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Huskies Make History With Top-Three Finishes

May 16, 2021

LOS ANGELES – For the first time in 34 years of combined men's and women's Pac-12 Track & Field Championships, both Washington squads finished in the top-three. The Husky men's team closed out its second-highest point total in program history, scoring 114 points for third, and the Husky women matched that third-place finish for its highest ever Pac-12 placing.
 
The women scored 77 points giving Washington a combined 191 points, the second-most in school history behind the 2016 squad, which had a second-place men's team and a fourth-place women's team.
 
Prior to Director of Track & Field Maurica Powell and Head Coach Andy Powell coming to Montlake, the Huskies had a combined 74 points at the 2018 Pac-12 Championships. In year one with the Powells, Washington increased that to a combined 158.5 points in 2019, and after missing the 2020 season, the Dawgs continued the upward trend with the 191 points this weekend in Los Angeles.
 
The Huskies got Pac-12 titles on the final day at USC's Loker Stadium from Elijah Mason in the discus, the second of his career, and from Chase Smith in the pole vault, a first for the sixth-year senior.
 
The men topped triple digits for just the second time in history, with the 114 points second only to the 122 points from 2016's home championships in Seattle.
 
"It was just an awesome team performance," said Andy Powell. "Every person was scraping for as many points as they could. It was a complete team effort with points from every event area. It's never a perfect meet but I couldn't be happier with the way we competed."
 
The women's team had finished fourth on five previous occasions, but finally punched through to the top-three this year.
 
"Most conference meets it never goes exactly how you think it's going to," said Maurica Powell "Our athletes showed they're super resilient and gritty. If an event didn't go our way, they found a way to get points someplace else. If we took one step back in one event, we took two steps forward somewhere else and we made up points where we weren't expected to. Every point mattered. Every kid was tough."

DISCUS DEFENSE: When Elijah Mason won the 2019 Pac-12 title in the discus, he ended a 43-year drought in the event for the Huskies. Now it's a two-meet win streak, spread out over three years.
 
The sophomore did not require a dramatic final round improvement today, as in 2019. He had a first round foul but then took the lead in round two with a toss of 184-7. Nobody would ever surpass that mark, except for Mason himself. In the fifth round, he extended his lead out to 189-1, and then he passed his final attempt once the win was secured.

 
Jonah Wilson placed fourth for the Dawgs with a best of 180-4, giving him 11 points for the weekend after his third-place shot put finish on Saturday. Freshman Jayden White also made the final, but finished just out of scoring position in ninth with a PR of 171-2 on his first attempt.
 
MORE DRAMA, MORE TROPHIES IN POLE VAULT: One day after Makenna Barton's thrilling late night women's pole vault win, sixth-year senior Chase Smith was able to add one of the few missing pieces in his NCAA trophy case and give the Huskies the sweep of the pole vault titles.
 
Smith, the Helena, Mont. native, has four All-America honors and a couple MPSF indoor titles, but his best Pac-12 finish until today was fourth in 2017 and 2019. Smith waited until the bar got to 16-7 ¼ before he entered and he cleared that on his second attempt.
 
Only three men remained with the bar going to 17-1. Smith was third based on the tiebreak, going into third attempts for all three vaulters. The Husky was able to launch up and fold over the bar cleanly on his last chance to get the lead, and then he watched as the next two vaulters were unable to clear on their third tries, giving Smith the win. He ended the competition there without going up any higher.

 
This is the fourth time that Washington has swept the men's and women's vault titles in the same season, and the first time under Associate Head Coach and pole vault coach Toby Stevenson, himself a former Pac-10 champ.
 
PERSISTENCE IN DISTANCE: Washington was a factor in every distance event final today, led by a redshirt freshman and a fifth-year senior.
 
In the first final of the day, New Zealand Olympic Team member Sam Tanner battled an elite field and came away with the bronze. He crossed in a time of 3:41.19. Dustin Nading also grabbed his first Pac-12 point as he was eighth in 3:44.53.
 
Closing out the individual races was the women's 5k, where Katie Rainsberger came up just three-tenths of a second shy of a second podium finish in as many days. After breaking the steeplechase school record last night, Rainsberger had plenty left in the tank to make a late charge off an already quick pace and take fourth in 15:46.12.
 
Allie Schadler also doubled back from racing the 1,500-meter final just a couple hours earlier, and she took seventh in 15:52.89 for two more points.
 
In that 1,500-meter final, Schadler led the first couple laps but couldn't hold it on the final lap, finishing 10th in 4:19.71. Madison Heisterman moved up and grabbed one point in eighth in a time of 4:18.14, and Anna Gibson was ninth in 4:18.58.
 
Heisterman also had another point with an eighth-place finish in the 800-meter final. She came in right behind redshirt freshman Carley Thomas, who ran 2:07.65 to finish seventh. On the men's side, Mick Stanovsek earned one point with an eighth-place finish.
 
The men's 5k final was rolling like nearly all the distance events this weekend. Isaac Green was the one Husky running his first event of the weekend, and he turned in the new No. 4 time in UW history, going 13:42.01. But in today's deep field that was good for just eighth overall and one point. Tibebu Proctor also ran a great time of 13:47.20 after taking fourth in the 10k on Friday, placing 12th today.
 
ELLIOTT, WOMEN'S 4X4 REACH PODIUM: The sprints crew contributed in a big way to the third-place team finishes today. The big highlight was another step in the development of sophomore Cass Elliott. Fourth at Pac-12s as a freshman in 2019, Elliott moved up one spot to third today and cut three-tenths off his lifetime-best with a time of 50.07 seconds.
 
That improves Elliott's own No. 4 mark in UW history, and ranks him 14th in the NCAA this season.
 
Freshman Jonathan Birchman made the Pac-12 final in both the 110m hurdles and 400m hurdles, and picked up one point in each. He ran 54.54 for eighth in the 400m hurdles, and he ran 14.54 in the 110m hurdles, also good for eighth.
 
Senior Julian Body was seventh in the 110m hurdle finals in 14.28 for two team points.
 
The Husky women's 4x100m relay comprised of Aaliyah Wilson, Olivia Ribera, Jelani Heath, and Victoria Gersch were just off their season-best today with a time of 45.63 that was sixth overall.
 
The meet wrapped up with both 4x400-meter relays posting big season-bests. The men ran 3:10.71 for seventh with Kemuel Santana leading off, passing to Cass Elliott, then Parker Kennedy, and Julian Body.
 
In the women's race, the Dawgs won their heat with a time of 3:40.85, as Ribera, Marlena Preigh, Darhian Mills, and Gersch pulled away from the field by five seconds. That time was only bettered by two teams in the second heat, so the Dawgs found themselves on the podium at the end of the meet with the final six points that got UW into third in the team standings.

 
KELBY TAKES FIVE AGAIN: One day after setting a PR with the No. 2 shot put mark in school history, MaKayla Kelby earned her second fifth-place finish of the weekend, this time in the discus.
 
Kelby threw 167-1 on her first attempt to safely get to the final. She improved to 170-7 in the fifth round and moved from sixth to fifth, where she would finish, getting another four points for the Dawgs.
 
In other field event action, freshman Lauren Heggen was 13th in the triple jump, just off her season-best at 40-7 ½.
 
Beatrice Asomaning was 18th in her first Pac-12 discus at 146-6 and Ginny Mehl was 20th.