Feb. 26, 2000
RENO, Nev. - Husky sprinter Ja'Warren Hooker today captured conference titles in the 55- and 200-meter dashes, leading the Washington men to a sixth-place finish behind teams from the Pac-10, Big West, and West Coast Conferences at the Mountain-Pacific Sports Federation Championship meet, hosted by the University of Nevada. Washington's women's team placed fourth.
Stanford's second-ranked men's squad won every middle and long-distance running event, accumulating 142 points for its second-consecutive conference title. Washington State captured the top spot on the women's side with 136.50 points.
Hooker, who entered the meet ranked tenth nationally at 55 meters, solidified a bid to March's NCAA Indoor Championship meet with a blistering 6.19-second finish in the 55-meter final, besting the NCAA's qualifying standard. Hooker added another conference title in the 200 meters, running away from the competition in 21.34 seconds. Long Beach sprinter Kashus Perona placed second in 21.88. The convincing win ran Hooker's record in sprint finals to 10-0 thus far this season. Hooker has not been beaten in an indoor sprint final since January 16, 1999 at the New York Sports Museum Collegiate Invitational.
For the second consecutive year, Hooker's anticipated matchup with eighth-ranked ASU senior Marcus Brunson was derailed, as Brunson bypassed the meet. Last year, Hooker's bid for a repeat of his 1998 NCAA Championship in the 55-meter dash came to an end at the MPSF meet when he suffered a high ankle sprain that sidelined him until late spring.
One other Husky managed a win at the conference meet, with senior thrower Seselia Thomas surging back on the second day of competition to take the shot put title with a 48'-6" throw. The win inches Thomas closer to an NCAA bid, something senior Anna Aoki could possibly receive following her second-place finish in Friday's 3,000-meter event. Aoki's time of 9:48.00 was well under the NCAA's provisional standard, but leaves her 26th in the national rankings. Traditionally, the top 15-20 athletes in each event are extended invitations to the national meet, this year being held March 10-11 at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark.