June 5, 2003
Husky seniors Brad Walker and Courtney Inman were named most valuable by a vote of their Washington track and field teammates at Thursday's postseason banquet. It was the first such honor for Walker, but the second for Inman, who was named most valuable in 2002 as well.
A three-time All-American, Walker won the 2003 NCAA indoor championship and was the favorite to win the outdoor title as well before breaking his hand in a training accident two weeks ago. The senior's Pac-10 record vault of 19 feet, 0 1/4 inch at the NCAA indoor meet equaled the third-best vault in the world this season, and is tied for the best by an American vaulter this year. While his outdoor eligibility is exhausted, the Spokane, Wash., native plans to use his one remaining season of indoor eligibility to defend his NCAA title next season, before focusing his attention on qualifying for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
Inman secured her second-straight trip to the NCAA Championships with a third-place finish in the 1,500 meters at last weekend's West Regional Championships. The Abbotsford, B.C., native is the Huskies' school-record holder indoors in both the 800- meter and mile runs, and is the seventh-ranked 1,500-meter runner in Pac-10 Conference history. Inman's 2003 1,500-meter best of 4 minutes, 15.14 seconds is the second-fastest by a Canadian woman this year, and ranks No. 2 all-time in UW history.
"I don't think there was any doubt who our MVPs were this season," said first-year head coach Greg Metcalf before the banquet. "It's too bad that Brad won't be able to finish off his year the way he would have liked, but he's still accomplished more in his collegiate career than most athletes ever dream of. Courtney, meanwhile, just gets faster every time she runs. She's valuable to us not only for the times she runs and races she wins, but for the example she sets for every person on this team."
Senior thrower Kameko Gay, who improved the school's hammer throw record by nearly 20 feet this season, was named women's most inspirational, while junior John Russell earned the same honor from the men's team. A star as a freshman in 1999-2000, Russell fought his way back to the NCAA Championships this season after missing two full seasons with a leg injury.
"I can't imagine our team making better choices for most inspirational," said Metcalf. "How can you not be inspired by a guy like John? He had every reason to give up, but refused, and is now beating the best guys in the country again. As for Kameko, she's never satisfied. If she's thrown the hammer 170 feet, she wants to throw it 180, and then wants to throw it 190. She's always setting a new goal, and never doubts her ability to attain it."
Sophomore middle-distance runner Lindsey Egerdahl, who missed an automatic berth to the NCAA Championships by just one spot at last weekend's NCAA West Regional meet, was named most improved by her UW women's teammates, while sophomores Andrew Robinson and Brandon Bailey shared most improved recognition on the men's side.
"It's hard to call Lindsey most improved, because she was pretty darn good last season, too," Metcalf said. "With so many senior women in the distance events, she's someone we'll be counting on pretty heavily next year. Andrew Robinson, on the other hand, saw a significant jump in his performances from last year to this year, which is a testament to how hard he worked over the summer. The same goes for Brandon Bailey, whose teammates showed by picking him that they recognize how far he's come, and what terrific potential he has."
Nine Husky athletes, including Inman, will wrap up the season next week with the NCAA Track and Field Championships, June 11-14 in Sacramento, Calif.