May 17, 2009
EUGENE, Ore. - Senior Jordan Boase and junior Katie Follett delivered two more conference titles today as the Pac-10 Track & Field Championships concluded at Oregon's Hayward Field. Washington's combined five-title haul over the two days was its most in over a decade.
Boase took home the men's 400-meter dash, and Follett repeated as women's 1,500-meter champion today, while yesterday's victories included Scott Roth in the pole vault, Mel Lawrence in the steeplechase, and Anita Campbell in the 10,000-meters. The three titles by the women's team is its most at any single Pac-10 meet since its inception in 1987. The last time the men's and women's teams combined for five titles was 1998. The only year to surpass this season in the recordbooks was 1976 when the men won six Pac-8 titles.
The Husky women ended up sixth in the team standings, its best showing since 2004, and will bring back nearly their entire roster next season. The men suffered some late misfortune as Boase pulled up in the 200-meters after his 400m win. That cost the team expected points in the 200 as well as the 4x400m relay, and the men wound up ninth with 52 points. The hometown Oregon Ducks took both team titles.
Follett, the five-time All-American junior, was not the favorite heading into the final despite being the defending champ. Stanford senior Lauren Centrowitz had the best mark this season by far, nearly ten seconds faster than Follett's current season-best. But Follett went to the lead from the start along with teammate Kailey Campbell, and kept the pace to her liking.
The Fort Collins, Colo. native never gave up the lead. The pace quickened drastically on the final lap, and Stanford's Alicia Follmar pulled right up behind Follett, but Follett was in full stride over the final hundred meters and held off Follmar for the win. Follett's time of 4:26.62 was just four-hundredths of a second ahead of Follmar's 4:26.66. Campbell wound up finishing a career-best sixth-place.
"That was an exciting race," said Follett. "It actually played out a lot like last year. When I got out I wasn't really anticipating being in the lead, which is what happened to me last year, and it kind of worked for my advantage. I was able to go out at a more conservative pace and then I was in a good position with 400 meters to go when it kind of started to break up. So I felt good about my position and coming into the last hundred meters I was thinking about Mel's race yesterday and Anita's race yesterday and I was just really fired up."
Follett joins a select group of elite Huskies that have won multiple Pac-10 championships. Only Anna Aoki in the 10,000-meters and Aretha Hill in the discus have won twice at the conference meet which dates back to 1987 for the women. And neither Hill or Aoki won their titles in consecutive seasons.
Unlike Follett, Boase went into the 400-meter dash as the overwhelming favorite, and delivered with a victory in 45.64 seconds in which he kept an eye on his competition knowing he did not have to go all out. USC's Joey Huges was second in 45.93.
"I felt fine, I tried to go out hard and then coast to the line," said Boase. "I know I don't have to run real fast yet, so I hoped to hold back the final 200, and that's what I did."
Boase is now the first 400-meter Pac-10 champion in Washington history. The senior from Bothell, Wash. will be favored to win the NCAA Regional title in two weeks and among the favorites at the NCAA Championships should he qualify.
Unfortunately Boase's day did not end as auspiciously as it began, as he pulled up just above the homestretch in the 200-meter finals later in the day. Boase had the best time in the conference coming into the meet but doubling in the 200 and 400 always proves tough. Despite the near cramp, Boase did manage to jog down the final stretch to a standing ovation and earned the Huskies one more point for his eighth-place finish.
"Jordan Boase has been a superstar for us all year and it was great to see him get a much deserved Pac-10 championship," said Metcalf. "If you look at the list of Pac-10 Champions in the 400-meters, year-in year-out they wind up in the Olympics and as World Champions so this is still just the beginning for him. Losing him in the 200 was tough but we'll get him healed up and back here for Regionals."
Two of the day's grittiest performances were turned in by Lawrence and Campbell once again, a day after their individual titles. Both came back to run the 5,000-meters, and Lawrence placed fourth in 16:25.99 and Campbell was fifth in 16:30.89. For Campbell, that amounted to 15,000-meters in one 24 hour period and 8,000 for Lawrence.
Christine Babcock, the Pac-10 Cross Country Newcomer of the Year, challenged for the 800-meter title and wound up in third in 2:06.57, earning six more points for the women. Sophomore Elisa Bryant also took fifth in the women's hammer throw with a best of 189-1 just off her personal-best.
Senior Andrea Peterson had the best Pac-10 meet of her career, as she placed seventh with a new PR of 13-0 ¼. Peterson had never finished higher than 14th at Pac-10's yet provided two valuable points this year. The women also got two points from its 4x1 relay, an event the Huskies did not even enter a year ago. Falesha Ankton, Dominique Lauderdale, Jordan Carlson, and Bianca Greene placed seventh in 45.98 seconds.
"That is the most titles our women have ever won, so they are continuing to raise the bar," said head coach Greg Metcalf. "Last year at this meet we only scored 33 points so we doubled that in one year and only lose a small handful of seniors. We should come back a year from now with the intention of a top-three finish."
Additional men's scorers included senior Austin Abbott, who was sixth in the 1,500-meters that had as deep a field as any event this year. Abbott was at the back of the pack of 12 runners coming around the final turn before charging up on the outside. Unfortunately several other contenders were also strung wide and Abbott could not get a clear shot at the top three spots. Freshman Joey Bywater also got a taste of his first Pac-10 final, placing 11th.
The UW men's 4x100m relay turned in a very strong performance despite being relegated to lane one and running without Boase. Seniors Randy Bacon, Kenjamine Jackson, Joe Turner, and junior Jeff Gudaitis combined to run 40.85 seconds for a fifth-place finish. Jake Schmitt in the 5,000-meters and Jeremy Taiwo in the triple jump both also had top-10 finishes but were just out of the points.
"We lost some points we were hoping to get from Jordan late in the day today, but overall our men are not yet where we are striving to be," said Metcalf. "Obviously there was a long list of outstanding individual efforts this weekend, and the Pac-10 is as solid as ever. Our men are ranked 14th nationally and we finished ninth today which means collectively we still have plenty of work to do."
The Huskies will be back in Eugene in two weeks for the second of the three main postseason meets, the NCAA West Regional Championships. The five top finishers in each event at Regionals earn automatic bids to the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Regionals will take place May 29-30.
2009 Pac-10 Track & Field Championships
May 17, 2009 - Eugene, Ore.
Men's Team Standings: 1. Oregon 158; 2. USC 117; 3. Stanford 93; 4. Washington State 91; 5. UCLA 90; 6. Arizona State 87; 7. California 66; 8. Arizona 64; 9. Washington 52.
Women's Team Standings: 1. Oregon 165.5; 2. Stanford 138; 3. Arizona State 112; 4. USC 108; 5. UCLA 79.5; 6. Washington 63; 7. California 58; 8. Arizona 49; 9. Washington State 44.