April 10, 2010
EUGENE, Ore. - Washington track turned in an impressive all-around performance at the Pepsi Team Invitational today at Oregon's Hayward Field, with the men battling second-ranked Texas A&M all day long until the Aggies pulled away at the end. Husky individuals captured three titles on the day and added seven runner-up finishes.
The Oregon men and women, ranked third and second in the NCAA, captured both team titles, with the defending NCAA Champion Aggies taking second on both sides. Washington was third on the men's side ahead of Illinois and Missouri. In the women's standings, Missouri placed third and the Huskies a close fourth.
Major PR's and Top-10 marks were posted throughout the day across all event areas by a Husky group that came together well as a team for the first time this outdoor season, despite still holding out some key contributors.
Victories came from a trio of All-Americans. Senior Katie Follett ran away from a trio of Ducks to win the women's 1,500-meters by nearly three seconds. Follett finished in 4:17.02, with second-place Nicole Blood of UO crossing in 4:19.57.
"It was great to come to Hayward and get a win under my belt. I wish I could have run a little faster, but overall I think it went well coming in and getting a win," Follett said. "The atmosphere here is awesome and I love going head to head with the Oregon girls. It's always good to see some friendly faces after having run against each other so often."
Junior All-American Brooke Pighin easily handled the field in the women's javelin, throwing a season-best 166-6 that was six-feet further than her season-opener last week at the Texas Relays.
The third win came from the closest thing to a sure-bet at the meet, as junior Scott Roth opened up his outdoor season with yet another win in the men's pole vault. This was Roth's first action since winning the NCAA Indoor Championships in March. He cleared 18-0 ½ on his first try, then raised the bar to 18-6 ¾ which would have been a quarter-inch above Brad Walker's outdoor school record. Roth was unable to clear this time around but still pocketed nine points and was pleased with the day.
"I'm pleased with it here (at Hayward Field), it's awesome. Everyone is so supportive of each other and all the fans were cheering for me, it was really nice," said Roth. "I changed my steps today, which meant that I had to adjust every jump today, but I was very pleased with how I adjusted on my steps."
Several freshmen had fantastic debuts in front of the pro-Oregon crowd, including a new Washington freshman school record, and the fastest 100-meters since NCAA Champion Ja'Warren Hooker.
Shaniae Lakes of Richland, Wash. broke the freshman record in the triple jump, with a new lifetime-best mark of 41-0 ¼. That was more than a foot past previous record-holder Fahern Thomas who jumped 39-11 ½ in 1992. Lakes leaps up to third on the UW all-time Top-10 as well, and is now one of just three Husky women to ever triple jump 41-feet.
The 100-meter dash turned into a British invasion with talented Husky frosh James Alaka going head-to-head with Texas A&M's Gerald Phiri, both of whom hail from London where they were good friends and competitors. Alaka ran 10.32 seconds to take second, edged by Phiri in 10.30. Still, Alaka's blazing run ranks him fifth in school history, and was the fastest by a Husky since Hooker's heyday ended in 2001. Aside from Hooker, no other Husky had gone under 10.40 seconds since 1983. Alaka will jump into the top-20 of the national list with his sparkling new PR.
"Our men's group really came to compete today, knowing they were up against some of the best teams in the nation," said head coach Greg Metcalf. "Texas A&M won the NCAA title last year and we were right with them all day. Katie ran great, James Alaka was fun to watch, our javelin group came up big, Scott Roth looked terrific, it was just a really exciting day. A lot of the athletes that had success today can hopefully duplicate that feeling in a couple months back here for NCAAs."
The Husky men's distance crew piled up some points with the surprise performer of the day being junior Jordan Swarthout, who placed second in the 5,000-meter run with a huge PR of 14:08.29. Swarthout, an Olympia native, had a previous 5k best of 14:20.90 from an indoor meet, and outdoors his now-obsolete old best was 14:32.72.
In the men's 1,500-meters, junior Colton Tully-Doyle ran his second-consecutive PR, placing second in a time of 3:46.78. Sophomores Ryan Soberanis and Ryan Styrk each ran new PRs in the 800-meters as well, with Soberanis clocking 1:51.03 and Styrk going 1:51.07.
The men's throwers were also exceptional today with three runner-up finishes. Senior Zack Midles took second in both the discus and hammer throws, tossing 159-10 in the discus and 206-2 in the hammer throw.
It took the top javelin throw in the NCAA this year to defeat junior All-American Kyle Nielsen, who tossed a new lifetime-best of 241-feet, 9-inches to take second on the day, and move up to second in the country. But the one person ahead of him was A&M's Sam Humphreys, who threw an impressive 251-8. Still, Nielsen moved past Tony Parsley (1991) into second on UW's javelin Top-10 list with his throw.
Not to be lost in the battle at the top, freshman Joe Zimmerman continues to make a name for himself in the javelin as well, as the Spokane product fired the spear 228-feet, 1-inch, a great throw that would have placed fifth at last year's Pac-10 Championships. Zimmerman will also move into the Top-10 on the current NCAA list and all but assured himself of a trip to Austin for the NCAA preliminary rounds. Yet another freshman, James Brookman, took fifth in the javelin with a PR of 207-9.
Additional strong efforts on the women's side came from senior Falesha Ankton, who lowered her season-best in the 100m hurdles to 13.56. Sophomore Amber Finley was fourth in the 400-meter dash in an outdoor PR of 56.84.
The Huskies also received a 23-foot long jump from newcomer Julian Bardwell (23-1 ¼ to be precise) to place fourth on the men's side, while freshman Logan Miller cleared 12-4 in the women's pole vault to finish as the runner-up.