Indoor Track Begins Season-Long Road Trip With Visit to Happy Valley
Jan. 12, 2000
The Schedule: Saturday, January 15 -- "A" squad at Collegiate Pentangular Penn State University, University Park, Penn "B" squad at EWU Early Bird Open Eastern Washington Univ., Cheney, Wash.
This Week: The Husky menís and womenís track & field teams kick off the 2000 indoor season with meets at Penn State University and Eastern Washington. Highlighting the Huskies' "A" squad at Penn State's Collegiate Quadrangular will be sprinter Ja'Warren Hooker (Ellensburg, Wash.), now fully recovered from an ankle injury sustained last spring which prevented the defense of his 1998 55-meter dash national title. Competing with Hooker at the Quadrangular -- which will feature squads from LaSalle, Pennsylvania and Villanova, in addition to Washington and the host Nittany Lions -- will be 1999 NCAA indoor and outdoor competitor Anna Aoki (Vancouver, Wash.), as well as two-time discus All-American Ben Lindsey (Lynnwood, Wash.). The Huskies "B" squad will travel to Eastern Washington's EWU/Eagle Invitational, featuring teams from around the Northwest. Due to the renovation of Hec Edmundson Pavilion, Washington will host no home indoor meets in 2000.
Huskies at 1999 NCAA Indoors: Two Huskies competed at last year's NCAA Indoor Championships, with departed All-American Derek Prior finishing 10th in the 400 meters, and current senior Aoki crossing the line 12th in the 5,000 meters with a career-best time of 16:33.51. In all, seven Washington athletes posted at least provisional qualifying marks for the national meet, including Hooker (55 meters and 4x400m relay), Lindsey (shot put), current senior Seselia Thomas (shot put), departed letterwinner Deeja Youngquist (3,000 meters, 5,000 meters), and 4x400-meter relay specialists James Mackey and Scott Anabel.
The rankings: Both Husky squads were unranked in this week's initial posting of the Trackwire 25. Both of the 1999 men's and women's champions debuted at the top of their respective polls, with Texas No. 1 on the women's list and perennial champion Arkansas -- who will play host to this year's championship -- No. 1 among men's teams. The Trackwire 25 ranks teams based on predicted finish at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Golden Evans Dons Washington Purple: Lee Evans is giving new meaning to the words "purple and gold." The 1968 Olympic gold medalist and former world record holder joined the Husky coaching staff this offseason. A three-time national champion in the 400 meters, Evans set a world record of 43.86 in the event that stood for 20 years before being eclipsed in 1988. Evans has coached the national programs of Nigeria, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, and will work primarily with Washington's sprinters and relay squads. Evans has coached the national teams of Nigeria, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, and will work primarily with Washington's sprinters and relay squads. Evans was inducted into the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1983, and was one of 100 "Golden Olympians" at the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta.
Back on Track: Junior sprinter Ja'Warren Hooker (Ellensburg HS) will return to the track this weekend at the Collegiate Quadrangular for what will be his first indoor race since an ankle injury brought the speedster's 1999 indoor season to a premature close. Hooker sat out the 1999 NCAA Indoor meet to rest the injury, before resuming competition in April. Prior to the injury, Hooker had posted an NCAA provisional qualifying mark of 6.22 seconds in the 55 meters, and had helped qualify the men's 4x400-meter relay squad for an NCAA appearance as well. Hooker captured the Huskies' first-ever national sprint title with a win in the 55 meters at 1998's NCAA Indoor Championships, crossing the line in a blistering 6.13 seconds. Hooker continued to dominate during the outdoor season, winning twenty-one consecutive sprint races, including Pac-10 championships in both the 100m and 200m dash, en route to a third-place NCAA finish in the 100m. For his efforts, Hooker was named the Pac-10's male track Athlete of the Year, the first Husky since 1976 to be bestowed with the honor. On May 2, 1998, he broke the Washington record in the 100m, posting a 10.18. The sprint specialist, who also competes on the UW football team as a wide receiver, chose to forgo the Huskies' 1999 football season to focus on earning a berth on the U.S. Olympic team for the 2000 Sydney games.
Run, Anna, Run: Senior Anna Aoki (Fort Vancouver HS) capped a stellar 1999 indoor season with a 12th-place NCAA finish in the 5,000 meters, crossing the line in a career-best 16:33.51, the fifth-best 5,000-meter mark in school history. If she is to improve on that finish in 2000, she will have to do so without the help of departed teammate Deeja Youngquist, who last year teamed with Aoki to form one of the deadliest long-distance combinations on the West Coast. In addition to appearances at both the NCAA indoor and outdoor meets, Aoki established a new meet record in the 5,000 meters at Notre Dame's Alex Wilson Invitational with a 16:36.23 finish, the sixth-best 5,000m mark in Husky history. The 1999 season was just the most recent in a string of successes for the Husky senior, who captured the 1998 Pac-10 10,000-meter title as a sophomore, and earned All-American honors as a freshman in 1997 with a 13th-place NCAA indoor finish in the 3,000m.
Richburg USA's Top Dawg: Entering his 15th season as a head track & field coach at Washington, Orin Richburg was honored in December by USA Track and Field's International Competition Committee, who selected Richburg to coach the United States National Team at the 2001 World Championships. This will be Richburg's fourth stint with the national team. He served a head coaching stint for the 1997 World Indoor Championship Meet, and worked on National Team staffs at the 1989 Junior Pan-American Games, as well as in a 1994 dual meet with Great Britain. The committee could hardly have made a better choice: in 1998 alone, four Huskies claimed conference titles, including sophomore sprinter Ja'Warren Hooker's double victory in both the 100m and 200m events. The five victories were the most for Washington since the 1976 squad claimed six championships. In his tenure, Richburg has converted Washington into one of the top dual-meet squads in the nation. The UW women's team has ranked among the top-10 dual-meet teams in the nation every year during the 1990s. His 1988 UW squad finished 10th at the NCAA championships, the best national finish in the school's history. Prior to coming to Washington, Richburg spent seven seasons at Kent State and three years as an assistant at Western Michigan. A fine athlete in his own right, Richburg earned All-America honors as a sprinter at Kent State, finishing sixth in the 200-yd dash at the 1967 NCAA championships.
Next Week: Saturday, January 22 -- "A" squad to Buckeye Invitational, Ohio State Univ., Columbus, Ohio, "B" squad to Jerry Martin Invitational, Eastern Washington University, Cheney, Wash.