June 1, 2004
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Washington freshman Stevie Marshalek, junior Grace Vela and the Huskies' 4x400-meter relay team were each among the at-large qualifiers for the 2004 NCAA Track and Field Championships, as announced Tuesday by the NCAA. Those seven athletes, including a relay alternate, join the three Huskies who earned automatic NCAA berths at last weekend's West Regional Championships to form a contingent of 10 UW athletes who will compete for All-America accolades in Austin, Texas, at the NCAA meet, June 9-12.
At-large invitations were extended to the highest-ranked competitors not to earn automatic bids at last week's Regional competitions. Automatic bids were given at each Regional to the top-five individuals in each event, and the top-three relays, while approximately 6-7 individuals per event, and 3-5 relays, were added Tuesday.
While the 10 athletes who will make the trip to Austin is more than the nine the UW brought to the 2003 NCAA Championships, Washington narrowly missed adding qualifiers in several other events, including four Huskies who earned sixth-place regional finishes, and five whose rankings were just below the at-large cutoffs.
"It says a lot about the overall depth on our team that we could have so many folks just barely miss making the field, yet still be taking 10 to nationals," said second-year head coach Greg Metcalf. "Those folks who are going, though, are all outstanding individuals, and I think they have a great chance to go score us some points."
Joining pole vaulters Kate Soma and Carly Dockendorf -who finished second and third, respectively, at the regional to qualify automatically for the NCAAs - is at-large qualifier Marshalek (Kent, Wash./Kentlake). The Huskies' freshman record holder at 13 feet, 2 1/4 inch, Marshalek will be making her NCAA Championships debut after being the highest-ranked athlete left out of the field for this year's NCAA indoor meet.
Also making her meet debut will be junior Grace Vela (Toronto, Ont./Vaughan), in her first season at Washington since transferring from Chicago's Lewis University. Currently Canada's third-ranked women's heptathlete, Vela will be the first UW heptathlete at the NCAA meet since Sonja Forster in 1992. Vela's season best of 5,225 points earned fourth at this year's Pac-10 meet, and was just 41 points off Forster's UW record.
Rounding out the at-large list is the 4x400-meter relay squad of Cristian Adams (Lakewood, Wash./Lakewood), Phil McCary (Kirkland, Wash./Juanita), Sean Williams (Kirkland, Wash./Lake Washington) and Bruce Jackson (Seattle, Wash./Nathan Hale), plus a relay alternate, likely senior Todd Arnold (Westport, Wash./Ocosta). The homegrown quartet boasts the nation's 15th-fastest time this season at 3:06.41, third-best in UW history.
For a complete list of athletes selected to compete at the 2004 NCAA meet, visit www.ncaasports.com.
Washington's 2004 NCAA Track and Field Championships Participants Name Event Yr. Hometown (High School) Cristian Adams 4x400m Relay Sr. Lakewood, Wash. (Lakes) Carly Dockendorf* Pole Vault So. Port Moody, B.C. (Best Secondary) Bruce Jackson 4x400m Relay So. Seattle, Wash. (Nathan Hale/Eastern Wash.) Stevie Marshalek Pole Vault Fr. Kent, Wash. (Kentlake) Phil McCary 4x400m Relay So. Kirkland, Wash. (Juanita) Grace Chenesai Vela Heptathlon Jr. Toronto, Ont. (Vaughan/Lewis Univ.) Megan Spriestersbach* Javelin Sr. Lakewood, Wash. (Bellarmine Prep) Sean Williams 4x400m Relay Jr. Kirkland, Wash. (Lake Washington) Kate Soma* Pole Vault Jr. Portland, Ore. (Grant)
* indicates automatic qualifier ^ list does not include relay alternate