Huskies Make NCAA Push At UW Final Qualifier
March 1, 2012
UW FINAL QUALIFIER
ON THE TRACK: The 2012 Dempsey Indoor season wraps up with one last mad dash to nationals this Saturday, as Washington hosts the UW Final Qualifier starting at 11 a.m. The meet provides the final opportunity for athletes to improve their marks enough to make the cut for the NCAA Indoor Championships, which are just over a week away on March 9-10 in Boise, Idaho. Several Huskies are on the cusp in their respective events and know exactly what it will take this Saturday to move on to the big stage.
The Final Qualifier smallest and quickest of meets on the Dempsey schedule, as teams will only send a handful of athletes with realistic chances of making it to nationals. However there will also be a large UW contingent simply using the meet as a last chance to set PRs and build momentum for outdoors, in addition to the group still looking to reach Boise. Action begins in the field and on the track at 11 a.m., and the meet should be wrapped up by 3 p.m.
The NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships are hosted by Boise State this year at the Jacksons Indoor Track. The NCAA will announce the full field of qualifiers early next week, with 16-18 athletes typically make the cut in each event. Heading into this weekend, Husky sophomore Katie Flood is assured of a spot in the mile run, the 3,000-meters, and on the distance medley relay, which includes Chelsea Orr, Jordan Carlson, and Baylee Mires. Sophomore Megan Goethals is also qualified at both 3,000- and 5,000-meters.
While most of the Husky squad will be competing at home, the men's distance medley relay of Ryan Soberanis, Maurice McNeal, Brad Whitley, and Joey Bywater will be traveling to Notre Dame's Final Qualifier meet to try to improve on their time and make the NCAA cut as well. Notre Dame has traditionally been the place to run for DMRs on the final weekend. The Huskies currently rank seventh nationally, but do not have the Auto mark and therefore want to keep their place with a good showing. All four Huskies may also run open events, as McNeal is ranked 22nd in the 400-meters and Bywater and Soberanis are in the top-50 nationally in the mile.
PURPLE AND GOLD PERSPECTIVE: Washington's competitors this week fall into two groups. The first are those looking to still force their way into the NCAA meet. The second are gunning for personal-bests this week, or competing in track events a little outside their comfort zones.
The critical races for the Huskies on Saturday look to be the women's mile run and the women's 3,000-meters. In the mile, sophomore Chelsea Orr, junior Justine Johnson, freshman Eleanor Fulton, and sophomore Mackenzie Carter will all run in the fast heat and chase the NCAA mark in a very strong field which could have Katie Flood setting the pace for a few laps. Junior Christine Babcock is entered in the mile, and also in the 3,000-meters, and will likely run one or the other. She has not run a mile this year, but currently ranks 31st nationally with her season-best in the 3k.
The field events provide a lot more intrigue as several Huskies will look to break through. Freshman J.J. Juilfs is tied for 17th in the pole vault with his season best of 17-7. That may hold up but Juilfs' chances would improve greatly with a couple more centimeters on that PR. Junior Logan Miller is also coming off an indoor PR of 13-4 1/2 in the women's vault, but she'll need another big PR to get to nationals as she currently ranks 34th. Senio Robby Fegles also ranks 35th in the men's vault and needs to go over a big bar with Juilfs. Sophomore high jumper A.J. Maricich has been on the verge of seven-feet all season. He'll be gunning for that bar on Saturday, though it will likely take 7-3 to advance to Boise.
Triple jumpers Kasen Covington and Taylor Nichols are both coming off season-bests at the MPSF Championships and are looking to catch that one big leap that could put them in the mix. One of just two competitors in the women's weight throw, senior Elisa Bryant will need a big personal-best toss to move up from her current 40th-place standing and get a second career NCAA Indoor bid.
From there it's all about building for the rest of the Huskies in action this weekend. Seeing who will step up and set a PR and close out the indoor season on a positive note with a long season of travel coming up outdoors.
ADD BOWERMAN AWARD TO THE FLOOD WATCH: With three NCAA leading times in three runs this year, sophomore Katie Flood has drawn a national spotlight and earned a spot on the Bowerman Watch List, a 10-athlete list of athletes contending for national athlete of the year honors, basically the Heisman Trophy of college track. That's what can happen when one runs an 8:55.31 followed by a 4:28.48, then anchors a DMR at 10:55.01. This past fall, Flood capped off one of the best cross country seasons in Washington history with a seventh-place finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, earning her first cross All-America honor, and leading UW to second overall. She had previously won the inaugural Pac-12 Cross Country Championships, becoming the third Husky ever to win the conference title. But since stepping back onto the track this indoor season, Flood is proving that no record is safe, as she has made a huge leap from an already impressive freshman season. A year ago, Flood made it to NCAA Indoors, placing 10th in the 3k, and setting a PR of 9:09.85. Her one mile run ended up at a solid 4:47.45. Outdoors, she stuck to the 1,500-meters, running a best of 4:18.80 and winding up 20th overall in the NCAA Outdoor semifinal round. With the year of experience and consistent training, Flood has crushed those first two times and put her name into the NCAA recordbooks. In her debut at the UW Invitational, Flood lowered the UW 3,000-meter record by more than 13 seconds down to 8:55.31, which ranked her as the No. 6 indoor performer in NCAA history, and the No. 5 American collegiate indoors or outdoors at 3,000-meters. Two weeks later at the Flotrack Husky Classic, Flood dropped nearly 20 seconds off her mile PR, running 4:28.48, which is the fourth-fastest time in NCAA history, and dropped six and a half seconds off UW's school record. Two of the three women ahead of Katie on the list won gold (Jenny Simpson at 1,500m) and silver (Sally Kipyego at 10,000m) medals just last summer at the IAAF World Championships. Most recently, at the MPSF Championships, Flood ran the 1,600m anchor leg on UW's distance medley relay, which won in a school, MPSF, and Dempsey record time of 10:55.01, another NCAA leader. Both of Flood's individual times were the fastest in the NCAA since 2009. The Des Moines, Iowa native and prep superstar has come a long way in a year's time, and she and her coaches hope it is just the start of great things to come.
HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: The Husky women's team made another big jump in the rankings following the MPSF Championships, moving up from 23rd to No. 10 in the rankings. Adding to UW's team totals was the NCAA-leading run by the women's distance medley relay, which set a school record of 10:55.01, and another NCAA Auto time from Megan Goethals, who now ranks 10th at 5k and 11th at 3k. The women's ranking is thanks in large part to Goethals and Katie Flood. The new school record-holders (Flood in the mile and 3k, Goethals in the 5k) are providing a big chunk of rankings points, as the USTFCCCA's system assigns points based on the national descending order lists, trying to approximate what teams might score at the NCAA Championships. Other Husky women in the Top-30 nationally include Chelsea Orr (23rd; Mile), and Lindsay Flanagan (26th; 5,000m). UW men in the Top-30 nationally include the seventh-ranked record-setting DMR, freshman J.J. Juilfs (17th; Pole Vault), Maurice McNeal (22nd; 400m), and Rob Webster Jr. (30th; 5,000m).
RECORDS FALL AT MPSF CHAMPIONSHIPS: The bigger MPSF Championship meet indeed proved to be better, as record after record went by the wayside in the Dempsey Indoor. Seven MPSF meet records and four facility records were set over the two days, with Washington setting new records in both distance medley relays and Jordan Carlson setting the 400-meter mark. The Mountain Pacific Sports Federation was joined for the first time this year by full men's and women's teams from Colorado and BYU, as well as the Utah women's teams, bringing the total to 12 men's teams and 14 women's teams. The Husky women finished fifth overall with 56 points while Stanford took home the title. Arizona State dominated the men's team race, winning with 131.5, while Washington placed eighth with 37.5 points. On Friday night, the Husky women's DMR set school, MPSF, and Dempsey records with an NCAA-leading time of 10:55.01. Katie Flood brought home the win after Chelsea Orr, Carlson, and Baylee Mires handled the first three legs. The men's DMR of Ryan Soberanis, Maurice McNeal, Brad Whitley, and Joey Bywater ran a record 9:35.06, good for fourth and seventh in the NCAA. Carlson came back Saturday and set the new 400m record at 54.67, taking fourth. Other big performers for UW included Angus Taylor, second in the men's weight with a PR of 62-7 3/4. J.J. Juilfs was third in the pole vault at 17-1 3/4, and McNeal was third with a 400m PR of 46.69. The women also had third-place efforts from Megan Goethals, who hit the NCAA Auto mark in the 3k at 9:08.42, and senior Elisa Bryant who threw the weight 63-1 1/4. Senior Mel Lawrence made her season debut with a fourth-place finish in the 5k, and Logan Miller and Taylor Nichols were fourth in the pole vault and triple jump, respectively.
SPRINTERS RETURNING FIREPOWER, CHASE NCAA POINTS: Coach Sheen's sprints crew returns the 2011 Pac-10 Athlete of the Meet, a school record-holder, and four athletes to earn All-America honors last season, giving UW its most depth in the sprints in several seasons. Quarter milers Maurice McNeal and Jordan Carlson have made the biggest impression so far this indoor season. Carlson, who broke the 400-meter outdoor school record last spring, added the indoor record to her name at the MPSF Championships, as she ran 54.67. She also has run the 400m leg on UW's distance medley relay, which will be headed to nationals with an NCAA-leading school record of 10:55.01. McNeal was a Pac-10 finalist at 200-meters and 400-meters last year and made the NCAA semis at 400-meters while setting a freshman record of 45.60. Indoors he's lowered his PR to 46.69 and run on the men's DMR, which currently ranks seventh nationally and is in contention for an NCAA bid. When the Huskies head outdoors, junior James Alaka will be looking to further establish himself as one of the NCAA's top sprinters. Alaka became the first Husky since 2000 to sweep the Pac-10 100m and 200m titles last spring, earning Pac-10 Athlete of the Meet honors in the process, and while defending those titles is a high priority, Alaka is also looking to advance to his first NCAA finals this spring and set himself up for a big 2012 summer, which could include an Olympic shot for his native Great Britain. Alaka and McNeal also are half of UW's 4x100-meter relay, which placed 16th at the NCAA Outdoor Championships to earn the group Second Team All-America honors. Also returning from that relay are senior Ryan Hamilton and junior Colton Dunn. The women will look for a big senior year from Carlson outside, and continued development from sophomore Kayla Stueckle, who made NCAA Prelims last year in the 400-meter hurdles and just ran an open 400m PR indoors of 56.11.
POLE VAULT TRADITION CONTINUES TO EXPAND: Three-time NCAA Champion Scott Roth may have graduated in 2011, taking an armful of national awards with him, but UW's vaulters seem to grow on trees with Coach Pat Licari nurturing the growth. Roth's titles make a total of six for Licari's vaulters in the past nine years. Looking to jump back on the wave of momentum she rode at the end of the 2011 season is junior Logan Miller. The Nevada native cleared three-straight personal-bests last year at West Prelims to advance to NCAAs at 13-5 ¼. She matched that clearance in Des Moines to place 11th overall and earn All-America Second Team honors. That was the first All-America honor for a Husky women's vaulter since 2008, and the ninth overall since 2003. For the men, looking to soften the blow of Roth's departure is freshman J.J. Juilfs, a Eugene native who was one of the top junior vaulters in the U.S. the past two years. Juilfs won the 2011 U.S. Junior Championship with a mark of 17-2 3/4. Nobody expects Juilfs to contend for national titles in his freshman season, but the rookie showed that might not prevent him from doing it anyhow, as he thrilled the Dempsey with a personal-best clearance of 17-7 at the UW Invitational on Jan. 28, tying for the No. 6 mark in school history and already putting Juilfs on the bubble for NCAA qualification. Senior Robby Fegles also vaulted into the UW Top-10 list this season, clearing the 17-foot barrier for the first time at 17-1 3/4, which ties for 10th on the UW lists. In just his first year working with Licari in 2011, Fegles raised his PR to 16-9 ½ and he took 27th at West Prelims and scored at the Pac-10 meet.
RETURNING ALL-AMERICANS: A total of ten Huskies return in 2012 who earned USTFCCCA All-America honors last season, be it First Team, Second Team, or Honorable Mention. The USTFCCCA began breaking down its All-America honors into the three categories last season. First Team status goes to the top eight finishers in each event at each NCAA track meet, so those who wind up scoring team points at nationals. Athletes that finish 9-16 at the national meet receive Second Team honors, and any athlete who reaches the final site indoors or out but ends up outside the top-16 earns Honorable Mention. Washington has three returning First Team All-Americans in junior James Cameron, senior Jeremy Taiwo, and sophomore Megan Goethals. Cameron was eighth in the mile run at NCAA Indoors last year, while Taiwo was eighth in the heptathlon indoors and 15th in the decathlon outdoors to add a Second Team honor. Goethals scored at the NCAA Outdoor meet, placing sixth in the 5,000-meters, after taking 13th in the 3k indoors for a Second Team honor. Cameron and Taiwo have yet to compete in 2012 due to injuries. Six more Dawgs were Second Team honorees last year. The men's 4x100-meter relay placed 16th at NCAA Outdoors, earning Second Team status for James Alaka, Maurice McNeal, Ryan Hamilton, and Colton Dunn, all of who return this season. Alaka and McNeal also were Honorable Mentions individually at 200m and 400m outdoors, respectively. Sophomore Katie Flood was a Second Team All-American indoors in the 3,000-meters, placing 10th, and an Honorable Mention outdoors at 1,500-meters. Junior pole vaulter Logan Miller took 11th at NCAA Outdoors last year to make the Second Team. Junior Joe Zimmerman rounds out the list of 2011 honorees, as he was an Honorable Mention with a 20th-place javelin finish. Zimmerman was also a conventional All-American in 2010 before the teams were split, as he was fourth in the javelin at Nationals that year. Other Huskies back with previous All-America honors include Mel Lawrence (three times on the track), Christine Babcock (once on the track), Elisa Bryant (eighth in the weight throw in 2009), and Brooke Pighin (seventh in the javelin in 2009). That makes for 14 Huskies on the 2012 roster to earn All-America honors at least once in their career.
WOMEN'S CROSS COUNTRY EARNS MORE NCAA HARDWARE: For the third time in the past four years, the Husky women's cross country team found itself on the podium at the NCAA Championships in November. After the mud settled in Terre Haute, Indiana, the Huskies found out they had just missed the program's second national title by a miniscule eight points, placing second to Georgetown and ahead of defending champion Villanova and No. 1-ranked Florida State. Washington took just one senior to nationals, as Christine Babcock ended her career with a second-place team trophy, a first-place trophy from 2008, and a third-place trophy from 2009. Leading the Huskies all season was sophomore Katie Flood, who captured the inaugural Pac-12 Cross Country Championship and then placed seventh at nationals for her first cross country All-America honor. Also coming on strong late in the year was sophomore Megan Goethals, who took 18th at nationals for her own All-America honor. Babcock, sophomore Justine Johnson, and junior Lindsay Flanagan rounded out UW's top-five at nationals. Those five all earned All-West Region honors as well, as the Huskies won the NCAA West Regional title for the fourth year in a row. After a slow start to the season had dropped UW from a preseason No. 11 ranking down to 24th, Washington returned to prominence with a victory at the Wisconsin Invitational, which featured one of the largest fields in NCAA history. That shot UW back up to No. 2 in the polls. Washington placed second at the Pac-12 Championships but led the conference at NCAAs, and Greg Metcalf was named Pac-12 Coach of the Year for the third time in the past four years.
HUSKIES ON HISTORIC RUN OF NCAA SUCCESS: The Husky men's track team is currently on an historic run of consistent success at the NCAA Championships. Six years running now the men's team has finished in the Top-25 at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, beginning in 2006. Prior to the current run, Washington had placed in the Top-25 at the NCAA Outdoor meet just once from 1986-2005. The men tied for 15th in 2007 and were 15th again in 2010, the highest finish during the string and the highest since 1985. However, the most points scored at a national meet during the streak was in 2008, when the men scored 19.33 points, their most since 1983, to place 16th. The six-year run matches the best in program history, as UW also finished in the Top-25 every year from 1974-79. Indoors, the men's team has placed in the Top-25 at five of the last six NCAA Indoor meets, seven of the past nine, and nine of the past 12. In 2007 and 2008, the Huskies had their best indoor finishes in program history, placing seventh in 2007 and 10th in 2008. Combining the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor meets, the men's team has finished in the Top-25 at 11 of the past 12 championships. The women's team has tallied four Top-25 finishes at the NCAA Outdoor meet dating back to 2004, most recently in 2009, when the women finished 19th with 14 points. Prior to their 18th-place finish in 2004, the women had gone 15 years without a Top-25 finish. Indoors the Husky women have scored at six of the past eight championships, after scoring at only one of the previous 15 NCAA Indoor Championships. The consistent performances at the national championships have led to impressive finishes in the recently created USTFCCCA Program of the Year standings, which require teams to score at the NCAA Cross Country, Indoor Track, and Outdoor Track Championships to qualify. Washington was one of just six programs to place both its men's and women's teams in the 2009-10 Program of the Year standings. The UW men's squad was rated the No. 5 program in the NCAA and the women were 15th. In 2008-09, the inaugural rankings saw the UW women finish ninth overall and the men 10th, making them one of six programs ranked in the Top-10 in both.
DEMPSEY INDOOR: Now beginning its second decade of competition, Washington's Dempsey Indoor continues to enhance its reputation as one of the nation's fastest venues. Over the past three years, more and more elite professionals have come through the Dempsey on a regular basis. The 2011 season saw the likes of track superstars Shalane Flanagan, Kara Goucher, Chris Solinsky, Amy Begley, and a return from Husky legend Brad Walker, while 2010 was highlighted by Olympians Nick Symmonds, Shannon Rowbury, Jesse Williams, and Jen Rhines. The Dempsey produces numerous top-10 world marks every year and has seen 34 UW indoor school records broken, and thousands of NCAA qualifying marks. The Dempsey is also the annual host site of the MPSF Championships. The facility includes a permanent 307-meter MONDO track (six lanes on the straightaway, five on the oval) and a full 100-yard FieldTurf infield equipped to host the shot put, weight throw, long jump, triple jump, high jump and pole vault events. In addition to its competitive use, the building serves as an indoor practice facility for many UW teams. Following is a list of new facility records set during the 2012 season. Nearly half the women's records were broken this year, with high schoolers getting some amazing records at the Brooks PR Invitational on Feb. 26.
2012 Dempsey Indoor Records
HEAD COACH Greg Metcalf: Former Husky All-American Greg Metcalf is in the midst of his 10th season as head of Washington's track and field program, and his 15th year overall on the staff, and remains the driving force behind UW's rise to national prominence. Metcalf, also the head cross country coach, led the women's cross country team to the National Championship in 2008, the first team title for a UW track program. The women went undefeated and Metcalf earned Pac-10 and National Coach of the Year honors. They followed that with a third-place NCAA finish in 2009 and a second-place finish this past fall in 2011, making for three podium finishes in four seasons, with Metcalf earning his second and third Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors. The men's cross country squad has also reached NCAAs in five of the past nine years with three Top-20 finishes since 2006. The track and field squads have also enjoyed a prolonged period of unprecedented success the past several years. The men have finished in the Top-25 at nine of the last 10 NCAA Championship meets, including consecutive Top-10 indoor finishes in 2007 and 2008. Washington was one of six programs to place both its men's and women's teams in the 2009-10 USTFCCCA Program of the Year standings, which measures combined NCAA Championship results across cross country, indoor, and outdoor track. The Husky men's squad was rated the No. 5 program in the NCAA and the women were 15th. In 2008-09 the UW women were ninth and the men 10th. In 2008, the men's team scored its most points at the NCAA Outdoor meet since 1983, finishing 16th. Men's track also won the MPSF Championships in both 2006 and 2007, and Metcalf was named conference coach of the year on both occasions. The women have also had five Top-25 NCAA finishes since 2005, and sent three team members to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 1500-meters. Metcalf's distance runners have combined for three individual NCAA track titles, 13 Pac-12 titles, 67 All-America awards, 159 NCAA Championship bids and 29 school records in 14 years with the program. In addition to their athletic prowess, Metcalf's teams have achieved remarkable things in the classroom. His teams are 10-time recipients of the USTFCCCA All-Academic honor, including National Scholar Team of the Year honors for both 2008 men's outdoor track team and the national champion 2008 women's cross country team. Washington is the second head coaching position for Metcalf, who served in 1996-97 as the head cross country and assistant track coach at Auburn University. A four-time Academic All-Pac-10 honoree at Washington, Metcalf earned All-American honors at the 1992 and 1993 NCAA Championships. His best collegiate mark of 8:41.17 ranks fourth all-time among Husky steeplers. He also was a steeple finalist in the 1996 U.S. Olympic Trials.