March 9, 2012
NAMPA, Idaho - Washington's distance medley relay made history tonight with the first NCAA Indoor Championship in the history of the UW women's program. Chelsea Orr, Jordan Carlson, Baylee Mires, and Katie Flood ran to the national title tonight at Jacksons Track on day one of the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships, with Flood bringing home the win with a scintillating final lap.
While the UW men's program has won nine NCAA Indoor titles in its history, this is the first ever for the women. It is the first NCAA title in a running event for Washington since Ryan Brown won the 800-meter title indoors in 2007, and the first for the Husky women on the track since Amy Lia won the 1,500-meter title outdoors in 2006. It is also the first NCAA title in a relay event of any sort for Washington since men's mile relay in 1975.
The Huskies came into the race with the top time in the field, after running a school record 10:55.01 two weeks ago to win the MPSF Championship. Tonight's race on the banked track was not as quick, and the pace slowed considerably at the start of the final 1,600-meter leg. That let Flood (Des Moines, Iowa/Dowling Catholic) get up into the lead pack after she took the baton in eighth.
Flood moved up to third with three laps to go, and went into the final lap in second place behind Georgetown. Flood moved into the lead on the penultimate turn and continued accelerating, not allowing any hope for the teams behind her. She pulled away for a win by five meters, stopping the clock in 11:05.20. Flood's final split of 4:34.02 for 1,600-meters was easily the fastest in the field.
Orr, the sophomore from Sammamish and an Eastlake High School grad, led off for UW on the 1,200-meter leg. She clocked 3:27.48 to put the Huskies in eighth-place about four seconds back. Carlson, a Spokane native and Shadle Park product, then made up some ground on the 400-meter leg, especially over the last 100-meters. She split 54.16 and put the Huskies in sixth on the next hand-off.
Another Spokane native, freshman Baylee Mires of Mead, carried for 800-meters at her first NCAA Championships. She ran 2:09.55 and handed to Flood in eighth-place but still very much in contact.
"I think we did everything we needed to do to give us a chance to win at the end," said Head Coach Greg Metcalf. "Chelsea Orr ran very solid and did a great job at her first NCAA meet . Jordan maneuvered through traffic and ran a really great 400-meter leg for us. Then for Baylee to run 2:09, all we talked about was getting the stick to Katie to give us a shot."
Going into her final leg, Flood said "there was probably a three or four second gap. Baylee came in and she held them of and stayed right where she needed to be for the handoff and I was excited. The girl went out actually pretty slow for the first couple laps which really worked out well for me because I was able to close pretty quickly.
Metcalf said of his anchor, "Katie was patient, didn't overextend herself through the first 400. She made great tactical decisions. She covered the right moves. She made one decisive move off the last corner to seal it up. It's just a testament to Katie Flood, who said at the beginning of the season that if she had one thing to do it would be to win the DMR at the NCAA Championships."
Just missing another point for the Husky women tonight was sophomore Megan Goethals, who placed ninth in the 5,000-meters final in a time of 16:12.89. Goethals was in the top through the first 2k, but slipped back in the second third of the race, only to dig down and sprint to the finish to pass Stanford's Kathy Kroeger at the line for ninth. It is her second straight top-10 finish in an NCAA 5,000-meter final, going with a sixth-place finish outdoors last spring.
Right before the women's DMR, the Husky men's distance medley relay made its first appearance at the NCAA meet since 2007. But misfortune struck the Dawgs on the first leg, as senior Ryan Soberanis was tripped and fell with a Villanova runner on the last lap of his 1,200-meter leg. Villanova would not finish the race, but the Huskies did stay in it. Still, UW had a gap of 100-meters to make up, and despite the best efforts of sophomore Maurice McNeal, sophomore Brad Whitley, and junior Joey Bywater, the Dawgs were unable to get back to the pack and wound up 10th in 10:02.96. Still, the group will earn All-America Second Team honors.
Starting things off today was freshman pole vaulter J.J. Juilfs, the Eugene, Oregon native, who was one of just two true freshmen competing at nationals. He got his first NCAA clearance on his second attempt at the opening bar of 17-0 ¾. Moving up to 17-4 ½, Juilfs missed on his first two tries, going to a third and final attempt. The third jump was the best, and he had great height and form, but he bumped the bar on his way up and it went down, ending his first NCAAs.
Saturday the Huskies will be focused on just one race, the women's 3,000-meters, which will feature Flood and Goethals at 8:10 p.m. local time.
2012 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships
Nampa, Idaho - Jacksons Track
March 9, 2012 - Day One of Two
Washington Women's Results
Distance Medley Relay (Final): 1. Washington (Chelsea Orr, Jordan Carlson, Baylee Mires, Katie Flood), 11:05.20 (NCAA Champions); 5,000-meters (Final): 9. Megan Goethals, 16:12.89.
Washington Men's Results
Distance Medley Relay (Final): 10. Washington (J.J. Juilfs, 17-0 ¾.