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Track and Field Prepares for MPSF Championships
Release: 06/21/1999
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February 17, 1999

This Week: The Husky men's and women's track and field teams prepare for the first postseason meet of the season, the Mountain-Pacific Sports Federation Championships, Fri., Feb. 19 and Sat., Feb. 20 at the University of Nevada. The Huskies will compete for the conference crown with teams from Washington State, Oregon, Stanford, California, Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA, Boise State, Portland, Nevada, Long Beach State and Utah State. The Championships are the final chance for most Huskies to qualify for the NCAA Championship Meet, being held March 6-7 at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis.

Last Week: Sophomore sprinter Ja'Warren Hooker paced the Huskies at last Friday's Vandal Indoor meet at the University of Idaho, posting an NCAA provisional qualifying mark of 6.72 seconds en route to victory in the 60-meter dash. Washington also dominated the men's 55m hurdles event, with three Huskies placing in the top four finishers. Senior Skip Moody led the way in the event, crossing the line second in a personal-best 7.59 seconds, while junior Ben Meyer blazed a to 7.55 second mark in the preliminaries. The Huskies continued their success in Saturday's McDonald's II Invitational, winning three events, including victories by sophomore Chelsie Pentz (400m), senior Lara Kelley (55m hurdles) and Meyer (55m hurdles).

The Rankings: The Washington men's indoor track and field team currently resides 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 last week, 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. The Husky women remained unranked. Scoring in the Trackwire 25 is based on predicted team finishes at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

1998 MPSF Championships: Both the Husky men's and women's teams placed third at last year's conference championship meet, with Washington State capturing the men's team title and Stanford taking the women's crown. Sophomore sprinter Ja'Warren Hooker led the Huskies by winning the conference title in the 60m dash in 6.13 seconds and leading the men's 4x400m relay team to a similar first-place finish. Junior Anna Aoki and senior Deeja Youngquist ran to respective second and third-place finishes in the 3,000m event, while 1996 Olympian Aretha Hill earned runner-up honors in the shot put. In all, Washington accumulated 17 top-five finishes and two conference titles.

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 ninth in the national rankings. 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 15th 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), 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. 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.

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 provisional qualifying time of 9:34.54 at January's New York Sports Museum Collegiate Invitational, a mark which currently ranks 19th in the nation. Right behind her at that meet was Aoki, the 1998 Pac-10 10,000m champion, whose 9:38.74 finish is the 26th fastest in the U.S. this year.

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: With his recent 3,000m victory, freshman Jason Fayant became the latest addition to an ever-growing group of Husky freshmen who have made their presence known in 1999. The list of 1999 UW top performances signals a bright future for the Huskies, as freshmen dominate 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 Josh 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 Sandy Erickson, Courtney Inman, Zunilda Ogarro, Kelsey Sheppard, Laura Becker, and Elizabeth Rogers.

Husky Qualifiers: Six 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, adjusted for altitude and track size to meet NCAA standards:

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

Ja'Warren Hooker -- 55 meters (Prov: 6.68 seconds -- ranks t14th) Sophomore, Ellensburg, Wash. (Ellensburg HS)

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

Seselia Thomas -- Shot Put (Prov: 48' 10.75" -- ranks 21st) Junior, Spanaway, Wash. (Spanaway Lake HS)

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

Men's 4x400m Relay (Prov.: 3:11.67 -- ranks 15th) Hooker, Prior, junior James Mackey (Walnut, Calif.), and senior Scott Anabel (Cascade 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").

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.

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.

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,

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