June 12, 2004
AUSTIN, Texas - Washington's women's track and field team earned its best national finish in 16 years Saturday, tying Auburn for 18th at the NCAA Track and Field Championships at Texas' Mike A. Myers Stadium. Two Huskies earned All-America honors at the four-day meet, which concluded Saturday at Texas' Mike A. Myers Stadium.
A win in the meet's final event, the 4x400-meter relay, wasn't enough to propel defending champion LSU past UCLA, which earned its first NCAA outdoor title since 1983 by a 69-68 margin. Washington's 13 points were fourth among Pac-10 schools, and were the most scored by a UW women's team since a 26-point, 10th-place effort in 1988. Defending men's champion Arkansas ran away with its 10th title in the last 13 years, the Razorbacks' 65.5 points well ahead of Florida's second-place 49-point total. Washington's men did not score.
"Our last two years have been two of the best in the history of our women's program," said head coach Greg Metcalf, who in two years as coach has guided the Husky women to 22 points at the national meet, equaling the team's total from the previous 11 years combined. "We know now that we are capable of coming to this meet and making an impact. Now, it's a matter of getting even more folks qualified for this meet, so that we can take that next step."
Junior Kate Soma took second in Friday's pole vault, and senior Megan Spriestersbach was fourth in Friday's javelin, both earning All-America honors. Both Soma and Spriestersbach, along with former Husky pole vaulter Brad Walker, are qualified for the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials, July 9-18 in Sacramento, Calif. Washington's track and field squad has qualified at least one competitor for all but three Olympic Games since 1952, including three in 2000.
The Huskies' record finish at the NCAA Championships capped another banner year for Washington's fast-rising track program. Since the start of the 2004 season in January, Husky track and field athletes have combined to earn one NCAA title, one Pac-10 title, and five All-America honors, while setting nine school records and placing several athletes among the top-10 on world junior and senior lists.
"Looking back at this year, I think you have to be happy with a lot of what we accomplished -- improving our team scores at both the Pac-10 and NCAA meets, and setting a number of school records," Metcalf said. "Most importantly, we kept the momentum going from last year, which marked a big step forward for our program. We're getting closer to where we want to be, in position to consistently place among the top teams in our conference, every year."
All but two of the Huskies' nine NCAA competitors return in 2005, including all three women's pole vaulters, each of whom placed among the top-14 at this week's meet. Additionally, the Husky women return athletes responsible for 62 of their 67 points at the 2004 Pac-10 Championships, while the UW men lose just eight of their 45 Pac-10 Championships points.
"The group we have coming back next year, combined with the folks we're bringing in, is a group capable of doing some serious damage at this meet next year," said Metcalf. "I know the 2004 season just ended tonight, but I don't think it's too early to start getting excited for 2005."
For complete results from the 2004 NCAA Track and Field Championships, visit www.ncaasports.com.