March 12, 2004
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Washington junior Kate Soma earned her second-career All-America honor Friday, tying for fifth in the pole vault at the 2004 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships at Arkansas' Randal Tyson Track Center. Four of the Huskies' five NCAA qualifiers were in action on the first day of the two-day meet, which concludes Saturday.
In addition to Soma's fifth-place pole vault finish, freshman Ashley Lodree placed 13th in the 60-meter hurdles, sophomore Ingvill Makestad placed 15th in the women's mile, and senior Eric Garner qualified for Saturday's men's mile final.
Garner and defending NCAA champion pole vaulter Brad Walker will conclude the Huskies' competition at the meet on Saturday.
The eighth-ranked vaulter in Pac-10 history, Soma entered Friday's competition seeking to finish what she started at the 2003 NCAA outdoor meet, when, in seventh place, she was forced to retire after lacerating her hand on a broken pole.
The Portland, Ore., native needed just one attempt at each of her first three heights, and stood tied for first entering attempts at 13-7 1/4, a height one inch beyond Soma's UW school-record best. While four vaulters successfully cleared the height, Soma narrowly missed on all three of her school-record attempts, including a second-attempt miss in which the bar bounced up slightly and momentarily settled back onto its supports, before eliciting a gasp from the crowd as it slipped to the floor.
The junior's All-America honor was the first-ever indoors by a Husky women's vaulter, and the first for any Husky woman indoors since 1994. The performance also established Soma as the Huskies' first two-time female All-American since Aretha Hill earned the last of her four career honors in 1998.
"Every time the pressure's on, Kate steps up," said second-year head coach Greg Metcalf. "I couldn't be prouder of her today."
Senior Eric Garner also stepped up to the pressure Friday, earning one of 10 spots in Saturday's final of the men's mile.
After missing the NCAA mile final in 2002 as a result of a slow heat, Garner took matters into his own hands Friday, charging to the front so as to set his own pace. As the pack, led by NCAA leader Chris Mulvaney of Arkansas, surged forward with 300 meters remaining, Garner held on for a fifth-place finish, his time of 4 minutes, 3.22 seconds the eighth-fastest among the two preliminary heats.
One of just two four-minute milers in Washington history, Garner will seek his second-career All-America accolade Saturday at 6:25 p.m. CST.
"Eric's been here before and knew exactly what he needed to do," Metcalf says. "Now he's got a chance tomorrow to go out and show some of the nation's top milers what he's made of."
Rounding out the Huskies' first-day competition were Makestad and Lodree, each making their NCAA debuts.
Norway's reigning 800-meter national champion, Makestad was shuffled to the back early in the first heat of the women's mile, and could only watch as NCAA record-holder Tiffany McWilliams of Mississippi State pulled the pack away. The sophomore's time of 4:53.37 was good for 15th overall, trailing by 12 seconds the final qualifying time of 4:41.27.
Also making her NCAA Championships debut was 60-meter hurdler Ashley Lodree (Richmond, Calif.), who entered the meet as the nation's highest-ranked freshman with a school-record best of 8.19 seconds. Lodree placed fifth in her preliminary heat Friday in 8.29 seconds, faster than all but one other woman in UW history, and 14th in the NCAA field.
For complete resutls of the 2003 NCAA Indoor Track annd Field Championships, visit www.ncaasports.com.