Big Haul On Final Day For Dawgs At NCAA Prelims
May 26, 2012
NCAA WEST PRELIMINARIES
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AUSTIN, Texas - Washington track bolstered its NCAA finals roster in a big way on the third and final day of NCAA West Prelims at Mike A. Myers Stadium. Seven more Huskies made the cut in six different events, bringing Washington's total athletes heading to the finals in Des Moines, Iowa to eleven. UW got outright victories today from sophomore Megan Goethals and freshman J.J. Juilfs, while Katie Flood, A.J. Maricich, and the men's 4x100-meter relay also marched on.
The group of 11 will now head to Drake Stadium for the NCAA Outdoor Championships from June 6-9. Six of the Huskies will be making a return trip with five set to make their NCAA finals debuts.
One of the biggest of the day's many highlights was sophomore A.J. Maricich in the high jump. Maricich was one of the big surprises at the Pac-12 Championships two weeks ago, tying for second with a new PR of 7-1 ½, and he thrilled the Husky supporters for a second straight meet today by cracking the top-12 with yet another lifetime-best.
The Spokane native entered at 6-8, getting a second attempt clearance to start a long day. He cleared the next two bars as the field began to thin out. With his season on the line and needing to match his career-best on a third attempt, Maricich converted, clearing 7-1 ½ to stay in the mix. Still, 13 jumpers made that height, so the bar continued up. At 7-2 ½, Maricich barely missed his first jump, building confidence that paid off with a conversion on his second try that locked up the NCAA finals bid. That new PR ranks him No. 3 in school history. Had Maricich not cleared that height, he would have been the 13th and odd man out based on the tiebreaker.
Starting things off on the track was the men's 4x100m relay consisting of senior Sam Rucker, junior James Alaka, sophomore Maurice McNeal, and senior Ryan Hamilton. The group came in seeded just 17th, but delivered a season-best time of 39.98 seconds to take fourth in the first heat. They just missed the third and final auto spot by .01 seconds, so they had to sweat out the next two heats and see if they would get one of three time qualifiers. Their time stood up for the 12th and final spot, and for the fourth time in the past five years, the Huskies are taking their 4x100m relay on to the NCAA final site.
Next on the track were a trio of Husky women in the 1,500-meter quarterfinals. In the first flight, sophomore All-American Katie Flood went to the front early, leading a chase pack that was 10 meters behind a lone Missouri runner. Going into the final lap, Flood moved into the lead, and the field strung out behind her. The Des Moines, Iowa native looked to be in cruise control, as she crossed the line second in 4:17.05, having let an Oklahoma State runner go past in the last few strides for the win. Flood now gets to head home to chase the NCAA title at 1,500-meters on the Drake Stadium track where she piled up high school state titles and Drake Relays junior titles.
In the second quarterfinal, junior Christine Babcock and redshirt freshman Chelsea Orr looked to join Flood. The two were farther towards the back of the pack and got gapped a bit with two laps to go. Babcock made a big charge over the final 200-meters to move up from ninth to sixth, but ran out of room to catch the fifth and final auto qualifier. Her time of 4:25.62 would be a couple seconds short of the time qualifier as well, as she ended up 14th overall with 12 advancing. Orr ran out of gas on the last lap and placed 18th overall in 4:31.06.
The first event of the day was the men's pole vault, with Pac-12 Champion J.J. Juilfs and senior Robby Fegles looked to duplicate the success of their female counterparts, Logan Miller and Georgia Reynolds, who both advanced to Iowa in the vault on Friday. No event at Prelims is more routinely turned upside down than the vault, making it one of the most stressful of the weekend. But Juilfs looked like a seasoned veteran in his first Prelim experience rather than the freshman that he is. He came in early at 16-2 ¾ and proceeded to clear all five bars on his first attempt, up to 17-8 ½. Juilfs was the only athlete in the field of 48 to not have a single miss on the day, and he'll be off to Iowa.
Fegles did not fare as well in the windy conditions. After a first attempt clearance of 16-2 ¾, the senior was unable to make the next bar at 16-8 ¾ on his three tries and saw his senior season end one meet too soon.
As the sun began to set in Austin, Alaka was back for the fifth time this weekend in the quarterfinals of the 200-meter dash. In the second of three heats, Alaka powered home for a third-place finish and one of the auto advancing spots, running a wind-legal 20.61 seconds, giving him a third event for Iowa. Alaka has qualified for the final site in the 200m all three years, and he'll now look to reach his first final heat as well.
UW's two representatives in the 5,000-meter run, Megan Goethals and Liberty Miller, waited a long time for their chance to compete, and both went all out towards the end of the night. Goethals won the NCAA West Prelim 5k last year en route to a sixth-place finish at the national championships. The sophomore made it back-to-back prelim wins tonight and ran a new career-best despite the humid air, as she defeated a loaded field in a time of 15:46.82, the No. 3 mark in school history. Miller then ran one of the best races of her young track career, as the redshirt frosh ran with the lead pack of the second heat, taking a shot at the needed top-five finish. She then was in a long battle for the fifth spot, but wound up seventh in 16:52.17, still a great NCAA debut.
All-American Elisa Bryant saw her UW career come to a close in the hammer throw today. She had a strong first throw but it was just outside the lines for a sector foul. After a second foul, Bryant got a legal toss on her third attempt, but it went just 174-0 and she was unable to earn her second set of three throws. Bryant, an Inglemoor High grad, winds up as the school record-holder in both the hammer and weight throws and ranks in the top-10 in the discus as well.
Shaniae Lakes had raised her own expectations in a big way after a fantastic runner-up finish at Pac-12s in the triple jump, but the new school record-holder was unable to follow that up with a big mark today. Lakes fouled her first mark, then had a very close foul on a good second jump which turned up the pressure. The Richland, Wash. native found the board on her third try, but at 40-11 ½, it placed her just 23rd through the first three rounds and she did not get to go on to the final.
Closing things out was the men's 4x400-meter relay, which brought back Rucker, McNeal, Alaka, and added senior Miles Timpe in his first NCAA run. The group wasn't able to pull the shocker, placing sixth in their eight-team heat in a time of 3:11.73.
Washington Track & Field
Day Three of Three
Advancing to Iowa