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Husky Track Headline a Strong Field at Idaho Meet
Release: 06/21/1999
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February 3, 1999

This Week: The Husky men's and women's track and field teams will take their winning ways to the University of Idaho, with a strong field of collegiate teams from all over the Pacific Northwest expected to attend. All top UW athletes will compete for the Dawgs.

The Schedule: Saturday, Jan. 30 -- Track and Field Travels to McDonald's Scoring Invitational; Univ. of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho.

Last Week: The thirteenth-ranked Husky men will be looking to continue what has been a successful 1999 indoor track campaign, following a string of victories at last week's Wolf Pack Invitational, hosted by the University of Nevada. It was the sprinters who dominated for UW, with sophomore Ja'Warren Hooker and senior Derek Prior posting victories in the 55-meter dash and the 400m dash, respectively. Hooker crossed the line in 6.22 seconds, tying his season high and qualifying provisionally for March's NCAA Championships. Prior's winning time of 47.20 (converted) was a career best, and currently ranks eighth in the nation. The Washington women also made waves at the meet, with junior Seselia Thomas posting a provisional qualifying mark in the shot put of 48'-10.75" en route to a second-place finish. Freshman Sandy Erickson (pole vault) and junior Asya Muhammad (400m) also posted wins for the Huskies.

The Rankings: The Washington men's indoor track and field team slipped to 13th in this week's Trackwire 25, the only weekly ranking of NCAA Division I track and field. The Huskies had been ranked as high as sixth last week but were knocked down by a flurry of strong performances from other teams around the country, most notably Arizona State, which leapt into the seventh spot after being previously unranked. The Huskies totaled 16 points, only three less than last week, and currently trail top-ranked Arkansas by 63 points. Scoring in the Trackwire 25 is based on predicted team finishes at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The Husky women remained unranked, while Louisiana State retained the top spot with 57 points.

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 last week's Wolf Pack Invitational. The career-best time of 47.20 seconds (converted) eclipsed his previous career high, 47.61, posted the previous week at the Jerry Martin Invitational. Prior also anchors the UW 4x400-meter relay team which placed eighth at 1998's NCAA Indoor Championships in 3:10.60, and continued on to win the Pac-10 outdoor title. 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) took a major step in the defense of his 1998 NCAA 55-meter indoor national title, posting an NCAA provisional qualifying mark of 6.22 seconds en route to victory at the San Diego Indoor Games, a mark which ranks twelfth in the nation. Hooker 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 as a wide receiver, but was limited this season due to shoulder injuries.

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. He got his season off to a fast start by winning the shot put at the New York Sports Museum Collegiate Invitational with a throw of 58'-10.25". 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.

Dialing Long-Distance: Two Husky women, senior Deeja Youngquist (Enumclaw HS) and junior Anna Aoki (Fort Vancouver HS), own two of the nation's top times in the 3,000m event. Youngquist, who has placed third in the Pac-10 10,000m race in each of the past two seasons, posted a time of 9:34.54 at January's New York Sports Museum Collegiate Invitational. Her time currently ranks fifth in the nation. Right behind her at that meet was Aoki, the 1998 Pac-10 10,000m champion, who crossed the line in 9:38.74, a mark which currently ranks 11th overall. Since the New York meet, Youngquist and Aoki have not competed, but will do so again at this week's meet at Idaho.

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 teacher to an otherwise young corps of throwers. So far, Thomas has adapted well to her new role, posting a provisional qualifying mark of 48' 10.75" in the shot put at last week's Wolf Pack Invitational. Thomas has gone head-to-head with her former mentor twice this season, defeating her at last week's meet, and finishing second to Hill at the Jerry Martin Invitational.

Fab Freshmen: An ever-growing group of Husky freshmen have been the most pleasant surprise of the 1999 season, as evident in the list of 1999 top UW performances. 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 Josh Rogge, Owen Iddings, Craig Downey, and Moses Lewis. On the women's side, freshmen rank in the top four UW scorers in all but three events, led by sprinter Shavon Hawkins (2nd, 60m hurdles and 55m dash; 3rd, 60m dash and 55m hurdles). Other key frosh include Sandy Erickson, Courtney Inman, Zunilda Ogarro, Kelsey Sheppard, Laura Becker, and Elizabeth Rogers.

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.

Husky Qualifiers: Five members of Washington's track and field team 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, with track times adjusted for altitude and track size to meet NCAA standards:

Anna Aoki -- 3,000 meters (Prov: 9:38.74 -- ranks 11th nationally) Junior, Vancouver, Wash. (Fort Vancouver HS)

Ja'Warren Hooker -- 55 meters (Prov: 6.68 seconds -- ranks 12th) Sophomore, Ellensburg, Wash. (Ellensburg HS)

Seselia Thomas -- Shot Put (Prov: 48' 10.75" -- ranks 12th) Junior, Spanaway, Wash. (Spanaway Lake HS)

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

Deeja Youngquist -- 3,000 meters (Prov.: 9:34.54 -- ranks fifth) Senior, Enumclaw, Wash. (Enumclaw HS)

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").

Next Week: Sat., February 13 -- Vandal Invitational, University of Idaho; Moscow, Idaho. 8:30 a.m.

Washington Track & Field
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