UW Readies For NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships
March 11, 2009
ON THE TRACK: The indoor track and field season culminates with the 2009 NCAA Indoor Championships this weekend, hosted by Texas A&M in College Station, Texas. Washington will be sending four men and eight women to the national meet, several with national title aspirations. The two-day meet runs this Friday-Saturday, March 13-14.
The 24th-ranked Husky men's team will be looking to make history with its third straight Top-10 finish. Washington was 7th in 2007 and tied for 10th at the 2008 indoor meet. The women's team, currently ranked 18th, will look to improve on last season's 22nd-place finish. UW's twelve participants this year outpaces the seven they sent to NCAA Indoors one year ago.
The championships will be held at Texas A&M's McFerrin Athletic Center. A total of 568 participants will compete in the championships. Student-athletes qualified for the championships by reaching the automatic or provisional standards established for each event.
A pair of seniors with national title aspirations headline the quartet of Washington men heading to nationals. Senior Jordan Boase (Bothell, Wash./Bothell) will be making his third-straight national meet appearance in the 400-meters, where he is ranked third with a school-record time of 46.09 seconds. A four-time All-American, Boase was third at NCAA Indoors last year and fourth at the 2008 Outdoor meet.
Senior Austin Abbott (Chehalis, Wash./W.F. West) and new school record-holder in the mile will be competing at his sixth NCAA meet, and fourth NCAA Indoor meet. Abbott, a five-time All-American, will be going for his first such honor in the mile run, after placing seventh in the 800-meters at the 2008 NCAA Outdoor meet. Last Saturday, Abbott ran 3:58.23 to break the UW school record in the mile and his time ranks seventh among the entries. He also ranked in the Top-10 in the 800-meters, but chose to take a shot at the mile this season.
Junior Jake Schmitt (Kentfield, Calif./Redwood) snagged the 14th and final spot in the 5,000-meter run with his time of 13:54.25 set just this past Saturday. Schmitt was 21st in the 10k at the 2008 NCAA Outdoor meet and led the Huskies at the 2008 NCAA Cross Country Championships.
Local newcomer Jeremy Taiwo (Renton, Wash./Newport) also will test the waters at his first NCAA Championships, as he qualified 12th in the heptathlon. Taiwo won the heptathlon title at the MPSF Championships, setting a school record with 5,559 points. He will look to be Washington's first All-American in the indoor multi-events.
The 19th-ranked Washington women's team will be sending eight athletes to nationals, including five members of the 2008 Women's Cross Country National Championship Team. The Huskies will look to light up the track in the distance medley relay, which features cross country All-Americans Christine Babcock (Fr.; Irvine, Calif./Woodbridge) and Katie Follett (So; Fort Collins, Colo./Fort Collins), plus junior Kailey Campbell (Seattle, Wash./Ballard) and senior Falesha Ankton (Benicia, Calif./Benicia). Babcock and Campbell both would have also qualified for the mile run but will be focusing on a strong finish in the DMR.
Follett will double up in the 3,000-meter run, where she will be looking to stick with redshirt freshman Mel Lawrence (Reno, Nev./Reno). Lawrence and Follett placed 25th and 26th, respectively at the 2008 Cross Country Championships. Lawrence is ranked fourth in the 3k field after running a school-record 9:08.50 at the MPSF Championships. This will be her first NCAA Track appearance, while it will be the third for Follett who was an All-American in the mile indoors last year.
Another member of the women's National Championship distance crew set to run this weekend is senior Anita Campbell (Vancouver, B.C./Aldergrove). Campbell is seeded 12th in the 5,000-meter run. She set a school record earlier this year at the distance in a time of 16:09.26. She has run the 5,000-meters at two NCAA Outdoor Championships but this will be her first outing indoors.
The Dawgs will also be represented by a pair of first time qualifiers in the field events. Spokane's Kelly McNamee (Ferris HS) made the cut in the high jump in her freshman season. McNamee is the only freshman in the field, and will look to earn UW's first All-American honor in the women's high jump since Vicki Borsheim in 1988. Another local product, sophomore Elisa Bryant out of Inglemoor High School, will attempt to become the first Husky All-American ever in the weight throw. Bryant has held the school record since her freshman season, and improved upon it with a mark of 64-feet, 8-inches this year.
Friday will be a busy day for the UW contingent. Finals on day one will include the 5,000-meter runs, DMR, women's weight throw and high jump, while Taiwo will complete the majority of the heptathlon. Prelims in the 400-meters and the mile are also Friday. The only Husky waiting to run until Saturday is Lawrence in the women's 3,000-meters.
HOW TO FOLLOW THE DAWGS: ESPN is the official network of the 2009 NCAA Indoor Championships and will stream the event live on ESPN360.com. Click on the FAQs link for software and system requirements, etc. Anyone with an .edu e-mail address is able to obtain access to ESPN360 for free. ESPN2 will then air a 90-minute show on Monday, March 23 at 2:30 p.m. Eastern. Texas A&M will provide live results on their championships page, which can be found at http://www.aggieathletics.com/ncaa2009/track/
EVENT SCHEDULE: Following is the schedule for the events featuring Washington athletes at this weekend's NCAA Indoor Championships. All times are Central. For a complete schedule, visit www.aggieathletics.com.
Friday, March 13
Saturday. March 14
HOW THEY GOT TO COLLEGE STATION: All athletes who meet the NCAA's automatic-qualifying standards in their events are guaranteed inclusion in the NCAA Championships field. In the event that there are not enough automatic qualifiers to provide full fields, athletes are selected in descending order of performance from those who have met the provisional standard in each event, creating fields of approximately 14-18 per individual event and 10-12 per relay.
HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: Both the Husky men's and women's teams are ranked in the Top-25 by the USTFCCCA heading into nationals. The men lost points in the DMR as over a dozen teams ran Auto marks at Notre Dame last weekend to bump out the Huskies, so the men slipped from 16th to 24th this week. The women improved one place to 18th, a new season-high. Washington is one of 17 schools in the nation to have both men's and women's teams in the Top-25. The rankings assign points in each event based on the current national leaders to try and approximate NCAA scores. The current rankings are based solely on the entry lists for NCAA's. The highest-ranked Huskies in their respective events are Jordan Boase (3rd in the 400m), Mel Lawrence (4th in the 3,000m), the women's DMR (6th), Austin Abbott (7th in the mile), and Kelly McNamee (tied for 7th in the high jump). For a complete list of UW's NCAA qualifiers and their national rankings, check page four of this release.
2008 NCAA INDOORS IN REVIEW: Washington sent seven individuals to the NCAA Indoor Championships at Arkansas' Randall Tyson Track Center, and all seven came away with Top-10 finishes. The men's squad tied for 10th-place behind All-America performances from Jordan Boase and Norris Frederick, while the women tied for 22nd, thanks to their trio of All-American milers and vaulter Kelley DiVesta. Frederick had his best showing at nationals, placing second in the long jump with a mark of 26-2 3/4, and took sixth in the high jump, clearing 7-2 1/4. Boase proved he belonged on the national level with a third-place run of 46.34 seconds, a new PR. Amanda Miller, Katie Follett, and Michelle Turner went fifth, sixth, and ninth in the women's mile, respectively. DiVesta meanwhile ended her indoor career exactly how any athlete would want, with a new personal-best, as she cleared 13-9 1/4 to place seventh and earn her first All-America honor. The 10th-place finish by the men followed 2007's seventh-place showing, giving UW its first back-to-back Top-10's in program history. The women's 22nd-place finish was the third-best in program history.
WOMEN'S CROSS COUNTRY TAKES NCAA BY STORM: This past fall, the Husky women's cross country team grabbed the national spotlight, dominating every race they entered en route to the program's first National Championship. At the start of the season, the women were given a No. 3 national ranking, but quickly jumped up to No. 1 after dominating wins at the Sundodger and Tiger Invitational. UW confirmed its top billing with a huge win at Pre-Nationals. The Huskies then headed for a showdown with second-ranked Oregon at the Ducks' home course for the Pac-10 Championships. Washington turned the expected battle into an historic route, sweeping the top six places to record a perfect 15 points and snap Stanford's 12-year run of conference titles. Freshman Kendra Schaaf won the race by 30 seconds in a conference record time, becoming UW's first individual champion since 1982. After another routine win at West Regionals, the women went to NCAA's as the overwhelming favorite and did not disappoint, defeating Oregon once again by 52 points to win the national title. Freshman Christine Babcock led the way with a 7th-place finish, followed by Schaaf (12th-place), sophomore Mel Lawrence (25th), junior Katie Follett (26th), senior Amanda Miller (35th), sophomore Lauren Saylor (41st), and senior Anita Campbell (51st). The top five all earned All-America honors, with Saylor just missing out by one-tenth of a second. Schaaf was named Pac-10 Athlete of the Year, a first ever for Washington, and Babcock was named Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year. Head coach Greg Metcalf swept the coaching awards, as he was named the Pac-10, West Regional, and National Coach of the Year. Now with the track season in full swing, UW's distance stars are making their mark inside the Dempsey as well. Three members of the NCAA Championship team--Babcock, Follett and junior Kailey Campbell--have already crushed the school record in the distance medley relay along with sprinter Falesha Ankton in the 400-meter leg. The foursome ran 11:05.80 at the UW Invitational to hit the NCAA Automatic mark and break the school record set just last year by nearly seven seconds. Follett and Babcock both hit the NCAA Auto mark in the mile run, while Kailey Campbell also could have made the NCAA mile field with a time of 4:38.51. All three however will forego the mile to focus on a top DMR finish. Lawrence, meanwhile, shattered the school's 3,000-meter school record at the MPSF Championships and ranks fourth in the event heading to NCAA's, while Anita Campbell broke the school's indoor 5,000-meter record and will be making her first NCAA Indoor appearance. All told the women's distance crew has put 11 new marks on the all-time indoor Top-10 lists this season, with school records in the 3k, 5k, and DMR.
BOASE READY FOR ENCORE: Few could have predicted the season that awaited Jordan Boase heading into 2008, when the two-time All-American in the 4x400m relay returned to the team after a year off from the sport. Even after Boase started the year by breaking the indoor school record in the 400-meters, and placing third at the NCAA Indoor Championships, he still remained something of an unknown nationally. That all changed at the Sun Angel Classic in April in Tempe, when Boase took over the NCAA lead with a school record 44.82, which was the second-fastest run in the world at the time. Boase would go on to battle USC's senior sprinter Lionel Larry, with Larry getting the edge for the Pac-10 title as both went under 45-seconds. The Bothell, Wash. native also ran the lead-off leg for UW's 4x100m relay, which won the Pac-10 title for the first time in program history, and qualified for nationals. At the national meet, Boase placed fourth in an extremely fast 400m final, running 44.83 despite having been limited in training by an injury. Boase went on to make the semifinals of the U.S. Olympic Trials, before a painful blister stopped him one race short of the final. But a fully healthy Boase gave notice that he is ready for the long season ahead when he made his 2009 season debut in early February in Nampa, Idaho at the United Heritage Invite. Boase set an indoor personal best over 200-meters, winning the event in 20.85 seconds, which ranks fourth in the NCAA and was the second-fastest time in UW history behind Ja'Warren Hooker. At the Husky Classic, Boase ran the 400m for the first time since the Trials, and laid down a 46.15, which gave him the 2009 world lead at the time and broke the Dempsey record. Not bad for a season-opener. Boase followed that up with a 46.09 two weeks later to win the MPSF 400-meter title for the second year in a row. Boase will now shoot for his first NCAA title on March 14.
ABBOTT IN PERFECT POSITION FOR FINISHING KICK: The most decorated current Husky in terms of All-American honors this season is senior Austin Abbott, a native of Chehalis, Wash. who will go down as one of the greatest mid-distance runners in school history with a strong final season. Abbott strengthened his legacy this past weekend in his final appearance in the Dempsey as a Husky, as he ran 3:58.23 to break the school record in the mile run. Abbott was already one of just three four-minute milers in Washington history, but he overtook the marks set by Eric Garner (3:58.93; 2002) and Greg Gibson (3:59.24; 1974) with a powerful finishing kick. Garner was running in the very same heat, competing for Brooks Eastside, and finished in 4:00.66. Gibson was also on hand to witness the record-setting run, and the three gathered for a photo after the race. "Eric, who had the record, said to me while we were warming up, `You're having a great year, just beat my record already.' And here I had been trying not to think about that," said Abbott. "But I've had my eye on that for a while so to finally take it down in my last opportunity, I'm pretty happy." Abbott has five All-America awards to his name, three coming as part of UW's distance medley relay, which placed fifth at NCAA's in 2005, 2006, and 2007. Abbott also took fourth in the 800-meters indoors in 2007, overshadowed somewhat by teammate Ryan Brown, who won the title. But following his best individual finish, Abbott was hampered by injury and only competed once on the track over the next year. It was not until the 2008 Pac-10 Championships that Abbott would get back to his old form, as he broke a longstanding personal-best in the 800, running 1:48.14 for a fourth-place finish. Abbott went on to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, where he placed seventh to earn his fifth All-American honor and first in more than a year. He focused on the 800-meters for the majority of this indoor season, and was ranked in the top-10 with an indoor PR of 1:48.56, but has since chosen to run the mile at NCAA's after his record-setting run last weekend.
NEWCOMERS MAKE DEMPSEY HOUSE A HOME: A talented freshman class and several impressive transfer student-athletes have already made a significant impact for the men's and women's teams. Jeremy Taiwo (Renton, Wash./Newport) broke the school record in the heptathlon in his first ever attempt, scoring 5,317 points at the UW Invitational. He then significantly upped that mark to 5,559 points to win the heptathlon at the MPSF Championships and became the first Husky to make the NCAA Indoor meet in the heptathlon. A similarly skilled athlete on the women's side, freshman Kelly McNamee (Spokane, Wash./Ferris) scored 3,559 points in her first pentathlon, the sixth-best mark in school history. McNamee's true forte right now is in the high jump, where she is the only freshman in the NCAA Indoor high jump field after clearing 5-11 1/2. She has the best jump indoors by a Husky in more than 20 years. In the sprints, a large women's class is expected to rebuild the Huskies' depth, and while only a few women have debuted thus far, Puyallup's Amber Finley (Tacoma Baptist) leads the team with a 57.07 400m time. In men's sprints, freshmen Jordan Polk (Portland, Ore.) and Adam Long (Los Angeles, Calif.), having just completed their first years on the UW football team, have shown great potential in the short sprints. Cal State Northridge transfer Kenjamine Jackson, a former Kentwood graduate, leads the team in the 60m dash with a best of 6.87 seconds, and he scored in both the 60m and 200m dashes at MPSFs. Former NCAA Championships competitor Lara Jones, a native of Seattle and a Lakeside alum who joins the team from Duke, has improved her PR by six inches in just a few months working with coach Pat Licari. Jones cleared 13-5 1/4 at MPSFs to rank sixth in school history. The top freshman thrower thus far has been Angus Taylor (Richmond, B.C.), who already ranks eighth in UW's Top-10 in the weight throw with a best of 59-5 3/4. Pac-10 Cross Country Newcomer of the Year Christine Babcock (Irvine, Calif.) has easily carried her success onto the track, as she has hit the NCAA Auto mark in the two events she's run, the mile and DMR. Also, while Mel Lawrence (Reno, Nev.) has already completed two outstanding cross country seasons, she is in the midst of her debut track season and crushed the indoor 3k record at MPSFs to hit the NCAA Auto mark and punch her ticket to nationals.
HUSKIES COLLECT FOUR MPSF TITLES: Washington once again played host to the MPSF Championships from Feb. 27-28 and the meet was as close and competitive as ever. The Husky men placed sixth, but were only four points out of second. UCLA scored 28 points in the final field event, the pole vault, to leapfrog several teams for the men's title. The Husky women finished fifth for the second straight season, and were just six points out of third. Washington won a total of four MPSF titles. On the first day, junior Jake Schmitt captured the men's 5,000-meter run, the first title at the distance for a Husky athlete since 2001. Shortly thereafter, the women's distance medley relay ran away from the field to win by six seconds. On Saturday, senior Jordan Boase defended his 400-meter title in a Dempsey facility record time of 46.09 seconds. Lastly, freshman Jeremy Taiwo wrapped up the two-day heptathlon event with a commanding victory, breaking his own school record with 5,559 points. Other noteworthy performances came from the men's DMR (Joey Bywater, Jeff Gudaitis, Ryan Soberanis, Austin Abbott) which ran the fifth-fastest time in the NCAA this season to place second and likely earn an NCAA bid. Redshirt freshman Mel Lawrence broke the school 3k record by eight seconds in running an NCAA Auto time of 9:08.50, good for second-place. Christine Babcock and Katie Follett went 2-3 in the mile, Abbott was second in the men's 800m, and Falesha Ankton placed second as well in the 60m hurdles. Daria Amiad-Pavlov and Elisa Bryant both placed third in the triple jump and weight throw, respectively. Kailey Campbell ran the second-fastest 800m time in school history, taking third in the race. All told, the two day meet produced 11 NCAA Automatic qualifying mark and another 106 Provisional marks. Four MPSF records were also broken this year.
DEMPSEY INDOOR: Having now just concluded its eighth season, Washington's Dempsey Indoor has solidified its reputation as one of the nation's top indoor competition venues. 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. Dempsey Indoor has hosted dozens of Olympians; in 2009 alone this year fans witnessed 2008 U.S. Olympians Kara Goucher, Amy Yoder-Begley, Loree Smith, Sharon Day, Galen Rupp, and Andrew Wheating. The Dempsey produces numerous top-10 world marks every year and has seen 33 UW indoor school records broken, and hundreds of NCAA qualifying marks. The facility is also the annual host site of the MPSF Championships. 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 2009 season:
2009 Dempsey Indoor Records
HEAD COACH Greg Metcalf: Former Husky All-American Greg Metcalf is in the midst of his seventh season as head of Washington's track and field program, and his 12th year overall on the staff, and remains the driving force behind UW's rise to national prominence. A native of Ephrata, Wash., Metcalf is just a few months away from capturing the program's first ever national team championship, as the 2008 Husky women's cross country team went undefeated to with the NCAA title. Metcalf earned Pac-10 and National Coach of the Year honors for his efforts, and also guided the men's cross country squad to 18th at nationals, its second Top-20 finish in the past three years. 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 the last six NCAA Championship meets, including consecutive Top-10 indoor finishes in 2007 and 2008. At the 2008 NCAA Outdoor Championships, UW placed 16th with its most points since the 1983 season. The men 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 four Top-25 NCAA finishes since 2005, and sent three team members to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 1500-meters. Husky track and field individuals in Metcalf's tenure have combined for six NCAA titles, nine Pac-10 crowns and 133 NCAA Championships appearances, while breaking school records on 60 separate occasions. In addition to their athletic prowess, Metcalf's teams have been among the brightest at a school renowned for its high academic standards. His teams are eight-time recipients of the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) All-Academic honor, including the men's team being named the 2008 Outdoor Scholar Team of the Year, and six UW individuals have earned Academic All-America. 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.