March 10, 2003
SEATTLE - Four Huskies were among the 472 athletes and 50 relay teams accepted Monday into the 2003 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, as announced by the NCAA. The quartet will begin competing at the University of Arkansas' Randall Tyson Indoor Track Center on Friday, and conclude their performance Saturday.
Headlining the Washington contingent is senior pole vaulter Brad Walker, who enters the NCAA Championships ranked No. 1 in the nation, and 23rd in the world. A two-time All-American and the defending Pac-10 champion in the event, Walker qualified for the national meet on the strength of a school-record clearance of 18-feet, 6-1/2 inches at the Feb. 15 UW Invitational. That mark, the Spokane, Wash., native's career-best, leads all NCAA competitors in 2003 by five inches.
Joining Walker on the men's side is senior Jeremy Park, who currently ranks fifth in the nation at 3,000 meters. Park's time of 7 minutes, 54.13 seconds at the UW Invitational in February lowered the school record in the event by more than eight seconds, and was a stunning 29 seconds better than the Klamath Falls, Ore., native's personal best in the event entering the 2003 season.
Also excelling on the track this season was senior Courtney Inman, who in addition to shattering the school's 800-meter record by more than three seconds, took nearly five seconds off of her own school record in the mile. The Abbotsford, B.C., native qualified in both events for the national meet but will compete only in the mile, where she is the nation's 11th-ranked competitor with a best time of 4:40.24, set at the Mar. 1 Pac-10 Invitational at Dempsey Indoor. Inman will be making her second-consecutive appearance in the mile at the NCAA indoor meet, having placed 14th in the event in 2002.
Rounding out the field for the Huskies is sophomore pole vaulter Kate Soma, who will be making her first-ever trip to the NCAA Indoor Championships. Soma placed 16th at last year's NCAA outdoor meet, capping an outstanding freshman season in which she established school records for Washington both indoors and out. At the Mar. 1 Pac-10 Invitational, the Portland, Ore., native became the first Husky woman ever to pole vault 13 feet indoors. Soma's school-record mark of 13-3 3/4 at the meet ranks her 11th in the nation entering this weekend's Championships.
While the announcement of the NCAA field was exciting for the four Husky athletes selected to compete, others learned that they had just missed being selected. Senior Sabrina Monro was the last cut from the field for the women's 3,000 meters, missing the meet by a scant .04 of a second. Her school-record mark of 16:22.13 in the event ranked 18th in the nation and bettered the NCAA's provisional-qualifying standard. However, the NCAA set the field for the event at 16, with 17th-ranked Natalie Florence of Colorado and her time of 16:22.09 the final entry.
Likewise, the men's distance medley relay team of Park, juniors Eric Garner and Todd Arnold, and sophomore Sean Williams, learned that they missed the field by just two places. Their school-record time of 9:40.82, ranked 14th in the nation, was just over a second beyond the time of 9:39.12 by the 12th and final qualifier, the University of Texas.
Husky competition at the meet will begin Friday with Walker in the pole vault at 3:35 p.m. PDT, followed by Inman in the preliminary heats of the mile at 4:15 p.m. Saturday will mark the conclusion of the meet, and will include Soma in the women's pole vault at 3:30 p.m. PDT, Inman in the finals of the women's mile at 4:05 p.m. and Park in the 3,000 meters at 5:40 p.m.