March 27, 2009
PALO ALTO, Calif. - Washington track and field kicked off the outdoor season today at the Stanford Invitational, and several UW All-Americans picked up right where they left off indoors. Senior Austin Abbott ran the second-fastest 1,500-meter time in school history this evening, winning the top flight in 3:41.62.
Outdoors, athletes will look to hit the qualifying mark for NCAA Regionals, and 13 Huskies already punched their tickets, starting with Abbott, who broke the Washington mile record earlier this month when he ran 3:58.23. Today, Abbott broke his own previous personal-best (3:44.30) by nearly three seconds. It was the fastest 1,500-meters by a Husky in more than 20 years, since Bruce Stirling set the school record of 3:39.89 in 1987.
It was a banner day for the Husky women's distance unit, with Husky women earning Reigonal marks and Top-10 times in the 1,500-meters, 5,000-meters, and 10,000-meter runs.
Two of the most eye-popping times came from junior Katie Follett and redshirt freshman Mel Lawrence in the 5k. Follett, a five-time All-American in track and cross country, completed the second-fastest 5k in school history, as she clocked 15:48.72. Only Husky legend Regina Joyce has run faster, going 15:35.60 in 1982. Lawrence broke the UW freshman record held by current teammate Anita Campbell, as she finished just behind Follett in 15:50.36, now the third-best mark in UW history.
Campbell also had a phenomenal run despite losing her freshman record. Running her first ever 10k, Campbell finished in 33-minutes, 40.22 seconds, just 10 seconds shy of the NCAA Auto mark for the 10k. She becomes just the fourth Husky woman to go under 34-minutes in the 10k.
Earlier in the day, freshman Christine Babcock broke 4:20 in the women's 1,500-meters in her first collegiate run at the distance. She finished third in the top heat in 4:19.13, well under the Regional qualifying time of 4:27.80. Also qualifying in the same heat was junior Kailey Campbell, who was fifth in 4:22.38. That time was a seven-second PR for the Ballard High grad, who continues her breakout season that already included an All-America honor in the indoor distance medley relay.
Highlighting the field events, sophomore Kyle Nielsen crushed his personal-best in the javelin, as he threw 225-feet, 11-inches to place second and qualify for Regionals for the second-straight year. He was joined on the women's side by sophomore Brooke Pighin, a transfer from Fresno State, who went straight to fourth on UW's Top-10 javelin list in her Husky debut with a throw of 155-feet, 1-inch. A Regional qualifier last year with FSU, Pighin easily qualified today as a Husky.
Junior Falesha Ankton, second in the 100m hurdles at Regionals last year, already assured that she would return in 2009 by finishing in 13.77 seconds in the 100m hurdle prelims today. That was the second-best time in qualifying.
UW got another Regional qualifier in the women's high jump, as freshman Kelly McNamee cleared 5-feet, 8 ¾-inches in her first outdoor effort. McNamee was 14th in the high jump at the NCAA Indoor meet just two weeks ago.
Also hitting NCAA marks were junior Jake Schmitt in the men's 10,000-meters, and Lauren Saylor and Kenna Patrick in the 5,000-meters. The qualifier was the first for Patrick, a sophomore from Federal Way, Wash.
The meet picks up again Saturday morning and runs through the afternoon.