Feb. 25, 2006
SEATTLE - Ryan Brown and Ashley Lodree each won individual conference crowns, and Washington's men's team captured its first-ever indoor conference title Saturday at the 2006 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Indoor Track and Field Championships, held at UW's Dempsey Indoor. The Husky women were fifth.
Brown's title at 800 meters was one of three earned by Husky men's athletes at the two-day meet, which serves as the indoor conference championships for Pac-10 and Big West Conference schools.
Washington, which led by 15 points at the end of Friday's competition, increased its lead to as many as 30 points after the win by Brown and second-place finishes for sophomore Austin Abbott in the mile, and UW quarterback Isaiah Stanback in the 60-meter dash.
Having lost top pole vaulter McKane Lee and top triple-jumper J.R. Wolfork to injuries, however, the Huskies were forced to sweat out the final three events, which included the pole vault, triple jump and 4x400 meters.
In the end, however, even a dropped stick in the relay couldn't keep Washington off the victory podium, as the team's early lead held up for a 107-100 win over Stanford, giving UW its first-ever men's conference title, indoors or out. Four-time defending champion UCLA was third with 88 points, while Arizona placed fourth at 84, and Oregon fifth at 76.
The Cardinal women easily captured their fourth-straight conference crown with 161 points, ahead of Arizona State (115), California (109) and Arizona (64). Washington's women placed fifth with 60.5 points.
"When you looked at the form chart coming into this meet, it looked like it was going to be pretty hard to beat Stanford and UCLA," said fourth-year head coach Greg Metcalf, whose Huskies had not finished higher than sixth at the MPSF meet since 2001. "Our guys stepped up big-time. They weren't out here trying to get good times, or thinking about themselves -- they were here to win."
Reigning Pac-10 champion Brown made it two in a row in conference 800-meter finals Saturday, running away from the field down the home stretch to win in 1 minute, 50.35 seconds. Brown's win was the third by a Husky men's athlete at the meet, second in UW history only to the five titles won by Husky athletes at the 2001 MPSF Championships.
Lodree, meanwhile, combined a win in the 60-meter hurdles with a third-place finish in the 60-meter dash to score 16 points for the UW men, accounting for more than one fourth of the Huskies' team total. The two-time All-American, currently ranked sixth nationally in the hurdles, won the event by two tenths of a second for her first individual conference crown, and the third by a Husky woman in as many years.
"Ryan's won three of the last four championship meets in which he's competed, and was an All-American at NCAAs; he steps up in big races," Metcalf said. "Ashley only knows how to win. She hasn't lost a hurdles race all year, which is a pretty good streak to have going into nationals in two weeks."
Sophomore Norris Frederick was also a prolific scorer for UW, adding a second-place finish in Saturday's high jump to the conference title he earned Friday in the long jump. Frederick's mark of 7 feet, 0 ¼ inches in the high jump matched his collegiate indoor best, and put the Roosevelt High School grad on the provisional-qualifying list for March's NCAA Indoor Championships.
Washington's men also earned key points in the 60-meter dash, taking three of the top-eight spots in Saturday's final. Two-sport star Stanback, seeded 11th entering Friday's preliminary round, nearly knocked off favored James McSwain of Washington State for the conference title, his time of 6.80 seconds just .03 seconds shy of McSwain's winning effort. Senior Davaon Spence placed sixth in 6.88 seconds -- one of two top-six finishes for the Jamaican sprinter -- and Wolfork placed eighth in 6.98 seconds.
In all, nine Husky men -- including sophomores Jordan Boase (2nd, 200m, 21.19) and Austin Abbott (2nd, mile, 4:02.72) -- placed second or better, while two (sophomore Jeremy Mineau in the 5,000 meters and senior Blake Bidleman in the men's heptathlon) broke indoor school records.
"This meet says a lot about the potential of our teams as a whole," Metcalf said. "We won in the throws, the distance events, the jumps and the hurdles, and put athletes on the podium in almost every event. Especially for our men's squad, they're loaded right now and ready to go. I can't wait to get the outdoor season rolling."
The 421 athletes competing at the 2006 MPSF Championships combined for a stunning 122 NCAA qualifying marks, while setting seven meet records and three Dempsey Indoor facility records. Husky athletes alone accounted for 15 NCAA qualifying marks, and posted 24 marks among the school's top-10 all-time, including two school records.
For complete results from the 2006 MPSF Indoor Track and Field Championships, visit www.GoHuskies.com.