May 15, 2010
BERKELEY, Calif. - With one vault, four years of hard work and perseverance paid off for Bellevue's Ryan Vu, as the senior is the new Pac-10 Champion in the pole vault. Vu's upset win was the thrilling highlight of a big day one for the Huskies at the Pac-10 meet at Cal's Edwards Stadium. The Husky men sit in third place heading into the final day while the women are sixth overall.
An Interlake High grad, Vu was the Washington State 3A champion in the pole vault in 2006 clearing 16-1. Four years later, he trumped that title with a lifetime-best 17-7 ¾ clearance on his third and final attempt to stand atop the podium. The win was a bit of a shock in that Vu upset his own teammate, junior Scott Roth, who was the defending champion and reigning NCAA Indoor Champion. Roth cleared 17-3 ¾ to settle for third-place.
"I'm still really speechless and am completely blown away," said the new Pac-10 champ. "Practice has been going well, but this is beyond what I expected. After I knew I had won the competition and tried to clear the next height, I was full of nerves and adrenaline. Still speechless, though, on winning a Pac-10 title."
Vu joins a distinguished list of Pac-10 pole vault champions to work with assistant coach Pat Licari. Roth, Brad Walker, and Kate Soma all won vault titles within the last 10 years and won NCAA Championships as well.
"A senior at his last Pac-10 Championships, what can you say? We're all incredibly excited for Ryan," said head coach Greg Metcalf. "And the great thing is nobody was more excited for him than Scott. Today just wasn't Scott's day and he had some bad breaks with some swirling winds, but it says a lot about our vault crew when your number two can step up and win the Pac-10 title."
Several other Huskies marched up the podium this afternoon as UW continued to impress in the field events. In the women's javelin, junior Brooke Pighin placed second with a toss of 160-feet, 11-inches. Her counterparts in the men's javelin combined to score 11 points, led by junior Kyle Nielsen who was third with a mark of 239-7. Freshman Joe Zimmerman tossed a big PR of 233-5 to take fifth and fellow freshman Jimmy Brookman also had a PR heave of 213-3 to take eighth and tack on another point to the Husky total.
The day's first event was the men's hammer throw. Senior Zack Midles fouled his first two attempts and faced the prospect of missing the final but he gathered himself on his third throw and earned a legal mark, then had a top throw of 206-2 on his next attempt that wound up earning him third-place for the third-straight year.
Washington had two defending champions on the women's side, each still looking to reach their peak form by NCAAs following injuries. In the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase, Pac-10 record-holder Mel Lawrence gamely ran to third in 10:20.79. Lawrence could not run for a month earlier this season due to a torn hip flexor and Coach Metcalf expects her to continue to make good progress towards the ultimate goal of NCAAs next month. Her time should send her on to the preliminary rounds in Austin.
The same can be said for senior Anita Campbell, who last year dominated the 10,000-meter field by more than a minute. Campbell has steadily improved throughout the season after battling some nagging injuries and nearly ran her PR today in the 10k, as she took fourth in 33:44.04.
With the lion's share of the finals set for Sunday, several Huskies were successfully able to pick their way through the qualifying rounds and set themselves up to score tomorrow.
Senior Katie Follett had no issues advancing into the 1,500-meter final as she ran the day's fastest qualifying time of 4:22.92. Follett is going for a three-peat on Sunday, something no Husky woman has ever done. She'll be joined in the 1,500m final by senior Kailey Campbell, who ran 4:23.09 to advance, and freshman Justine Johnson, who set a huge seven-second PR of 4:24.57 to make her first Pac-10 final.
Freshman sprinter James Alaka looked great in his Pac-10 debut, running the day's fastest qualifying time at 200-meters (21.07) and second-fastest in the 100m (10.33) to set himself up well for a title shot Sunday. Alaka also helped the men's 4x100m relay make the final with a season-best time of 40.78 seconds.
Also advancing today was sophomore Jeremy Taiwo and freshman Shayne Moore in the 110-meter hurdles. Taiwo, back in Berkeley following his runner-up decathlon finish last week, ran a big PR of 14.22 with just the one event on his mind. Moore grabbed the last spot in the finals with a time of 14.69, a PR for him as well.
It was also a strong day for the women's sprinters. Senior Falesha Ankton ran a season-best 100-meter hurdles in 13.45 seconds to qualify fourth overall to the final, which she barely missed a year ago, taking ninth. Junior Dominique Lauderdale will also give the Huskies their first 100-meter dash finalist on the women's side since Ashley Lodree in 2007, as she clocked 11.78. Also in the first race of the day, Ankton and Lauderdale teamed up with sophomores Jordan Carlson and Amber Finley to get the Huskies into the 4x100m relay finals with a season-best time of 46.26.
Last but certainly not least, sophomore Nikki Codd made the eight-woman 800-meter final as she completed two loops in 2:07.73.
"We battled well today and put ourselves in good position for tomorrow but now we have to bring an even bigger effort on Sunday," said Metcalf. "Tomorrow is going to be a blast but we need to take advantage of each opportunity we get to score some points and beat people."
Action starts with the women's hammer throw at 9:15 a.m. tomorrow with running events beginning at 1 p.m.