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Track Kicks Off Final Month of Indoor Season
Release: 02/09/2000
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Feb. 9, 2000

The Schedule: Track and field heads to Moscow McDonald's Scoring Invitational, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho.

This Week: The Huskies resume competition this week at the annual Moscow McDonalds Scoring Invitational in the University of Idaho's Kibbie Dome. Teams from around the northwest are expected to attend, including Western Oregon, Eastern Washington, and host Idaho.

Outdoor Dawgs? A rare sight during the indoor season, two Husky athletes will be heading outdoors this week to compete at the USA Winter Cross Country Nationals in Greensboro, N.C. Freshman Kate Bradshaw (Issaquah, Wash.) will compete in the 6,000 meter run on Saturday, while fellow frosh John Russell (Spokane, Wash.) will run the 8,000 meters on Sunday. The top six finishers in each race will compete for the United States at the 2000 Junior Cross Country World Championships.

Last week: Washington decided to take a break last week after a flurry of action in the first month of the season. Four Huskies have already bested NCAA provisional qualifying marks, including sprinter Ja'Warren Hooker (55 meters, 60 meters, 200 meters), sophomores Melinda Campbell (3,000 meters) and Sandy Erickson (pole vault), and senior thrower Seselia Thomas (shot put). For more information on these exciting Husky athletes, see below.

The rankings: The bye week hurt Washington's men's and women's teams in this week's NCAA Dual Meet Rankings, as the Dawgs dropped from 9th to 18th on the men's side, and from 8th to 18th on the women's side. The rankings, compiled weekly at Idaho State University, placed Kansas State atop the women's rankings for the second-consecutive week, while Florida took the men's top spot away from last week's leader, Kent State. Both squads remained unranked in this week's Trackwire 25, with NCAA champion Arkansas retaining the top spot on the men's side, and Louisiana State holding steady at No. 1 among women's teams. The Trackwire 25 ranks teams based on predicted finish at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

Golden Evans Dons Washington Purple: Lee Evans is giving new meaning to the words "purple and gold." The 1968 Olympic gold medalist and former world record holder joined the Husky coaching staff this offseason. A three-time national champion in the 400 meters, Evans set a world record of 43.86 in the event that stood for 20 years before being eclipsed in 1988. Evans has coached the national programs of Nigeria, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, and will work primarily with Washington's sprinters and relay squads. Evans has coached the national teams of Nigeria, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, and works primarily with Washington's sprinters and relay squads. Evans was inducted into the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1983, and was one of 100 "Golden Olympians" at the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta.

Generation X-Cellent: Washington has seen an explosion of young talent in the past three years, from sprinter Ja'Warren Hooker's NCAA indoor title as a freshman in 1998, to promising 2000 newcomers Jamara Smith (Oakland, Calif.) and miler Russell. Following is a list of UW freshmen ranked among the top three Husky competitors in their events: Men's: 55m, 2nd, Greg Forni, 6.59s, 3rd, Anthony Walters, 6.77s, Mile, 1st, John Russell, 4:09.22, 3,000m, 3rd, Russell, 8:38.37 , 55m Hurdles, 2nd, Forni, 7.97s, Long Jump, 3rd, Kevin DeSuoza, 21'-6", Pole Vault, 2nd, Brad Walker, 15'-7", Shot Put, 1st, Doug Jackson, 49'-5.5", 35 lb. Weight, 2nd, Jackson, 41'-9.75", Women's: 55m, 1st, Jamara Smith, 7.12s, 3rd, Andrea Sauter, 7.61s, 60m, 1st, Smith, 7.63s, 200m, 1st, Smith, 25.30s, 400m, 2nd, Arlene Bledsoe, 56.97s, High Jump, 1st, Brittany Roberts, 5'-1", Long Jump, 2nd, Smith, 18'-5.75", 3rd, Sauter, 17'-1.25", Triple Jump, 1st, Smith, 36'-2.75".

Back on Track: Junior sprinter Ja'Warren Hooker (Ellensburg HS) inched closer to a defense of his 1998 NCAA title in the 55 meters with a 6.19-second mark in the event at the Jan. 29 Silver State Invitational. The provisional-qualifying time moved Hooker into the top-10 nationally in the event, and marked the fourth time this season he has bested the provisional standard, including a 6.20-second mark in the Silver State final, where Hooker remained undefeated (5-0) at less than 400 meters this season. Hooker will likely be competing in two events at March's NCAA meet, having posted a NCAA qualifier of 21.46c seconds in the 200 meters, the nation's seventh-fastest time in 2000. With personal-bests of 6.55c seconds in the 60m (the distance at which the NCAA sprint championship is held) and 21.20c in the 200m, Hooker has plenty of room to move up in the national rankings. On January 15, Hooker blew away the competition in his first indoor races since an ankle injury derailed his 1999 season last March. Hooker tied or broke two long-standing course records, shattering the Multi-Sport Facility record of 21.31 in the 200 with a 21.21-second mark, and tying the record of 6.75 seconds in the 60m. In 1998, Hooker captured Washington's first-ever national sprint title, winning the 55-meter dash in a blistering 6.13 seconds. Hooker's defense of the title was cut short by injury in 1999. Prior to the injury, Hooker had posted an NCAA provisional qualifying mark of 6.22 seconds in the 55 meters, and had helped qualify the men's 4x400-meter relay squad for an NCAA appearance as well. Hooker has proven just as fast outdoors, winning twenty-one consecutive sprint races in 1998, 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 1998 Male Track Athlete of the Year, the first Husky since 1976 to be bestowed with the honor. On May 2, 1998, he broke the Washington record in the 100m, posting a 10.18. The sprint specialist, who has also competed on the UW football team as a wide receiver, bypassed the Huskies' 1999 football season to focus on earning a berth on the U.S. Olympic team for the 2000 Sydney games.

Catching Up With "Hook": Husky sprinter Ja'Warren Hooker has been on fire this year in both the 60- and 200-meter dashes, besting the NCAA's provisional qualifying standard a total of five times. How fast has he been? Following is a comparison of Hooker's first three sprint finals (converted to the NCAA-standard 60-meter distance) to his first three sprint finals in 1998, when Hooker went on to win an NCAA title in the 55-meter dash.

2000: 1. 6.75, 1st, Penn State Quadrangular, 2. 6.72, 1st, Ohio State Buckeye Invitational, 3. 6.69, 1st, Silver State Invitational
1998: 1. 6.79, 1st, UW Indoor Classic, 2. 6.70, 1st, Eastern Washington Invitational, 3. 6.69, 1st, McDonald's Scoring Invite

Goin' Deep: Husky senior Seselia Thomas (Spanaway Lake HS) has thrust herself back into the national shot put rankings for the second consecutive year. On Jan. 22, Thomas launched a personal-best 49'-9.75" put at Ohio State's Buckeye Invitational. The provisional-qualifying mark ranks 12th nationally as of January 26th, and puts Thomas in position to make her first trip to the NCAA Indoor Championships. Thomas bested the NCAA provisional qualifying standard in 1999 as well, but fell just short of earning an invitation to the national meet.

Husky Qualifiers: Four members of Washington's track and field team have qualified for this year's NCAA Indoor Championships, to be held March 10-11 at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark.. Here is the list of current Husky provisional and automatic qualifiers, adjusted for altitude (aa) and track size (c) to meet NCAA standards. NCAA meet invitations are traditionally extended to the top 15 qualifiers in each event:

* Melinda Campbell -- 3,000 meters (Prov: 9:40.54c -- ranks 17th nationally) Sophomore, Newport, Ore. (Newport HS/Boise State University)

* Sandy Erickson -- Pole Vault (Prov: 11'-11.75" -- tied for 33rd nationally) Sophomore, Whitefish, Mont. (Whitefish HS)

* Ja'Warren Hooker -- 200 meters (Prov: 21.46c seconds -- ranks 13th nationally) 60 meters (Prov: 6.69caa seconds -- tied for 9th nationally) Junior, Ellensburg, Wash. (Ellensburg HS)

* Seselia Thomas --Shot Put (Prov: 49'-9.75" -- ranks 19th nationally) Senior, Spanaway, Wash. (Spanaway Lake HS)

On the Road Again: Perhaps least affected by the Huskies' lack of home indoor meets this year is sophomore distance runner Melinda Campbell (Newport, Ore.) who over the last two years has become used to excessive travel. After a stellar high school career which included two Oregon state championships in the 3,000 meters, Campbell enrolled at Boise State University, placing 19th for the Broncos at the 1998 NCAA Cross-Country Championships and capturing Big West crowns in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters. In the fall of 1999, Campbell packed her bags once again, this time for Seattle, where she helped lead the Huskies' cross-country squad to a 13th-place finish at the NCAA Championships. In her first 2000 indoor meet, Campbell posted a provisional-qualifying mark of 9:39.74 in the 3,000 meters. Her reward? Another road trip, this time to Fayetteville, Ark., home of the 2000 NCAA Indoor Championships.

Last Year at the McDonald's Scoring Invitational: The Husky men's and women's track and field squads won twelve events en route to six combined dual meet victories over Washington State, Portland, and Eastern Washington. Then-junior Derek Prior (San Jose, Calif.) blazed onto the national scene, capturing the 400-meter dash in just 46.57 seconds, a mark which, at the time, was the fifth-fastest in the nation in 1999. Sprinter Ja'Warren Hooker posted a provisional qualifying mark of 6.74 seconds in the 60 meters, and helped the men's mile relay team to a provisional qualifier of its own. On the women's side, departed runner Deeja Youngquist teamed with current Husky Jennifer Smith (Spokane, Wash.) to sweep the distance events, with Youngquist capturing the mile title in 5:01.12, and Smith crossing the line first in the 3,000m (9:49.17). Other current Huskies to claim victory at last year's meet include senior Seselia Thomas in the shot put, senior Geoff Perry (Gig Harbor, Wash.) in the 800m, and sophomore Jason Fayant (Spokane, Wash.) in the 3,000m.

Up, Up, and Away: That's what Husky track fans have been saying about sophomore vaulter Sandy Erickson (Whitefish, Mont.) since her arrival on campus in 1999. Two weeks ago at the University of Nevada's Silver State Invitational, Erickson became the fourth Husky to qualify for March's NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark., clearing the bar at a personal-best 11'-11.75". This weekend, Erickson looks to improve her mark at Idaho's McDonald's Scoring Invitational, where last year she finished seventh with a 9'-8" vault. Erickson continued her success in the 1999 outdoor season, tying her career high in the vault at the Pac-10 Championships en route an eighth-place conference finish.

Richburg USA's Top Dawg: Entering his 15th season as a head track & field coach at Washington, Orin Richburg was honored in December by USA Track and Field's International Competition Committee, who selected Richburg to coach the United States National Team at the 2001 World Championships. This will be Richburg's fourth stint with the national team. He served a head coaching stint for the 1997 World Indoor Championship Meet, and worked on National Team staffs at the 1989 Junior Pan-American Games, as well as in a 1994 dual meet with Great Britain. The committee could hardly have made a better choice: in 1998 alone, 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. 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.

Huskies at 1999 NCAA Indoors: Two Huskies competed at last year's NCAA Indoor Championships, with departed All-American Derek Prior finishing 10th in the 400 meters, and current senior Aoki crossing the line 12th in the 5,000 meters with a career-best time of 16:33.51. In all, seven Washington athletes posted at least provisional qualifying marks for the national meet, including Hooker (55 meters and 4x400m relay), senior Ben Lindsey (shot put), Thomas (shot put), departed letterwinner Deeja Youngquist (3,000 meters, 5,000 meters), and 4x400-meter relay specialists James Mackey and Scott Anabel.

Next Week: Fri. and Sat., Feb. 18-19 - Track travels to Vandal Invitational, Univ. of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho.

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