May 18, 2003
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Washington senior Courtney Inman ran the seventh-fastest 1,500-meter time in Pac-10 history Sunday to help the UW women finish sixth overall at the 2003 Pac-10 Track and Field Championships, nearly doubling their conference point total of just a year ago.
Washington's women totaled 64 points in the sixth-place finish, a significant improvement from the team's ninth-place, 36-point performance in 2002. In fact, the Husky women nearly equaled their 2002 point total after just one day of competition, scoring 32 points through the first seven events on Saturday.
"What an outstanding weekend for our women's team," said first-year head coach Greg Metcalf. "I thought that if everything went perfect for us this weekend, we'd finish sixth; to have that happen is special. The seniors on this team stepped up in a huge way for us this weekend. Those women are going to be tough to replace, but they've laid the foundation upon which this program can rebuild."
UCLA won the Pac-10 women's title for the seventh-consecutive season, scoring 155 points to hold off second-place Stanford, which finished with 140. USC captured the men's crown for the third time in the last five years with a point total of 139 points that was just barely ahead of second-place Stanford's 128, third-place Oregon's 127 and the 123 points of fourth-place UCLA. Washington's men, sparked by senior Brad Walker's Pac-10 title in the pole vault Saturday, placed ninth with 37 points.
A senior from Abbotsford, B.C., Inman left a memorable mark on the Pac-10 meet with a time of 4 minutes, 15.14 seconds in Sunday's race that was faster than all but six marks in the conference all-time, but was only good for third in the fastest 1,500-meter final in Pac-10 history. The Huskies' time would have won every previous Pac-10 1,500-meter championship by more than a second, but instead was third behind defending NCAA champion Lena Nilsson of UCLA and Lauren Fleshman of Stanford, who finished in 4:13.21 and 4:14.68, respectively.
All three finishers were well below the Pac-10 meet record of 4:17.20, which had stood since 1988.
"Courtney ran an incredible race today," said Metcalf of Inman, who was forced to run outside for much of the race in a lead pack that included Nilsson, Fleshman and Arizona's Beth Hoge. "In any other year, that time wins the meet. Her name will be in the record books, though, and for good reason - she's a true competitor."
The race was also a Husky highlight for the performance of sophomore Lindsey Egerdahl. Egerdahl notched a seven-second personal best with a time of 4:23.87 that was ninth in Washington history, and earned the Auburn, Wash., native seventh place overall, a remarkable nine places better than her regular-season conference ranking.
Inman turned around just two hours later to clock another personal best, nearly eclipsing the UW school record in the 800 meters with a time of 2:05.97 that was good for third behind Nilsson and Cal's Chloe Jarvis. Similar to her strategy in the 1,500 meters, Inman kept pace with Nilsson for the first 500 meters, and followed Nilsson past Jarvis at the 100-meter mark before the Cal runner came back to edge Inman at the line. The Husky senior's mark was second-fastest in UW history, and just .26 seconds shy of Sarah Bolender's Husky record of 2:03.73.
"Courtney picked the right meet to put it all together," said Metcalf. "I told her after the meet - 4:15 and 2:05 will look good for a long, long time"
Highlighting the day for the Husky men, meanwhile, was a stunning performance by senior thrower Mat Schwinn. The Castle Rock, Wash., native shrugged off his No. 11 regular-season Pac-10 ranking in the discus to place third with a throw of 187 feet, 3 inches that was an incredible 17 feet beyond his previous season best, was the eighth-best throw in Washington history, and is the seventh-best mark in the West Region entering the NCAA Regional Championships.
"That throw has always been in me, it was just a matter of figuring things out," Schwinn said.
While Inman and Schwinn roughed up the record books, the men's 1,500-meter race was simply rough.
Three Husky runners scored in the event, including third-place finisher Eric Garner, sixth-place finisher John Russell and seventh-place finisher Andy Fader. Garner stayed behind the lead pack for much of the race, a sound strategy given the physical banging that claimed many of the lead runners. In eighth with 500 meters to go, Garner surged to the front, bringing Russell with him. As the bell sounded, however, Russell appeared to be impeded by another runner, shuffling the UW junior back to sixth. Garner, meanwhile, held his lead for 200 meters of the final lap, before Grant Robison of Stanford and Tomasz Babiskiewicz surged past to finish 1-2.
"That race was nuts," Metcalf said. "Guys seemed to be jostling around everywhere. Eric did a good job to stay back and then take advantage of all the banging to move up. John also did well to recover after being pushed around a bit, and Andy Fader ran as good a race as he's ever run for us."
The Huskies also notched multiple scorers in three other events Sunday, including the women's pole vault, the women's triple jump and women's 5,000 meters.
In the pole vault, newcomer Carly Dockendorf matched school-record holder Kate Some vault-for-vault, finishing with a mark of 12 feet, 11 ˝ inches that is tied for second-best in Washington history. Soma finished with an identical mark to place sixth, while Dockendorf was eighth due to more misses at a previous height.
The triple jump and 5,000-meter events, meanwhile, bookended a banner day for the Husky women. Junior Brittiny Roberts started the Huskies off early with a fourth-place mark of 40-10 ˝, while sophomore Sidney Brown took seventh with a best of 39-9 ľ. Meanwhile, senior Sabrina Monro earned her second top-five finish in as many days, placing fourth in the 5,000 meters in 16:54.46, just ahead of the eighth-place time of 17:33.43 by UW senior Kate Bradshaw, also a two-event scorer for the Huskies this weekend.
"Kate Bradshaw was one of our most impressive athletes this weekend," said Metcalf. "She gave everything she had last night in a fantastic 10,000-meter race, then dug deep and found the will to score for us again today in the 5K. She'll hopefully have one more chance to show off that competitive fire at the NCAA Regional meet."
Junior Todd Arnold, meanwhile, capped a career weekend with a seventh-place performance in the 800 meters, a full nine places higher than his conference ranking. The Huskies also received points in the women's 4x100-meter relay, featuring Brynne Steward, Lauran Dignam, Kendra Caprye and Katelyn Waterhouse.
"I thought our men could score 30 points this weekend, and they scored 38," said Metcalf. "There are certainly some events where we can improve, but it was still a good weekend overall."
Inman and Walker will spearhead the Huskies' record group of 31 postseason qualifiers who will head to Palo Alto, Calif., in two weeks for the first-ever NCAA West Regional Championships, at which berths for June's NCAA Championship meet will be determined.
For complete results of the 2003 Pac-10 Championships, visit www.usctrojans.com.