May 14, 2004
TUCSON, Ariz. - Washington placed two competitors each among the top-five finishers in the javelin and steeplechase Friday at the Pac-10 Championships, placing the UW women fifth entering the final day of Championships competition at Arizona's Roy P. Drachman Stadium.
Arizona State took the day one lead on the women's side with 56 points, ahead of Stanford (55), USC (38) and UCLA (39.5). Oregon leads in the men's competition, its 67 points outdistancing UCLA (49), Arizona State (40) and Arizona (38). Washington's men sit eighth with 12 points.
With just eight of 21 events completed on the women's side, Washington's 38 points already exceed the team's totals from two of the last three Pac-10 Championships, and are more than half of the team's 64 points from 2003.
"We grabbed a lot of points on the women's side today that, according to the form chart, we weren't supposed to score," said second-year head coach Greg Metcalf. "That tells me that our women have come here hungry. They don't care what the form chart says; they have the expectation to succeed and they won't settle for anything less."
She may have only scored one point Friday, but no Husky was busier than freshman Ashley Lodree. The world-ranked hurdler competed in three events on her first day of Pac-10 Championships compeition, placing eighth in the long jump and qualifying for two track finals.
Bare minutes after breezing to a 100-meter hurdles finals spot in 13.50 seconds, Lodree cleared 18-9 3/4 in the prelim of the long jump. Before she could take her finals attempts in the long jump, however, Lodree had to head back to the track for the 100-meter dash, an event in which she was competing for just the second time in her UW career.
With just minutes to prepare, Lodree blazed to an NCAA Regional-qualifying time of 11.73 seconds -- third-fastest in Washington history -- then, before her time had even been posted on the stadium scoreboard, returned to the long jump in time for her final attempt.
Having already run two of the fastest races in Washington history and taken four attempts in the long jump, Lodree capped the night with a career-best leap of 19-5 1/4, just a centimeter shy of the Regional qualifying standard and good for eighth in the Pac-10 field.
After competing in three consecutive events Friday, Lodree should have no trouble will competing in three more on Saturday, including the 4x100-meter relay final at 6:00 p.m., the 100-meter hurdles final at 6:40 p.m., and the 100-meter dash final at 7:20 p.m.
While Lodree was busy putting herself in position to score Saturday, the Huskies' javelin tandem of Tiffany Zahn and Megan Spriestersbach were busy putting points on the board Friday, placing third and fourth, repsectively, to account for nearly a third of Washington's 38-point total.
The two were a contrast in drama, Zahn putting any doubt away with a first-attempt heave of 155 feet, 6 inches, nearly a foot beyond her season-best. Spriestersbach, meanwhile, waited until her final attempt to launch a best of 155-4, good for her fourth-career top-10 Pac-10 finish.
Also scoring big for the Huskies were steeplers Laura Halverson and Dallon Williams, each making their Pac-10 Championships debuts. Seeded eighth entering the event, Halverson shaved nine seconds off her personal best to place fourth in 10 minutes, 47.65 seconds, blowing past Williams on the final lap for the third-fastest time ever by a UW woman. Williams, running just the fourth steeple of her career, clocked a 10:52.80 for fifth, while sophomore Karen Schwager just missed the last scoring position with a ninth-place finish, in 11:16.26.
Rounding out the Huskies' top-five sextet Friday were junior Sidney Brown, whose clearance in the high jump at 5-foot-6 earned a fourth-place finish -- a seven-spot improvement over her No. 11 seed -- and sophomore Alison Tubbs, who placed fourth in her first-ever 10,000 meters, in 37:14.59.
Shot-putter Cherron Davis capped the UW scoring Friday, adding two more points with a seventh-place finish, nailing a career-best throw of 48-0 3/4 on her first attempt to climb to eighth in Washington history .
"To do well at the conference championships, you can't just ride your top scorers; you have to find points in unexpected places," Metcalf said. "Those seven points that Sidney and Cherron scored are going to prove huge in the final standings."
The Husky women may have outscored the UW men, but no event Friday boasted more individual scorers for Washington then the men's javelin. Three UW athletes placed among the top-eight in the event, led by freshman Brian Harris' fourth-place finish. After entering the finals in seventh position, Harris launched his first finals attempt 218 feet, 1 inch, just three feet off his UW career-best. One round later, teammate Rigel Wise jumped from seventh to fifth with a toss of 213-10, before junior Juan Romero launched a personal-best 208-9 on his final attempt to clinch eighth.
"The javelin was a huge event for us tonight, as it always has been," Metcalf said. "And with how our distance guys ran today, we should have a good chance to score some big points there tomorrow."
Putting three points on the board Friday was freshman McKane Lee, whose first-attempt clearance of 16-11 1/2 in the pole vault earned the Husky sixth place, marked a seven-inch improvement over his previous outdoor best and brought a roar of approval from the numerous Husky fans in the stands.
Also eliciting an appreciative cheer was Sean Williams' blazing 51.89-second mark in the 400-meter hurdles. The junior, who before this season had never run the quarter-hurdles in his UW career, shot to sixth in the UW's all-time top-10 and, more importantly, ran fifth overall Friday to earn one of nine spots in Saturday's final.
Joining Williams on the track Saturday will be senior Todd Arnold and a quartet of 1,500-meter runners.
The men's 800-meter prelim was a lesson in tactics, as Arnold hung behind leader Justin Romaniuk of Stanford for much of the race, before surging to the line in a photo finish, ultimately given to the Cardinal runner by just one hundredth of a second. Arnold's time of 1:49.47, however, marked a half-second personal best for the UW junior, and qualified Arnold not only for Saturday's final, but for the NCAA West Regional later this month.
Perhaps Arnold was inspired by his teammates at 1,500 meters, who accounted for four of the 12 spots in Saturday's final. Freshman Carl Moe started off the qualifying bonanza in the first heat, laying back early before moving outside and kicking past the pack for a third-place finish, in 3:50.22.
Washington dominated the second heat, with senior John Russell racing out to the lead at the 1,000-meter mark and pacing the pack for a full lap before being surpassed 400 meters before the finish. Among the pack passing Russell were Huskies' Eric Garner and Andy Fader, who surged to the finish in 3:48.58 and 3:48.68, just ahead of Russell's 3:49.12, all three of which were good for spots in Saturday's final.
Other impressive performances Friday included finals qualifiers Lindsey Egerdahl (3rd overall, 4:27.67) and Angela Wishaar (12th, 4:40.15) at 1,500 meters, Cambrielle Jensen in the 400-meter hurdles (9th, 1:01.35), and hurdler Grace Vela, whose mark of 13.98 in the 100-meter hurdles was good for sixth in school history, but 10th in the Pac-10 field, one spot shy of Saturday's final.
For complete results of the 2004 Pac-10 Track and Field Championships, visit www.arizonaathletics.com.