May 26, 2011
NCAA WEST PRELIMINARIES
May 26-28 Eugene, Ore. Hayward Field
Live Webcast: www.GoDucks.com
EUGENE, Ore. - Two weeks ago at the Pac-10 Championships, senior Kyle Nielsen had to deal with falling one podium spot short of his goal of winning the conference title in the javelin. Today, on day one of the NCAA West Preliminary Championships, Nielsen unleashed any lingering frustration on his first throw, which sailed a school record 253-feet, 5-inches, and brought an awed roar from the Hayward Field crowd.
Today at the massive meet hosted by Oregon, Nielsen, fellow javelin All-American Joe Zimmerman, and six-time All-American pole vaulter Scott Roth all secured their trips to the final site of the NCAA Championships, held June 8-11 in Des Moines, Iowa. The West Prelims feature fields of 48 athletes in each individual event, and the top-12 get to continue their seasons.
Nielsen has been chasing Darryl Roberson's 1989 school record of 249-6 for the past three years, since he first earned All-America honors as a sophomore. His previous career-best was 247-1, coming in 2010. This year, Nielsen had been impressively consistent, but had yet to land a huge throw, with a season-best of 239-11. That changed on throw one, and Nielsen followed it up with another big bomb of 246-6, before passing his final three attempts.
"First meet this year that I've really felt a hundred percent on. As soon as I was on the runway for that first throw everything felt in the right position, I felt totally prepared. I'm happy I finally got that," said the Langley, British Columbia native. "Working on my attack angle, working on lowering my release because I'd been throwing a little too high this year, and on the runway I hit my steps right and everything fell together."
Zimmerman had the reverse series of throws compared to Nielsen. He was right on the bubble after three throws, sitting in 12th with a best to that point of 218-9. In the fourth round, he was momentarily passed and dropped to 13th, but Zimmerman's fourth throw got out to 228-0 and jumped him safely up to eighth. He improved again on his fifth throw, going 235-1 as he found the range, and winding up in sixth to earn his second NCAA finals trip. Nielsen and Zimmerman were third and fourth at the NCAA Championships a year ago.
Roth, bouncing back from a disappointing fourth-place Pac-10 finish, did not enter the pole vault competition until the bar had been raised to just over 17-feet. This saved him some energy, as he is battling an illness, but also was risky as he had three shots to make that one bar or he was done. Roth's first attempt got him sideways and he dislodged the bar, but he was over with a foot to spare on his second attempt in the rainy conditions. That secured him a top-12 finish and the competition was halted without going to a higher bar, making Roth's seventh-place finish entirely irrelevant.
In an event more prone to upsets than just about any other, as Roth can attest after he only finished fourth at the Pac-10 meet despite having the best clearance in the U.S., the senior from Granite Bay, Calif. has managed to work his way to the NCAA Championships all four years of his career both indoors and out, making for eight total national meet appearances. He will be aiming for his first career NCAA Outdoor title to go with his two indoors.
The highlight of the day for the women's squad was the great first round runs of sophomore Justine Johnson and freshman Katie Flood in the 1,500-meters. Johnson was up first in the third of four heats, and used a big surge on the second to last turn to move up to the front and coast to third place to get one of the automatic advancing places. Flood then followed suit, and broke clear on the backstretch of the final lap to place second in the fourth heat to make the quarterfinals. They will look to get one of the twelve spots to NCAAs on Saturday.
Right after Johnson and Flood moved on, sophomore Joey Bywater was up in the men's 1,500-meters. Heading into the bell lap, the Lake Stevens, Wash. native was back in the pack but looked determined. He steadily moved up throughout the final lap then kicked on the outside to grab fourth in his heat and earn the auto qualifying spot to the quarters in 3:48.47, one of his top races of the year.
Other Huskies advancing through the first rounds to the quarterfinals were sophomore James Alaka in the 100-meter dash and freshman Maurice McNeal in the 400-meter dash. Alaka, the Pac-10 Champion, took second in his heat in 10.54 seconds to survive and advance, while McNeal was third in his heat in 47.22 seconds, leaving plenty in the tank for Friday's final.
Senior Dominique Lauderdale saw her standout Husky career end just a bit too soon today in the 100-meter dash first round. She placed fourth in her heat in a time of 11.83 seconds, while 11.75 was the last time to make the cut. Lauderdale finishes fourth on UW's all-time Top-10 list in the 100m with her PR this year of 11.57 seconds.
The last event of the night for the Huskies was the women's 10,000-meter run with sophomore Lindsay Flanagan putting in the long run. Flanagan ran solid and battled the whole way, finishing 18th in the field of 48 runners in a time of 34:04.13.
Junior Ryan Styrk narrowly missed out on a spot in the quarterfinals in the men's 800-meter run, as he grit his teeth to finish sixth in his heat in 1:50.81, which wound up 25th in the field of 48. Redshirt freshman Gareth Gilna also was unable to move on, placing eighth in the third heat of the evening.
Junior school record-holder Amanda Peterson came in as one of the favorites to advance to Des Moines, but she struggled to find her form today, throwing 10-feet shorter than she had all season. She made the finals, earning the full six throws, but could not improve on her best of 156-8, which placed her 15th overall. Sophomore Jordin Seekins also had a rough series, throwing just 113-11, well under her usual standards.
Freshman Kayla Stueckle was the first Husky on the track, and after a great first half of the race, she lost momentum around the last two turns to end up sixth in her 400-meter hurdles heat in 1:01.34, which did not move on. Also having a tough break was junior Jordan Carlson, who just after setting the school record in the 400-meters at the UW-WSU dual meet, suffered a hamstring tear that forced her out of Pac-10s. She made an attempt to go today but pulled up on the backstretch after aggravating the injury.
The first male athlete on the field was sophomore Julian Bardwell in the men's long jump. Bardwell only got one clean jump off, and went 20-8 ½ to bring his season to a close.
The meet continues through Saturday, and Friday's action will be packed with Huskies in all five field events and finals on the track in the men's 400-meters, 100-meters, and 3,000-meter steeplechase.
NCAA Track & Field Championships - West Preliminaries
Day One of Three
Eugene, Ore. - Hayward Field
100-meters (Heat 5 of 6): 2. James Alaka 10.54 (advances to quarterfinals); 400-meters (Heat 3 of 6): 3. Maurice McNeal 47.22 (advances to quarterfinals); 800-meters (Heat 2 of 6): 6. Ryan Styrk 1:50.81 (does not advance); (Heat 3 of 6): 8. Gareth Gilna 1:57.83 (does not advance); 1,500-meters (Heat 2 of 4): 4. Joey Bywater 3:48.47 (advances to quarterfinals); Long Jump (Final; Top-12 to Iowa): 46. Julian Bardwell 20-8 ½; Pole Vault (Final; Top-12 to Iowa): 7th (tie). Scott Roth 17-0 ¾; 27th. Robby Fegles 16-6 ¾; Javelin (Final; Top-12 to Iowa): 1. Kyle Nielsen 253-5; 6. Joe Zimmerman 235-1.
100-meters (Heat 3 of 6): 4. Dominique Lauderdale 11.83 (does not advance); 400-meters (Heat 4 of 6): -- Jordan Carlson DNF (does not advance); 1,500-meters (Heat 3 of 4): 3. Justine Johnson 4:24.31 (advances to quarterfinals); (Heat 4 of 4): 2. Katie Flood 4:22.45 (advances to quarterfinals); 10,000-meters (Final; Top-12 to Iowa): 18. Lindsay Flanagan 34:04.13; 400-meter Hurdles (Heat 6 of 6): 6. Kayla Stueckle 1:01.34 (does not advance); Javelin (Final; Top-12 to Iowa): 15. Amanda Peterson 156-8; 46. Jordin Seekins 113-11.