SEATTLE - Indoor track is back in the Dempsey and if today's UW Indoor Preview is any indication, the 2014 season will bring another batch of meets heavy on the milestones. The Dempsey witnessed its 100th sub-four-minute mile this afternoon in just its 13th year of operation, and also saw five meet records go down as the track warmed up in a hurry in the season opener.
Many of the Husky freshmen who made their collegiate debuts today were not even in grade school when former Husky Eric Garner led four runners under the hallowed 4:00-mile barrier on March 2, 2002. Since then, the Dempsey has turned into an indoor distance running mecca, with dozens of Olympic caliber athletes dotting the list of four-minute-milers in the building. Fittingly, American mile record-holder Alan Webb was competing at the UW Indoor Preview today, though the No. 100 honor went to Patrick Casey, a professional with the Oregon Track Club, who ran 3:58.06 today.
The story of the day for the Dawgs was a sensational debut from junior college transfer Diamara Planell Cruz in the women’s pole vault, as she found herself taking jumps at the Washington indoor school record in her first D-I meet. Planell Cruz, a Puerto Rico native and the California State Community College champ the past two seasons, vaulted over five consecutive heights on just one attempt, making 13-11 ¼ to zoom right to No. 2 on the Husky top-10 list. She then took three tries at 14-3 ½ which would have inched ahead of the school record, but came up short today.
Though it’s early in the season, Planell Cruz already moves to No. 3 in the NCAA this season in the vault. The mark she cleared has always qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships in past years, but it’s too early to tell how the top-16 will develop.
The presence of Pac-12 rivals USC, Stanford and Oregon along with several elite pros fresh off Team USA last year, made for a quality opener, according to Head Coach Greg Metcalf.
“From top to bottom, including and excluding our team, there were great performances in the sprints, the jumps, the distances, the throws; this was a great track meet today,” Metcalf said.
Planell Cruz was one of a number of Huskies to impress in their first time in the Dempsey, while veteran Dawgs were often able to pick off right where they left off last spring.
Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Chris Williams had a third-place finish in the 60-meter hurdles early in the day, running 8.12 seconds in the final, while junior Howard Lao was first in his heat and fifth overall in 8.18 seconds. Freshman Devin Liebel from Buckley, Wash. also just missed the final, running 8.32 seconds in the prelims. In the women’s hurdles, sophomore Kimberly Stueckle edged under her freshman PR by .01 seconds, running 8.82 to take ninth overall.
Sophomores Quadelle Satterwhite and Travis Marshall looked strong in their openers at 100-meters, Satterwhite taking fifth in the final in 6.83 seconds and Marshall sixth in a PR of 6.92. In the women’s 60m, junior Haley Jacobson was just off her PR, going 7.71 seconds.
One of the best openers in recent memory from a true freshman in the field events came from Richland, Wash. native Elizabeth Quick, who pole vaults as well as high jumps. She cleared a solid 5-5 in the high jump, and then was one of three Husky women’s vaulters to clear 12-11 ½. Senior Logan Miller and sophomore Kristina Owsinski also made that bar, good starting points for their seasons.
The men’s high jump saw another impressive debut, as Joseph Knight stepped right in and cleared 6-10 ¼, less than a month into his time on the squad. Knight, who played basketball and track last year at Pomona Pitzer, attended RooseveltHigh School. He tied with senior A.J. Maricich for fourth in the high jump today.
The first meet of the year often comes with some unusual distances that help set the stage for upcoming races. A 600-meters and 1,000-meters were both on the schedule today. Eleanor Fulton and Amy-Eloise Neale both looked strong in the thousand, Fulton running 2:47.28 to take fourth overall in a strong field, and Neale closing fast for 2:47.88 and sixth-place. Izaic Yorks was very impressive in the men’s 1,000, nearly catching Nike OTC Elite athlete Tyler Mulder but getting past three Stanford runners to finish second in 2:22.14. Redshirt freshman Blake Nelson was also a strong sixth in 2:23.13.
In the men’s mile, freshman Jonathan Stevens donned the uniform for the first time and clocked 4:12.64, and sophomore Jacob Smith also ran a 4:12.80. Freshmen Sumner Goodwin and A.J. Yarnall also had solid debuts at the 3k, going 8:28.28 and 8:29.59.
It was a good start for several returning Huskies with postseason aspirations. Sophomore Jax Thoirs was second in the men’s pole vault at 17-4 ½, and J.J. Juilfs was third at 16-10 ¾. Kasen Covington was third in the triple jump going 49-feet, 3-inches.
The Husky throwers had several strong opening marks as well in the shot put and the weight. In the men’s shot, Cal Poly transfer Brian Hutchison placed fifth with a toss of 53-7 ½, and freshman Dan Boyden out of Arlington High School checked in with a mark of 51-6 ¼ for sixth. Sophomore Jack Scheideman had an eight-foot PR in the weight throw at 55-3 ¾.
Sophomore Bev Coleman was fourth in the women’s shot put with a PR of 44-5 ¼, and Hannah Sherrill was fifth with a personal-best of her own at 43-5 ¾. Alyx Toeaina was also seventh at 43-4 ¼. Sophomore Carolyn Gravelle also had a weight throw best of 46-9 ½.
“On the women’s side, Elizabeth Quick had a great showing in the vault and the high jump, that was great for a freshman,” said Metcalf. “Eleanor Fulton and Amy-Eloise Neale I think were two quality performances in the thousand. Diamara, for her to jump as high as she did, that should get to the show, so that was easily the highlight.”
“On the men’s side, Quadelle Satterwhite and Travis Marshall, I liked the way they competed today. Kasen Covington had a solid start to his year in the triple jump. Joe Knight looked great in the high jump and Jax and J.J. had good starts in the vault. The men’s shot putters look as dangerous as they have in years, so there was a lot to like today, but a lot of work to do starting with the next day of practice.
The first Dempsey facility record to fall this season came in the women’s 60-meter dash final, where Jasmine Todd of Oregon ran 7.20 seconds to break the old mark by .01. Meet records came in the women’s 60m, the women’s 400m, the men’s 200m, the men’s 3,000m, and the men’s 60m hurdles.
Washington will be back in the Dempsey in two weeks for the UW Invitational, which takes place Friday and Saturday, Jan. 31-Feb. 1.