Feb. 10, 2010
ON THE TRACK: The Husky Classic, annually one of the biggest and best indoor track meets in the nation, is set for this weekend and as always is shaping up to be a fantastic full day plus one bonus evening of track & field in the Dempsey. Out of the combined 50 men's and women's teams currently ranked, 24 will be represented in some capacity this weekend in Seattle, making this meet arguably the top display of top NCAA talent outside of the NCAA Championships.
For the first time, the Husky Classic will extend back to Friday evening, with a 6 p.m. start time. Friday will feature two small distance medley relay fields and then the 5,000-meter runs beginning at 6:30. Saturday begins bright and early at 8 a.m. with early heats of the 3,000-meters and continue all the way until the final 4x400m relays at approximately 6 p.m. Once again the top heats of each running event will be grouped together in the late afternoon. The invitational sections start at 2:40 p.m. and continue through the end of the meet.
Of the Top-25 ranked teams on the men's side, 15 will be represented at the Dempsey, including six Top-10 squads. Second-ranked Florida State and No. 3 Florida headline, followed by No. 4 Oregon, No. 6 Nebraska, No. 7 Arizona State, and No. 9 Oklahoma. Six Top-10 women's teams will also have some of their top athletes on hand, starting with No. 2 BYU, No. 4 Oregon, No. 5 Florida, No. 6 Tennessee, No. 9 Penn State, and No. 10 Florida State. The Husky women are ranked 23rd this week.
There is no shortage of storylines for this weekend, with every event practically teeming with All-Americans, NCAA Champions past and present, or top professionals. It all starts with the 5,000-meters on Friday night. In the top women's flight, seven entrants earned All-America honors at the 2009 NCAA Outdoor meet in either the steeplechase, 5,000m, or 10,000m, including UW's Anita Campbell, running unattached. On the men's side, all 21 of the entrants in the top heat have run under 14-minutes, with Husky senior Jake Schmitt looking to punch his ticket back to NCAA Indoors where he took ninth in the 5k last year. The Oregon Track Club's distance medley relay could also put on a great show, as it is expected to be led off by two-time defending U.S. 800-meter Champion Nick Symmonds.
Starting on the women's side, Huskies to watch on Saturday include redshirt frosh Bianca Greene in the 200-meters. She ran the sixth-best time in school history two weeks ago with a 24.99 and is entered in the invite. Senior Katie Follett, a three-time indoor All-American, will run the mile for the first time this season in the top flight, which also features SPU's Jessica Pixler, who ran a dazzling 4:33.46 two weeks ago in the Dempsey that is faster than any Division-I runner has gone this year. Follett is the UW record-holder in the mile and was sixth in the event at 2008 NCAA Indoors.
Another school record-holder, sophomore Mel Lawrence, is slated to make her track season debut in the 3,000-meters, the same distance at which she set a record of 9:08.50 last season and reached NCAAs. Her heat is loaded with Pac-10 contenders including Oregon freshman Jordan Hasay and Arizona State senior Kari Hardt.
In the women's field events, sophomore Kelly McNamee will look to go higher in the high jump. The only freshman to make NCAA Indoors last year in the high jump, McNamee will be aiming for her first NCAA qualifying mark this season. 2008 U.S. Olympian Sharon Day will also be jumping, not to mention hurdling, shot putting, long jumping, and running the 200-meters. Day holds the Dempsey pentathlon record and was runner-up in the heptathlon at the 2009 U.S. Championships. The triple jump will feature Dempsey record-holder Erica McClain and 2009 NCAA finalists Karoline Koehler of San Diego State and Whitney Liehr of Stanford, while UW freshman Shaniae Lakes and junior Taylor Nichols will attempt to crack the 40-foot mark.
The top flight of the women's 800m will be one of the day's highlights. Two-time defending U.S. 1,500-meter Champion Shannon Rowbury is slated to run. Rowbury won the bronze medal in the 1,500m at the 2009 World Championships. She'll compete against defending NCAA Indoor 800m champion Lacey Cramer of BYU, and 2009 Pac-10 Champion Zoe Buckman of Oregon among others.
The shortest race on the men's side will be highly competitive and Washington will look for another impressive group showing after it had three men run under 7-seconds in the 60m dash two weeks ago. Freshman James Alaka and sophomore Ryan Hamilton will both toe the line on Saturday, and UW will add sophomore Jordan Polk back into the mix. The football wide receiver had a season-best tof 6.91 seconds a year ago. Polk is one of a handful of Pac-10 football standouts running the 60m Saturday, as Oregon's LaMichael James and Oregon State's James Rodgers, Markus Wheaton, Keynan Parker and Rashaad Reynolds will all run.
The Beaver sprinters will be the first men to compete for Oregon State in nearly 22 years, as the track and field program was cut at OSU following the 1988 season. Oregon State is in the process of reviving its track program and Saturday will mark a big first step.
Senior Kenjamine Jackson and freshman Colton Dunn are set to run in the invitational 200-meter dash. Ryan "Zeus" Bailey of Nike will headline the 200m field as well as the 60-meter dash field, where he matched the Dempsey record at the UW Invite with a 6.63.
The men's 800-meter run will be loaded with top professionals and All-Americans throughout several heats. Sophomore Ryan Soberanis will run in section five and could have a great shot at breaking 1:50 for the first time. The top section though will feature two of the nation's best half-milers in UW grad and Asics runner Ryan Brown, and Oregon senior Andrew Wheating, the defending NCAA Champion. Brown made Team USA at the 2009 World Championships and Wheating was on the U.S. Olympic Team in Beijing.
One of the most recognizable names in college track is entered in the men's mile, as defending 1,500-meter champion German Fernandez of Oklahoma State is entered in the mile, as well as the 800m and 3,000m. Eleven of the 13 entrants in the top men's mile section are listed with sub-4:00 entry times. The Dempsey record, set at 3:55.76 just two weeks ago by Chris Solinsky, could be under fire again. The top flight of the men's 3k is equally as loaded, featuring the likes of David McNeill of Northern Arizona and Brandon Bethke of Arizona State, who were second and fourth, respectively in the 2009 NCAA 5,000-meter finals. Lee Emanuel of New Mexico, Craig Miller of Wisconsin, and Michael Coe of California are also strong contenders and were each finalists at 1,500-meters at NCAA Outdoors last year. Washington junior Colton Tully-Doyle will mix it up with the elite field, coming off his big PR of 8:00.55 two weeks ago which ranks second in school history.
Moving into the men's field events finds junior Scott Roth headlining the pole vault. Roth ranks second in the NCAA with his 18-6 3/4 clearance from a month ago, and is just half an inch behind the national leader.
Nine-time All-American Norris Frederick returns to the Dempsey for the first time since wrapping his record-breaking career in 2008. Frederick is entered in both the high and long jumps, and still holds the Dempsey long jump record at 26-7 3/4. Going against Frederick in the high jump will be 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials Champion and Olympian Jesse Williams, plus top pro Grant Lindsey and current NCAA leader Trent Arrivey of Washington State.
Highlighting the men's throws will be sophomore Richard Anderson and Cameron Elisara in the shot put. Elisara recently returned to the track team after focusing on football last year and earning a starting spot on the defensive line. Sophomore Angus Taylor will also take part in the weight throw.