March 22, 2003
SEATTLE - At a track and field invitational renamed this year in honor of legendary Husky throws coach Ken Shannon, five UW throwers earned qualifying marks Saturday for the first-ever NCAA Regional Track and Field Championships, to be held in May. In addition to the five NCAA Regional qualifiers, Washington opened its outdoor season by winning 15 events at Saturday's Ken Shannon Invitational at Husky Stadium.
Shannon, who in 30 years as head coach at Washington mentored 12 NCAA Champions and numerous Olympians, was on hand for the meet, which saw slanting rain and a persistent wind hold down marks by both the Huskies and their Northwest collegiate foes.
Not bothered by the wind at all, however, was Washington's javelin corps, which in their 2003 debut produced four of the six NCAA Regional qualifiers. Huskies swept the top two spots on the men's side, with sophomores Rigel Wise and Juan Romero each achieving marks greater than 200 feet. Wise's heave of 204 feet, 4 inches was five feet beyond his previous best, and two feet beyond Romero's runner-up mark of 201-1.
The women performed a similar sweep, with senior Heather Reichmann taking top honors with a throw of 142-10. Just behind the former Husky basketball player was prep All-American Tiffany Zahn, who qualified for the NCAA Regional meet with a throw of 138-5 in her UW debut.
Also excelling at the meet was senior Mat Schwinn. Schwinn earned an NCAA Regional berth as well with a winning throw of 170-1 in the discus that was well beyond both the regional and Pac-10 Championships standards.
The 2003 season is the first in which the NCAA will hold Regional Championships to determine qualifying for the NCAA Championships, in June. The field for the NCAA Championships will be comprised of the top five individual finishers and top three relays from each Regional, with the highest-ranked non-qualifying athletes on the national performance lists filling out the heats. In past years, berths in the NCAA Championship field were based solely upon the national performance lists.
Pole vaulter Kate Soma's winning mark of 12-feet, 11 1/2 inch, initially reported as a stadium record and NCAA Regional qualifying mark, is in fact neither, as the event was conducted indoors due to inclement weather.
The Huskies will take to the road as a team next week for the first time in 2003, traveling to Palo Alto, Calif, for the annual Stanford Invitational, Mar. 29-30.