June 25, 2005
CARSON, Calif. - Husky senior Kate Soma placed eighth Saturday in the pole vault at the 2005 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Carson, Calif., her best-ever finish in USA Championships competition. Soma's top-10 finish was one of five such placings by current, former or future UW track and field athletes at the four-day meet, which concludes Sunday at the Home Depot Center.
Competing for just the second time as a professional since concluding her collegiate career with an NCAA title two weeks ago, Soma struggled at each of the first two heights, notching third-attempt clearances at 13-5 ¼ and 13-9 ¼, before failing to clear 14-1 ¼ -- her winning height at this month's NCAA Championship meet.
Though she failed to earn a bid to August's IAAF World Championships -- awarded to just the top-three finishers in each event -- she did improve upon her tie for 15th at last year's U.S. Olympic Trials, and earned valuable experience competing against a field that included eight of the top-10 women's vaulters in U.S. history. Soma leaves UW as the most decorated female track athlete in program history, with one NCAA title, two school records and an all-time UW-best five-career All-America honors.
"The conditions were a little tricky today, as they always are here, but I thought Kate made some good attempts," said UW assistant coach Pat Licari, who continues to train both Soma and men's U.S. champion Brad Walker, also a former Husky. "To get eighth in this field says a lot about how far she can go in this sport. She's got a lot ahead of her."
Two other Huskies competed Saturday, with UW signee Zack Midles taking fourth in the junior men's hammer throw, and sophomore All-American Ashley Lodree advancing to semi-final action in the open women's 100-meter hurdles.
A graduate of Capital High School in Olympia, Midles' fourth-place effort left him one spot shy of a berth at July's Pan-American Games in Windsor, Ontario, his best toss of 199-6 six feet short of the third-place effort of 205-10 by Idaho freshman and former Bremerton High School star Matt Wauters.
The 2004 Junior Olympics champion, Midles ranked third among U.S. preps in 2005 with a season-best throw of 222-8 that would have placed the UW freshman-to-be third at this year's NCAA Championships. Midles is the younger brother of 2005 Pac-10 hammer champion Adam Midles of USC, and the son of former WSU star Dwight Midles.
"We're super-excited that Zack wants to wear the purple-and-gold next year," said third-year UW head coach Greg Metcalf. "Given his family's history in the sport, he knows just what it takes to succeed at the highest level."
Lodree, meanwhile, earned one of 18 berths in Sunday's 100-meter hurdles semi-final, her preliminary time of 13.33 seconds the 13th-fastest overall. The Richmond, Calif., native placed fifth in the hurdles at the NCAA Championships two weeks ago, earning her second-career All-America honor.
With one day still remaining at the four-day meet, Washington athletes have already combined for one U.S. title and three World Championships berths. Spokane's Brad Walker, a 2004 UW grad, won the men's open pole vault Thursday night, while two-time U.S. discus champion Aretha Thurmond -- the former Aretha Hill -- placed third in the women's open discus, and former Husky Rob Minnitti took third in the men's open javelin.
For complete schedules and results for the 2005 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, visit www.usatf.org.