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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Making their first appearances at the NCAA Indoor Championships, the Huskies got veteran-like performances from their men’s DMR team and Diamara Planell Cruz in the pole vault, as both finished in the top-10 on the first day of the two day meet. Planell Cruz matched her career-best in the vault to finish ninth, and then the men’s relay battled for an eighth-place finish to earn a coveted spot on the podium at the AlbuquerqueConvention Center.
The Huskies were looking to score in the men’s DMR for the first time since 2007, when UW finished fifth-place for the third year in a row. However, the Huskies were the 12th and final team to make the field, and were running without Izaic Yorks on the anchor, as Yorks ran in the mile earlier in the day. So sophomore Meron Simon went from the opening leg to the anchor leg, and redshirt freshman Blake Nelson opened up at 1,200-meters.
Nelson, the Mill Creek native, was at the back of the field for the first several laps, and looked as if he was just hanging on, but suddenly with a couple laps to go in his carry, he made a move up to ninth-place, and then kept right on moving towards the hand-off, passing to Quadelle Satterwhite in fourth-place, and Satterwhite quickly passed another runner to get into third.
Satterwhite would split the 400-meter leg in 47.89 seconds and pass to Derrick Daigre with the Huskies in fifth-place. Daigre made a push on his 800-meter leg to get back up to third-place, and handed off again in fourth-place to Simon for the final 1,600-meters. Stanford and Columbia had broken away, but a pack of about eight more teams settled in for the next several laps, with UW in that mix. Simon carried the baton home in eight-place with a split of 4:07.62 and a final time overall of 9:44.75.
It’s the best men’s DMR finish for the Dawgs since 2007, and will earn the four athletes All-America First Team honors, as well as the valuable team point.
Earlier in the afternoon, Planell Cruz had a great effort in the women’s pole vault, but some incredible marks, perhaps thanks in part due to the thinner air at elevation, kept her just one place from the podium in her first NCAA appearance. Planell Cruz cleared the first two bars, 13-1 ½ and 13-5 ¼, each on her first try. She then needed a third-attempt to get over 13-9 ¼, but stayed alive, and then made the next bar, a career-best-equaling 13-11 ¼, on her first try. The Bayamon, Puerto Rico native finally couldn’t convert at 14-1 ¼, a bar that seven women were able to make, with Planell Cruz finishing ninth based on the tiebreak procedure for eighth. An NCAA record ended up being set as Kaitlin Petrillose of Texas won at 15-1.
Running in the second of two eight-man heats to open the day’s racing, Izaic Yorks was not able to crack the final, as he finished seventh in his heat in a time of 4:13.17. Yorks was near the back of the pack throughout, and when it strung out over the last lap, he had too much ground to make up. But along with his great individual season, Yorks was the critical anchor to the DMR at the MPSF meet when he ran virtually by himself to win the race for the Dawgs, which qualified the team for its chance tonight.
Tomorrow, the Huskies will have one competitor remaining, as sophomore Jax Thoirs makes his NCAA debut at 4:30 p.m. Pacific time in the pole vault.
NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships
Albuquerque, N.M. – Albuquerque Convention Center
March 14, 2014 – Day 1 of 2