Jan. 29, 2011
SEATTLE - The Huskies began to make some noise on a national scale tonight amidst the din of the UW Invitational, which closed with a marathon Saturday of track and field action in the Dempsey. A number of Washington's best and brightest athletes made season debuts today, some competing for the first time in months or more than a year, and returning to excellent form.
The day's first big highlight was a continuation of a comeback of sorts, as junior Jeremy Taiwo completed his first multi-event since a concussion knocked him out of the NCAA Championships in the decathlon last spring. Taiwo came through the heptathlon finale today with his typical fighting spirit on display, and when the Mondo track surface had settled after the final 1,000-meter run, Taiwo added up his points and came up with a new school record of 5,746, breaking his own mark from 2009 by nearly 200 points. That also went past the NCAA Auto qualifier, locking up a spot for Taiwo in the NCAA Indoor Championships in March.
All this on what Taiwo called a "mediocre two days." Taiwo helped himself with a new PR in the pole vault, clearing 15-feet, 7-inches, a six-inch best, then took second overall in the 1,000-meters, clocking 2:35.68. He assumes the NCAA lead in the event based on marks entering the weekend.
Two more Husky heptathletes broke the 5,000 point barrier today. Freshman Kale Schmidt of Stanwood, Wash. completed a terrific debut with a seventh-place finish, scoring 5,140 points, good for third on the UW all-time top-10. And senior Andrew Ferleman was right behind in eighth-place, scoring 5,049, just off his career-best.
Senior Scott Roth brought his usual high-flying excitement to the Dempsey tonight, as he matched Taiwo in taking over the NCAA lead and earning an NCAA Automatic mark in the process, as the five-time All-American went over 18-1 to win the pole vault. Roth then had the bar raised another foot to a potential school-record of 19-0 ¾ (Roth's PR is 18-9 ¼) and took a good first attempt at it, but couldn't get a good jump on the next two tries. Still, Roth confirmed he'll be making an NCAA meet for the seventh time in his seven seasons indoors and out, a blueprint for consistency.
Fellow senior Ryan Vu, a regular over 17-feet in the vault outdoors, finally cracked the mark indoors tonight as well, as the Bellevue native cleared 17-1 to tie for 10th on the UW top-10.
Leading the way for the women was a pair of familiar faces back in their rightful places, and that is competing at a high level on the Dempsey stage with national meet potential. Saturday saw big returns to form for both junior Kelly McNamee in the high jump and junior Elisa Bryant in the weight throw.
McNamee, a 2009 NCAA Indoor participant as a freshman, battled through health issues last year, only once clearing 5-feet 8-inches after going 5-11 ½ as a freshman. She competed just once during the 2010 outdoor season, and skipped UW's season-opener two weeks back. But today she found her old rhythm once again, starting out nice and easy at an even five feet, and then clearing a total of six bars on seven total jumps with a first attempt clearance at 5-10. McNamee got the win despite jumping out of the first heat, and was clearly enjoying being back in good health and good form.
Bryant announced her return from a full redshirt year with one single throw. On her first attempt in the weight throw, the 2009 All-American launched the weight 63-feet, 8 ¼ inches, a mark that takes second-place at the MPSF Championships a year ago, and is likely just half a meter away from earning an NCAA bid.
Former Cougar Conner Larned suited up for the Dawgs for the first time after a redshirt year, and he made himself a spot in the recordbook right away, moving to 10th in the weight throw with a best toss of 55-11 1/4.
Continuing UW's string of impressive field results were freshmen jumpers Kasen Covington and A.J. Maricich. Covington was expected to immediately contribute in the triple jump, and lived up to those expectations and then some, as he became Washington's first 50-foot triple jumper since Tony Parrish in 1995 in all of one meet. Covington also surpassed Parrish's freshman school record, set outdoors in 1994, with a jump of 50-8 ¼ on his final attempt. The Boise, Idaho native already has moved to No. 2 on the school's indoor Top-10 list. Maricich, a Spokane native, took his jumping vertical, clearing 6-feet, 9-inches, a two inch improvement from his debut two weeks ago. That's already higher than any jumper went for UW in 2010.
In the women's triple jump, Taylor Nichols flew past 40-feet for the first time indoors, setting a PR of 40-3 ¼ on her first attempt. That ties Sidney Brown (2005) for fourth-place on the indoor Top-10 and would have tied for second at last year's MPSF meet.
There was actually some action on the high-speed Dempsey oval today as well. Four more Husky Top-10 marks were posted on the track, adding to the two DMR times from Friday night.
Sophomore James Cameron wrapped a breakthrough weekend with the fourth-best indoor 3k time in school history, as he clocked 8:02.72 in the last big race of the night before the 4x4's, bettering All-American Carl Moe's best time by a tenth of a second. That would have placed Cameron in the top-10 nationally entering the weekend, and was an 11-second PR. Just last night, Cameron anchored UW's distance medley relay to the No. 6 time in school history.
Washington had a parade of PRs in the mile today for both the men and women. Senior Colton Tully-Doyle opened up his 2011 campaign with a nine-second mile best of 4:05.20, good for sixth on the all-time list, which is an excellent sign for the San Diego native, who focuses on longer distances but showed improved speed tonight. Sophomore Joey Bywater was right on Tully-Doyle's heels, as he crossed in 4:05.78, another nine second best.
A pair of local freshmen turned heads with impressive mile heat wins. Bishop Blanchet grad Kyle Blume powered home for the section one win in 4:12.90. Later in the afternoon, Sammamish native and Eastlake grad Chelsea Orr, who had never before broken five-minutes in the mile, cruised to an outstanding time of 4:47.51 to win heat four. Fellow true frosh Katie Flood, the 2010 Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year, ran in the top heat, and posted a 4:47.38 run of her own.
Next up came the 3,000-meters, where the Husky women's distance prowess was in evidence once again. Sophomore Phoebe Merritt, a transfer from Occidental in her first year with the Dawgs, was second in heat three in a time of 9:41.39. Close behind was sophomore Lindsay Flanagan, who sliced seven seconds off her best time of a year ago, crossing in 9:46.41. In the fastest heat of the night, sophomore Justine Johnson set another PR and another new Top-10 time, as she placed sixth overall in 9:32.61, placing her eighth.
Junior Ryan Styrk capped off a busy weekend with a PR in the 800-meters. The Seattle Prep grad placed fourth in the fastest heat, creeping closer to breaking the 1:50 mark, with a time of 1:50.36. That moves him up to fifth on UW's stellar 800-meter indoor Top-10.
Washington's indoor track season reaches fever pitch in two weeks with the Flotrack Husky Classic, held between Feb. 11th and 12th.