March 15, 2003
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Husky senior Jeremy Park earned All-American honors Saturday in the 3,000 meters at the 2003 Indoor Track and Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. Park's performance capped a banner indoor season for the Husky men, who earned 10 team points to finish in a tie for 20th overall. Husky miler Courtney Inman and pole vaulter Kate Soma also competed Saturday, each earning top-12 finishes in their respective events.
Arkansas' men's team earned its 17th national title in the last 20 years with 52 points, doubling second-place finisher Nebraska's score of 26. Top-ranked Louisiana State paced all women's squads with 62 points to earn its second-consecutive indoor title.
The nation's fifth-ranked competitor entering the event, Park crossed the line in 8 minutes, 12.21 seconds, good for 13th overall. Park stayed with the lead pack through the first 2,400 meters of the race, but couldn't keep up when the leaders began to pull away in the race's final stages. Arkansas' Alistair Cragg matched his No. 1 ranking, running to victory in 7:55.68.
"I know that Jeremy is disappointed that he wasn't able to stay up with those guys all the way to the finish, but for him to earn All-American honors in his first-ever NCAA meet is outstanding," said first-year head coach Greg Metcalf.
Inman, meanwhile, ran true to her No. 9 regular-season ranking in the mile, placing ninth overall in 4:48.03. Inman was leading the race at the quarter-mile mark, but was shuffled back in a pack led by freshman Johanna Nilsson of Northern Arizona, who routed the elite field by four seconds to set a facility record in 4:32.29.
Inman qualified eighth in Friday's preliminary round of the women's mile, clocking a time of 4:42.76. The Abbotsford, B.C., native took 14th in the event at the 2002 NCAA Indoor Championships, and was the 10th overall finisher in the 1,500 meters at last year's NCAA outdoor meet.
Washington wrapped up competition at the indoor meet with a 12th-place performance by sophomore Kate Soma in the pole vault. The 16th-place finisher at the NCAA outdoor meet a year ago, Soma cleared 12-feet, 11 ˝ inches on her first attempt, but failed in all three attempts at 13'-3 ˝". Lacy Janson of Florida State took first place in the event with a clearance of 14'-7 Ľ".
Soma, the only UW woman ever to clear 13 feet in the event, qualified for the meet on the strength of a school-record clearance of 13'-3 ľ" earlier this season, nearly a foot better than any other Husky in school history.
The performances by Park, Inman and Soma capped an exciting meet for the Huskies. Senior pole vaulter Brad Walker earned an NCAA title on Friday with a mark of 19'-0 Ľ" that was three inches better than the Pac-10 record, and ranks him among the top-three pole vaulters in the world this season.
"Having Brad come here and win his event was a big deal for our program," Metcalf said. "Hopefully, next year, we can have three or four people scoring in events for us, and then we'll really take off. For now, our kids are fired up to do even better during the outdoor season, and there's nothing holding them back from that kind of success."
Washington's track and field teams will open the outdoor season Saturday, hosting with the first-annual Ken Shannon Invitational at Husky Stadium.