May 27, 2005
EUGENE, Ore. - Senior Kate Soma won the pole vault at the NCAA West Regional Championships on Friday, leading an NCAA-record four Washington women's vaulters to NCAA Championships berths. The two-day meet, one of four such regionals being held nationwide, concludes Saturday at Oregon's Hayward Field.
The top-five individuals and top-three relays in each event at each of the four regionals earn automatic entry to next month's NCAA Championships in Sacramento, Calif., while the next three finishers are placed in an at-large pool from which 6-8 will be granted NCAA berths based on their season-best marks.
A four-time All-American and two-time NCAA runner-up, Soma was the only vaulter to clear 13 feet 7 ¾ inches, earning an appreciative roar from the large contingent of family and friends cheering on the Portland native. Soma upped the bar to 14-4 and promptly snapped a pole on her first attempt -- her second broken pole this season and reminiscent of a similar incident at the 2003 NCAA Championships. Fortunately, the senior fell safely to the mat, and was able to take her final two attempts, missing both.
Junior Ashley Wildhaber and freshman Kelley DiVesta also earned automatic berths with fourth- and fifth-place finishes, each clearing 13-3 ¾, a lifetime-best for DiVesta and the fourth-best mark in UW history.
Junior Carly Dockendorf was seventh at 12-11 ¾, while sophomore Stevie Marshalek placed 10th at the same height. Including marks from all Regionals, Dockendorf ranks fourth among those on the at-large list, and is thus guaranteed to be among the 6-8 at-large qualifiers announced Monday.
Washington is the only school in NCAA history to qualify four women's pole vaulters for NCAA Championships competition, having also done so indoors in March. The Huskies are also the first school ever with five women's vaulters over 13 feet in the same season.
"The winds were a bit tricky today, and I think that threw off a lot of folks in the competition," said UW head coach Greg Metcalf. "Kate, though, has never been one to let anything distract her, and she's at her best in pressure situations. That attitude rubs off on everyone who vaults with her, and is a big part of what makes this unit so successful."
Freshman jumper Norris Frederick also earned an at-large berth Friday with a sixth-place finish in the high jump. An All-American indoors in the long jump in 2005, Frederick cleared 6-11, before missing on all three attempts at 7-1. Junior Warren Eickhoff also cleared 6-11, finishing in a tie for eighth due to more misses. Like Dockendorf, Frederick is tied for fourth on the at-large list, and is thus certain to be among those added to the Championships field Monday.
Squarely on the at-large bubble, however, is jumper J.R. Wolfork, whose seventh-place long-jump effort of 24-3 3/4 may or may not be good enough to earn the junior an NCAA berth. Wolfork was the highest-finishing Husky in the event, beating out teammate Frederick, who entered the meet seeded fourth. Frederick placed 11th, his best of 23-6 1/4 more than 18 inches below his season-best.
In addition to the five Huskies to guarantee themselves NCAA Championships berths Friday, several others ran well in preliminary events on the track, setting up what should be an exciting day of finals for UW on Saturday.
The Huskies' men's 4x100-meter squad of Jordan Boase, Patrick Davidson, Sean Williams and Davaon Spence ran third in their preliminary heat, their time of 39.92 seconds the fifth-fastest in Washington history and fourth-fastest overall entering Saturday's final.
Junior Ryan Brown, meanwhile - just two weeks removed from winning the Pac-10 800-meter title in Los Angeles -- won his preliminary heat in 1:50.68, the fifth-fastest qualifying mark overall. Junior Bruce Jackson was the fifth-fastest qualifier at 400 meters (46.82), while sophomore Ashley Lodree ran fifth overall in the 100-meter hurdles, her time of 13.34 seconds second in UW history only to her own school record of 13.23 set two weeks ago.
Washington also qualified three athletes for finals in the 1,500 meters, including sophomore Amy Lia (4th overall, 4:25.59) and senior Lindsey Egerdahl (6th, 4:25.83) in the women's event, and senior Andy Fader (5th, 3:46.63).
Not all the news was good for Washington on Friday. Junior Shane Charles, the nation's 10th-ranked competitor in the 400-meter hurdles, fell after striking the first hurdle and was unable to finish the race, thus eliminating him from NCAA Championships consideration. Charles hopes to return for Saturday's 4x400 meters, in which Washington is the region's No. 3 seed, and the seventh-ranked team nationally.
For complete results from Friday's first day of competition at the NCAA West Regional Championships, visit www.goducks.com.