Feb. 27, 2010
SEATTLE - Youth was served today for the Husky track and field teams, as freshmen and sophomores accounted for the lion's share of the team points on the final day of the MPSF Championships at the Dempsey Indoor facility. Six of the seven Husky point scorers today were underclassmen, and four were competing in their first ever MPSF meet.
Freshman James Alaka of London completed a thrilling weekend with another personal-best in the 60-meter dash final. He surged down the homestretch in just 6.78 seconds to move further up UW's Top-10 list into a tie for sixth. Alaka is now tied with a couple Husky legends a bit better known in different fields: football great Napoleon Kaufman and six-time high jump All-American and school record-holder Rick Noji. Alaka was fourth in the 60m dash today, earning five points to go with the four he scored in the 200m final yesterday.
Kendra Schaaf, the 2009 NCAA Cross Country Runner-Up, made her long-awaited track debut for the Huskies today after taking some time off after the fall to heal up a minor foot injury. Schaaf is just a redshirt freshman on the track, and had yet to compete at all in the Dempsey until today. Despite not being at her usual fitness level, having trained for less than two weeks, Schaaf led for much of the 3,000-meter run before she started to tire. She battled through to finish fourth in a time of 9:27.94 which is still an NCAA Provisional qualifier and ranks fourth on the Husky indoor Top-10.
The women's triple jump might not have appeared to be a marquee event for the Huskies heading into the weekend, but two personal-bests from freshman Shaniae Lakes and sophomore Lindsey Fleishman produced eight team points in the best event for UW all day. Lakes (Richland, Wash.) nudged her best mark up to 39-feet, 10-inches for a fourth-place finish while Fleishman PR'd by over a foot today, jumping 39-5 ¾ on her second attempt to take sixth. One year ago Fleishman, a Kentridge High product, was 12th at this same meet with a best of 37-3, which was her PR at the time. She now finds herself eighth on the Husky Top-10 list.
Head coach Greg Metcalf was enthused by much of the effort level today from a group that was wet behind the ears.
"James Alaka really solidified himself as a point scorer in our conference, he did an excellent job," said Metcalf. "Kendra getting back to the track and knocking the rust off, I'm proud of her and it's about the big picture with her and we won't force the issue. Shaniae and Lindsey, going fourth and sixth, should be excited about where they're at. Lindsey just works hard and has gotten better because of it and I appreciate her effort and what she does."
Senior Katie Follett broke up the freshman-fest with a strong mile run of 4:39.91 that was good for third-place in her final Mountain Pacific meet. Follett is already assured of a spot at NCAA Indoors and still ranks second in the NCAA with a mile time of 4:34.98.
In the women's high jump, sophomore Kelly McNamee (Spokane, Wash.) scored with a clearance of 5-6 ½ and a tie for seventh-place. The men also picked up a point from Blaine, Washington freshman Shayne Moore in his first MPSF outing. He didn't find the same rhythm that saw him clock the ninth-best 60m hurdle run (8.15) in school history two weeks ago and clipped a hurdle today, but still managed to finish eighth overall.
Sophomore Max O'Donoghue-McDonald just missed scoring in a loaded 3,000-meter field, placing ninth, but he did just squeak into the Top-10 list with his time of 8:06.83, which Coach Metcalf called the best track race of his young career.
Still more freshmen stepped up with strong efforts today. Justine Johnson (Victoria, B.C.) shaved nearly four seconds off of her mile PR, running 4:54.69 to take 10th overall, while James Cameron (Lake Forest, Calif.) dropped another five seconds from his best 3k time, clocking 8:13.14 to take 12th. Finally Logan Miller tied for the seventh-best clearance in the women's pole vault at 12-7 ½, but just missed out on points due to the tiebreaker.
The UCLA men successfully defended their team title with 108.5 points, while the top-ranked Oregon women took the team title with 133 points. The Husky women took eighth while the men placed ninth. All told the Huskies created 12 new indoor Top-10 marks this weekend. Washington's two MPSF titles came on Friday, as Scott Roth won the pole vault and Mel Lawrence cruised to the 5,000-meter win.
"Today was a barometer of where we're at but we expect to get better and we will," said Metcalf. "A lot of people are coming along and coming back and the focus of our program is to be our best in May and June."