May 28, 2011
NCAA WEST PRELIMINARIES
May 26-28 Eugene, Ore. Hayward Field
EUGENE, Ore. - The Huskies padded their ranks for the trip to the NCAA Track & Field Championships final site today, led by some terrific efforts from a pair of freshmen women and gritty runs from the men's sprinters. After all is said and done at the three-day meet at Hayward Field, a total of eleven Huskies will be heading to Des Moines, Iowa where the national titles will be decided from June 8-11.
NCAAs will be a homecoming for freshman Katie Flood, a Des Moines native and graduate of Dowling Catholic High School who won handfuls of state championships and Drake Relay titles at the same stadium where she'll be competing in two weeks.
The idea of running at home might have flashed through her mind once more on the final lap of the first of two 1,500-meter quarterfinal heats. Flood looked all but out with 400-meters to go, but began to push forward on the backstretch, then suddenly she found a final bit of life and she charged down the homestretch to pass four or five runners and grab the fifth and final automatic qualifying spot out of her heat. Flood finished in 4:23.44 to earn her trip home.
"It was kind of a crazy race," said Flood. "I think I was in 10th position for the majority of it. I kind of let myself out of it mentally. At the end I just thought I'll just kick as hard as I can and see what happens, and when I looked up and saw I was fifth it was kind of a surprise, but I'm happy. It was lucky, but I'm glad I made it.
"I'm really excited to go home. To run in front of my friends and my family, it will be great. No matter what happens, it will be fun."
Sophomore Justine Johnson attempted to join Flood in the second quarterfinal heat. Her race was similar, as she was near the back of the pack of twelve women for most of the race. Johnson dug in and passed a few competitors in the final hundred meters, but it wasn't quite enough as she placed ninth in 4:25.46.
The final Husky woman in action was freshman Megan Goethals in the women's 5,000-meters, which was split into two heats of 24 athletes, with the top-five automatically advancing in each heat. Goethals had part of the lead for much of the first five laps, but did not want to make a significant move as she had in her runner-up Pac-10 finish. Other runners relieved her of leading duties and she settled into the front of the pack for the second phase of the race.
Heading into the final two laps, a group of five runners, with Goethals in the mix, broke away from the rest of the group, and then two more dropped off as Goethals looked around and seemed to like the situation she saw. Around the final turns, Goethals made a move past Oregon's Jordan Hasay, who beat her for the Pac-10 title, and crossed the line first in 16:02.64, a new personal-best even in the wind and cold.
"It went out really slow, and I was getting nervous because I didn't want to waste my energy but if it didn't start going it would just be a last lap kind of race," said the freshman from Rochester, Michigan. "With about three laps left I was getting pretty tired, but I didn't want to get dropped so I hung on and then just fought for the lead on the last stretch."
Goethals and Flood were UW's only two NCAA qualifiers indoors this season, and they'll be heading to Outdoor Nationals together now as well, joined by pole vaulter Logan Miller.
Washington's 4x100-meter relay, having impressed all season long, came through once again in the second of three quarterfinal races today. Running on the outside in late eight, the foursome of Maurice McNeal, James Alaka, Colton Dunn, and Ryan Hamilton weren't quite as smooth with their passes as they were at Pac-10s, but they got the stick around safely in 40.29 seconds, which was third in their heat to automatically move on to Iowa. This is the third time in the last four years that the Husky 4x1 is heading to the final NCAA site.
Alaka was back on the track soon after to run the 200-meter dash. He won the Pac-10 title in that event, as he did in 100-meters, but Alaka was clearly not his usual self on Friday when he failed to advance to the final site in the 100m.
Today, Alaka got out well in the 200-meters, but couldn't find his usual top gear, and he wound up fifth in his heat in 21.17 seconds, which started a waiting game to see if his time would be one of the three fastest times outside of the top-three in each heat to advance. Alaka got the good news after the final heat that he would be the 11th of the 12 qualifiers. He talked afterwards about the toll the Pac-10 meet took on him, where he pushed himself to the wins despite battling a cold. He said he hasn't fully bounced back yet, but now with the two extra weeks he hopes to be back at his best in Des Moines.
In the men's 1,500-meters, sophomore Joey Bywater capped off a big comeback season for him on the track with a solid ninth-place effort in the second of the two quarterfinals. Bywater ran 3:49.74 and won't advance, but he's now officially among the top-20 milers milers in the West, having come a long way since his redshirt season a year ago when he was suffering through some unattached races in Seattle.
Junior Max O'Donoghue-McDonald was in the 5,000-meters for the second straight year, and again he ran steady and consistent and closed out his season in 15th position out of the 24 entrants, running 14:12.00. Senior Colton Tully-Doyle did not have the dream ending to his career, as he appeared to tweak something in his leg in the latter third of the next 5k heat, and he was unable to finish. Tully-Doyle was in 11th-place at the time. He earned All-America honorable mention this year in the 3,000-meters.
Elisa Bryant had a disappointing day in the women's discus, coming off an excellent showing two weeks ago at Pac-10s. She fouled her first attempt and got a short mark on attempt two. Her third was her best, but it was just 147-4, over 20 feet short than her PR from two weeks ago.
Freshman Kasen Covington wrapped his strong first season in the triple jump. The Boise, Idaho native had nearly identical jumps on his first two attempts, the best a mark of 48-11 ¾, but he pulled up on his third approach, feeling some pain. He ended up 32nd overall.
The final even of the weekend was the men's discus. Sophomore Conner Larned tossed 163-7 on his second attempt but fouled his first and third throws and was unable to make it to the final sixteen to earn three more throws.
NCAA Track & Field Championships - West Preliminaries
Day Three of Three - May 28, 2011
Eugene, Ore. - Hayward Field
200-meters (Quarterfinal 2 of 3): 5. James Alaka 21.17 (Advances To Iowa); 1,500-meters (Quarterfinal 2 of 2): 9. Joey Bywater 3:49.74 (Does Not Advance); 5,000-meters (Heat 1 of 2): 15. Max O'Donoghue-McDonald 14:12.00 (Does Not Advance); (Heat 2 of 2): -- Colton Tully-Doyle DNF (Does Not Advance); 4x100-meter relay (Quarter final 2 of 3): 3. Mcneal/Alaka/Dunn/Hamilton 40.29 (Advances To Iowa); Triple Jump (Final; Top-12 to Iowa): 32. Kasen Covington 48-11 ¾; Discus (Final; Top-12 to Iowa): (Still ongoing). Conner Larned 163-7.
1,500-meters (Quarterfinal 1 of 2): 5. Katie Flood 4:23.44 (Advances To Iowa); (Quarterfinal 2 of 2): 9. Justine Johnson 4:25.46 (Does Not Advance); 5,000-meters (Heat 1 of 2): 1. Megan Goethals 16:02.64 (Advances To Iowa); Discus (Final; Top-12 to Iowa): 39. Elisa Bryant 147-4.
Huskies Qualifying For The NCAA Final Site In Des Moines, Iowa:
James Alaka - 200-meters
Maurice McNeal - 400-meters
Kyle Nielsen - Javelin
Scott Roth - Pole Vault
Jeremy Taiwo - Decathlon
Joe Zimmerman - Javelin
Maurice McNeal, James Alaka, Colton Dunn, Ryan Hamilton - 4x100-meter Relay