SEATTLE - For the second time in three week, the Husky track team is bussing east to Pullman to take on the Cougars. Only this time, the rest of the Pac-12 Conference will be adding to the atmosphere at Mooberry Field. Washington State hosts the Pac-12 Championships this Saturday and Sunday, May 17-18, its first time hosting since 2002.
The Huskies should be plenty familiar with the set-up at Mooberry, as the Huskies and Cougars met for the annual Dual Meet on May 3, with the Husky men earning an 84-79 win and the Cougar women winning, 82-81.
The Pac-12 Networks will be taping the two-day competition and airing a tape-delayed presentation on Sunday, May 25, at 9 p.m. Pacific time. Paul Sunderland, Tom Feuer, and Ato Boldon will be calling all the action for the network.
Last year at the conference meet in Los Angeles, the Husky men finished fifth, matching their best finish since 2006. The men’s best-ever finish was third in 1996 and 1997. The Husky women finished seventh last year, and have an all-time best of fourth on three occasions, last in 1996. Last season, Kasen Covington won the first Pac-12 triple jump title in school history and Megan Goethals won the first women’s 5,000-meters crown in school history as well. The men’s team has produced at least one Pac-12 Champion every year since 2005, and the combined Husky squad has had a conference champion every year since 1999.
In the short sprints, sophomores Travis Marshall and Quadelle Satterwhite will be joined by freshman Lucas Strong. Marshall has a season-best of 10.59 seconds that ranks 13th in the conference and Satterwhite has run a 10.64 that ranks 15th, though he is coming off a hamstring strain at the Dual Meet his last time out. UW’s lone entry in the quarter mile will be freshman Andrew Brown who comes in with a season-best of 48.08.
The mid-distances on the men’s side will be one of the main events for the Dawgs. Izaic Yorks and Derrick Daigre come in with the second- and third-fastest times in the conference this year in the 800-meters, both run at the UW-WSU Dual. Yorks ranks sixth in school history with his 1:48.15, and Daigre ranks ninth with his 1:48.49. Senior Brad Whitley will also go in the 800-meters and has a season-best of 1:51.55.
Four Huskies will run in the 1,500-meters, all looking to make their first finals. In one of the deepest fields in any event in any conference, redshirt freshmen Blake Nelson and Nick Harris rank ninth and tenth in a field that takes twelve to the final. Sophomore Meron Simon will also be hunting for the final as he comes in ranked 14th with a PR of 3:44.95. Redshirt freshman Hap Emmons also makes his Pac-12 debut, coming off a season-best of 3:50.67 last Saturday at the Ken Shannon.
Sophomore Aaron Nelson scored in the steeplechase last year at Pac-12s but will look to improve on that seventh-place finish as he is coming off an impressive win at the Dual Meet. His season-best ranks fifth in the field, and sophomore Tim Cummings has the sixth-best time and will be looking for his first conference points.
Sixth-year senior Rob Webster Jr. will be UW’s lone man at the 10k, and he and Nelson are the two early entries for the 5,000-meters if they choose to double back after Saturday’s steeple and 10k finals.
Sophomore Chris Williams has yet to find the rhythm in the hurdles that got him to the Pac-12 final last year as well as the NCAA semifinals, but he has a chance to make a big mark in the 110m hurdles on Saturday. The 400m hurdles will see the Pac-12 debut of sophomore Kaid Tipton, who comes in ranked 11th with a PR of 53.62 seconds.
In the high jump, senior A.J. Maricich will get to close out his Pac-12 career close to his Spokane home. Maricich tied for second at Pac-12s in 2012 and cleared seven-feet just two weeks ago on the Mooberry track.
The men’s pole vault will feature two of the top-three vaulters in the West Region in Husky sophomore Jax Thoirs and defending Pac-12 champion Michael Woepse of UCLA. Woepse comes in with a season-best of 18-5 ¼, and Thoirs just raised his PR to 18-4 ½ at the Ken Shannon last week. 2012 Pac-12 Champ J.J. Juilfs, who placed third in the vault last year, and Williams, the runner-up last year, will also vault for the Dawgs.
One of two defending champions for the Dawgs, Kasen Covington, will look to retain his triple jump crown in his final Pac-12 appearance. He comes in with the second-best mark of the season, but it is a closely-packed field. Covington will also try to pick up points in the long jump. Senior Julian Bardwell takes a run in both the long and triple jumps as well. He ranks ninth in the triple jump field and 13th in the long jump, and hopes to score for the first time.
Leading the way for the men’s throwers is the javelin group, which has scored big points at Pac-12s for several years in a row. Oregon’s Sam Crouser comes in as the defending champ and owns the best throw in the West this season, but Huskies Quinn Hale and Carson Fuller will try to pull the upset, as they rank second and third. Hale ranks third in the West with his PR of 235-7, and Fuller is ninth at 225-10. Also returning to Pac-12s is Curtis Clauson, who was seventh at the meet as a freshman before redshirting last year.
Brian Hutchison and Dan Boyden will make their Pac-12 debuts, hoping to toss some PRs in the shot and discus. Hutchison won the Dual Meet two weeks ago with a best of 54-1, which ranks him 12th in the shot put performance list, while Boyden, the true freshman, ranks 15th in the discus coming in at 165-0.
Handling the short sprinting duties on the women’s side will be Haley Jacobson, entered in both the 100m and 200m. The junior owns a season-best of 11.87 seconds in the 100m and 24.59 in the 200-meters. She’ll be the only Dawg entered up to 800-meters.
At 800-meters, sophomore C.J. Smith made a case for inclusion last week at the Ken Shannon, as she posted an outdoor season-best of 2:10.86. Smith scored in the 800-meters indoors at the MPSF meet with a sixth-place finish.
As usual, the women’s 1,500-meters at the Pac-12 Championships is loaded, with UW coming in with Katie Flood and Eleanor Fulton both ranked among the top contenders. Flood has the fourth-best seed time at 4:18.44 but has looked progressively stronger throughout the season at the Drake Relays and the UW-WSU Dual. She was the 1,500m runner-up in 2012 in her last appearance. Fulton will be attempting to reach the final for the first time after finishing 14th last year. Sophomore Erin Johnson also gets a crack at her first Pac-12 meet, coming in with a season-best of 4:30.78.
The Dawgs will look to several distance standouts to post points in the steeple up to the 10k. In the steeplechase, junior Liberty Miller will try to exceed last year’s fourth-place finish. She comes in with the No. 3 seed time of 10:21.49.
Last year, as a junior, Megan Goethals became the first UW woman to win the Pac-12 crown at 5,000-meters. This season, in her final conference meet, the Michigan native is entered in both the 10k and the 5k. The school record-holder at both distances, Goethals ranks second in the 10k coming in, right in front of senior Lindsay Flanagan, who was third in the 10k last year and ranks third coming in this year as well. Also joining the 10k fray will be senior Breanna Huschka, who last ran at Pac-12s back in 2010, as well as freshman Kaylee Flanagan, making her 10k debut.
What Huskies double back for the 5,000-meters remains to be seen, but freshman Katie Knight is one who will be taking on the 5k with fresh legs. Knight, another of several Huskies to call nearby Spokane home, ran a sub-16-minute 5k earlier this year to rank 10th in school history, and seventh in the field which should dwindle dramatically by the time the gun goes off.
In the short hurdles, sophomore Kimberly Stueckle looks to improve on her 18th-place finish from a year ago; her 13.87 PR ranks 10th coming into the meet.
The 400-meter hurdles is another spotlight event for the Dawgs, with senior Kayla Stueckle and junior Gianna Woodruff both among the top contenders. Both made the final a year ago, with Stueckle taking fifth and Woodruff seventh in what was then one of the fastest fields ever. Woodruff’s 57.72 PR from the Dual Meet two weeks ago is the No. 2 time in the conference, and Stueckle ranks third at 57.96. Sophomore Krista Armstead will also lace it up in the hurdles, after running the open 400-meters last year as a freshman.
Junior Diamara Planell Cruz owns the top pole vault clearance in the conference this season at 14-feet. She leads a very deep field with a number of hopefuls, including sophomore Kristina Owsinski who was third at Pac-12s a year ago. Freshman Elizabeth Quick is also seeded ninth overall and junior Ashley Schnapp ranks 13th coming in at 12-11 ¾. Quick will also compete in the high jump, along with junior Jaleecia Roland.
In addition to her high jump duties, Roland will go in the triple jump, an event she took ninth in last season. UW will also look to senior Shaniae Lakes, the triple jump runner-up two years ago. Lakes set the school record at the 2012 conference meet, jumping 43-3 ¼. She showed that she could be getting back close to that form two weeks ago at the Dual Meet as she jumped a wind-aided 42-1 ¼, which ranks her second in the conference coming in. Lakes missed last year after hip surgery. Washington’s only long jump competitor will be freshman Kate Adler, who posted her season-best of 18-1 ¾ in Pullman two weeks back.
In the women’s shot put, sophomore Alyx Toeaina comes in ranked 12th with her season-best of 45-1 ½. Sophomore Bev Coleman will focus on the hammer throw. All three of UW’s true freshmen women’s javelin throwers will make the trip and get their first conference action. Ashley Alexander has posted the top marks this season and ranks ninth coming in with her best of 149-10. Koryn Andrus and Brooke Brown will look to PR and see where that lands them.