May 6, 2006
SEATTLE - Freshman Dani Schuster ran UW's fastest 800 meters since 2003, and assistant coach Kelly Strong clocked the eighth-fastest steeplechase time in U.S. history Saturday, highlighting the 2006 Ken Shannon Invitational at Husky Stadium.
Strong's time of 9 minutes, 48.90 seconds is the seventh-fastest in the world this year -- second among U.S. women -- and ranks eighth in U.S. history. The 25-year-old Strong has coached distance runners at Washington since 2002, while continuing to compete professionally for athletic shoe manufacturer Asics.
In addition to climbing the 2006 world and all-time U.S. lists, Strong crushed the previous Husky Stadium record of 9:58.27 set by Strong's Asics teammate, Carrie Messner, in 2004.
"Kelly's been capable of doing this for a long time," said Washington head coach Greg Metcalf. "She's been training well, and was incredibly relaxed before the race. Her goal today was simply to go through four laps in 5:10, 5:12, and I think that when she did that it gave her a lot of confidence. If it weren't for the fact that she stumbled a bit in the last water pit, she might have run 9:42."
The fifth-place finisher at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials, Strong ran seven seconds faster Saturday than she ever did during a distinguished collegiate career at Arizona State, where she captured five All-America honors and won three Pac-10 titles from 1999-2002.
Not long after her race concluded, Strong was back trackside in her role as assistant coach, encouraging redshirt freshman Dani Schuster around the track in the women's 800 meters. Schuster's final time of 2:07.43 was the sixth-fastest in UW history, and the fastest outdoors by a UW woman since Courtney Inman clocked a 2:05.97 at the 2003 Pac-10 Championships. It was within one second of the UW freshman record of 2:06.75 set by Mary Dong in 1987, and marked a four-second improvement over the Kennewick native's previous lifetime best.
"Dani ran a tremendous race," Metcalf said. "She's come a long way in the last year, from redshirting all of 2005 with an injury to being a consistent performer for us throughout the fall and spring. She's a big part of what we're going to accomplish in the next few years."
Saturday's meet, named in honor of legendary head coach Ken Shannon, was also notable for the performances of high jumpers Norris Frederick (1st, 7-0 ½) and Warren Eickhoff (2nd, 6-10 ¾), each of whom improved regional qualifying marks, and UW linebacker Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, who added a regional mark in the discus (166-5).
It's regular-season schedule complete, Washington will open the 2006 postseason next weekend at the Pac-10 Championships in Eugene, Ore. The Huskies' men's squad won the indoor conference championship in March, and enter next week's conference meet ranked 25th in the nation.
"We're one of five or six schools that I think can score around 100 points at the Pac-10 meet," Metcalf says. "Once you get to that point, you really only need 1-2 things to fall your way to really do something special."
For complete results from the 2006 Ken Shannon Invitational, visit www.GoHuskies.com.