June 13, 2009
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - For the first time since 1983, the Washington track & field program placed both its men's and women's teams in the Top-20 as the NCAA Outdoor Championships drew to a close today at the University of Arkansas. Senior Austin Abbott was the highlight of the final day, as he earned his sixth All-American honor with a seventh-place finish in the 1,500-meters.
The final day at John McDonnell Field finally brought clear skies and hot temperatures after the first three days were marred by thunderstorms and rain delays. When the dust settled, the Husky men's team had earned its fourth straight Top-25 finish, placing in a tie for 20th along with Texas and Baylor, totaling 13 points. The Husky women had one more point, and finished one place higher, 19th by themselves. It is the fourth Top-25 finish for the women in the past six years, and the women lose no scoring seniors. The Texas A&M men and women swept the team titles.
Abbott concluded his illustrious Husky career with a sixth All-American honor, and his first ever at 1,500-meters. Abbott's race followed a similar pattern as the prelims, when he broke the 22-year-old school record in 3:39.63. Abbott started near the back of the pack but by the final lap had moved nearer towards the front. However he had a slightly greater gap to make up on this day, and wasn't able to close quite as well on the leaders. Abbott crossed the line seventh in 3:41.15, his second-best time ever.
"You can't be that far back in a field this good. I closed probably about as hard as I have all year and just didn't get anywhere. I mean these guys are good," said Abbott, a Chehalis, Wash. native. "I'm happy with the All-American, especially with how I ran at Pac-10's and Regionals. I came here and had a couple quality races so that gives me some confidence going to U.S.A.'s."
Abbott earned his six All-American honors in the 800-meters (two), distance medley relay (three), and now one in the 1,500-meters. He ties great high jumper Rick Noji (1986-90) for the fifth-most All-American honors in school history. His seventh-place finish today also goes down as the best in school history at 1,500m.
The only other Husky in action today was freshman Christine Babcock in the women's 1,500m. Babcock had run a personal-best 4:16.10 in Thursday's semifinal, but seemed to run out of steam in the final, possibly due to the heat on the track. After hanging with the main pack for the first two laps, Babcock slipped back and ended up 11th in 4:20.41.
"Austin Abbott had a great close to a record-setting career today," said head coach Greg Metcalf. "Six All-Americans, shoot that's pretty impressive. I thought he might catch a few more guys today but I thought he did a great job. And Christine Babcock, just a freshman and had a great, great year. To be 11th today was solid, she's going to take a break and next year's going to be way better for her we believe.
Washington comes away from the national meet with seven All-Americans: Austin Abbott (7th, 1,500m), Anita Campbell (3rd, 10,000m), Mel Lawrence (3rd, Steeplechase), Zack Midles (13th, Hammer), Kyle Nielsen (6th, Javelin), Brooke Pighin (7th, Javelin), and Scott Roth (2nd, Pole Vault).
"We had a little bit of everything here, but that is the nature of the NCAA Track & Field Championships," said Metcalf. "You come here and you've got to be on you're A-game to go beat people. It's unforgiving. But we had lots of great performances. We walk out of here with two Top-20 finishes. It says a lot about the depth, we brought 20 kids to the meet and had athletes all over the place competing all week. We've got to replace the likes of Jared O'Connor, Austin Abbott, and Jordan Boase but we'll leave Fayetteville healthy and headed in the right direction. We think our women have the potential to stand on the podium as a team in the near future. The men have some challenges but Scott Roth and Kyle Nielsen are a great place to start."
A handful of Huskies past and present will now move on to the U.S. Outdoor Track & Field Championships, held at Oregon's Hayward Field on June 25-28.
Washington Track & Field
2009 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships
June 13, 2009 - Fayetteville, Ark.
Day 4 of 4
John McDonnell Field
1,500m Run (Final): 7. Austin Abbott, 3:41.15 (All-American)
1,500m Run (Final): 11. Christine Babcock, 4:20.41.