June 13, 2008
DES MOINES, Iowa - Junior Jared O'Connor had a remarkable second-place finish in the pole vault and seniors Norris Frederick and Carl Moe ended their illustrious Husky careers with All-American awards at the NCAA Track and Field Championships hosted by Drake University.
The Huskies enjoyed a memorable day three at the national meet, including a 400m dash semifinal victory from junior Jordan Boase. Spectators numbering 11,228 saw the Husky men score 9.33 points, bringing their total to 12.33 with two finalists on Sunday.
Frederick (Seattle, Wash./Roosevelt) placed seventh in the high jump final, battling through an ankle injury with three dramatic third-attempt clearances before bowing out of the contest with a best of 7-1 ½. He earned the adulation of the crowd with his repeated final jump clearances.
The seventh-place finish brings Frederick's final tally of All-American honors to a stunning nine, including one for his sixth-place long jump finish yesterday. Frederick's nine awards tie Ryan Brown (2003-07) for the second-most in Washington history, trailing only the 10 of Ja'Warren Hooker (1998-2001). Frederick was an All-American indoors and outdoors in both the high and long jumps this year, the only collegiate athlete that accomplished the feat. His four All-American awards in one season also ties Brown (2006) and Hooker (1998) for the most by a Husky.
"Norris put the capper on a wonderful, wonderful career," said head coach Greg Metcalf. "I think he wasn't 100% healthy today, but he's a battler. Watching him come through in the clutch on the big stage showed the competitor he is. I thought he had one more in him, but he is just a phenomenal competitor and he will be sadly and sorely missed."
Moe, the former Auburn-Riverside standout, turned in a lifetime-best time of 8:41.83 in the 3000m steeplechase, placing a career-best No. 8 and earning his third career All-America award in his final Husky run. Injuries always plagued Moe's career, but he worked his way back each time and today marked his first individual All-American award, after two previously with UW's distance medley relay.
"My only goal was to come and enjoy it," Moe said. "I had no idea what was going to happen. I wanted to be up on the podium. I came in with an open mind, wanted to start from the back and move up and hope to kind of clean up the mess up there. But I couldn't really capitalize on moving forward past about fifth. I'm happy though."
Starting from the back, Moe worked his way up with the leaders before the pack strung things out over the final few laps. Moe finished just four seconds back of third, running the fifth-fastest steeplechase time in UW history, less than a second behind the fourth-place time of 8:41.17 held by current Husky coach Greg Metcalf.
"That's the first time Carl's scored at the outdoor meet, and it's his PR, so to walk away from his last meet being on the podium and scoring a valuable point is awesome," Metcalf said.
O'Connor, who transferred to UW after spending a year at North Carolina, was nowhere on the national radar just one month ago. He did not score at the Pac-10 meet, and went to West Regionals with only the minimum qualifying height of 16-6 ¾. But O'Connor turned a corner in a major way at Regionals, clearing 17-5 to win the meet.
His momentum carried through to his first national meet, as O'Connor cleared the first bar of 16-8 ¾ on his first attempt, then followed with a first attempt clearance at the next height of 17-2 ¾. His first attempt clearances proved to be crucial to break the numerous ties. Only three heights were cleared by the field on a day when changing winds complicated things.
Only one vaulter, Texas' Maston Wallace, was able to clear the next height of 17-6 ½. Among the remaining six vaulters that cleared the previous height, only O'Connor, Nick Frawley of Air Force, and Yavgeniy Olhovsky of Virginia Tech had no prior misses, thus the trio tied for second. O'Connor earned 6.33 points.
"Coming in here I was definitely a long shot to say the least," said O'Connor. "To come out here in adverse wind conditions and suck it up and do the job I needed to do feels great. The key today was just hitting everything on first attempts and I did that."
O'Connor adds to Washington's ever-increasing legacy of pole vault excellence, earning his first career All-America award. He is the highest-finishing Husky at NCAA's since new American record-holder Brad Walker won the NCAA Indoor Championship in 2004. Last year, freshman Scott Roth placed eighth at NCAA's, but Roth redshirted this season with a foot injury. Since 2000, four Husky men have combined for eight All-America honors in the pole vault, all under the watch of assistant coach Pat Licari.
"It feels great," said O'Connor on his newly minted All-American status. "I think that there's better heights to be had in better conditions. I'm looking forward to just keep jumping and reaching my highest potential."
Metcalf was especially floored with O'Connor's ascension over such a short period of time.
"Without a doubt the highlight of our day was Jared O'Connor," said Metcalf. "Are you kidding me? Jared didn't score at the Pac-10's, and then less than a month later he's jumping at a bar to win the NCAA Championships. It's all about momentum in this sport sometimes, and that was just fantastic."
Running in the first semifinal heat of the 400m dash, Boase needed only to finish in the top-three to advance to Saturday's final, but Boase asserted himself from the start and eased to the finish in 45.23, his third-best time of the year. He also assured himself of his fourth All-American award by making the final.
"I knew I had to get out fast to run with the guys," said Boase. "I just tried to stick with the guys on the outside and see how I felt. I felt good enough with about 150 left to kind of go past them so I did. I didn't feel like I was trying my hardest the last 75 so hopefully I've still got more in the tank for tomorrow. Sprinting isn't all that complicated. You've just got to run as hard as you can, so that's all I've got to do."
Boase will be running his hardest in tomorrow's final at 3:12 CT. Also competing tomorrow is senior Austin Abbott in the 800m final at 3:28, and Amanda Miller in the women's 1500m final at 4:12 CT. All three races will be broadcast live by CBS.
2008 NCAA Track and Field Championships
Drake Stadium - Des Moines, Iowa
Day 3 of 4
June 13, 2008
Men's Results (UW Only)
400m Dash (Semi 1 of 2): 1. Jordan Boase, 45.23Q. 3000m Steeplechase (Final): 8. Carl Moe, 8:41.83. High Jump (Final): 7. Norris Frederick, 7-1 1/2. Pole Vault (Final): 2 (tie). Jared O'Connor, 17-2 3/4.