Huskies Add Five NCAA Qualifiers, Lose One at NCAA West Regional
May 31, 2003
PALO ALTO, Calif. - Washington's track and field teams added five more NCAA Championships qualifiers Saturday to cap an exciting weekend at the first-ever NCAA West Regional Championships at Stanford's Cobb Track and Angell Field.
UCLA swept both the men's and women's West Regional titles, scoring 138 points on the women's side and 101 on the men's. Washington's women continued an outstanding postseason with 26 points to place 11th, while the Husky men, missing top scorer Brad Walker, tied Washington State for 12th place with 17 points.
"We weren't as concerned with the team scoring this weekend,” said first-year head coach Greg Metcalf. "The goal at the this meet is to qualify for nationals. When the pressure's on like that, some people shrink away, but others step up. I'm proud to say that our kids stepped up, and as a result we'll be sending twice as many kids to the NCAA meet as we did a year ago.”
Junior Brittiny Roberts led the Husky qualifying force with a third-place finish in the triple jump in a wind-aided 41 feet, 4 ¼ inches. Roberts' mark, just a quarter-inch shy of her career best, was just three-quarters of an inch behind the winning mark of 42-0 by UCLA's Candace Baucham, and guarantees the Husky jumper her first-ever trip to the NCAA Championship meet.
The top five finishers in each individual event at each of the four NCAA Regional competitions earn automatic berths to the NCAA Championships, June 11-14 in Sacramento, Calif.
"Brittiny's been one of our most consistent performers all year,” Metcalf said. "She always makes sure that she's ready to compete, and the results of her preparation show in her performance. Going to nationals is a terrific reward for the work she'>s put in for us all year.”
Roberts was one of five Husky NCAA qualifiers on Saturday, including three in the 1,500 meters.
Juniors Eric Garner and John Russell entered the meet ranked seventh and eighth, respectively, in the event, but ran outstanding races in Saturday's final to earn top-five finishes and automatic berths to next month's NCAA Championship meet.
Early on in the race, Russell found himself boxed inside by a trio of Stanford runners, including Pac-10 champion Grant Robison. Garner, as is his custom, remained in the back of the pack, thus avoiding much of the contact inside while setting himself up with a clear lane outside in which to make his move.
At the 1,100-meter mark, Garner took advantage of a tightly-bunched pack to pass seven runners in a 100-meter span, including teammate Russell, now running in fifth. As Garner passed Russell on the outside in the final turn, Russell stepped outside and went with his teammate, passing fourth-place runner Jon Rankin of UCLA and pulling away to finish 4-5 in 3:47.12, and 3:47.34, respectively.
"I couldn't be prouder of those guys,” said Metcalf. "I told them all week -- 'There aren't five guys in this field that can beat either of you if you run your best.' They knew what they were capable of, and achieved it.”
Senior Courtney Inman on Saturday earned her second-straight trip to the NCAA Championships with a third-place finish in the women's 1,500 meters. The third-place finisher in the event at the 2003 Pac-10 Championships, Inman stayed inside for much of the race, pulling away with four other athletes at the 1,100-meter mark. As defending NCAA champion Lena Nilsson of UCLA made her move, Inman followed her to the front, before being edged in the final five meters by Stanford's Malindi Elmore.
Sophomore Lindsey Egerdahl, who entered the meet ranked 13th in the region, missed an NCAA-qualifying spot by just one place, passing four runners in the final 200 meters to finish sixth. In a race run cautiously by all runners, Inman crossed the line in 4:22.11, while Egerdahl clocked in at 4:30.67.
"I thought Lindsey had a good chance to join Courtney at the national meet, but she kind of got shuffled back early and was just making her move when the leaders took off,” Metcalf said.
One Husky making his first trip ever to the national meet will be junior Todd Arnold, whose fourth-place finish in the 800 meters was a three-spot improvement over his placing in the same event at the Pac-10 Championships just two weeks ago. Seeded 10th overall in the event, Arnold started outside in lane eight, and found himself 10 meters behind the pack after the first quarter-lap.
The Westport, Wash., native quickly made up the gap however, hanging in sixth before surging to fourth with 250 meters to go. Both ASU‼sup>TMs Jeff Dodge and Irvine‼sup>TMs Darrell Tozier challenged Arnold on the homestretch, but the junior gamely held on, raising his fist to friends in the stands when the official results were posted.
"Todd Arnold, what a race!,” said Metcalf. "Here's a guy who didn't even qualify for the 800 at the Pac-10 Championships, but went out and qualified for this meet with a great prelim at Pac-10s, ultimately finishing seventh. Then he comes here and knocks off some of the fastest guys in the country! He's on fire right now, and is just the kind of guy that can be dangerous at the national meet.”
The news was not all good for the Huskies, however. NCAA officials informed the Husky coaches on Saturday morning that the results from Friday's night's discus had been mis-scored on the field. The result of the error moved Husky senior Mat Schwinn from fifth to sixth place, a crucial difference given that only the top-five finishers in each event earn automatic NCAA Championships berths.
An official erroneously credited Schwinn with a mark one centimeter higher than that which he had achieved, a mark that was identical under the English measuring system to the mark achieved by Boise State's Steffan Jonsson. The metric error led to Schwinn being seeded fifth in the final, and when neither athlete bettered their preliminary mark, the Husky senior was announced as the fifth-place finisher. Later, when the on-field officials reported the results to the official scorers, the mistake was caught and corrected, but by that time, Washington's athletes and staff had left the facility and could not be informed.
Schwinn, as well as several of his non-automatically qualifying teammates, can still make the NCAA Championships field as one of six-to-eight provisional qualifiers per event, all of whom will be announced by the NCAA on Wednesday.
Washington's six automatic NCAA qualifiers -- a total which includes senior Sabrina Monro, an automatic qualifier in the 10,000 meters, an event not contested at the Regional …quot;- as well as any additional provisional qualifiers announced Wendesday, will rest this week before heading to Sacramento for the NCAA Championships, June 11-14.
For complete results of the 2003 NCAA West Regional Championships, visit www.gostanford.com.