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UW Tracksters Head to Iowa for Prestigious Drake Relays
Release: 04/25/2000
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April 25, 2000

FRI.-SAT., APRIL 28-29 - at Drake Relays
Drake Stadium, Des Moines, Iowa, 8:00 a.m.

SAT., APRIL 29 - UW Track & Field at Oregon Invitational
Hayward Field, Eugene, Ore., 9:45 a.m.

This Week: The 1998 university-division 100-meter champion Ja'Warren Hooker and a cadre of Washington's elite track & field competitors travel to Des Moines, Iowa to participate in the prestigious Drake Relays. The meet takes place on Friday and Saturday, April 28-29 at Drake Stadium. The Drake Relays require lofty qualifying marks to earn berths and annually host the nation's finest competitors, providing a fertile field for athletes to reach NCAA standards. A small group of about a dozen Huskies will visit Eugene, Ore. on Saturday for the Oregon Invitational.

Drake Relays: Ja'Warren Hooker returns to Des Moines, Iowa where he won the 100-meter title in 1998. Last year, Hooker dropped out of the Relays after suffering a cramp in his right hamstring during a preliminary race. Hooker will run in Saturday's special invitational 200-meter race along with the college 100-meter competition. The Husky men will field half of their 1999 champion 4 x 1600 relay squad as David Bazzi and Geoff Perry return from the team that also included Eric Mickelson and Chris Ledford. Other returning UW men's finishers from the 1999 Drake Relays are Justin St. Clair in the javelin (5th, 227-4) and Geoff Perry in the 1,500 meters (10th, 3:59.49). Returning UW women's finishers include Anna Aoki (6th, 16:45.73) and Kara Syrdal (8th, 16:47.31) in the 5,000 meters along with Margaret Butler in the 1,500 (9th, 4:37.64).

1999 Drake Relays Recap: Running in cool, cloudy weather that was just like home, Washington pulled a surprise in the Drake Relays. Washington's Geoff Perry blew past Arizona's Abdi Abdirahman in the final 10 meters Friday to give the Huskies a victory in the 6,400 relay, an event Arizona had been favored to win for the third straight year. Abdirahman had anchored Arizona's victory last year and appeared to be in control again, leading by a good 10 meters in the final lap. But Perry began cutting into the lead in the final turn and eventually sprinted past Abdirahman, who neglected to look over his shoulder to check on his rival's progress. Abdirahman, the 1998 NCAA runner-up in the 5,000, sped up at the last second but it was too late and he gestured in disgust with the baton after crossing the finish line. Washington's time of 16:48.11 was the slowest since the event changed from the four-mile relay to meters in 1978. But the pace was slow and the windy, 45-degree weather wasn't ideal for running. Micheil Jones gave Arizona the lead on the third carry, but Washington's Chris Ledford pulled even with him at the final exchange. Arizona finished in 16:48.25 and Minnesota was third in 16:54.59. The day didn't go as smoothly for another Washington runner. Ja'Warren Hooker, the defending champion in the 100, suffered a cramp in his right hamstring in his preliminary heat and was out of the meet. Washington's Justin St. Clair registered a second-place javelin throw of 227-4 and Rob Minnitti finished fourth with a mark of 205-5. The Washington women won the 4x100 shuttle hurdle relay in 57.54 seconds. Distance standouts Anna Aoki (16:45.73), Deeja Youngquist 916:46.58) and Kara Syrdal (16:47.31) each reached the NCAA provisional 5,000-meter standard, finishing sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively.

Oregon Invite: The Huskies will be represented by about a dozen athletes from their distance and field event corps at the Oregon Invitational in Eugene, Ore. Among the Washington entries are men's high jumpers Sean Steele and Frank Remund along with the women's pole vault duo of Sandy Erickson and Chris Withey. The Invitational begins at 9:45 a.m. on Saturday, April 29 at Hayward Field.

Record Breakers: Three Washington school records have fallen this year. The 19-year-old men's 200-meter mark fell on April 15 when junior Ja'Warren Hooker clocked a time of 20.33 at the Sun Angel Classic in Tempe, Ariz. That shattered the previous UW standard of 20.46 established by LaNoris Marshall in 1981. The 11-year-old men's 5,000-meter record was eclipsed on March 26 when junior David Bazzi posted a time of 13:47.63 at the Stanford Invitational. Bazzi bettered by nearly six seconds the previous record of 13:53.45 set by Alan Hjort in 1989. Sophomore Sandy Erickson improved her women's pole vault record with a clearance of 12-3 1/2 on March 25 in Edmonds, Wash. Erickson's previous best was a mark of 11-11 3/4 recorded in 1999. Additionally, Hooker matched his 100-meter mark on March 26 at Stanford, but it was a slightly wind-aided mark that does not qualify for record purposes. Hooker established the Husky record of 10.18 seconds on May 2, 1998, replacing Pablo Franco's mark of 10.26 that had stood since 1975.

Back on Track: Junior Ja'Warren Hooker is back on track, literally, after struggling through an injury-plagued 1999 campaign. He was sidelined until mid-April of the 1999 season with a stress fracture in his left shin and was unable to defend the 1998 NCAA Indoor 55-meter championship he won as a freshman. That was the first NCAA track title for a Husky since 1988. Hooker placed third in the 200 meters and fourth in the 100 at the 1999 Pac-10 championships, but did not compete at either the 1999 NCAA Indoor or Outdoor meets. So far in 2000, Hooker finished sixth in the 60- (6.68) and 200-meter (20.67) events at the NCAA Indoor meet and was named the Western Region Indoor Track Athlete of the Year. He clocked NCAA automatic qualifying times in the 100- (10.18) and 200-meter (20.33) events and was named Pac-10 Athlete of the Week on April 17. As a freshman, Hooker was named the 1998 Pac-10 male track and field Athlete of the Year. He became the first double-event winner in Husky history at the 1998 conference championships, winning the 100- and 200-meter titles. After opening the 1998 outdoor season with 21 consecutive sprint victories, Hooker was beaten for the first time in the finals of the NCAA 100-meter championship in Buffalo, N.Y. where he finished third. Also during 1998, Hooker established a new school record in the 100 meters with a time of 10.18. He is the first Washington track & field athlete to garner Pac-10 Athlete of the Year honors since 1976 when the award was introduced. Hooker played receiver on the Husky football team his first two years (1997 & 1998). As a freshman in 1997 he scored four touchdowns, including an 89-yard kickoff return at Arizona the first time he touched the ball as a collegian. Hooker appeared in eight games during 1998, catching nine passed for 78 yards before a shoulder injury ended his season.

Big Ben: Washington senior Ben Lindsey has secured his fourth consecutive invitation to the NCAA championships, reaching the automatic men's discus qualifying standard with a heave of 198-11 on March 18 at UCLA. Lindsey boasts a career-best mark of 202-7, thrown on March 28, 1998 in San Diego, that is the third longest in Washington history. The school record of 214-7 was set by Borys Chambul in 1976. The three-time All-American battled a late-season bout with mononucleosis last year, but still managed to finish third in the shot put (60-2) and fifth in the discus (182-9) at the 1999 Pac-10 meet. He placed 19th in the discus at the 1999 NCAA championships after finishing fifth in 1998 and ninth as a freshman in 1997. Lindsey posted an automatic qualifying shot put mark of 62-6 3/4 on April 1 at Washington State. He was the 1998 Pac-10 shot put runner-up and finished fifth (62-5 3/4) at the 1998 NCAA Indoor championships. His personal-best shot put mark of 65-4, registered on May 2, 1998 at Husky Stadium, was the second best effort in Husky history and trails only the school record 65-11 set in 1979 by Steve Summers. Lindsey won the Washington state high school discus title three times and claimed two prep shot championships.

Awesome Anna Aoki: The Washington women's team features one of the finest women's distance runners in the nation, junior Anna Aoki (Vancouver, Wash.). She secured her third consecutive NCAA Outdoor Championships berth with an automatic qualifying 10,000-meter time of 34:07.93 on March 25 at Stanford. Aoki has also reached the NCAA provisional standard in the 3,000 meters with a mark of 9:38.57. Aoki won the 1998 conference 10,000-meter championship and was the Pac-10 runner-up in 1999. She registered a career-best time of 34:05.30 on March 27, 1999 at Stanford, the third-fastest 10K time in Husky history. At the 1999 NCAA Outdoor championships, Aoki placed 19th (36:54.34) after finishing 17th in 1998. Aoki has qualified for NCAA Indoor championship competition on three occasions in the 5,000 meters. She raced to a 13th-place performance in 1997, 12th in 1999 and 14th in 2000. Aoki has been a mainstay of the UW women's cross country team that qualified for each of the last three NCAA Championships and placed 14th in 1997, ninth in 1998 and 13th in 1999.

Spear Specialist: Sophomore Justin St. Clair is the latest in a long line of Washington javelin standouts, having reached the NCAA provisional standard with a mark of 230-1. He placed 12th at the 1999 NCAA Championships with a heave of 219-1. His career-best effort of 231-3 is the ninth longest mark in Husky history. St. Clair placed third at the 1999 Pac-10 championships (224-5) after finishing seventh in 1998 (209-0). He was named the Pac-10 men's athlete of the week on April 6, 1999. St. Clair won seven of the 10 javelin competitions he entered last season, placing second at the Drake Relays and third at the Pac-10 championships. He topped the 220-foot plateau in eight consecutive meets. Since 1970 when coach Ken Shannon began training Washington javelin competitors, a Husky won 10 of 30 conference men's titles. The most any other conference school can claim is five. Add in 1987 Pac-10 women's titlist Helena Uusitalo, who won the 1986 NCAA title, and Washington athletes have accounted for seven AAU/TAC national javelin championships and three NCAA titles. Also, three UW individuals have earned U.S. Olympic Team berths, including Duncan Atwood twice (1980, 1984). In 1989, Darryl Roberson set an American collegiate record of 249-6 with the new javelin. Washington has had at least one men's or women's javelin competitor qualify for the NCAA championship meet and place among the top 13 during 16 of the 18 years since the NCAA began sponsoring women's sports in 1982.

2000 NCAA Indoor Recap: Two individuals represented Washington in three events at the 2000 NCAA Indoor Championships, March 10-11 in Fayetteville, Ark. Junior Ja'Warren Hooker placed sixth in both the 60-meter dash (6.68) and 200 meters (20.67). He was the 55-meter champion in 1998. Anna Aoki made her third NCAA Indoor appearance, placing 14th in the women's 5,000 meters (16:47.32).

Coaching Staff: While Washington boasts a bevy of standout athletes, the coaches will also draw a great deal of attention this season. The Husky men's and women's track teams are coached for the third season by Orin Richburg, a nationally-acclaimed mentor who will serve as head coach of the U.S. National men's track & field team at the 2001 World Championships in Winnipeg. In 15 years as head coach of the Washington women's team, he compiled an impressive 69-24-1 dual-meet record since his arrival in 1986. The UW women's team ranked among the top-10 dual-meet teams in the nation every year during the 1990s. Richburg's 1988 Husky women's squad finished 10th at the NCAA championship meet, the best national finish in the school's history. His Washington teams have produced 10 conference and two national individual champions. The UW throwers will be tutored for the 32nd, and final, year by assistant coach Ken Shannon who will resign following the 2000 collegiate season. Shannon, who stepped down in 1997 as head UW men's coach after 29 seasons, tutored his Husky throwers to 10 NCAA championships and eight Olympic berths since arriving at Washington in 1968. The UW distance runners are in the capable hands of former Husky All-America steeplechase competitor Greg Metcalf, a 1996 U.S. Olympic Trials finalist. Metcalf coached the women's cross country team to an unprecedented three straight NCAA championship berths. Joining the staff this season as an assistant coach is former 400-meter world record holder and 1968 Olympic gold medalist Lee Evans. At the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, Evans won the gold medal in the 400 meters with a time of 43.86. That record stood for 20 years until being eclipsed in 1988 when Butch Reynolds ran 43.29. Evans earned a second gold medal in 1968 as part of the United States' 4 x 400-meter relay team that clocked a time of 2:56.1 that also stood as a world record for 20 years.

NCAA Championship Qualifying Procedures: Marks which reach automatic standards guarantee berths to the 2000 NCAA Championship Meet, May 31-June 3 in Durham, N.C. If there are not enough automatic qualifiers to fill out the fields, individuals with the next best marks receive NCAA bids, provided they reached the provisional standard.

Husky Qualifiers: Twelve Washington athletes have reached NCAA qualifying standards in 16 events, including senior Ben Lindsey who has ensured his fourth consecutive NCAA championships appearance. Lindsey reached the automatic men's discus standard with a heave of 198-11 and hit the shot put standard with a mark of 62-6 3/4. Junior Ja'Warren Hooker hit the automatic standards in the men's 100 (10.18) and 200 (20.33) meter events. Hooker placed third in the 100m at the 1998 NCAAs, but did not qualify in 1999. Senior David Bazzi earned his first NCAA berth with an automatic 5,000-meter time of 13:47.63. Senior Anna Aoki will compete for the third straight season in the NCAA women's 10,000-meter race after posting a time of 34:07.93. All four Husky automatic qualifiers hail from the state of Washington. Last year, Washington sent six athletes to the NCAA Championships in Boise, Idaho: Justin St. Clair (12th, javelin), Ben Linsday (19th, discus), Cecilia Barnes (11th, discus), Deeja Youngquist (17th, 10,000m), Anna Aoki (19th, 10,000m) and Keisha Griffis (19th, 400m hurdles).

Next Week: SAT, MAY 6 -- at BYU Invitational, Provo, Utah

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