March 24, 2009
SEATTLE - Washington track and field hits the ground running this weekend as they open the outdoor season at the Stanford Invitational. The Huskies will bring a full squad to the two-day meet, which begins Friday at the Cobb Track & Angell Field.
Several newly minted Husky All-Americans will be competing at Stanford. NCAA Regional qualifying times ought to be plentiful especially in the distance running events which feature large and talented fields.
Junior Katie Follett headlines several Husky women entered in the 5,000-meters. Follett ran the fifth-best 5k time in school history last year at Stanford, clocking 16:01.16. Follett just added two more All-America honors to her shelf, anchoring UW's eighth-place DMR then taking 5th in the 3,000-meters at NCAA Indoors two weeks ago. Also entered in the top heat of the 5k are Mel Lawrence, who placed 12th in the NCAA Indoor 3k, and freshman Kendra Schaaf, the Pac-10 cross country champion, who could make her debut on the track after redshirting the indoor season.
Freshman Christine Babcock, who led off UW's All-American DMR, is set to run in the 1,500-meters along with junior Kailey Campbell, who ran the third leg of the relay. Babcock last ran the distance in the semifinals of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials.
With the season moving outdoors, the 10,000-meters comes into play, and could be a major strength for the Huskies. On the men's side, senior Jeremy Mineau and junior Jake Schmitt are both entered in the top flight of the men's 10k. Both have competed at NCAA's in the 10k and are two of just four Huskies ever to run under 29-minutes at the distance. Schmitt just picked up his first career All-American honor by finishing 9th in the 5,000-meters at indoor nationals.
Junior Anita Campbell is entered in the 10k on the women's side, which would be her first effort at the distance. Campbell did not compete outdoors last season but is a two-time NCAA Outdoor competitor at 5,000-meters.
Senior Austin Abbott will be one to watch on the men's side, whether he chooses to run the 800-meters or the 1,500-meters. Abbott broke the Washington mile record in his final home appearance a few weeks ago before placing 14th at NCAA's.
In the sprints and hurdles, All-American junior Falesha Ankton will compete in the 100m hurdles, in which she took second in the West Region last year and qualified for Nationals. The Huskies also have both 4x100 and 4x400 relays entered in each gender. The UW men are the defending Pac-10 4x100m champions.
A welcome sight for Husky fans will be an attached Scott Roth in the men's pole vault. The two-time All-American did not compete outdoors last year and then competed unattached indoors while clearing 18-feet. Roth will look to reassert himself as a national title contender this weekend while 2008 NCAA runner-up Jared O'Connor and junior Ryan Vu will also search for Regional marks.
The outdoor season also means an expanded throws program, with the javelin and discus coming into play, and the hammer throw replacing the weight throw. 2008 Regional qualifiers Kyle Nielsen and David Nyland should toss the javelin out with the best of the west this season, while Fresno State transfer Brooke Pighin makes her UW debut in the women's javelin. Pighin made Regionals as a freshman last year for the Bulldogs.
Sophomore Elisa Bryant will throw the discus and the hammer and should be brimming with confidence after the best meet of her young career at indoor nationals. Bryant PR'd in the weight throw to finish eighth and earn her first career All-American honor.
Other notable UW entrants are freshman Jeremy Taiwo in the men's high jump and hurdles, and freshman Kelly McNamee in the women's high jump and hurdles. Both youngsters are coming off the NCAA Indoor meet, with Taiwo garnering All-America honors for his efforts in the heptathlon.
Live meet results can be found at www.gostanford.com.