May 8, 2005
LOS ANGELES - Husky senior Grace Vela rode a season-best mark in the long jump to 5,092 points and a sixth-place finish in the Pac-10 Championships heptathlon Sunday, held at Drake Stadium on the UCLA campus. Vela's finish earned three points for the UW women, who sit fifth in the team standings through one event. All remaining events will be contested next weekend during the main portion of the meet, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.
In addition to earning her second-straight top-six finish in Pac-10 multi-events competition, Vela bettered the provisional-qualifying standard for next month's NCAA Championships. The senior placed fourth in the heptathlon at the Pac-10 meet a year ago, and was the 21st finisher at the NCAA Championships.
The national-record holder in her home nation of Zimbabwe, Vela entered Sunday's final day of competition in sixth place after a 3,058-point first day that included high-scoring marks of 14.40 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles, and 25.45 seconds in the 200-meter dash.
Needing to average 723 points over each of the final three events to top her career-best of 5,225, set in Pac-10 Championships competition a year ago, Vela came out strong in the morning's first event, the long jump. Her season-best mark of 18 feet, 10 3/4 inches earned 777 points and moved Vela briefly into fifth, but a javelin toss of just 102 feet, 7 inches sent the senior back to sixth, where she would ultimately finish.
Sisters Julie and Diana Pickler of Washington State battled throughout the day for the Pac-10 title, with Julie earning 827 points in the day's final event to snatch the victory by just six points, edging her sister 5,569-5,563. Washington State's Katie Miller also scored with a seventh-place finish, giving the Cougars a Pac-10 leading 20 points entering next weekend's competition.
For complete results from this weekend's Pac-10 Championships multi-events, visit www.pac-10.org.