May 30, 2009
EUGENE, Ore. - A trio of Pac-10 champs added Regional titles to their trophy cases as a total of nine Huskies grabbed national championship bids on the final day of the NCAA West Regionals at Oregon's Hayward Field. The Husky men's sprinters broke out in a big way, accounting for five of the bids with upsets in the 400m relay and dash.
The West Regional meet is one of four Regionals around the country this weekend, where the top five individual finishers in each event at each site earn automatic entry into the NCAA Outdoor Championships, June 10-13 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. All told this weekend the Huskies had 14 auto qualifiers, along with several other athletes who should move on with at-large bids.
For the second year in a row, the Huskies will send their men's 4x100m relay to nationals, despite running with three different legs than the 2008 squad. Junior Jeff Gudaitis led off out of lane seven on the outside, then came three seniors Kenjamine Jackson, Randy Bacon, and Joe Turner. Turner made sure the senior trio would stay together for one more meet, as he powered across the line for third-place in 40.18 seconds, a season-best.
Turner is the only returner from the foursome that won the Pac-10 4x100m title in 2008 and ran at NCAA's in Iowa.
"I feel like I'm on top of the world right now," said Turner. "I'm surrounded by great teammates. We want to thank Coach Sheen as well. He put a team out there that he was confident in and let us choose our own legs."
Jackson, a Seattle native and Kentridge High alum, joined UW this year from Cal State Northride. He had the task of running the back straightaway, and being on the outside could only see one runner in front of him.
"I know second leg that's where all the rollers are, so I was just trying to focus on myself, not anybody else, run my race, then encourage my teammate on the third leg," Jackson said.
Jackson passed the baton to Bacon, a senior out of Tacoma who was the alternate on last year's NCAA relay, but will now get to compete in his first NCAA meet in his final year.
"We just had to get the stick around. That's all I was focused on. I know we're fast enough," said Bacon. "I'm pumped. Finally three years on the 4x1 I make it to NCAA's and get to run."
Gudaitis, a Tacoma Baptist product, completed a fantastic day just over an hour later, as he qualified as well in the open 400-meter dash, placing fourth in 46.90 seconds. Senior All-American Jordan Boase earned the win in the 400 in 45.94 seconds, helping alleviate any injury concerns after he pulled up in the 200m final at Pac-10's two weeks ago. Gudaitis only had the sixth-best seed time among the finalists.
"In the 400, I was coming in sixth and I knew there were five guys that had run faster than me so I just had to go out hard," said Gudaitis. "It was nice having Jordan to my inside because he came out harder so I knew I had to push it too. That just made me run faster. From being an alternate last year at NCAA's to this year I'm in two events, it's really exciting."
The day's most clutch performance came from junior Zack Midles, who was sixth in the men's hammer going into his last throw and knew he needed to improve. The Olympia, Wash. native let loose with a throw of 210-feet and 9-inches, which leapfrogged two throwers in front of him and earned him his first trip to NCAA's.
"I'm going to NCAA's which is so awesome. I missed it last year by one spot so I was able to fix some things this year and work on my form, and was able to get one out there on my last throw," Midles said.
Along with Boase, conference champions Mel Lawrence and Scott Roth made it back-to-back victories this afternoon. Lawrence once again controlled the women's steeplechase from start to finish, lowering her PR and school record once again in a time of 9:52.77. Roth took the men's pole vault with a best clearance of 17-feet, 11-inches. He had the bar raised to a potential school record 18-8 but was unable to clear his three attempts.
Also in the men's vault, senior Jared O'Connor won a jump-off for the fifth and final auto spot, although he was certain of gaining an at-large bid even had he placed sixth. He and UCLA's Johny Quinn went one-on-one at 17-7, and O'Connor cleared the new lifetime-best on his first try, while Quinn knocked the bar down. Unfortunately, junior Ryan Vu looks to be out of the running as he placed 13th overall after an suffering an ankle injury that kept him from making his last allowed attempt. Vu also had a pole snap on him on an earlier attempt.
In the 1,500m women's final, freshman Christine Babcock placed seventh and Kailey Campbell took ninth, but both should qualify for NCAA's based on their season-best times. The same goes for Austin Abbott in the men's final, who appeared to suffer a slight injury on the final turn after sitting in about fifth, and he eased across the line in 10th-place.
In the women's high jump, freshman Kelly McNamee was unable to find her rhythm and unfortunately no-heighted, ending an excellent first year for the Spokane native. Freshman Allison Linnell also placed 29th in the steeplechase and freshman Angus Taylor was 22nd in the hammer.
At-large selections will be announced this coming Tuesday, with the NCAA meet again set for June 10-13, hosted by Arkansas.
Washington Track & Field
2009 NCAA West Regional Championships
May 30, 2009 - Eugene, Ore.
Men's Results: 400m Dash (Final): 1. Jordan Boase, 45.94; 4. Jeff Gudaitis, 46.90; 1,500m Run (Final): 10. Austin Abbott, 3:51.59; 4x100m Relay (Final): 3. Washington (Gudaitis, Jackson, Bacon, Turner), 40.18; Pole Vault (Final): 1. Scott Roth, 17-11; 5. Jared O'Connor, 17-7; 13 (tie). Ryan Vu, 16-7 ¼; Hammer (Final): 4. Zack Midles, 210-9; 22. Angus Taylor, 187-2.
Women's Results: 1,500m Run (Final): 7. Christine Babcock, 4:26.96; 9. Kailey Campbell, 4:27.79; 3,000m Steeplechase (Final): 1. Mel Lawrence, 9:52.77; 29. Allison Linnell, 1134.08; High Jump (Final): -- Kelly McNamee, NH; Javelin (Final): 12 (tie). Brooke Pighin, 142-10.