June 11, 2004
AUSTIN, Texas - Junior Kate Soma and senior Megan Spriestersbach each earned All-America honors Friday at the NCAA Track and Field Championships, lifting the Huskies to eighth place through three days of competition. The four-day meet at Mike A Myers Stadium on the University of Texas campus concludes Saturday.
Soma was second in the women's pole vault, while Spriestersbach set a Washington record to take fourth in the javelin, marking the highest combined finish ever for two UW women at the NCAA Championships. Both women are qualified for July's U.S. Olympic Trials.
Washington's 13 points are the most by a UW women's team at the NCAA meet since 1988, and mark a four-point improvement over the team's 29th-place total a year ago. Meanwhile, the team's three All-Americans in 2004 - including an indoor honor by Soma in March - equal the Huskies' fourth-most ever in a single year, and extended to 13 the team's streak of years with at least one All-American.
Nebraska leads the women's standings with 38 points, while Arkansas leads all men's team's at 25.
"What a great way to cap off this meet," said second-year head coach Greg Metcalf, whose nine NCAA-qualified athletes have all completed their competition for the week. "Those two ladies are a shining example to everyone on our team that when you work hard and stay focused, you can do anything."
Soma, a graduate of Portland, Ore.'s Grant High School, earned her third-consecutive All-America honor, improving upon a seventh-place finish outdoors in 2003, and tie for fifth at the 2004 NCAA Indoor meet. The junior's three-career All-America honors equal the third-most ever by a UW woman, while the 10 points she has scored for Washington in her three NCAA Outdoor Championships equal the sixth-most ever by a Husky.
America's seventh-ranked women's vaulter and the reigning Pac-10 champion, Soma earned first-attempt clearances at each of her first four heights, blowing over 13-feet, 9 Ľ inches with several inches to spare. Three misses at 14-1 Ľ, however, combined with a clearance at that height by UCLA's Chelsea Johnson, gave the title to the Bruins' sophomore, who set a collegiate record earlier this year.
Soma was one of three Husky vaulters to place among the top-14 at the NCAA meet Friday, including 13th-place sophomore Carly Dockendorf and 14th-place freshman Stevie Marshalek, both of whom were making their NCAA debuts. Both Dockendorf and Marshalek cleared 13-1 ˝, giving the Huskies three vaulters over 13 feet for the third-consecutive meet. Washington had four vaulters reach 13 feet this season, a feat matched in NCAA history only by Nebraska.
Joining Soma on the podium at the day's conclusion was Spriestersbach, whose fourth-place finish was tops by a Husky javelin thrower since Helena Uusitalo's second-place finish in 1987.
Seeded seventh for Friday's final after a throw of 158-1 in Wednesday's prelim, Spriestersbach sat 11th after two attempts, before launching four-straight efforts over 159 feet, including a school-record toss of 173-7 on the final attempt of her collegiate career.
Spriestersbach's throw broke her own UW record by more than six feet, moved the Lakewood, Wash., native to seventh in the 2004 U.S. women's rankings, and was the third-best effort by a Pac-10 women's thrower since the new javelin implement came into use six years ago.
"Going into that last throw, I knew that this was what I had been working my whole career for; this was it," Spriestersbach said afterward. "I just let it loose, then looked over at my family in the stands. When I saw them jump up and yell, I knew it was good."
With the collegiate season concluded for Washington's athletes, the focus will shift to July's U.S. Olympic Trials, for which both Soma and Spriestersbach, as well as former Husky vaulter Brad Walker, are qualified.
For complete schedules and results from the 2004 NCAA Track and Field Championships, visit www.ncaasports.com.