For the past seven years, assistant coach Raul Sheen has been getting the Husky sprinters up to speed, assembling a diverse and dynamic group that has piled up points at the conference level and established a presence at the NCAA Championships. Sheen joined the Husky staff in the fall of 2008 following a one-year stint at Long Beach State where he was named the 2008 West Region Assistant Coach of the Year.
Over the last seven years, Sheen's sprinters and hurdlers have won four Pac-12 titles, and combined for 29 All-America honors. Husky sprinters have earned 16 individual bids to the NCAA Outdoor Championships under Sheen, and the men’s 4x100-meter relay has advanced to the final site in four of his seven seasons, a testament to the depth UW has relied upon each year.
Sheen has helped Huskies find success across all sprint events, as Washington has qualified athletes to the NCAA Outdoor Prelims in every one of the fourteen possible sprint events, combining the men and women, during Sheen’s tenure.
He has coached a three-time Pac-12 Champion in James Alaka, the 2011 Pac-10 Championships Athlete of the Meet, as well as 2013 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Chris Williams, the first Husky male to win that award. Sheen’s athletes currently account for 65 marks on the Husky top-10 lists, indoors and out.
The Husky sprinters had a banner meet at the Pac-12 Championships in 2015, as three of the four UW relays made the podium with third-place finishes. Both the men's 4x100m relay and 4x400m relay finished third at Pac-12s, and the women's 4x100-meter group broke a 30-year-old school record at Pac-12s, running 44.57 seconds to finish third, matching the best finish by a women's 4x1 in school history. Senior Gianna Woodruff capped her standout career with a third All-America honor, running a PR of 57.49 in the 400m hurdle semis at NCAA Outdoors to place 12th.
The 2014 season saw Woodruff and Kayla Stueckle book return trips to the NCAA Outdoors final site in the 400-meter hurdles, both earning All-America Second Team honors. For Stueckle, that closed the book on a stellar career that saw her lower her hurdles PR every season, and write her name in the Husky top-10 lists fifteen different times indoors and out, thirteen of those on relays.
2013 was one of the most well-rounded seasons for Sheen’s group, as the Huskies advanced three of four relays to NCAA West Prelims, with the men’s 4x100m moving on to Eugene for the semis. Three hurdlers qualified for the NCAA final site for the first time, with Chris Williams posting the No. 2 high hurdles time in school history (13.82 seconds) to advance, and Kayla Stueckle and Gianna Woodruff accounting for two of the twelve 400-meter hurdles spots for nationals, as both broke 58-seconds for the first time in the prelims.
Also in 2013, James Alaka wrapped up his record-setting Husky career with a fourth-consecutive NCAA Outdoor appearance at 200-meters. The London native won three Pac-12 titles, becoming the first Husky ever to successfully defend a title, as he won the 200-meters in 2011 and again in 2012 in a career-best 20.45 seconds. He also won the 100-meter title in 2011, the first Husky to sweep the conference sprint titles since 2000. Alaka would also lead the 4x100-meter relay to NCAAs each year from 2011-13, and he had four more top-three finishes at Pac-12s aside from his wins. Alaka also won gold in the 100m and silver in the 200m at the 2012 European U23 Championships.
Sheen helped another recent grad, Jordan Carlson, leave no doubt that she was the greatest quarter-miler in school history, as she repeatedly broke her own 400m school record, dropping it to 53.03 seconds. Carlson ran the 400m leg on UW's NCAA Champion distance medley relay in 2012, then took third at the 2012 Pac-12 Championships, the best finish by a Husky in over a decade. Carlson just missed the NCAA final site by .01 seconds, taking 13th at West Prelims.
More recent successes on the national stage include Falesha Ankton, who carried a 100-meter hurdles PR of 13.46 seconds into her senior season in 2010. Ankton qualified for NCAA Prelims, then earned the 12th and final spot to NCAAs with a new personal-best of 13.37. In the semis at NCAA Outdoors, Ankton crushed her PR once again with a time of 13.18, good for ninth overall to earn her first hurdles All-America honor in her final Husky race. Also that season, senior Dominique Lauderdale scored for the second straight year in the 100m finals at Pac-12s, and set a best of 11.57 seconds at West Prelims.
Current Husky Maurice McNeal enjoyed a sensational freshman season in 2011, qualifying for the NCAA semis at 400-meters and running a freshman school record of 45.60 seconds. He and Alaka were joined on the 4x100m relay by Ryan Hamilton and Colton Dunn, with that group running 39.62 to take third at Pac-10s, the best time during Sheen’s tenure. They would go on to earn All-America Second Team honors.
In his first season at Washington, Sheen helped lay some groundwork while also seeing successes on the national stage. Senior Jordan Boase wrapped up his exceptional career with a fifth All-America award in the 400-meters as he placed third at the NCAA Indoor meet and outdoors won Pac-10 and West Regional titles at the distance.
The men's 4x100m relay brought back just one of the four legs responsible for UW's Pac-10 title in 2008, but the reconstituted group came through with a season-best at Regionals to earn a spot at NCAAs. It marked the first NCAA appearance for seniors Kenjamine Jackson and Randy Bacon. Junior Jeff Gudaitis ran on the relay and also reached the NCAA final site in the 400-meters.
Sheen's sprinters had a remarkable amount of success during his one year at Long Beach State in 2008. Brent Gray earned All-America honors in the 200-meter dash with a 5th-place finish at the 2008 NCAA Outdoor Championships, and won the 100- and 200-meter dashes at the West Regional meet. Gray was named the 2008 Big West Track Athlete of the Year.
All told, four of Sheen's sprinters qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 2008, and his athletes won 10 Big West Conference titles to lead Long Beach State to the team championship. He also guided LBSU's sprint medley relay to a victory at the prestigious Drake Relays.
A native of Rupert, Idaho, Sheen was a four-year member of the Idaho State University track and field team, then served as assistant coach in charge of sprints and relays from 2005-07. During that time he led the Bengal women's team to its first ever Big Sky Conference Championship in 2007, as well as the 2006 Indoor Big Sky title for the men. His athletes won six conference titles, and garnered 25 All-Big Sky Conference honors.Sheen received his bachelor's degree from in physical education from Idaho State in 2002, and followed that up at ISU with a master's in athletic administration in 2003. While completing his studies, Sheen was a graduate assistant at Idaho State. That was followed by one year as a volunteer assistant at the University of New Mexico, before Sheen returned to ISU on a full-time basis in 2005.