April 18, 2004
WALNUT, Calif. - Former Husky Brad Walker soared to fourth in the IAAF World Outdoor Rankings on Sunday, clearing 18 feet, 6 3/4 inches in his post-collegiate debut at the Mt. SAC Relays at Mt. San Antonio College's Hilmer Lodge Stadium. Washington added two more postseason qualifiers to the list at the five-day meet, bringing its 2004 total to 57, two more than all of last season.
Competing for the first time since winning a second-straight NCAA indoor title in March, Walker placed second only to 2004 USA Indoor champion Toby Stevenson, who finished with the same mark as the Spokane, Wash., native but was declared the winner by virtue of fewer misses. The clearances, which are the best outdoors by an American this season, put Stevenson and Walker fourth in the 2004 IAAF World Outdoor Rankings, trailing only Austria's Dmitri Markov, Australia's Paul Burgess, and Russia's Okert Brits.
While Walker competed on one runway, two-time UW All-American Kate Soma vaulted on another, clearing 13-0 1/4 in an eighth-place effort. The nation's seventh-ranked collegiate vaulter, Soma has cleared 13 feet six times already this season, and is Washington's school record holder both indoors and out. The only other Husky woman ever to clear the 13-foot mark, freshman Stevie Marshalek, was also in action Sunday, earning an 11th-place finish at 12-11 1/2.
While Huskies' vaulters past and present excelled on the field, the team's hurdlers took center stage on the track, with freshman Ashley Lodree and sophomore Brynne Steward each recording impressive performances.
After being promoted into the elite college flight of the 100-meter hurdles, Lodree proved she belonged with a wind-aided time of 13.45 seconds, just .06 off the school record the freshman established earlier this month. Lodree's time was good for fifth in the loaded flight, which included national-team competitors Jenni Molloy of Great Britain and Toyin Augustus of Nigeria. Arizona's Sharifa Jones, however, took the title with a winning mark of 13.13 seconds is 13th-fastest in the world this year, while Rainier Beach High School graduate Virginia Powell of USC placed second in 13.25 seconds.
Tops in her hurdles flight, however, was Los Angeles native Steward, whose time of 14.39 seconds was good for a one-tenth victory over USC's Candice Davis. Steward is one of three Husky women's sprint hurdlers qualified for Pac-10 Championships competition this season, a list that includes Lodree and junior heptathlete Grace Vela.
Also competing Sunday was senior thrower Megan Spriestersbach, whose javelin mark of 161-3 was within three feet of her own UW record. The Lakewood, Wash., native, currently ranked seventh in the nation, placed fourth in the women's invitational section, behind champion Ana Erik Gutierrez of Mexico (174-0), 2001 NCAA champion Inga Stasiulionyte of USC (171-9) and Texas A&M's Katy Doyle (170-8).
Washington track teams will split up again next weekend, with several members heading to prestigious Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, while the remainder travel to Eugene to battle the Ducks and other Northwest colleges at the Oregon Invitational.
For complete results from the 2004 Mt. SAC Relays, visit www.mtsac.edu/relays.