May 29, 2009
EUGENE, Ore. - Senior pole vaulter Andrea Peterson saved her best for what could have been her last, and in doing so made sure she would add one more meet to her schedule, as Peterson led five Huskies that qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships today at the West Regionals.
On the first day of the two day meet at Oregon's Hayward Field, Peterson turned in a massive PR in the women's pole vault to place second amidst an outstanding field and extend her season to her first NCAA Championships, which follows this weekend's meet in two weeks time. Peterson came in with a lifetime-best of 13-feet, 2.25-inches set indoors, and was only seeded 17th in the West Region, but she went up and over consecutive new PR's, ending at 13-9 ¾ which is the second-best vault in UW history behind former NCAA Champion Kate Soma.
"I'm in so much shock right now," said Peterson after celebrating with a large group of family and friends. "My idols have pole vaulted at UW. Absolutely phenomenal female vaulters, and to be second all-time is ridiculous, I don't even know how that happened! It's been really, really fun. It was a really good day."
Prior to this year, the fifth-year senior's lifetime outdoor best was 12-1 ½. Her win was reminiscent of current senior Jared O'Connor, who raised his PR by nearly a foot at last year's Regionals to go from the outside looking in to Regional Champion and second at the national meet. O'Connor will try to defend his title tomorrow afternoon.
"I peaked at the right time and I'm so excited that happened," said Peterson. "I've been battling injuries all year. I'm in awe. I had it in the back of my mind that this could happen because I'd been practicing really well, so as long as practice played over to the meet I felt this could happen."
Head coach Greg Metcalf was thrilled to see things come together for the veteran.
"Watching Andrea Peterson today, that's what this is all about," said Metcalf. "She busts her butt, she works hard and just like that she walks out today as the second-best vaulter in Husky history. Watching her clear 13-5 was a big deal, then watching her get over 13-9, and she stands up out of the pit with sheer elation on her face makes the whole thing worth it."
Four Regional meets around the country this weekend send the top five finishers in each individual event, and top three relays, to the NCAA Championships. The field will be supplemented by at-large bids based on the final descending order lists, provided the athletes were in the top-12 at Regionals.
The first NCAA qualifier of the day for the Dawgs was sophomore Kyle Nielsen in the javelin. Nielsen is ranked seventh nationally but was seeded just fourth in a deep West Region. He would wind up fifth today, earning the final auto bid with a best of 225-feet, 8-inches.
Another NCAA trip was booked soon after by another strong-armed thrower, as sophomore Elisa Bryant placed fifth in the hammer throw in a bit of an upset. Bryant was seeded just 11th coming in, but overtook five women with better marks this year to earn her first national outdoor bid. Her best throw was her second, which traveled 188-10. Sixth-place was just three inches short of Bryant and seventh was three inches short of that. She also set a big PR in the discus later in the day, throwing 165-2 to finish eighth. That mark was a seven-foot best.
"I'm really happy I was able to squeeze in the hammer, unfortunately I couldn't really do it for the disc. I hurt my groin on my second throw, but regardless I just couldn't really get it together on the last three throws, which is hard but I PR'd so I can't be too mad."
Bryant has thrived when it matters most. Back at the NCAA Indoor Championships, she PR'd in the women's weight throw to finish eighth and earn All-America honors. Now she'll have a chance to do the same in the hammer.
"Elisa we thought coming in she might have a shot because of the competitor that she is," said Metcalf. "She had to battle through severe allergies and for her to come out and qualify is great for her and great for the team. She's just a sophomore and every time you send a youngster to the NCAA Championships is great for development and gets you in the right direction."
Washington's last two qualifiers today are no strangers to the national scene. Five-time All-American Katie Follett maneuvered her way to a second-place finish in the 5,000-meter final in 16:24.52. Close behind was junior Anita Campbell who secured the third NCAA bid of her career in the 5k with a fourth-place finish in 16:25.49. Campbell will also qualify in the 10k.
The Husky men's 4x100m relay, second at this meet last year, moved through to the final with the day's fourth-best prelim time of 40.49 seconds. Jeff Gudaitis led off, handing to Kenjamine Jackson, followed by Randy Bacon and Joe Turner on the anchor leg.
In the women's 1,500-meters, both Huskies entered moved safely through to tomorrow's final. Automatic spots in the finals were given to the top four finishers in each heat. In the first heat, freshman Christine Babcock stuck with the leaders throughout, and placed fourth in 4:24.03. Junior Kailey Campbell also grabbed the fourth auto spot in the second heat, running 4:23.58.
Next came the men's 1,500-meters, where senior Austin Abbott needed a top-three heat finish to be sure to advance. Two runners broke away early, so the pack was battling for one auto spot. Abbott pushed into the lead of the chase pack on the final turn and held on for third-place in 3:47.01. That was the third-best mark overall. Freshman Joey Bywater was seventh in the second heat and will not advance.
Junior Falesha Ankton just missed out on the final in the 100m hurdles. Eight women qualified and she posted the ninth-best time of 13.62 seconds. Also just barely missing the final was senior Joe Turner in the 200-meter dash. Turner ran 21.42, which tied for the eighth and final spot, but when the times were taken out to the thousandths of a second, Turner was short. Junior Jake Schmitt also placed 25th in the men's 5,000-meters.
While Peterson was thrilled to prolong her senior season, fellow senior vaulter Lara Jones was unable to advance. Jones cleared 13-1 3/4 but it was only good for 10th. The Duke transfer had a very successful single season with UW, significantly improving her career-bests and placing in UW's Top-10 both indoors and out.
Saturday's events will include finals in the sprints and mid-distance events, as well as Mel Lawrence in the women's steeple, Brooke Pighin in the women's javelin, Zack Midles and Angus Taylor in the men's hammer, and Scott Roth, Ryan Vu, and Jared O'Connor in the men's pole vault.
Washington Track & Field
2009 NCAA West Regional Championships
May 29, 2009 - Eugene, Ore.
Q - Qualifies for final on place
q - Qualifies for final on time
Men's Results: 200m Dash (Prelim 1 of 3): 4. Joe Turner, 21.42; 400m Dash (Prelim 1 of 2): 2. Jordan Boase, 47.53q; 3. Jeff Gudaitis, 47.60q; 1,500m Run (Prelim 1 of 3): 3. Austin Abbott, 3:47.01Q; (Prelim 2 of 3): 7. Joey Bywater, 3:54.00; 5,000m Run (Final): 25. Jake Schmitt, 14:49.96; 4x100m Relay (Prelim 2 of 2): 2. Washington (Gudaitis, Jackson, Bacon, Turner), 40.49q; Javelin (Final): 5. Kyle Nielsen, 225-8;
Women's Results: 1,500m Run (Prelim 1 of 2): 4. Christine Babcock, 4:24.03q; (Prelim 2 of 2): 4. Kailey Campbell, 4:23.58; 5,000m Run (Final): 2. Katie Follett, 16:24.52; 4. Anita Campbell, 16:25.49; 12. Lauren Saylor, 17:02.12; 19. Kenna Patrick, 17:15.40; 100m Hurdles (Prelim 3 of 3): 4. Falesha Ankton, 13.62; Pole Vault (Final): 2. Andrea Peterson, 13-9 ¾; 10 (tie). Lara Jones, 13-1 ¾; Discus (Final): 8. Elisa Bryant, 165-2; Hammer (Final): 5. Elisa Bryant, 188-10.