March 8, 2003
SEATTLE - Forty-one athletes achieved NCAA qualifying marks Saturday - including a school record at 800 meters by Husky senior Courtney Inman - in the Last Chance Qualifier at Dempsey Indoor on the UW campus. The meet marked the conclusion of one of the most exciting indoor track and field seasons in Washington history, and served as a send-off for Inman and several of her UW teammates, who will compete next weekend in the NCAA Track and Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark.
Inman, who also owns the Washington record in the indoor mile, crossed the line in 2 minutes, 8.39 seconds, more than two seconds faster than her own school record in the event of 2:10.56, established last month. The Abbotsford, B.C., native placed fifth in the event, trailing UCLA senior Lena Nilsson by four seconds.
Nilsson's win at 800 meters was impressive, but her victory in the mile was historic. The defending NCAA champion at 1,500 meters, Nilsson clocked the world's third-fastest mile time in 2003, finishing in 4:33.41 to take the NCAA lead and lower the Dempsey Indoor facility record by a stunning seven seconds.
Also breaking facility records were Arizona's Jeff Hunter, whose winning mark of 7.83 in the 60-meter hurdles shaved .04 off the previous best, and the women's 4x400-meter relay team from UCLA, who lowered their own record by nearly a second with an NCAA automatic-qualifying time of 3:35.06.
The overwhelming number of qualifying marks overshadowed some outstanding performances by Husky athletes. In addition to Inman's school record, six other Huskies achieved marks that rank among the top-10 indoor performances in UW history. Chief among those was sophomore Sidney Brown, whose clearance of 5'-7" in the high jump not only equaled the school's sixth-best all-time, but also qualified the Brush Prairie, Wash., native for the 2003 Pac-10 Championship Meet.
Joining Brown on the Husky honor roll were senior Kameko Gay, whose shot put of 50-8 3/4 was good for fourth all-time; junior Ben Koss (fifth all-time in 5,000 meters at 14:36.22); the women's distance medley relay team of Melissa Chapman, Camille Connelly, Karen Schwager and Kate Spigel (sixth in DMR at 11:52.02), junior Brendan Tuohy (tied for ninth in weight throw at 53-8 1/4) and freshman Travis Boyd (10th in 5,000 meters at 14:50.18).
The Huskies boast three automatic qualifiers for next week's NCAA Indoor Championships, including Inman in the mile, senior Jeremy Park in the 3,000 meters, and senior Brad Walker, the NCAA's top-ranked competitor in the pole vault. Provisionally-qualified UW athletes Eric Garner (3,000 meters), Sabrina Monro (5,000 meters), Shelton Sampson (200 meters), Kate Soma (pole vault) and the men's distance medley relay team of Garner, Park, Todd Arnold and Sean Williams, will have to wait until Monday, when the NCAA Championships field is announced, to find out if they will be making the trip to Arkansas Fri.-Sat., Mar. 7-8.