April 15, 2009
ON THE TRACK: The prestigious Mt. SAC Relays take place this week in Walnut, Calif. and the Huskies will be sending a strong contingent to compete, with the majority of events taking place on Friday and Saturday, April 17-18 at the Hilmer Lodge Stadium. The meet boasts a large field featuring collegiate, high school, and elite professional athletes, with several U.S. Olympians planning to make their season-debuts at this year's meet.
Just one month remains before the Pac-10 Championships kick off the three-pronged postseason of conference, regional, and national championship action, thus Washington athletes will be looking to achieve or improve qualifying marks this weekend against some of the best fields they will face during the regular season.
Seventeen Husky athletes in total will be making the trip, with multi-event athletes Jeremy Taiwo and Liz Fuller starting things off for UW in the decathlon and heptathlon, respectively, held Wednesday and Thursday at Azusa Pacific. It will be the first collegiate decathlon for Taiwo, who earned All-American status indoors in the heptathlon. Fuller competed unattached indoors and will be aiming to reach her first national meet this year in her final season.
Also on Thursday, sophomore Lauren Saylor will run in the 10,000-meters, her first career attempt at the distance. Saylor has already qualified for Regionals in the 5,000-meters and will look to join teammate Anita Campbell as NCAA 10k qualifiers.
The rest of the Huskies swing into action starting on Friday. For the 14th-ranked Husky men's team, senior Austin Abbott will lead a mid-distance crew also featuring Chris Ahl, Joey Bywater, Jake Schmitt, Jordan Swarthout, and Colton Tully-Doyle. Abbott still holds the NCAA's fastest time in the 1,500-meters this season and ranks seventh at 800-meters. Schmitt meanwhile is 12th in the 10k but will be running a shorter distance this weekend.
Men's sprinters will have the week off but UW will be well represented in the field events, with Regional qualifiers Scott Roth, Jared O'Connor, and Ryan Vu all competing in the pole vault, and Zack Midles and Kyle Nielsen in the throws. Nielsen has PR'd by 27 feet this season and currently ranks fifth nationally in the javelin with a best of 239-2.
In addition to Saylor, making the trip for the 27th-ranked UW women will be Campbell, Kenna Patrick, Laura Mickelson in the distance events and freshman Christine Babcock, who returns to the site of many of her record-setting high school runs. A native of Irvine, Calif., Babcock broke the national high school 1,500-meter record last year at the Mt. SAC track as a senior at Woodbridge High School. Her time of 4:16.42 qualified her for the 2008 Olympic Trials.
Junior Falesha Ankton and freshman Dominique Lauderdale will compete in the sprints for the women, while Kelly McNamee and Taylor Nichols handle the jumps. Regional qualifiers Lara Jones and Andrea Peterson will look to shine in the pole vault, and sophomores Brooke Pighin and Elisa Bryant will flex their muscles in the throws. Bryant has qualified for Regionals in the discus, while Pighin is 15th in the nation in the javelin throw, with a best of 162-feet that ranks second in UW history.
For a schedule of all the weekend's events and links to results please visit www.mtsacrelays.com.
HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: Both the men's and women's squads did not move in this week's USTFCCCA Rankings, with the men coming in at No. 14 and the women at No. 27. The rankings compile Regional qualifiers in every event and assign points to the athletes that estimate their likelihood of scoring points at the NCAA Championships. In individual events, Washington's Austin Abbott remains the NCAA leader in the 1,500-meters, with his time of 3:41.62 set at the Stanford Invite. Several other Huskies are currently ranked in the top-10 in their events. Scott Roth has the nation's third-best pole vault at 18-1, while senior Jordan Boase is third in the 400m in 45.67. Sophomore Kyle Nielsen sits fifth in the javelin throw (239-2) while Abbott is seventh in the 800m (1:49.18) to go with his 1,500m time. Senior Jared O'Connor is also tied for eighth in the pole vault with a best clearance of 17-4 1/2. On the women's side, Katie Follett (15:48.72) and Mel Lawrence (15:50.36) rank third and fourth, respectively, in the 5,000-meter run. Anita Campbell's 10,000m time from Stanford (33:40.22) is fourth overall, and freshman Christine Babcock is eighth in the 1,500m with a time of 4:19.13. Follett is just behind in 10th-place at 4:20.00.
LAST TIME OUT: Rain put a damper on many of the expected fast races at Arizona State's Sun Angel Classic last Saturday in Tempe, but the Washington track and field squad still managed to post eight new or improved Regional qualifying marks during the meet. Three Top-10 school marks were set and Christine Babcock broke the UW freshman record in the 800-meters. Babcock, already an All-America in cross country and indoor track during her first season, ran 2:06.55 in the 800 to break Mary Dong's freshman record of 2:06.75 that had stood since 1987. The time is her second Regional qualifier, along with the 1,500m. Five-time All-American Jordan Boase made his outdoor debut in the 400-meters following his third-place NCAA Indoor finish, and won the premiere heat in 45.67 seconds. Running out of the same heat, junior Jeff Gudaitis also secured a Regional mark with a time of 47.17 seconds. One Husky shrugging off the rain was sophomore Brooke Pighin, who PR'd in the javelin with an outstanding throw of 162-feet. That mark is the second-best in school history with the new implement which came into use in 1999. Pighin now ranks 12th nationally. In the men's throws, junior Zack Midles qualified for Regionals in the hammer throw, held Friday afternoon, then set a new PR in the discus today. Friday, Midles threw 206-4 in the hammer, then went 166-4 with the discus to take second, just three feet shy of a Regional mark in that event as well. Washington had its usual stellar showing in the women's 1,500-meter run, with four women running under 4:30. Five-time All-American junior Katie Follett, the reigning 1,500m Pac-10 Champion, opened up at the distance for the first time since the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials, and ran 4:20.00, a strong showing given the conditions. Junior Kailey Campbell also ran 4:22.65, just off her season-best, and redshirt freshman Mel Lawrence hit the Regional mark in her first ever 1,500 in a time of 4:24.10. Also notable was the showing by junior Anita Campbell, who ran 4:28.09 in the B heat, a PR of 10 seconds for the long distance specialist. The last new Regional mark came from senior Austin Abbott, whose qualification in the 800-meters was little more than a formality, but the five-time All-American took care of business with a time of 1:49.18.
UP NEXT: Washington will be splitting its squad, with the majority of the team heading to the Oregon Relays in Eugene, but a select group of Dawgs will travel to the Penn Relays, one of the most storied and famous track meets in the country. Washington is expected to enter in the women's 4x1,500-meter relay, and potentially in the men's sprint medley relay. Check back next week for more specifics on each event.