Dec. 3, 2004
SEATTLE - Reigning Junior Olympics national hammer throw champion Zack Midles of Olympia headlines an outstanding list of early UW track and field signees announced Friday by third-year head coach Greg Metcalf.
In addition to Midles, the top returning prep hammer throw in the nation in 2005, Washington also received letters of intent from Bay Area standouts Tori Tyler, a distance runner from Palo Alto, and Laurie Roberts, a high jumper from Menlo Park. All three will complete their senior years this spring and enroll at Washington in the fall of 2005.
"We're super excited about this group," Metcalf said. "When we recruit, we're not only looking for the kids with the best times or longest throws -- we are looking for those who are going to best represent the University of Washington, in the classroom, in the community and in competition. Fortunately, in these three we've hit the jackpot -- they're all extremely talented, and are also outstanding individuals."
The 6-foot-4, 250-pound Midles was one of the most sought-after prospects on the West Coast following an outstanding junior season at Olympia's Capital High School. The son of former WSU star Dwight Midles and brother of USC sophomore Adam Midles, Zack was America's top-ranked high school junior in 2004, won the hammer at the 2004 USATF Junior Olympics Nationals, and was named a prep All-American by Track and Field News. His season-best throw of 218 feet, 7 inches ranked second overall among U.S. preps, and would have earned the Capital junior sixth at last year's NCAA Track and Field Championships.
"I'm very happy to get it settled," Midles told The Olympian newspaper at the time of his signing. "When I announced I was going to Washington, my mom cried."
"Zack's is a critical signing for us as a program to move forward," added third-year throws coach Bud Rasmussen, who in two years at Washington has guided his charges to a pair of All-America honors and three school records. "Our number-one priority is to keep the best kids from the state of Washington in-state, and we view Zach's signing as a catalyst for doing just that. He comes from a tremendous family with a long tradition of excellence in this sport. We couldn't be happier to have him join our team."
Equally outstanding is Tyler, who enters the spring listed No. 1 in DyeStatCal's rankings of the top-40 prep distance runners in the state of California. A senior at Gunn High School in Palo Alto, Tyler exploded onto the scene this fall after leading all California runners at the prestigious Mt. SAC Cross Country Invitational in October. In the weeks prior to Mt. SAC, Tyler ran second among girls at the 2004 Stanford Invitational, and clocked the fourth-fastest time ever - and fastest since 1985 - on the famed 2.95-mile Crystal Springs course in Belmont, Calif.
"Tori is an outstanding individual," Metcalf said. "She can run with any girl on our team, and is also a straight-A student. She will definitely do the University of Washington proud."
Rounding out the list of early signees is Roberts, a senior at Menlo-Atherton High School in Menlo Park. Roberts ranked No. 1 among high school juniors in the state of California in 2004, her best of 5 feet, 8 inches equal to the fourth-best prep mark in the state, and bettered by only one competitor at the 2004 Pac-10 Championships.
"Laurie is a terrific addition to our team," Metcalf says. "She's just coming into her own as a high jumper, and already she's jumping as well as any female in the Pac-10 Conference. There's no limit to what she can accomplish here in the next four years."
All three of Washington's early signees sent letters of intent during the early signing period, which concluded Nov. 17. In addition to the three above, several more prep athletes are expected to sign during the late signing period which begins Apr. 13.