SEATTLE – Opportunity awaits a number of Husky track athletes this weekend as the stage is set for the NCAA Indoor Championships at the Albuquerque Convention Center in New Mexico. The top-16 athletes in each event and top-12 relays will chase national titles and All-America honors this Friday and Saturday. Both days of the meet will be streamed live online via ESPN3.
Washington has four entries in the meet, with eight athletes in the travel party, none of which have yet scored at an NCAA Championship event, so this meet could be a huge step in many of their careers. Only sophomore Quadelle Satterwhite, who will run the 400m leg on the distance medley relay, has been to an NCAA final site, earning All-America honorable mention last year on the 4x100m relay team outdoors. It is the first NCAA Indoor appearance for each of the Dawgs in attendance.
The Huskies will be represented by pole vaulters Diamara Planell Cruz and Jax Thoirs, and by Izaic Yorks in the mile run, as well as the men’s distance medley relay.
The exact order of the DMR will likely differ from the group that won the MPSF title two weeks ago to qualify UW for the national meet. That night it was Meron Simon at 1,200-meters, Satterwhite at 400m, Derrick Daigre at 800-meters, and Yorks at 1,600-meters. Satterwhite and Daigre should be locked into their spots, but Yorks will be coming off a mile semifinal on Friday so he will likely be replaced by alternates Blake Nelson or Nick Harris, both of whom are in the travel party.
All of the Huskies with the exception of Harris have already competed in the Albuquerque Convention Center this season, as UW made a trip down for the New Mexico Collegiate Classic back in February.
Friday will feature Yorks up first in the second of two mile semifinal heats at 5:00 p.m. Pacific time. The women’s pole vault final also starts at the same time with Planell Cruz in the field. The men’s DMR then is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. Pacific that night.
Saturday, Thoirs will go in the men’s pole vault at 4:30 p.m., followed by the men’s mile final at 5:00 p.m. if Yorks advances to the final.
Yorks is the first Husky in the men’s mile field since James Cameron finished eighth in 2011. Yorks became the fifth Husky to break four-minutes in the mile when he ran 3:59.04 at the Husky Classic. He backed that up by anchoring the DMR to the MPSF title with a fantastic final mile leg.
The men’s DMR last reached the national meet just two years ago in 2012, finishing 10th overall despite a fall on the opening leg. Coach Metcalf has now had a men’s DMR make NCAAs in five of the last 10 years. From 2005-07, the Huskies finished fifth-place in the DMR three straight years.
Planell Cruz opened her season with a clearance of 13-11 ¼ at the UW Indoor Preview, the mark that got her to Albuquerque. The junior college transfer also went 13-8 ¼ in Albuquerque last month. A wrist injury forced her to miss the MPSF meet, so she has not competed in a month’s time, but the wrist has improved and allowed her to practice. She is the first Husky women’s vaulter at NCAA Indoors since Kelley DiVesta in 2008.
Jax Thoirs makes his NCAA Indoor debut as well, competing at the place where he jumped his indoor PR of 18-0 ½ last month. Thoirs has been bothered by an achilles issue since the MPSF meet, but he is still expected to compete. Assistant coach Pat Licari has had a men’s vaulter at NCAA Indoors in seven of the past eight years, including two NCAA titles for Scott Roth in 2010 and 2011. Junior J.J. Juilfs was the most recent participant in 2012.
Washington Competitor Schedule
Friday, March 14
5:00 pm PT – Women’s Pole Vault Final – Diamara Planell Cruz
5:00 pm PT – Men’s Mile Semifinal – Izaic Yorks
8:15 pm PT – Men’s Distance Medley Relay Final
Saturday, March 15
4:30 pm PT – Men’s Pole Vault Final – Jax Thoirs
5:00 pm PT – Men’s Mile Final – Izaic Yorks