200-meters, winning the event in 20.85 seconds, which ranks third in the NCAA thus far and was the second-fastest time in UW history behind Ja'Warren Hooker. Any time Boase lines up this season, history could be made.

ABBOTT IN PERFECT POSITION FOR FINISHING KICK: The most decorated current Husky in terms of All-American honors this season is senior Austin Abbott, a native of Chehalis, Wash. who could go down as one of the greatest mid-distance runners in school history with a strong final season. Abbott has five All-America awards to his name, three coming as part of UW's distance medley relay, which placed fifth at NCAA's in 2005, 2006, and 2007. Abbott also took fourth in the 800-meters in 2007, overshadowed somewhat by teammate Ryan Brown, who won the title. But following his best individual finish, Abbott was hampered by injury and only competed once on the track over the next year. It was not until the 2008 Pac-10 Championships that Abbott would get back to his old form, as he broke a longstanding personal-best in the 800, running 1:48.14 for a fourth-place finish. Abbott went on to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, and in each of the qualifying rounds found himself trailing on the last lap, but dug deep and passed several runners on the final stretch to continue moving on to the final, where he placed seventh to earn his fifth All-American honor and first more than a year. Abbott is also one of the top milers in school history, and one of just three Huskies to have broken the four-minute barrier. Abbott is already off to a fast start this season, running 1:49.81 in his first 800-meter run of the year, which currently ranks in the top-10 nationally.

NEWCOMERS MAKE DEMPSEY HOUSE A HOME: A talented freshman class and several impressive transfer student-athletes have already made a significant impact for the men's and women's teams. Jeremy Taiwo (Renton, Wash./Newport) broke the school record in the heptathlon in his first ever attempt, scoring 5,317 points at the UW Invitational. A similarly skilled athlete on the women's side, freshman Kelly McNamee (Spokane, Wash./Ferris) scored 3,559 points in her first pentathlon, the sixth-best mark in school history. McNamee also is the team's leading high and long jumper thus far. In the sprints, a large women's class is expected to rebuild the Huskies' depth, and while only a few women have debuted thus far, Puyallup's Amber Finley (Tacoma Baptist) leads the team with a 57.43 400m time. In men's sprints, freshmen Jordan Polk (Portland, Ore.) and Adam Long (Los Angeles, Calif.), having just completed their first years on the UW football team, have shown great potential in the short sprints. Polk's 6.91 second 60m dash is the best on the team in over two years, while Long has already gone under 22-seconds in the 200-meters, running 21.98. Cal State Northridge transfer Kenjamine Jackson, a former Kentwood graduate, has also run 21.97 in the 200m. Former NCAA Championships competitor Lara Jones, a native of Seattle and a Lakeside alum who joins the team from Duke, has already cleared 12-6 1/4 in the women's pole vault. The top freshman thrower thus far has been Angus Taylor (Richmond, B.C.), who already ranks eighth in UW's Top-10 in the weight throw with a best of 59-5 3/4. Pac-10 Cross Country Newcomer of the Year Christine Babcock (Irvine, Calif.) has only run once thus far, but she already owns a school-record, as Babcock ran the opening leg on UW's record-setting distance medley relay, which guaranteed itself an NCAA bid in a time of 11:05.80. Also, while Mel Lawrence (Reno, Nev.) has already completed two outstanding cross country seasons, she made her track debut at the UW Invite after redshirting last season and immediately posted a provisional qualifier in the mile run.

LAST TIME OUT - UW INVITATIONAL: Washington's women's distance runners continued to excel and freshman Jeremy Taiwo set a new school record in the heptathlon as the two-day UW Invitational concluded in Jan. 31. Husky track and field athletes combined to hit ten NCAA qualifying marks for the weekend. Five members of UW's NCAA Champion women's cross country team chalked up NCAA provisional qualifying marks in the mile and the 3,000-meters, while the women's DMR hit the NCAA Automatic mark and took the national lead with a time of 11:05.80 on Friday night. Junior Katie Follett took second in the mile in a time of 4:41.73, less than 24 hours after she anchored the DMR. Close behind Follett were junior Kailey Campbell, also a DMR runner, in 4:45.29, and redshirt freshman Mel Lawrence, who ran 4:46.07 to go under the provisional qualifying mark in her first collegiate track outing. In the 3,000-meters, Colorado's Jenny Barringer stole the show, winning in a Dempsey Indoor record and world-leading time of 8:53.88. Barringer was a U.S. Olympian in the steeplechase in Beijing. Also in the field was junior Anita Campbell (9:24.45) and sophomore Lauren Saylor (9:31.24) who achieved provisional times with new personal bests. In the men's heptathlon, freshman Jeremy Taiwo scored a Washington school record 5,317 points to take fifth. Taiwo's mark was a provisional qualifier. Oregon's Ashton Eaton ran away with the overall victory. The 2008 NCAA decathlon champion broke the Dempsey record with 6,174 points. One day before, 2008 Olympian Sharon Day also broke the Dempsey pentathlon record with 4,276 points. Also picking up provisional marks for UW was senior Austin Abbott in the 800-meters, and senior Jared O'Connor in the pole vault, as he set a new indoor personal-best with a clearance of 17-feet, 1-inch. All told over the two-day meet, there were four new Dempsey records, 20 marks that eclipsed the NCAA Automatic qualifying mark, and 84 NCAA provisional marks.

DEMPSEY INDOOR: Now in the midst of its eighth season, Washington's Dempsey Indoor has solidified its reputation as one of the nation's top indoor competition venues. The facility includes a permanent 307-meter MONDO track (six lanes on the straightaway, five on the oval) and a full 100-yard FieldTurf infield equipped to host the shot put, weight throw, long jump, triple jump, high jump and pole vault events. Dempsey Indoor has hosted dozens of Olympians; already this year fans have witnessed 2008 U.S. Olympians Kara Goucher, Amy Yoder-Begley, Loree Smith, Sharon Day, Galen Rupp, and Andrew Wheating. The Dempsey produces numerous top-10 world marks every year and has seen 29 UW indoor school records broken, and hundreds of NCAA qualifying marks. Through just two meets in 2009, there have been 23 NCAA Automatic marks and 99 Provisional marks set within the Dempsey's confines. The facility is also the annual host site of the MPSF Championships. In addition to its competitive use, the building serves as an indoor practice facility for many UW teams. Following is a list of new facility records set during the 2009 season:

2009 Dempsey Indoor Records
Men's DMR 9:28.35, Arkansas, 1/30/09
Men's Heptathlon 6,174, Ashton Eaton, Oregon, 1/30/09-1/31/09
Women's 3,000m 8:53.88; Jennifer Barringer, Colorado, 1/31/09
Women's Pentathlon 4,276; Sharon Day, Asics, 1/30/09

2008 INDOOR IN REVIEW: Washington track and field was put front and center before the indoor season even began, as the Husky men earned a No. 2 preseason ranking from the USTFCCCA. An all-time high for the program, the Huskies spent the early part of the season recovering from an assortment of injuries, and never quite reached full strength. But when NCAA's rolled around, senior Norris Frederick and junior Jordan Boase were enough to propel the men to a 10th-place finish. Frederick took second in the long jump and sixth in the high jump, and Boase was third at 400-meters, scoring 17 points total. Sophomore Scott Roth also made his third NCAA appearance, taking 10th in the pole vault. On the women's side, the Huskies broke into the Top-20 late in the season, thanks in large part to the women's dominant middle-distance corps. Seniors Amanda Miller and Michelle Turner and sophomore Katie Follett all earned All-American honors in the mile, making UW the only team at NCAA's to earn three All-American awards in one event. Miller was fifth, Follett sixth, and Turner ninth. Senior Kelley DiVesta also earned points at the national meet with her seventh-place pole vault finish. DiVesta set a new personal record at NCAA's with a 13-9 1/4 clearance to earn her first All-American award. The women's mile and pole vault added up to nine points for the Huskies, placing them in a tie for 22nd, the third-best finish all-time for the women. All told, the Husky men and women combined for seven All-America honors. Seven new indoor school records were set during the 2008 campaign, including three by Follett (mile, 3000m, DMR). The Dempsey Indoor was a hotbed for worldclass talent once again, and nine facility records were smashed during the season, including eight on the men's side. Norris Frederick provided one of the most thrilling facility records when he long jumped 26-7 3/4 to win the MPSF Championship on Feb. 29. Frederick's mark was a personal-best and sixth-best in the world at the time.

HEAD COACH Greg Metcalf: Former Husky All-American Greg Metcalf is in the midst of his seventh season as head of Washington's track and field program, and his 12th year overall on the staff, and remains the driving force behind UW's rise to national prominence. A native of Ephrata, Wash., Metcalf is just a few months away from capturing the program's first ever national team championship, as the 2008 Husky women's cross country team went undefeated to with the NCAA title. Metcalf earned Pac-10 and National Coach of the Year honors for his efforts, and also guided the men's cross country squad to 18th at nationals, its second Top-20 finish in the past three years. The track and field squads have also enjoyed a prolonged period of unprecedented success the past several years. The men have finished in the Top-25 at the last six NCAA Championship meets, including consecutive Top-10 indoor finishes in 2007 and 2008. At the 2008 NCAA Outdoor Championships, UW placed 16th with its most points since the 1983 season. The men also won the MPSF Championships in both 2006 and 2007, and Metcalf was named conference coach of the year on both occasions. The women have also had four Top-25 NCAA finishes since 2005, and sent three team members to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 1500-meters. Husky track and field individuals in Metcalf's tenure have combined for six NCAA titles, nine Pac-10 crowns and 133 NCAA Championships appearances, while breaking school records on 60 separate occasions. In addition to their athletic prowess, Metcalf's teams have been among the brightest at a school renowned for its high academic standards. His teams are eight-time recipients of the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) All-Academic honor, including the men's team being named the 2008 Outdoor Scholar Team of the Year, and six UW individuals have earned Academic All-America. Washington is the second head coaching position for Metcalf, who served in 1996-97 as the head cross country and assistant track coach at Auburn University. A four-time Academic All-Pac-10 honoree at Washington, Metcalf earned All-American honors at the 1992 and 1993 NCAA Championships. His best collegiate mark of 8:41.17 ranks fourth all-time among Husky steeplers. He also was a steeple finalist in the 1996 U.S. Olympic Trials.

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