May 27, 2006
PROVO, Utah - Senior Shane Charles won the 400-meter hurdles and led Washington to a win in the 4x400-meter relay, as a record 11 Huskies earned NCAA Championships automatic berths Saturday at the 2006 NCAA West Regional meet in Provo, Utah.
The UW's 11 automatic qualifiers Saturday more than doubles the Washington single-day record of five set in 2003, while the Huskies' total of 17 automatic-qualifying efforts over the two-day meet -- including an unprecedented long jump-high jump double by sophomore Norris Frederick -- is also a team record.
The top-five individuals and top-three relays at each of the four regionals contested nationwide are guaranteed automatic entry to June's NCAA Championships, with the next seven finishers in each event advanced to an at-large pool of candidates from which 6-7 per event will be selected, by performance, for the NCAA meet.
Though the event is designed to qualify individuals for the NCAA Championships, team scores are kept. Washington's win in the relay vaulted the UW men to fourth with 71 points -- ahead of Pac-10 powerhouses Oregon (5th, 63) and UCLA (6th, 62.5), ahead behind only top-10 opponents No. 7 USC (123), No. 8 BYU (86.5), and No. 6 Arizona (75). The UW women, meanwhile, placed seventh with 30 points, as Stanford (91) won its second-straight regional title.
"We had about as perfect a day as we possibly could have had," said fifth-year head coach Greg Metcalf. "Of course, not everybody made it to the national meet, so you can't say it was totally perfect, but any day in which you qualify 11 people for the national meet and win two regional titles is a good day by just about any measure."
Charles, Frederick, sophomores Austin Abbott (1500m) and Kelley DiVesta (pole vault), juniors Ashley Lodree (100m hurdles), Ryan Brown (800m) and Amy Lia (1500m), and seniors Carly Dockendorf (pole vault), Juan Romero (javelin) and Bruce Jackson (400m) each earned automatic berths Saturday with top-five finishes, while the 4x400-meter relay of Charles, Brown, Jackson and sophomore Jordan Boase qualified with its winning effort.
Those 11 individuals will be joined at the NCAA meet by freshman Anita Campbell (5000m) and senior Martin Bingisser (hammer), both of whom earned automatic berths Friday.
Charles remained undefeated in the hurdles in 2006 with his win Saturday, adding the West Regional title to the Pac-10 crown he won two weeks ago. Unlike at the Pac-10 meet, however -- when Charles held off a late-charging Jon Casselman of Washington State by just two hundredths of a second -- the senior coasted to an easier victory Saturday, defeating BYU's Chris Carter by more than three tenths of a second -- 15 times Charles' winning margin at Pac-10s.
Charles' first-place time of 49.98 seconds was well off the UW record of 49.51 he set at the Pac-10 meet, but was enough to earn Charles his first of two regional titles Saturday. The senior from Grenada has won every hurdles race he has started this year, and will be the No. 2 seed at the NCAA Championships next month.
"Shane blew out the field today, but you never would have known it by watching him -- he was so strong and relaxed; it was one of the easiest races that I think I`ve ever seen him run," said fifth-year head coach Greg Metcalf. "Shane's one of those athletes that always makes it look easy -- then you look up at the clock and realize he's run one of the fastest times in the country. He's just has a ton of talent."
The senior returned barely an hour later to lead Washington's 4x400-meter relay to its first-ever regional crown in 3:04.67 -- more than a second ahead of runner-up and Pac-10 champion USC, and more than two seconds faster than the team's season-best entering the meet. The Huskies' time -- second only to national-leader LSU among marks entering the weekend -- is the third-fastest in Washington history, and less than a second off the record of 3:03.85 set by Charles, Brown, Jackson and Sean Williams at last year's Pac-10 Championships.
Washington's win is just the third ever in postseason competition for a UW relay. The Huskies, who placed third in the event at the NCAA indoor meet in March, will be making their third-straight NCAA Championships appearance -- a feat never before accomplished in UW history.
"Those four were awesome today," Metcalf said. "It wasn't even close at the finish. Jordan, Shane and Ryan all ran awesome legs to give us the lead, and Bruce lowered the hammer with a fantastic anchor. They looked terrific."
Equally impressive on Saturday was Lodree. One day after clocking the ninth-fastest 100-meter hurdles time in Pac-10 history (a wind-aided 12.95 seconds) in Friday's prelim, the junior from Richmond, Calif., backed it up with a wind-legal 13.00-second mark in the final, breaking her own UW record by nearly two tenths of a second.
That the effort placed Lodree only third in the final is less a statement about Lodree than about the relative strength of the event in the West Region, which includes three of the top-six -- and four of the top-10 -- hurdlers in the nation. Rainier Beach High School graduate Virginia Powell of USC ran the fastest time in the world this year -- a 12.61-second effort -- for the win, while UCLA's Dawn Harper was second in 12.80.
Lodree will be making her fifth-career NCAA Championships appearance, while looking to add to the three All-America honors she has already earned. The junior placed fifth in the NCAA final last year.
"She was like Shane today -- she just looked totally confident and relaxed the whole race," Metcalf said. "She was right up on Ginnie Powell until the seventh hurdle, and if it weren't for Dawn Harper coming up next to her and forcing her to rush her last couple of jumps, I think she could have run 12.7 or 12.8. It's coming, and the way she's running right now, it's coming soon."
Lodree was not alone in making history Saturday -- as the junior sprinted by on the track, sophomore Norris Frederick earned his second runner-up finish in as many days, this time in the high jump, to clinch his second automatic NCAA Championships berth of the competition. Frederick, who also placed second in the long jump Friday, is the first Husky since the regional qualifying system began in 2003 to earn multiple individual qualifying berths, and will be the first in UW history ever to compete at the NCAA Championships in both the long and high jumps.
Frederick is a two-time All-American in the long jump indoors, and competed at the 2005 NCAA Outdoor Championships in the high jump.
"Last year at the regional meet, I'm not sure Norris understood the system and how exactly he had to finish to go to NCAAs," Metcalf says. "This year he came in with a purpose, and accomplished just about everything he wanted to do. I know he'd have liked to have gotten a win, but to make it to NCAAs in both events -- and in the process do something no one has ever done here before -- makes for a pretty good weekend."
Chehalis native Abbott, meanwhile, earned his NCAA Championships berth with a third-place finish in the 1,500 meters, despite having to hurdle fallen Pac-10 champion Robert Cheseret midway through the race. Cheseret, who also fell in the preliminary heat at the Pac-10 meet, went down again along with teammate Jonah Maiyo after colliding with Stanford's Russell Brown 450 meters into the race. Forced to hurdle the fallen pair, Abbott fought his way back to the front of the pack to place third in 3:53.00 -- behind BYU's Kyle Perry and Cheseret, who came back from his fall to earn a remarkable victory in 3:52.34.
A two-time relay All-American who passed up a chance to run the mile at the NCAA indoor meet in March in order to compete in the distance medley relay, Abbott will compete at the NCAA meet for the first time as an individual next month.
Similar to Abbott is Jackson, a Nathan Hale High School grad who has earned All-America honors on UW relays, but had yet to qualify as an individual for the NCAA Championships. That all changed with a fifth-place finish in Saturday's 400-meter dash final, where Jackson's 47.02-second time moved him past four higher-ranked competitors and earned the senior an invitation to next month's NCAA meet. Jackson is the first Husky to qualify for the NCAA Championships in the 400 meters since Derek Prior in 2000, and the first to do so in any sprint event since 2001.
"Bruce wasn't 100 percent at the Pac-10 meet, and I think that kept him from having the kind of weekend he had hoped to have there," Metcalf said. "Today, though, with what he did in the 400 and on the relay, Bruce made a statement. I could tell just from looking at him afterwards how much it meant to him, and I know he'll be fired up for nationals."
Dockendorf and DiVesta, meanwhile, each earned return trips to the NCAA meet with fourth- and fifth-place finishes, respectively, in Saturday's pole vault. The sixth-place finisher at last year's NCAA meet, Dockendorf will be making her fifth-straight NCAA Championships appearance, while DiVesta will be making her second NCAA appearance in as many years. Both cleared 13 feet, 3 ¾ inches on their first attempts Saturday, giving them the tiebreaker edge over sixth-place finisher Gabriella Duclos of Arizona, who needed three attempts at the height.
An All-American in the 1,500 meters in 2005, Lia looked smooth in earning her second-straight NCAA appearance with a third-place finish Saturday, while Brown continued a terrific postseason with a third-place effort of his own at 800 meters. After laying low for much of the regular season, Brown has come out strong in postseason action, placing third at both the Pac-10 and Regional meets. The junior from Renton is already a three-time NCAA All-American, and placed 10th in the 800 meters at the NCAA meet in 2005.
"Ryan's time converts to a 1:47.9 when you factor the altitude adjustment in, and that puts him right up there with anybody in the country," Metcalf said. "As he showed with his races today, he steps up when there's something on the line. I honestly don't know that there's anything he isn't capable of accomplishing at NCAAs."
In addition to the 11 above, two other Huskies -- junior Isaiah Stanback and sophomore Amanda Miller -- placed sixth Saturday in the 100 meters and 800 meters, respectively. Both were agonizingly close to fifth place, with Stanback -- who quarterbacks UW's football team in the fall -- missing by just .02 of a second, in 10.46 seconds, and Miller falling just .37 of a second shy at 2:09.77.
Instead, they will join Will Conwell and the Huskies' 4x100-meter squad among those eagerly awaiting Tuesday's announcement of at-large selections to the Championships field. Conwell, with a No. 6 national ranking, is certain to be among those selected, while the others are likely longshots for at-large berths.
For complete results from the NCAA West Regional Championships, visit www.GoHuskies.com.
NCAA West Regional Championships, Day 2 Results
Clarence Robison Track; Provo, Utah
May 26-27, 2006
UW Men's Results (All Finals)
100m: 6. Isaiah Stanback, 10.46 (w: 1.8); 400m: 5. Bruce Jackson, 47.02; 800m*: 3. Ryan Brown, 1:48.49; 1500m*: 3. Austin Abbott, 3:53.00; Steeplechase*: 14. Brad Liber, 9:55.84; 400m IH: 1. Shane Charles, 49.98; 4x100m: 6. Washington, 40.79; 4x400m: ; High Jump: t2. Norris Frederick, 6-11; --. Warren Eickhoff, NH; Javelin: 2. Juan Romero, 226-4.
UW Women's Results (All Finals)
800m*: 6. Amanda Miller, 2:09.77; 1500m*: 3. Amy Lia, 4:25.02; 100m HH: 3. Ashley Lodree, 13.00 (w: 1.4); Pole Vault: 4. Carly Dockendorf, 13-3 ¾; 5. Kelley DiVesta, 13-3 ¾; t29. Ashley Wildhaber, 12-0.
* - marks not adjusted for altitude