March 3, 2006
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Washington's distance medley relay moved closer to an NCAA Championships berth on Friday night by climbing into the top-10 of the national collegiate rankings with a school-record equaling 9 minute, 35.35-second effort at Notre Dame's Alex Wilson Invitational.
This weekend marks the final qualifying opportunity prior to next weekend's NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. The final Championships field - expected to include the top 10-12 relays and 16-18 individuals in the national rankings in each event - will be announced Monday evening at NCAASports.com.
The all-Northwest foursome of Austin Abbott (Chehalis/W.F. West HS), Bruce Jackson (Seattle/Nathan Hale), Ryan Brown (Renton/Renton) and Carl Moe (Auburn/Auburn-Riverside) were one of 15 teams to break the NCAA's provisional standard in the meet, which featured nine of the 11 fastest distance medley relay times in the nation this year.
The Huskies' relay placed seventh overall, but more importantly, climbed to ninth in the national collegiate rankings - comfortably within the range of those expected to be selected to the Championships field Monday.
The foursome tied the record of 9:35.35 set on this same weekend two years ago; that relay - which featured a then-freshman Moe and three seniors - finished 14th in the national rankings, and was the highest-ranked team left out of the Championships field.
Head coach Greg Metcalf, who remained in Seattle to coach the Huskies at Saturday's UW Last Chance Qualifier at Dempsey Indoor, says that he is confident that this year will be different.
"We're ninth right now, and I'm pretty sure that is going to hold up," he said. "Those guys did a great job, though; hopefully, they'll get the reward they deserve."
The Huskies are seeking their second-straight NCAA Championships appearance in the distance medley relay, which features legs of 1,200-, 400-, 800- and 1,600 meters. The team's 2005 relay - including both Abbott and Brown - ran fifth at the NCAA meet to earn the Huskies' first-ever All-America award in the event.
Jackson and Brown will be back on the Notre Dame track Saturday to attempt to qualify in the 4x400 meters as well, while sophomore Jordan Boase will try to improve upon his No. 21 national ranking at 200 meters.
For complete results from the Alex Wilson Invitational, visit www.und.com.