Friday-Saturday, Feb. 28-Mar. 1
SEATTLE – The Dempsey Indoor season comes to a close this weekend, rolling to the finish with one of the best team competitions in the NCAA. The Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Championships go this Friday and Saturday, with full days of action each day. The ever-expanding MPSF meet is the premier team competition on the Dempsey schedule, and also the last opportunity for athletes to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships which are just over two weeks away.
In previous years, the indoor season featured a number of Final Qualifier meets around the country after the MPSF weekend, but that is no longer the case, so the focus on performing this week is bigger than ever. And once again, the MPSF has grown to a new record number of participants, as the USC women’s team and the Cal State Fullerton women’s team have joined this year, bringing the total to 12 men’s teams and 17 women’s teams.
The MPSF now features all eleven of the Pac-12 schools that sponsor indoor track, though USC and Utah will have only women in attendance. The Pac-12 does not sponsor indoor track. Several more of the West’s top track teams also call the MPSF home, including schools from the Big West and West Coast Conferences.
This year’s MPSF Championships will see top-10 showdowns on both the women’s and men’s sides with the four-time defending NCAA women’s indoor champion and No. 1-ranked Oregon Ducks against No. 9 Stanford and No. 19 UCLA. The No. 5 Oregon men are the highest-ranked MPSF squad, up against No. 9 Arizona and No. 23 Stanford.
Along with contending for individual and team conference titles, the push for NCAA qualification is on everyone’s mind this weekend. To reach NCAA Indoors in Albuquerque, athletes must finish the season ranked in the top-16 in their event nationally.
Dozens of athletes competing this weekend are already in position to reach nationals, but will try to shore up their marks, and dozens more will try to improve into that top-16 group. Based on the current rankings, there are 24 athletes currently ranked in the NCAA top-10 that are scheduled to compete in the Dempsey this weekend, including several NCAA leaders.
Friday’s action begins at 12 noon with the women’s weight throw final and the first event of the pentathlon. Both pole vaults will take place Friday, as will both men’s and women’s long jumps, as well as the men’s weight throw. The pentathlon will complete all five events, while the heptathlon will do four of seven. Track finals on Friday include the 5,000-meters, the 200-meters, and the distance medley relays which wrap up the day at 7:10 p.m. Prelims in the 60m hurdles and dashes also take place.
Saturday is a great day of track with one final after another starting at 10:30 a.m. All remaining track finals take place Saturday, along with the conclusion of the heptathlon, and the men’s and women’s high jumps, triple jumps, and shot puts. The 4x400m relays wrap things up at 2:25 p.m.
The Huskies make their big NCAA push this weekend, looking to add to their ranks of qualifiers. Currently, four Huskies sit in the top-16 in their events, but only sophomore Jax Thoirs is comfortably in the top-10 at No. 7 in the pole vault. Sophomore Izaic Yorks is 13th in the mile after his sub-4 run two weeks ago, High jumper A.J. Maricich is tied for 15th in the high jump, and junior Diamara Planell Cruz is 14th in the women’s vault, though a wrist injury will unfortunately keep her from competing this weekend.
In the sprints, sophomores Quadelle Satterwhite and Travis Marshall will look to make the 60m dash final, and Marshall and freshman Andrew Brown and senior Colton Dunn will go at 200-meters on Friday. At 400-meters, Brown and Andrew Prentice will run for the men and Kayla Stueckle, Gianna Woodruff, and Krista Armstead will all run for the women, all coming off recent PRs.
Kimberly Stueckle will represent the Dawgs in the women’s hurdles, and on the men’s side, Chris Williams and Howard Lao will look to make the final for a second straight year, while freshman Devin Liebel makes his MPSF debut.
The top heat of the men’s 800-meters will feature junior Derrick Daigre, who comes in with the No. 3 time in the conference but likely needs to set another PR to move up from his No. 18 ranking nationally. It should be a great race with the top-four athletes on the MPSF list all needing to run fast to reach NCAAs. Mason Fletcher will also go in the first heat, and on the women’s side, C.J. Smith and Annie Moore are in the second of three heats.
Fresh off his first-ever sub-four-minute mile, sophomore Izaic Yorks will see if he can go even faster this week, and challenge for a conference title against an excellent mile field that includes redshirt freshman Blake Nelson and sophomore Meron Simon. Nick Harris and Keith Williams also go in the first heat. On the women’s side, Eleanor Fulton and Amy-Eloise Neale are in the fast heat, with Fulton about three seconds away from the NCAA bubble.
Freshman Katie Knight will look to score at her first conference meet, as she brings in one of the top seed marks to the women’s 3k. Junior Liberty Miller and freshman Kaylee Flanagan will also be in the top section. On the men’s side, Jacob Smith, A.J. Yarnall, and Sumner Goodwin are all in the first of two 3k heats. Those three are also entered in Friday night’s 5k, which would be their first of the season. Flanagan is also entered in the women’s 5k along with Megan Morgan.
Maricich comes into the men’s high jump with the second-best mark only behind NCAA leader Nick Ross of Arizona. Joe Knight will also jump, and freshman Elizabeth Quick will represent the UW women after she competes in the pole vault on Friday.
The vault figures to be a big event as usual for UW, with Thoirs in a three-way tie for the best mark so far this season with Michael Woepse of UCLA and Braydon Bringhurst of BYU. J.J. Juilfs and Chris Williams will also look to score for the men. The Husky women’s vaulters have a lot on the line even without Planell Cruz, as several athletes are still within striking distance of NCAAs and capable of scoring a lot of points on Friday. Kristina Owsinski and Logan Miller are among the top contenders, and Quick and Ashley Schnapp have both hovered around the 13-foot mark this season. Also competing will be Georgia Reynolds, Eva Perry, and Jessica Goodkin.
Seniors Kasen Covington and Julian Bardwell will look to post points in both the long and triple jumps this weekend, while freshman Kate Adler is the only women’s long jumper, but Shaniae Lakes and Jaleecia Roland are both seeded in the top-10 in the MPSF in the triple jump.
Coming off her big PR of 46-feet two weeks ago, sophomore Alyx Toeaina earned a spot in the top flight of the women’s shot put. Bev Coleman and Hannah Sherrill are both in the first flight. Toeaina and Coleman will also throw the weight for the women. The men’s throwers will be represented by Jack Scheideman in both the shot and weight throw, and Brian Hutchison also goes in the shot.