May 24, 2013
|NCAA West Preliminary Championships
May 23-25 at Texas's Mike A. Meyers Stadium
Championship Info Page
AUSTIN, Texas - Sometimes the wait just makes it that much sweeter. Enduring a rain delay of over six hours on a day of track that stretched past midnight, the Husky track team enjoyed some outstanding late night efforts, with five Huskies punching their tickets to Eugene and the NCAA final site, four for the first time in their careers.
Sophomore Baylee Mires was the first Husky to kick the door down today, qualifying in the 800-meters and setting the school record in the process at 2:05.34. Soon after, junior Kayla Stueckle and sophomore Gianna Woodruff each ran outstanding quarterfinal races in the 400-meter hurdles to make UW one of just two schools to send two athletes to Eugene in that event.
Shortly thereafter, senior All-American Logan Miller wrapped the marathon pole vault competition by making her third straight national meet with a best clearance of 13-5 ¾. And sophomore Liberty Miller ran yet another PR in the steeplechase, finishing after midnight to cap a great day for the Husky women.
This was the second of three days at the NCAA West Prelims, hosted by Texas at Mike A. Meyers Stadium. The meet takes initial fields of 48 qualifiers in every event from the western half of the country, and cut each one down to a final 12 that will move on to Hayward Field in Eugene from June 5-8 for the NCAA semis and finals. The same process takes place in Greensboro, N.C. for the East Prelims, making for fields of 24 at Oregon.
Mires, who moved through the first round yesterday, got the ball rolling for the Dawgs tonight as she was up in the first of three quarterfinal heats in the 800-meters. A Spokane native and former Washington state champ, and a 2012 NCAA Champion on the distance medley relay, Mires earned her first individual NCAA appearance but had to sweat it out. In the first of three quarterfinals, Mires leaned at the line but placed fourth, one spot away from automatic advancement. She had to wait for the next two heats to see if her school record would be one of the three fastest time qualifiers. It was; she wound up 11th overall, and hugged coaches Greg Metcalf and Lauren Denfeld after watching the last heat. Her time broke Sarah Bolender's school record of 2:05.73 set 26 years ago in 1987.
In the 400-meter hurdles quarterfinals, Stueckle and Woodruff had to be feeling confident after both posted big PRs yesterday in the first round. But they proved not to be satisfied and extended their season to the big meet with third-place finishes in each of their respective heats. Stueckle, the Puyallup native and Emerald Ridge grad, ran in the second of three heats. She was solidly in third-place around the final turn and held it in a time of 58.00 seconds, just off the 57.90 PR she ran yesterday.
Woodruff followed Stueckle's PR on Thursday with a big one of her own, going from a career-best of 59.31 down to 58.95. But that was yesterday. Tonight, despite the cooler conditions, Woodruff followed Stueckle with another monster PR, taking more than a full second again off her career-best with a time of 57.88 seconds, snagging third-place and the auto spot. The L.A. native now jumps to fourth on the Husky top-10 with that mark, with Stueckle right next to her in fifth at 57.90. They are the first Husky women's sprinters to reach the final NCAA site since Falesha Ankton in the 100m hurdles in 2010.
The women's pole vault began at 1 p.m. local time and did not wrap up until after 11 p.m. with the rain delay factored in. Senior Logan Miller and redshirt freshman Kristina Owsinski remained in the mix throughout. Owsinski, in her first NCAA Prelims, and coming off a third-place finish at Pac-12s, had clutch third attempt clearances at both 12-8 and 13-1 ¾ while Miller was over those heights on her first tries.
With the bar up to 13-5 ¾ and 17 vaulters remaining, Owsinski knew she would need to make that height to get into the top-12. It would have been a new PR, and today it was just out of reach, as she missed her three tries. Miller, however, showed the veteran savvy that earned her the school record last season and fourth at the NCAA finals. Despite a tougher senior season due largely to a foot injury, Miller came through again today, getting over 13-5 ¾ on her second jump to make her third straight NCAA Outdoor Championships.
After the clock struck midnight, the steeplechases still remained, with three heats of 16 athletes sending the top three in each heat plus the next three fastest times to Eugene. The third heat featured senior Mel Lawrence and sophomore Liberty Miller, both ranked in the top-12 coming in. Miller has been consistently taking time off her PR all year, and she did that again tonight, running third for most of the heat and finishing there in 10:08.77 to make the final site in her first year running the race.
But it was a bittersweet moment in the steeple, as Lawrence came up just short of joining Miller and making a third NCAA Outdoors in the steeple. The school record-holder in the steeple and one of the best distance runners in Husky history, Lawrence was fifth in the heat and 15th overall in 10:11.24, less than two seconds out of the final qualifying spot. It was the final time in a Husky jersey for the multiple All-American, as she made a great comeback this season after a couple injury-plagued years.
Also running her final track race for the Dawgs was senior Justine Johnson, who had a strong showing in the second heat of the steeple, placing sixth in the heat and 19th overall in 10:20.47, just off her PR. Johnson still has cross country eligibility for the fall.
After the extremely long delay, the first event on the track came at 8 p.m. local time, with Chris Williams and Shayne Moore in the 110-meter hurdles. Williams was right back in good form after the tough luck fall he had over the last hurdle at Pac-12s, as he was third in his heat to get one of the auto advancing spots, running a time of 14.22 seconds. He'll set up a busy day tomorrow with the pole vault, the 4x100m relay, and the hurdles quarters.
Moore wasn't able to join Williams in the quarterfinals, as the senior ran his final race as a Dawg, competing in the Prelims for the first time. The fourth-place Pac-12 finisher two weeks ago, Moore was eighth in his heat in 14.72 seconds today.
Senior James Alaka was back on the track for the 200-meter first round late tonight, one day after he had a hamstring injury in his 100-meter race and wasn't able to advance. Alaka looked great out of the blocks and around the turn, but right at the finish line he pulled up in pain, although he still got across the line third in 21.25 to automatically move on. Alaka said it was just a cramp after the race and he should be fine, and he'll have a big workload tomorrow as he's slated to run both relays as well as the 200-meter quarterfinals.
Last on the track, on early Saturday morning at this point, was redshirt frosh Aaron Nelson in the men's steeple. In his West Prelims debut, Nelson had a tough go, finishing 14th overall in 9:12.91, but an excellent season where he won the Dual meet, scored at the Pac-12s, and made his first Prelims gives him a great jumping off point for next season.
Washington Track & Field
NCAA West Preliminary Championships
May 24, 2013 - Austin, Texas
Mike A. Myers Stadium
Day 2 of 3
200m (Heat 3 of 6):
3. James Alaka, 21.25 (Advances to Quarterfinals); 110m Hurdles (Heat 1 of 6): 8. Shayne Moore, 14.72 (41st overall; does not advance); (Heat 3 of 6): 3. Chris Williams, 14.22 (Advances to Quarterfinal); 3,000m Steeplechase (Heat 3 of 3): 14. Aaron Nelson, 9:12.91 (39th overall; does not advance).
800m (Quarterfinal 1 of 3): 4. Baylee Mires, 2:05.34 (11th overall; Advances to Eugene); 400m Hurdles (Quarterfinal 2 of 3): 3. Kayla Stueckle, 58.00 (Advances to Eugene); (Quarterfinal 3 of 3): 3. Gianna Woodruff, 57.88 (Advances to Eugene); 3,000m Steeplechase (Heat 2 of 3): 6. Justine Johnson, 10:20.47 (19th overall; does not advance); (Heat 3 of 3): 3. Liberty Miller, 10:08.77 (Advances to Eugene); 5. Mel Lawrence, 10:11.24 (15th overall; does not advance); Pole Vault: 7 (tie). Logan Miller, 13-5 ¾ (Advances to Eugene); 16 (tie). Kristina Owsinski, 13-1 ¾ (does not advance).