March 5, 2011
SEATTLE - A number of Husky track standouts saved their best for last, as UW punched three tickets to the NCAA Indoor Championships at the UW Final Qualifier today in the Dempsey Indoor finale. Sophomore James Cameron achieved one of the most famous marks in track and field, breaking the four-minute mile barrier to earn a spot at nationals, and freshmen Katie Flood and Megan Goethals then joined him on the NCAA bandwagon in the women's 3,000-meters.
The Dempsey facility has turned out dozens of four-minute miles over the past several years, but until today Washington's only men under the hallowed mark in the Dempsey were Eric Garner (2002, 3:58.93) and Austin Abbott (2007 and 2009, best of 3:58.23). Cameron, a Lake Forest, Calif. native, moved steadily up the pack that included four Huskies, until he was second heading into the bell lap. Cameron kicked for home and crossed in 3:58.51, the second-fastest mile in Husky history behind only Abbott. He celebrated on the track with an exuberant Head Coach Greg Metcalf and then let out a yell when his official time was posted.
"The race went out a little bit slow, but I was vibing off of some of my teammates in there and moved up in the pack," Cameron said. "About (800-meters) I found an opening and took it. I just raced, and when it came down to the last 200-meters, I busted down the straightaway, looked up saw the time and it just blew my mind. I've calmed down now, just a little bit."
His time was well under the NCAA Auto mark of 3:59.00 needed to advance to College Station, Texas for next week's national meet. Cameron has also posted top-five times in the 3,000-meters (8:00.17) and the 5,000-meters (13:54.77) this season indoors.
Along with Cameron, the three other Huskies set big PRs in the top mile heat. Sophomore Joey Bywater barely missed joining the four-minute club himself, as he was fourth in 4:00.53, now the fifth-best time in school history. Junior Max O'Donoghue-McDonald moves up to seventh all-time as he ran 4:03.63. And junior Ryan Soberanis is now ninth after he lowered his PR to 4:04.00.
"Everybody that knows anything about track and field knows that running under four minutes is a big deal. And to have four guys run under 4:04.00, and Joey Bywater knocking on the four-minute barrier, is a great day," said Coach Metcalf. "For James to run 3:58 today, just miss our school record, and auto qualify for the NCAA Championships, that's a testament to his belief in what he can do."
The next marquee race of the afternoon was the women's 3,000-meters, where Husky freshmen Katie Flood and Megan Goethals were looking to chase the NCAA Auto mark of 9:13.00. Former Husky All-American Katie Follett served as a pace setter, dropping out with four laps to go and the field on a perfect pace. Flood made a move to the lead at the start of the final lap, and Goethals went with her about five meters back. The 2010 Pac-10 Cross Country Freshman of the Year, Flood only accelerated around the final turn and down the stretch to win in 9:09.85. Goethals crossed right behind in 9:11.56, putting them both well under the 9:13.00 auto mark.
Flood's time is the second-best in school history behind current Husky junior Mel Lawrence's 9:08.50. It places her sixth on the national list, with Goethals right behind in seventh. The next two weeks will now be especially busy for Flood, who will also leave for Spain the week after NCAAs to run for Team USA in the IAAF World Junior Cross Country Championships.
"Energy feeds off itself and our kids put it out there today," said Metcalf. "Our two freshmen girls in the 3k were tough as nails. We looked at the (NCAA) field and thought all right let's take a shot. So to have them go out and do that I thought was great, and there's more there for both of them."
In the women's 60-meter dash, senior Dominique Lauderdale picked up her second win of the indoor season, running the second-fastest time in school history of 7.37 seconds in the finals. That was a full tenth of a second faster than her previous PR, and just .03 seconds off the school record set by Ashley Lodree in 2007. The time will still be short of qualifying her for NCAAs, but sets the Bakersfield native up very well for the outdoor campaign.
In the women's mile final, freshman Chelsea Orr lowered her PR yet again, placing second overall in 4:44.63, less than half a second out of UW's Top-10. Sophomore Justine Johnson was right behind in third place, running a PR of her own in 4:45.72. Sophomore Phoebe Merritt also ran a big season-best in 4:55.27.
The men's pole vault was the focal point of the field events. Senior Ryan Vu, looking to improve his national standing, barely brushed off the bar on his final attempt at 17-7 ¾. He was on the mat before the bar even dropped. The Bellevue native will have to wait and see if he'll make the NCAA cut in his final season.
Husky legend Brad Walker then made a return to Dempsey competition for the first time in several years. The American record-holder in the vault and a 2008 Olympian, Walker cleared 18-3 ¾ on his first attempt, then raised the bar up to 19-feet, and 1-inch, which would have been a new facility record. The former UW NCAA Champion had three good jumps but couldn't quite clear what would have been the No. 3 jump in the world in 2011.
The women's 800-meters saw one of the oldest Dempsey records go down, as Geena Gall, a former NCAA Champion and 2009 World Championships participant, cruised around the track in a time of 2:02.56, breaking a record that had stood since 2003. Husky freshman Michelle Fero ran very well in the first heat as well, crossing in 2:12.93.
Kelly McNamee won the women's high jump at 5-9 3/4, but it won't be quite enough to advance her on to nationals. She took three attempts at 5-11 1/2 which would have matched her career-best, but couldn't quite get over. Taylor Nichols and Shaniae Lakes tied for the win in an all-Husky women's triple jump at 39-10 1/2, a slight personal-best indoors for Lakes.
The full NCAA Indoor Championship field should be announced Monday evening. Washington will then take its qualifiers to Texas A&M to compete for national championships on March 11th and 12th.