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Track Begins Posturing For Championship Meet Position
Release: 06/21/1999
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February 24, 1999

SEATTLE, Wash. - The Schedule: Fri.-Sat., Feb. 26-27 -- Track and Field Travels to Alex Wilson Invitational, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Ind.

This Week: With only one week remaining before the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, the Huskies will send three competitors to Notre Dame's Alex Wilson Invitational in an attempt to improve their NCAA provisional-qualifying marks. Those heading to South Bend, Ind. for the two-day meet will be distance runners Deeja Youngquist and Anna Aoki , and sprinter Derek Prior.

Last Week: With defending 60-meter dash national champion Ja'Warren Hooker home with a stress fracture, the Huskies struggled to score points at this year's Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships. Both the men's and women's teams finished in fifth place, with the men totaling 61 points and the women 59. Stanford and Washington State swapped 1998 titles, with the Cardinal men and Cougar women capturing their respective crowns - last year, it was Washington State's men's team and Stanford's women which walked away victorious. Saturday, Husky distance runners Deeja Youngquist and Anna Aoki completed a stellar weekend in which they combined for four top-five finishes and four NCAA provisional qualifying marks. Youngquist took third in the 3,000m event in 9 minutes, 51.17 seconds, just ahead of Aoki's fourth-place mark of 9:52.23. The two switched places in the 5,000m run, with Aoki crossing the line second in 17:10.60 and Younquist third in 17:14.16. Also in top form for Washington was 400m specialist Derek Prior, who placed second to Utah State's Corey Hurdock in the event. Both Hurdock and Prior bested the former meet record of 46.66 seconds, with Hurdock finishing in 46.51 and Prior right behind him at 46.64. Also posting an NCAA provisional mark was junior all-American Ben Lindsey, whose 59' 8.25" effort in the shot put was good for fourth place.

The Rankings: The Washington men's indoor track and field team remained in a six-way tie for 22nd in this week's Trackwire 25, the only weekly ranking of NCAA Division I track and field. The Huskies slipped from 19th two weeks ago, and have been ranked as high as sixth in the Jan. 27th poll. Washington's 9-point total tied them with Georgia, TCU, Arizona, Wyoming, and BYU. Arkansas remained on top with 67 points, ahead of second-place Stanford by 17. A shakeup occurred on the women's side, with Texas taking the top spot away from previously-#1 LSU. The Longhorns totaled 56 points, while LSU is second at 52. Texas took last year's team title away from LSU, breaking the Lady Tigers' string of five consecutive championships. The Husky women remained unranked. Scoring in the Trackwire 25 is based on predicted team finishes at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

Huskies On The Web: All of the latest information on University of Washington track and field, including rosters, schedules, results, releases, statistics and more can be found online at the homepage of University if Washington Athletics,

Forbes "400": Husky senior Derek Prior (San Jose CC), a marketing major in the UW School of Business, has his sights set on a different "400" this season - the 400m dash at March's NCAA Indoor Championships. Prior posted a provisional qualifier in the event en route to victory at the Moscow McDonald's Scoring Invitational on Feb. 5. The career-best time of 46.97 seconds (converted) eclipsed his previous career high, 47.20, posted the previous week at the Wolf Pack Invitational. The mark currently ranks 12th in the national rankings. Last week, Prior broke the MPSF meet record in the 400m, placing second in 46.64. Prior also runs on the Huskies' defending Pac-10 champion 4x400-meter relay team, which placed eighth at 1998's NCAA Indoor Championships in 3:10.60, and is currently ranked 19th in the nation with a provisional qualifying mark of 3:10.07, also set at the Moscow McDonald's meet. Prior is ranked second all-time at UW in the 400m, with an outdoor personal best of 46.13, and placed third at last year's Pac-10 Championships.

Super Soph: Sophomore sprinter Ja'Warren Hooker (Ellensburg HS) has decided to forgo this year's NCAA Championship meet in order to gear up for a run at an NCAA outdoor sprint title. Hooker, who won the 55-meter dash at last year's NCAA Indoor meet, has been slowed throughout the season by a nagging shin injury, recently revealed to be a stress fracture. After repeatedly attempting to run through the injury, Hooker has finally decided to rest it in hopes of a championship performance at this year's NCAA outdoor meet. Prior to this decision, Hooker had posted an NCAA provisional qualifying mark of 6.22 seconds en route to victory at the San Diego Indoor Games. He is currently rated number one nationally in the 55 meters and fourth in the 200m by Trackwire magazine. As a freshman, Hooker won last year's NCAA championship with a time of 6.13 seconds, and ran a career-best of 6.09 seconds in the event last February in Flagstaff, Ariz. Hooker continued to dominate during the outdoor season, winning twenty-one consecutive sprint races, including Pac-10 championships in both the 100m and 200m dash, en route to a third-place NCAA finish in the 100m. For his efforts, Hooker was named the Pac-10's Track Athlete of the Year. On May 2, 1998, he broke the Washington school record in the 100m, posting a 10.18. This summer, Hooker placed fifth in the 200m at the U.S. National Track & Field meet, finishing in 20.63 seconds. Hooker also competes on the UW football team, but was slowed this season due to shoulder injuries.

Dialing Long-Distance: Two Husky women, senior Deeja Youngquist (Enumclaw HS) and junior Anna Aoki (Fort Vancouver HS), continue to accumulate top marks in the distance events this year. Both own NCAA provsional qualifying times in both the 3,000m and 5,000m events, and combined to score 21 of Washington's 59 points at last week's MPSF Championship meet. Youngquist, who has placed third in the Pac-10 10,000m race in each of the past two seasons, posted a provisional qualifying time of 9:34.54 in the 3K at January's New York Sports Museum Collegiate Invitational, a mark which currently ranks 24th in the nation. Right behind her in the event was Aoki, the 1998 Pac-10 10,000m champion, whose 9:38.74 finish is the 26th fastest in the U.S. this year. The two continued to run together all year, right up through their near-identical finishes at last week's MPSF meet. Youngquist set the pace in the 3K, taking third in 9:51.17, just ahead of Aoki's fourth-place mark of 9:52.23. Roles reversed in the 5,000m, with Aoki crossing the line second in 17:10.60 and Youngquist third in 17:14.16. All four times were NCAA provsional qualifiers. Both will be looking to improve their national rankings at this week's Alex Wilson Invitational, Youngquist in the 3,000 and Aoki in the 5,000.

Pupil Turns Teacher: Junior thrower Seselia Thomas (Spanaway Lake HS) is used to being the pupil, learning the ropes from former UW star and 1996 Olympian Aretha Hill. But with Hill's graduation in June, Thomas has been asked to become the leader of an otherwise young corps of throwers. So far, Thomas has adapted well to her new role, posting an NCAA provisional qualifying mark of 48' 10.75" in the shot put at the Wolf Pack Invitational. Thomas has gone head-to-head with her former mentor twice this season, defeating Hill at the Wolf Pack meet, and finishing second to her at the Jerry Martin Invitational.

Fab Freshmen: Last week's MPSF meet was a coming-out party for the UW's class of 2003, which garnered six top-7 finishes. The youth movement was led by former Lake Washington High School star Kelsey Sheppard, whose fifth place finish in the 400m and seventh placing in the 55m hurdles netted the Huskies six points. Other frosh making an impact at the conference meet were Zee Ogarro (4th, long jump), Courtney Inman (7th, 800m), Jason Fayant (7th, 3,000m), and Josh Rogge (7th, 200m). The dominance of this year's freshmen is also evident in the list of 1999 UW top performances, with rookies dominating the upper ranks. Matt Phillips (1st, pole vault), and Matt Schwinn (1st, weight throw; 4th, shot put) lead the way on the men's side, followed by a large group of frosh standouts including Fayant, Rogge, Owen Iddings, Craig Downey, and Moses Lewis. On the women's side, freshmen rank in the top five UW scorers in every event, led by sprinter Shavon Hawkins (1st, 60m dash; 2nd, 60m hurdles and 55m dash; 3rd, 55m hurdles; 4th, 200m). Other key frosh include Sheppard, Inman, Ogarro, Sandy Erickson, Laura Becker, and Elizabeth Rogers.

Husky Qualifiers: Seven members of Washington's track and field team (includes one relay) have posted NCAA qualifying marks. The championship will be held March 6-7 at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. Here is the list of current Husky provisional and automatic qualifiers, adjusted for altitude and track size to meet NCAA standards:

Anna Aoki -- 3,000 meters (Prov: 9:38.74 -- ranks 26th nationally) 5,000 meters (Prov: 16:48.53 -- ranks 21st) Junior, Vancouver, Wash. (Fort Vancouver HS)

Ja'Warren Hooker -- 55 meters (Prov: 6.68 seconds -- tied for 14th) Sophomore, Ellensburg, Wash. (Ellensburg HS)

Ben Lindsey -- Shot Put (Prov: 59' 8.25" -- ranks 23rd) Junior, Lynnwood, Wash. (Lynnwood HS)

Derek Prior -- 400 meters (Prov: 47.20 -- ranks 12th) Senior, San Jose, Calif. (Suarta Tonesa/San Jose CC)

Seselia Thomas -- Shot Put (Prov: 48' 10.75" -- ranks 25th) Junior, Spanaway, Wash. (Spanaway Lake HS)

Deeja Youngquist -- 3,000 meters (Prov.: 9:34.54 -- ranks 19th) 5,000 meters (Prov: 16:52.09 -- ranks 23rd) Senior, Enumclaw, Wash. (Enumclaw HS)

Men's 4x400m Relay (Prov.: 3:11.67 -- ranks 19th) Hooker, Prior, junior James Mackey (Walnut, Calif.), and senior Scott Anabel (Cascade HS)

NOTE: Hooker andthe 4x400m relay team will not compete due to Hooker's injury.

Big Ben: Junior weight man Ben Lindsey (Lynnwood HS) is ready to improve on his fifth-place finish in the shot put at last year's NCAA Indoor Championships. Last week, Lindsey posted an NCAA provsional qualifier with a 59' 8.25" effort en route to a fourth-place finish at the MPSF Championships. Lindsey is currently ranked eighth in the nation in the shot put by Trackwire magazine, which posts power rankings in each event over the course of the season. Lindsey, a 1998 and 1997 All-American in the discus, placed sixth at this summer's U.S. National Track & Field meet, posting a mark of 198' 3". This came on the heels of a fifth-place discus finish at the NCAA outdoor championships, an improvement on his 1997 finish of ninth place. On May 2 in Husky Stadium, Lindsey threw the shot 65' 4", the second-best mark in Husky history, trailing by seven inches the 65' 11" mark of Steve Summers in 1979. Lindsey was runner-up at the 1998 Pac-10 championships.

Huskies at 1998 NCAA Indoors: Washington finished 13th at last year's NCAA Indoor Championships, only 40 points behind champion Arkansas, who won for the second consecutive year. The strong UW finish was due in large part to freshman sprinter Ja'Warren Hooker. Hooker's win in the 55-meter final (6.13) brought UW its first national champion since 1988, when Jennifer Ponath won the shot with a throw of 54' 4.5". Hooker also placed eighth in the 200m, and ran on the 4x400m relay team along with junior Derek Prior and seniors B.J. Dawson and Scott Anabel. The team placed eighth in the event with a time of 3:10.60, only five seconds behind national-champion Baylor. Two-time All-American Ben Lindsey rounded out the Huskies NCAA field, placing fifth in the shot put (62' 5.75").

Coach Richburg: After 12 years as head women's track & field coach at Washington, Orin Richburg was asked to take on a new responsibility last year, taking over the men's program as well. Richburg, the winningest coach in UW women's track history, performed admirably in his new capacity, leading the Husky women to a fourth-place Pac-10 finish and the men to the sixth-place slot. Under his tutelage, four Huskies claimed conference titles, including sophomore sprinter Ja'Warren Hooker's double victory in both the 100m and 200m events. The five victories were the most for Washington since the 1976 squad claimed six championships. Richburg also led the Huskies to a thirteenth-place finish at last year's NCAA Indoor Championships. In his tenure, Richburg has converted Washington into one of the top dual-meet squads in the nation. The UW women's team has ranked among the top-10 dual-meet teams in the nation every year during the 1990s. His 1988 UW squad finished 10th at the NCAA championships, the best national finish in the school's history. Prior to coming to Washington, Richburg spent seven seasons at Kent State and three years as an assistant at Western Michigan. A fine athlete in his own right, Richburg earned All-America honors as a sprinter at Kent State, finishing sixth in the 200-yd dash at the 1967 NCAA championships.

Next Week: The Huskies travel to the RCA Dome in Indianapolis for the final meet of the indoor season, the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. The two-day meet will be held Friday and Saturday, March 6-7.

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