Jan. 15, 2011
SEATTLE - The Husky track team opened up the doors of the Dempsey for the UW Indoor Preview today, the first of six major track meets on the slate over the next two full months. By noon today, fans had already witnessed two new facility records, and a third was added later in the evening, a sign of a thrilling season to come.
Well over a dozen new Huskies donned the purple and gold for the first time today as well, competing amongst a field that numbered over a thousand, and included large contingents from Stanford, Oregon, Eastern Washington, Portland, Portland State, Western Washington, Seattle Pacific, Seattle U., and numerous other teams.
The Huskies showed flashes of outstanding potential in all parts of the Dempsey today, but head coach Greg Metcalf stressed to the team the importance of taking care of themselves physically if that potential as a full team is going to be realized.
"Every year we leave this meet and we talk about where do we go from here. Our men's group, honestly, in five weeks time this group is capable of winning our conference meet, if we are firing on all cylinders," Metcalf stressed. "Our ladies, there's just more we can do, we have to be healthy. Perspective is what this is all about, there are many weeks of training ahead, but two weeks from now I want us to show incremental improvement."
Washington did not have to wait long for its first big PR of the season, as senior Andrew Ferleman charged through the 60-meter hurdles in 8.27 seconds in the prelims, placing fourth overall. Freshman Howard Lao also made his first final, running 8.53 in the prelims.
Do-it-all junior Jeremy Taiwo was as impressive as ever in several events tonight, and he was joined by promising freshman Kale Schmidt, who also was seemingly everywhere tonight, sprinting, throwing, jumping, and teaming with Taiwo for two legs on the night's final race, the 4x400-meter relay. UW's top team tonight consisted of Schmidt, sophomore Dan Sanders, Taiwo, and sophomore Colton Dunn. While the team figures to get nothing but better, the quartet thrilled the remaining fans with a neck and neck battle with Oregon's top team. The full Husky team lined the inside lane to cheer Dunn's efforts, but the Ducks pulled ahead on the backstretch, and held off a late surge by Dunn to win by a couple tenths, with UW taking second in 3:14.51. That time is already faster than any men's 4x4 that the Huskies ran last year, indoors or out.
Taiwo also had a big PR in the shot put, measuring 44-0 ½. Schmidt had great efforts in the jumps, long jumping 22-11 to take fourth in that event and high jumping 6-5 to tie for fourth there as well.
The first two facility records came in the 60-meter dashes. Oregon's English Gardner knocked a hundredth of a second off the women's record, winning in 7.29 seconds. Then pro sprinter Josh Newman turned heads quickly with a record 6.58 second run in the men's final, showing the Dempsey isn't all about the distance events.
But it was a pair of distance superstars, Shalane Flanagan and Lisa Koll, that accounted for the night's final record. Flanagan, arguably the best current American women's distance runner, served as a pace setter for Koll, who graduated last summer after sweeping the NCAA 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter titles her senior year at Iowa State. Flanagan won bronze in the 10k at the 2008 Olympic Games, and was the 2010 New York City Marathon runner-up, the best finish by an American in 20 years.
The two working together were amazing to watch as they hummed around the Dempsey oval. Flanagan eventually gave way and Koll did the rest, breaking the Dempsey 3,000-meter record in a time of 8:53.14, just under the old record set in 2009 by another U.S. Olympian, Jenny Barringer.
The Huskies raced impressively to five of the top six spots in the men's 800-meters. Redshirt freshman Gareth Gilna got the victory in a time of 1:52.37, with James Cameron taking second in 1:52.68, and true freshman Kyle Blume of Seattle's Bishop Blanchet High finishing third in 1:52.71. Ryan Soberanis and Joey Bywater were fifth and sixth as well.
The women's mile saw some solid Husky debuts for new faces. Freshman Chelsea Orr was third in 5:02.21 and sophomore Phoebe Wright, a transfer from Occidental, was fifth in 5:02.86. Freshman Mackenzie Carter also clocked 5:03.07 for sixth-place. In the men's mile, Michael Miller competed unattached but ran a strong 4:12.43 in the top flight. Sophomore Taylor Carlson also dropped more than three seconds from his mile PR, running 4:16.33.
The field events were highlighted by a win in the pole vault from Scott Roth, a regular occurrence in the Dempsey. Roth cleared 17-5, just an average day for the defending NCAA Indoor Champion, but bigger bars should come soon. Senior Ryan Vu was third at 16-7, and Lane College transfer Robby Fegles also went over 16-1, competing unattached. Sophomore Logan Miller led the women's vault group, clearing 12-4 to tie for sixth.
Julian Bardwell, just a redshirt freshman indoors, was third in the long jump with a mark of 23-3 ½, while sophomore Clayton Johnson set an indoor PR by nearly a foot in the triple jump, placing third at 47-5 ¼. NCAA Regional participant Shaniae Lakes was third in the women's triple jump at 38-5 ½, and redshirt freshman Alana Alexander was close behind with a best leap of 38-1 ¼.
Next up for the Dawgs will be the UW Invitational, one of the premier meets anywhere in the country during the indoor season. That meet typically marks the return to racing for a number of Washington's distance standouts as well. The meet begins Friday, Jan. 28, with a number of the distance events as well as the first multi-event competition of the year. The bulk of the meet begins the next morning, Jan. 29, at 9 a.m.