Jan. 30, 2007
SEATTLE - An outstanding weekend of NCAA-leading performances at Dempsey Indoor helped the Washington's men's track and field team climb to its highest national ranking ever on Tuesday, earning the No. 4 position in this week's Trackwire 25. Washington began the season No. 11 in the rankings, which predict team and individual finishes at the NCAA Indoor Championships, and were 12th entering last week's meet.
Washington, which boasts current NCAA leaders in four different events, scored 37 points in the rankings, tops among all Pac-10 teams and behind only No. 1 Auburn (44), No. 2 Arkansas (42) and No. 3 Florida State (40). Wisconsin was fifth with 35 points and Oregon sixth with 29.
"It's definitely exciting to see our team ranked so highly from a national perspective," said fifth-year head coach Greg Metcalf. "I think that the national championships we've won the past few years, and the number of All-Americans we've had, has just raised the belief level in everyone that they, too, can do it; they can have that kind of success. And I've always said that it's all about belief."
Certainly the Huskies' outstanding performance at Saturday's UW Indoor Invitational had much to do with the team's lofty rating. Four Husky men shot to the top of the NCAA rankings with their performances at the meet, with two claiming the overall U.S. lead in their events, and one upsetting a reigning Olympic gold medalist.
All four were ranked among the top-three in their event Tuesday in Trackwire's Dandy Dozen, the individual rankings from which the team rankings are generated.
Defending NCAA 800-meter champion Ryan Brown (Sr., Renton, Wash.) earned the magazine's top billing in the men's 800 meters, not surprising after having taken the national lead on Saturday with a time of 1 minute 48.51 seconds in his 2007 season debut.
Junior Alex Harcourt (Kent, Wash.) -- whose head-to-head victory over reigning Olympic 4x400-meter gold medalist Darrold Williamson in a U.S.-leading 46.43 seconds was the highlight of the meet -- also shot up the national rankings to No. 2 overall, while freshman pole vaulter Scott Roth (Granite Hills, Calif.) earned a No. 2 nod in the pole vault after becoming just the fourth UW vaulter -- and the first in the NCAA this year -- to top 18 feet in the pole vault.
The fourth member of the team's NCAA-leading quartet, two-time All-American Norris Frederick, earned a No. 3 national ranking in the long jump after his school-record and U.S.-leading leap of 25 feet, 10 inches Saturday, and remained among the top-10 in the high jump as well with a No. 8 ranking in that event. The Huskies' distance medley relay was also among those listed in a scoring position, at No. 5 overall, while the team's 4x400-meter relay lurked just outside the top-10 at No. 11.
"What's really exciting to me about this is that besides Scott, the folks on this list are all from the state of Washington," Metcalf said. "And really, outside of Scott and Norris, none of them were big-time recruits coming out of high school. They're just local kids who have come here with a commitment to work hard and be the best that they can be, and their best is turning out to be pretty darn good."
Both the Huskies' men's and women's teams will take this weekend off before welcoming another elite field for what should be an outstanding day of track and field competition at Dempsey Indoor on Feb. 10. Numerous Olympians are expected to join the field of top-flight Division-I programs for the meet, which last year produced two world-leading marks and 26 marks among world's top-10 in 2006.
For links to the complete Trackwire rankings, or for more information on Washington track and field, visit www.GoHuskies.com.