May 28, 2005
EUGENE, Ore. -- Sophomore Ryan Brown continued his amazing 2005 postseason Saturday with a stunning come-from-behind win in the 800 meters at the NCAA West Regional Championships, earning the Renton native a berth at next month's NCAA Championships in Sacramento, Calif.
Eleven Huskies clinched automatic NCAA berths by virtue of top-five finishes in individual events or top-three finishes in relays at the two-day regional, including wins by Brown and pole vaulter Kate Soma. An additional eight Huskies placed sixth, seventh or eighth in their events to earn at-large consideration. At-large berths will be announced Monday at NCAASports.com.
Just two weeks after a ninth-seeded Brown upset heavy favorite Jon Rankin of UCLA for the Pac-10 800-meter title, the Renton, Wash., native was at it again, coming from 15 meters down in the final 100 meters of the race to pass Rankin on the inside in the closest finish of the entire meet. Brown won in 1 minute, 48.191 seconds, while Rankin was second in 1:48.195, prompting both to take a victory lap together around the Hayward Field track.
Brown competed just one year at Renton High School, and was out of the sport entirely a year ago, before returning for the 2005 indoor season. He entered the Pac-10 meet as the conference's No. 9 seed; he will be the No. 8 seed at next month's NCAA Championships.
"Ryan Brown is in an amazing groove right now," said UW head coach Greg Metcalf. "He came off the last turn sixth, and I don't think the announcer even mentioned his name the whole race until he was crossing the finish line. All he knows how to do right now is win, and that's a great mode to be in heading into the NCAAs."
Also completing a stunning comeback in the final straightaway was Washington's 4x100-meter relay, which earned the third and final automatic NCAA berth with a time of 39.66 seconds - third-best in UW history, and the fastest by a Washington 4x1 since 1983.
Trailing regional host Oregon by one meter entering the final leg, UW senior Davaon Spence burst past Ducks' anchor Jordan Kent on the backstretch, edging Kent by 14 hundredths of a second at the line. Spence, teammates Jordan Boase, Patrick Davidson and Sean Williams are the first UW 4x100-meter relay to advance to NCAA Championships competition in more than a decade.
"Jordan, Pat and Sean did a great job of staying up front in those first three legs, then Davaon came through in a huge way on the anchor," Metcalf said. "He knew what was at stake, and there was no way he was letting Kent beat him to that line."
Sophomore Ashley Lodree also clinched an NCAA berth - the third of her young UW career - with a fifth-place finish in the 100-meter hurdles. The Richmond, Calif., native has run the three-fastest hurdles races of her life in the last two weeks, including a school-record time of 13.23 seconds at the Pac-10 Championships, 13.31 seconds in Friday's regional prelim, and 13.34 seconds in Saturday's final. Lodree earned All-America honors indoors in the 60-meter hurdles in 2005, but finished sixth at this meet a year ago, just missing an NCAA berth.
"Ashley wasn't going to let that happen to her again," Metcalf said. "She's been all business these last couple of weeks, and she just went out and got it done."
Washington also wrapped up an NCAA berth in the 4x400-meter relay, running a time of 3:08.15 in a driving rainstorm. The Huskies, ranked seventh in the nation in the event, entered the final leg in fourth, but junior Bruce Jackson ran down UCLA's Craig Everhart on the backstretch, then held off the charging Bruins junior at the line.
In addition to the eight automatic qualifiers added Saturday, an additional three Huskies put themselves in position for at-large berths by virtue of sixth, seventh or eighth-place finishes.
Senior Lindsey Egerdahl and sophomore Amy Lia ran side-by-side throughout the women's 1,500 meters, ultimately crossing the line sixth and seventh, respectively, in 4:22.47 and 4:22.67. That should be enough, however, to earn NCAA Championships for both -- they are each among the four highest-ranked competitors eligible for at-large berths, and are thus almost certain to be among the 6-8 at-large selections announced Monday.
The sixth-place regional finish was the third-straight for Egerdahl, who missed an NCAA Championships berth by just two seconds a year ago. The Auburn native was an All-American indoors in the mile, and will be among the top-10 seeds at the NCAA meet next month.
Also earning at-large consideration will be senior Andy Fader, who placed eighth in the 1,500 meters in 3:51.33. The Everett, Wash., native entered the meet seeded 25th in the event, but ran impressively in Friday's prelim to earn one of 12 spots in the final. Junior Bruce Jackson will also merit at-large consideration after a seventh-place finish in the 400 meters, crossing the line in 47.13.
Strong winds and overcast skies turned into thunderstorms late in the day, delaying the meet for nearly two hours. Even before the rain and lightning began, the wind wreaked havoc on several events -- most notably the men's pole vault, where 11 of the 23 competitors failed to clear a height, including defending NCAA champion Tommy Skipper of Oregon and reigning Pac-10 champion Yoo Kim of UCLA.
Washington's 11 automatic NCAA Championships qualifiers are its most since the regional-qualifying system was first implemented in 2003, and are more than it had in the previous two seasons combined. In addition to the eight automatic qualifiers on Saturday, three Husky pole vaulters earned automatic bids Friday. Those Huskies eligible for at-large berths will learn their NCAA fate Monday, when the final list of athletes accepted into the NCAA Championships is posted to NCAASports.com.
For complete results from the 2005 NCAA West Regional Championships, visit www.goducks.com.