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Track To Tangle With Pac-10's Best At Silver State Games
Release: 01/26/2000
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Jan. 26, 2000

The Schedule: Saturday, January 29 -- Husky track and field travels to Silver State Games, University of Nevada, Reno, Nev.

This Week: Eleven members of Washington's track and field team will head south for the University of Nevada's Silver State Games. Joining the Huskies' men's 4x400-meter relay squads, as well as selected vaulters and distance runners, will be competitors from second-ranked Stanford, No. 3 UCLA, Oregon, Washington State, Purdue, Utah State, Tennessee (women), and host Nevada.

Last week: Sprinter Ja'Warren Hooker and senior thrower Seselia Thomas each bested NCAA provisional qualifying standards in leading the Husky men and women to fourth and second-place finishes, respectively, at Ohio State's Buckeye Invitational. Hooker won the 60 meters in a dazzling 6.72 seconds, and continued his dominance in 2000 with a win in the 200 meters as well. Thomas became the third Husky to qualify for March's NCAA Championships with a personal-best throw of 49'-9.75" in the shot put. Margaret Butler (mile), Anna Aoki (3,000m), and Kelsey Sheppard (400m) all added event victories of their own at Ohio State, while Paul Harkins(mile) and Andrea Sauter (400m) claimed wins at Eastern Washington's Jerry Martin Invitational.

The rankings: Washington's men's and women's teams 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.

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 John Russell (Spokane, Wash.). Following is a list of UW freshmen ranked among the top three Husky competitors in their events: Men's: 55m, 1st, Greg Forni, 6.59s, 2nd, Anthony Walters, 6.77s, 3rd, Carlos Williams, 6.77s, 400m, 3rd, Forni, 50.81, 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", Shot Put , 1st, Doug Jackson, 49'-5.5", 35lb. Weight , 2nd, Jackson, 41'-9.75". Women's: 55m, 2nd, Andrea Sauter, 7.61s, 60m, 1st, Jamara Smith, 7.63s, 200m, 1st, Smith, 25.30s, 400m, 2nd, Arlene Bledsoe, 56.97s, High Jump, 1st, Brittany Roberts, 5'-1", Long Jump, 2nd, Sauter, 17'-1.25", 3rd, Smith, 17'-0", Triple Jump, 1st, Smith, 36'-2.75".

Back on Track: Junior sprinter Ja'Warren Hooker (Ellensburg HS) has blown out of the gates in 2000, setting two NCAA provisional qualifying marks in the first two weeks of competition. Last week, Hooker remained undefeated in the new millennium, capturing the 200-meter title at Ohio State's Buckeye Invitational and setting a qualifying mark of 6.72 seconds en route to victory in the 60-meter dash. Hooker will have to improve on that 60-meter mark if he hopes to reach the NCAA Championships, as he is currently ranked No. 15 on the national list. The top 16 athletes in the 60m make the trip to the NCAAs. Hooker's personal best in the event is 6.59 seconds, a mark which would rank first in the nation this year. On January 15, Hooker blew away the competition in his first indoor races since an ankle injury derailed his 1999 season last March. In addition to posting a qualifying mark of 21.21 seconds the 200m, Hooker tied or broke two long-standing course records, shattering the Multi-Sport Facility record of 21.31 in the 200, and tying the record of 6.75s in the 60 meters. Hooker is on track to return to the NCAA Indoor Championships, where he was last seen in 1998 capturing 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 the 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.

Husky Qualifiers: Three 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 and track size to meet NCAA standards:

Melinda Campbell -- 3,000 meters (Prov: 9:40.54 -- ranks 2nd nationally) Sophomore, Newport. Ore. (Newport HS/Boise State University)

Ja'Warren Hooker -- 200 meters (Prov: 21.46 seconds -- ranks 3rd nationally) 60 meters (Prov: 6.72 seconds -- ranks 15th nationally) Junior, Ellensburg, Wash. (Ellensburg HS)

Seselia Thomas --Shot Put (Prov: 49'-9.75" -- ranks 12th 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.

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 will work 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.

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.

Goin' Deep: Husky senior Seselia Thomas (Spanaway Lake HS), thrust herself back into the national shot put rankings for the second consecutive year Saturday, launching 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.

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.

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,

Next Week: Saturday, January 22 -- "A" squad to Wolf Pack Invitational, Reno, Nev., B" squad to Pilot Invitational, Univ. of Portland, Portland, Ore.

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