June 9, 2007
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Washington senior Ryan Brown capped his illustrious UW career with a third-place national finish in the 800-meters Saturday, leading Washington's men to its highest team finish in 22 years at the 2007 NCAA Track and Field Championships.
Brown was one of six Washington athletes to earn All-America honors at the four-day meet at Sacramento State's Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex, which concluded Saturday.
The reigning NCAA outdoor and indoor champion in the event, Brown was boxed inside early in the race, and forced to drop all the way back to last place at the 400-meter mark to find a clear lane in which to sprint to the front. The Renton High School graduate unleashed his patented finishing kick with 300 meters to go - about 100 meters earlier than usual - and climbed all the way to third before falling just three-tenths of a second shy of his third-straight NCAA 800-meter crown.
Michigan senior Andrew Ellerton - the runner-up to Ryan at March's NCAA indoor meet - led the last 200 meters for his first NCAA win in 1 minute, 47.48 seconds, ahead of Elais Koech of UTEP at 1:47.70 and Brown at 1:47.77.
"I definitely didn't get out well, and had a hard time getting back up to the front," said Brown, whose finish snapped a year-long streak of victories in 800-meter finals, dating back to the 2006 NCAA West Regional. "When we came into the straight, Andrew, Elias and I were all going all-out for the finish line, and I just came up short. I think if I had gotten a better start, I might have been able to catch them, but I just didn't have enough left in the tank."
Brown's third-place performance Saturday caps one of the most distinguished careers in UW track and field history, including two NCAA titles, two Pac-10 titles, three NCAA West Regional crowns and nine All-America honors.
Only one Husky - seven-time NCAA champion Scott Neilson - has earned more national crowns, and only Olympic sprinter Ja'Warren Hooker boasts more career All-America awards (10).
Perhaps most remarkable is that Brown accomplished all this despite competing just one year of high-school track, and after walking away from the sport for a year following his freshman season in 2003, citing a desire to focus on school over sports.
"I'm really happy with what I've achieved in my career," Brown said. "When I first came back after taking that year off, I never would have thought I'd reach this point, being a nine-time All-American. It's really special, and something no one can ever take away from me.
"I've won twice before, so I'm OK not winning today," he continued. "You can't win them all. Andrew's a great runner and deserved to win one."
Brown was one of six Huskies to earn All-America honors at the four-day meet, including five UW men. Those outstanding performances - including a third-place long jump finish for junior Norris Frederick, a sixth-place hammer finish for senior Martin Bingisser, an eighth-place pole vault finish for freshman Scott Roth and a 10th-place finish for quarter hurdler James Fredrickson - lifted the 11th-ranked UW men into a tie for 15th in the final team standings with 16 points, equal to No. 14 Baylor and No. 15 Oklahoma.
Senior Ashley Lodree's third-place hurdles finish Friday scored three points for the UW women, who tied for 59th place overall.
The Huskies' men's team finish was its highest at the NCAA outdoor meet since 1985, and capped a banner year for the UW men's team, which placed 12th at the 2006 NCAA Cross Country Championships and seventh at the 2007 NCAA Indoor Championships, and won its second-consecutive indoor track conference title.
"It's been a great year for our men's program, and our women's team has accomplished some terrific things, too," said fifth-year head coach Greg Metcalf, who has now coached 30 distance runners to All-America honors in his 10 years directing UW's distance program, and has mentored 50 All-Americans team-wide in his five years as head coach.
"We're increasing the profile of Washington track and field every year, to the point that people expect us to come to this meet and be a contender," he said. "I like that our guys feel like they could have done more at this meet, and aren't happy with how we finished - that tells me that the expectation has changed, where our team now expects to be contending for national titles. Most of these young men and women will be back next year and that attitude has me excited at the thought of what they can accomplish."
For links to live results, a live event blog and daily photo galleries from the NCAA Championships, visit www.GoHuskies.com.
NCAA Track and Field Championships Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex; Sacramento, Calif. June 6-9, 2007
Top-10 Men's Teams: 1. Florida State 54, 2. LSU 48, 3. Auburn 34, 4. Tennessee 30.5, 5. USC 27, 6. North Carolina 26, t7. Louisville 22, Wisconsin 22; 9. UCLA 21, 10. Oregon 20, t15. Washington 16. Men's Results (UW Only) - 800m Run (Final): 3. Ryan Brown, 1:47.77
Top-10 Women's Teams: 1. Arizona State 60, 2, LSU 53; 3. Michigan 36, 4. Texas A&M 34, 5. UCLA 30, 6. Texas 29, 7. USC 27, 8. California 26, 9. Georgia 24, t10. Stanford 23, Georgia Tech 23, t59. Washington 3.