March 7, 2009
SEATTLE - Husky senior Austin Abbott set a new school record in the mile in his final run at Dempsey Indoor today, clocking 3:58.23. The record run by the Chehalis, Wash. native was one of eight NCAA qualifying marks achieved by Husky track and field athletes at the UW Last Chance Meet, which marks the end of the indoor track season at the Dempsey.
Abbott was already one of just three four-minute milers in Washington history, but he overtook the marks set by Eric Garner (3:58.93; 2002) and Greg Gibson (3:59.24; 1974) with a powerful finishing kick. Garner was running in the very same heat, competing for Brooks Eastside, and finished in 4:00.66. Gibson was also on hand to witness the record-setting run, and the three gathered for a photo after the race.
" That's why I ran today, I wanted to take another shot at the record," said Abbott. "It was cool, right when I got done as I walked around the track, Greg Gibson was one of the first people to say something to me. It took me a second to recognize him but then I knew who he was and he got me and Eric together for a picture.
This was the final Dempsey run for Abbott as a Husky and thus his last shot to run the mile, with the possible exception of NCAA's. A five-time All-American, Abbott typically focuses on the 800-meters, and is already qualified for NCAA's in that event. Outdoors, the 1500-meters is generally run rather than the mile.
"Eric, who had the record, said to me while we were warming up, 'You're having a great year, just beat my record already.' And here I had been trying not to think about that," said Abbott. "But I've had my eye on that for a while so to finally take it down in my last opportunity, I'm pretty happy."
Abbott highlighted a meet where several Huskies made NCAA pushes by bettering their qualifying marks. The NCAA Indoor Championships are just a week away, held in College Station, Texas on March 13-14.
Junior Katie Follett, on the bubble in the women's mile, guaranteed herself a spot by winning the mile run in an NCAA Automatic time of 4:38.00. Junior Kailey Campbell also set a personal-best of over six seconds, sticking right behind Follett to finish in 4:38.51, a very strong provisional time which could get her into the NCAA field as well.
Junior Jake Schmitt shaved a couple precious seconds off his personal-best 5,000-meter time, finishing in 13:54.25 which would put him 14th in the nation based on times entering the weekend. The NCAA typically takes 14-18 athletes per event.
Also achieving or improving NCAA marks today were junior Brian Govier, who ran 1:50.36 in the 800-meters, and senior Andrea Peterson, who cleared 13-2 ¼ in the pole vault. Both will be long shots, however, to get to College Station.
Also worth nothing was the outstanding performance turned in by UW sophomore Scott Roth in the men's pole vault. Roth is redshirting the indoor season to balance his indoor and outdoor eligibility, but will clearly be one of the favorites for the outdoor title as he cleared an indoor PR of 18-2 ½ today, which would have been the second-best mark in UW history if Roth competed attached. The mark equals the second-best clearance by any athlete in the NCAA this season.
Selections for the NCAA Indoor Championships will be announced on Monday, March 9.