June 12, 2003
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Husky senior Courtney Inman on Thursday ran into the history books at the NCAA Track and Field Championships, bettering a long-standing UW record in her preliminary heat of the women's 1,500 meters.
A native of Abbotsford, B.C., Inman qualified for Saturday's final with a fourth-place finish in 4 minutes, 12.36 seconds, the third-fastest in Pac-10 history and the fastest by a Canadian woman this year. The top four finishers in each of the two heats earned automatic spots in the final.
The hand-timed UW record of 4:12.7, set in 1981 by former Olympian Regina Joyce, stood for 22 years, longer than any other current UW benchmark. It is the first of Joyce's four UW records to be broken, with all-time marks in the 3,000-, 5,000- and 10,000 meters still standing.
"Those records have stood forever; breaking one requires a tremendous effort," said first-year head coach Greg Metcalf of Inman, who already this season established UW records indoors in the 800-meter and mile runs. "But tremendous effort is something Courtney gives in every race, even a prelim like this one. I can't imagine a person more deserving."
With Mississippi State's Tiffany McWilliams setting a quick pace, the pack spread out quickly as the faster runners went to the front to keep up with the Bulldogs' sophomore. Inman hung fifth for much of the race, finally kicking past Stanford's Malindi Elmore 50 meters before the finish line.
UCLA's Lena Nilsson placed second in the heat in 4:11.27, breaking the Pac-10 record of 4:12.05 set by USC's Grazyna Penc. Inman's mark of 4:12.36 is the conference's third-fastest all-time.
A pair of Huskies competed in the first final of the night, the women's 10,000 meters. Senior Sabrina Monro ran just 10 seconds off of her personal best, placing 10th in 33:42.80, while fellow senior Kate Bradshaw capped an outstanding career with a 25th-place finish, in 36:00.05.
Monro went with the lead pack early, before a group of seven runners pulled ahead at the 3,000-meter mark. The Montana City, Mont., native, who owns the UW indoor record at 5,000 meters, ran in a tight pack with American's Samia Akbar and Baylor's Debbie Thornhill for the remainder of the race, the duo pulling away in the final lap.
"You have to be tough to succeed at this distance, and Sabrina and Kate are both tough as nails," said Metcalf. "Their leadership is going to be a challenge for us to replace next season."
Eric Garner placed ninth in the first of two heats, finishing in 3:47.80. Garner was making his second NCAA appearance, after placing 13th in the mile at the NCAA Indoor meet a year ago.
Making his NCAA debut in the second heat, Russell stayed outside to avoid being boxed in by other runners, at times running as far out as the third lane. Russell hung with the pack as it kicked to the finish, but was unable to pass and managed a 12th-place heat finish, in 3:47.92.
"Neither of them are the kind of guys who are happy just getting here, but the fact is they've both had outstanding seasons, and should be real leaders for our team next season," Metcalf said.
Sophomore Brittiny Roberts also made her NCAA Championships debut on Thursday, placing 22nd in the triple jump with a best mark of 40 feet, 3 Ľ inches. The second-place finisher at the NCAA West Regional meet in May, Roberts limped visibly between jumps, apparently bothered by an injury to her heel.
"Throughout her career, Brittiny has been one of our most consistent performers," said Metcalf. "It's too bad that she couldn't be at full strength for her NCAA debut, but I'm confident that she'll be back here next year showing everyone what she can do."
In early action Thursday, sophomore Kate Soma qualified for Saturday's pole vault final with first-attempt clearances at each of the three qualifying heights.
Soma placed second at the NCAA West Regional meet with a school-record mark of 13-10, the sixth-best in Pac-10 history. She enters the event as the nation's fifth-ranked pole vault competitor, after placing 16th in the event as a freshman at last year's NCAA meet.
"Kate's been on a roll lately, and has a ton of confidence," said first-year head coach Greg Metcalf.
Washington will have just one Husky competing Friday, as senior Heather Reichmann bids for All-American honors in the finals of the women's javelin.
For live results of the 2003 NCAA Track and Field Championships, visit www.hornetsports.com, or www.ncaasports.com.