March 11, 2006
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Washington's 4x400-meter relay broke a school record and earned a stunning third-place finish Saturday at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark., bringing the team's two-day All-American total to a UW-record nine, and carrying Washington to its best NCAA Championships team finish since 2001.
The UW men's nine All-America honors shattered the team's single-meet record of seven set three times previously, most recently in 1998. Furthermore, the 10 All-America honors earned by both Husky squads at the two-day meet tied a UW record set just last year; prior to 2005, no Husky team had ever earned more than nine All-America honors at a single meet.
The third-place relay finish, combined with the distance medley relay's fifth-place effort Friday, helped the UW men finish in a tie for 19th overall with 10 points. The finish was the UW's highest at the NCAA Indoor meet since 2001, and marked the fifth time in the last seven years that the UW men have placed among the top-25. Host Arkansas scored 53 points to win the NCAA indoor men's crown for the 19th time in 23 years, edging LSU's 45 points, while Texas scored 51 to win easily over second-place Stanford (36). Washington's women did not score.
"I'm fired up for our men's team right now," said fourth-year UW head coach Greg Metcalf. "Both our 4x4 and distance medley relay squads came here to win, and they both nearly pulled it off. Getting a lot of All-America honors is great, but I'm more proud of the way our teams raced, and they way they fought to be the first team across that finish line. They took some big risks going all-out like that, but you have to take big risks if you want a big reward. I'm really proud of everything these folks have accomplished."
The Huskies' time of 3 minutes, 7.03 seconds broke by a quarter-second the UW record of 3:07.33 set by Ja'Warren Hooker and company in an eighth-place NCAA finish in 1998. Seeded 10th of 12 teams entering the event, Washington was forced to run in the of three heats, seeded slowest-to-fastest. The foursome of Jordan Boase, Ryan Brown, Shane Charles and Bruce Jackson were electric, running down Texas Christian in the third leg and nearly eclipsing Illinois (2nd overall, 3:06.79) at the line.
Of the eight teams in the two remaining heats, however, only heavy favorite LSU (3:04.01) was able to eclipse the Huskies' time, giving the UW its best-ever relay finish in 42 years of NCAA Indoor Championships competition, and its best in an NCAA 4x400-meter final -- indoors or out -- since winning the 1976 NCAA Outdoor title.
"Those guys ran their hearts out," Metcalf said. "We've had five or six guys rotating through our 4x4 all year, so this was actually the first time that these four had competed as a unit. I thought coming in that if they ran well, they could be in the top-eight, maybe even top-five if they ran amazing. But to come out and finish in the top-three, ahead of some of those big SEC and Big-12 teams, is just incredible. They're coached to win, no matter what the competition, and tonight, they came pretty darn close."
Brown and Jackson, who placed fifth with UW's distance medley relay Friday night, earned each their second All-America honors of the meet, making them two of just 10 Huskies ever to accomplish such a feat. Brown's honor was the fourth of his UW career, a plateau also reached by just 10 UW men in the 85 years of NCAA Championships competition.
Senior Carly Dockendorf entered Saturday's women's pole vault bidding for her second-career All-America honor, after a sixth-place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 2005, while junior vaulter Stevie Marshalek vied for her first All-America accolade. Having cleared 12 feet, 7 1/2 inches on her first attempt, however, Marshalek failed to clear the bar at 13-11/2, while Dockendorf topped out at the latter height. Collegiate record holder Chelsea Johnson won her third NCAA vault title with a second-attempt clearance at 14-9, while Dockendorf placed 11th and Marshalek 14th.
The indoor season complete, Washington's track and field teams will turn their attention outdoors next week with the annual season-opening UW Outdoor Preview at Husky Stadium, featuring many of the Northwest's top small-college and club competitors.
For complete results from the 2006 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, visit www.ncaasports.com.