March 2, 2012
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Four Huskies headed to Notre Dame this weekend with plans to run a school record, and mission accomplished, as Ryan Soberanis, Maurice McNeal, Brad Whitley, and Joey Bywater rolled to a distance medley relay record and should have cinched up a berth at next week's NCAA Indoor Championships.
The Huskies were ranked seventh nationally in the DMR coming into the weekend, after setting a school record time of 9:35.06 at the MPSF Championships last week. But every year, Notre Dame's Alex Wilson Invitational has been the final stop for relays looking to push each other to the season's best times and punch their tickets for nationals. Washington did not want to take a chance that its time would get bumped out of the NCAA picture.
Leading things off on the 1,200-meter leg was Soberanis, who ran an unofficial split of 2:56.5 to get the Dawgs up near the front. McNeal was impressive over 400-meters, splitting under 46 seconds at 45.8, and handing off in second to Whitley, who was timed at 1:49.6 for his 800-meter carry and passed to Bywater on the anchor. Arkansas had the lead going into the final leg, but Bywater moved into the lead with three laps to go and held it, doing the hard work to keep up the needed pace for the group. Bywater relinquished the lead late on the final lap but did not fade, and held on for fifth-place in a new record time of 9:31.68, more than three seconds faster than the record set just last week.
Though they did miss the NCAA Auto time by less than a second, when the dust settles on this weekend, the Huskies are expected to make the cut for a trip to Boise, Idaho next week and a run at NCAAs. If they do, they will join the women's DMR which currently leads the NCAA.
All four Huskies could see individual action as well tomorrow as the Alex Wilson Invite continues. Meanwhile back at home, Washington concludes the Dempsey Indoor season with the UW Final Qualifier starting at 11 a.m.