Huskies Start NCAA Run In Texas
May 22, 2012
NCAA WEST PRELIMINARIES
ON THE TRACK: The first rounds of the NCAA Track & Field Championships come rushing up this week, with those Huskies who have made the cut now heading to Austin, Texas, hoping it is a brief stop on the path to Iowa where the NCAA finals will take place in Des Moines on June 6-9. But first things first, 30 Huskies spanning every event area will compete this Thursday through Saturday in one or two rounds per event at Mike A. Myers Stadium. The University of Texas hosts.
The NCAA West Preliminaries feature the top 48 athletes in each event and top 24 relay teams from the western half of the country, while the NCAA East Preliminaries in Jacksonville, Florida host the same numbers from the eastern half. The top 12 finishers in each event in the respective regions will advance to Des Moines, making for fields of 24 athletes and relays that will vie for national titles.
The huge fields will make for long days. The field events will all have just one round, with the 48 athletes in each event split into flights based on their entry marks. The top 16 after three rounds in the jumps/throws will get three more attempts. Track events from 100-meters up to 1,500-meters will have two rounds apiece in Austin, plus two more rounds in Des Moines, so the eventual champions in those events will have run four races to win.
PURPLE & GOLD PERSPECTIVE: The first event of the meet on Thursday morning will be one of the biggest of the week for the Huskies, as the men's javelin gets going at 11 a.m. That will feature a quartet of Huskies looking to crack the top-12. Junior Joe Zimmerman will be looking for his third trip to the final site, while junior Jimmy Brookman, and freshmen Quinn Hale and Curtis Clauson are throwing for their first bids. Zimmerman, who was second in the Prelims in Austin two years ago, is the only one seeded among the top-12, though all four are ranked 23rd or higher so all are in striking distance.
The women's javelin will follow later in the day, with three more Huskies in action. Seniors Brooke Pighin and Amanda Peterson are both ranked in the top-20 in the West and will be looking to extend their Husky careers by grabbing a top-12 spot. Junior Jordin Seekins is also making her second straight West Prelims appearance.
On the track Thursday, sophomore Kayla Stueckle leads off in the 400-meter hurdles first round. Stueckle broke the 59-second mark for the first two times at the Pac-12 meet, taking sixth in the final. She is seeded 21st coming in. In the women's 1,500-meters, sophomore Katie Flood looks to navigate the prelim fields for the second straight year and earn a trip back to her hometown of Des Moines. Flood is ranked second in the NCAA. Joining Flood in the 1,500m first round are redshirt freshman Chelsea Orr, who was eighth in the Pac-12 final, junior Christine Babcock, and sophomore Mackenzie Carter. Babcock stepped up to the 5k at Pac-12s and placed seventh. Orr is seeded 11th coming in, Babcock is 22nd, and Carter is 41st. On the men's side, senior Ryan Soberanis was a late addition to the 1,500-meter field, getting his second shot at the prelims after qualifying in 2010.
James Alaka gets rolling Thursday for what he hopes will be the first of six races over the three days. The three-time Pac-12 Champ goes in the 100-meters first round on Thursday. Also running in first rounds Thursday are UW's quarter miler standouts, sophomore Maurice McNeal and senior Jordan Carlson, both of who placed third at Pac-12s two weeks ago. McNeal made it through to Iowa last year while Carlson gets her first real shot at nationals after she was knocked out of prelims last year with an injury.
Friday features a lot of purple in the field, beginning with the women's pole vault qualifying rounds at 1 p.m. Junior Logan Miller is coming off her school record 14-4 1/2 vault in a runner-up Pac-12 finish, and is seeking a second straight trip to Iowa. Miller is seeded fourth in the talented field. Joining Miller is redshirt freshman Georgia Reynolds, who just made it to prelims with her personal-best clearance of 13-0 3/4 at Pac-12s.
At 2 p.m., senior Angus Taylor looks to make his first trip to the final site in the hammer throw. Taylor, fifth at Pac-12s, is the 12th seed coming in with his season-best toss of 204-2.
In the women's high jump, senior Kelly McNamee is back in the NCAA mix for the first time since her freshman season in 2009. McNamee won the high jump in the UW-WSU dual with a season-best clearance of 5-8 1/2, and scored at Pac-12s with a seventh-place finish. She'll look to extend her UW career with her first trip to outdoor nationals. Shortly thereafter, sophomore Kasen Covington takes a second run at the prelims in the triple jump. The Boise, Idaho native is seeded 32nd coming in.
Friday has the same cast of characters on the track as Thursday, with McNeal, Carlson, and Stueckle back for quarterfinal rounds, the last heats before they would advance to Iowa. Should he advance, Alaka will also run in the 100-meter quarterfinals, and then be back later in the afternoon for the first round at 200-meters, where he is ranked second overall in the West following his Pac-12 winning 20.45.
The final day on Saturday features four more field events for UW, starting with the men's pole vault. New Pac-12 Champ J.J. Juilfs looks to move through the prelim fields for the first time, as will senior Robby Fegles, fourth at the Pac-12 meet and seeded 23rd. Sophomore A.J. Maricich is another Husky coming off a great conference meet, as he tied for second with a PR of 7-1 1/2. He is making his second NCAA first round appearance, and is seeded 11th with the top-12 advancing.
Another senior intent on earning one more meet is Elisa Bryant, seeded 27th in the hammer throw. The school record-holder in the event will look for her first NCAA finals trip since 2009. Wrapping things up in the field is junior Shaniae Lakes, making her third NCAA Prelim appearance but now looking like a serious contender for a trip to Iowa after she smashed the school record at Pac-12s with a 43-3 1/4 triple jump, placing second by an inch. That shot Lakes up to fourth in the West and ninth in the NCAA.
Saturday's track action begins with qualifying in the 4x100-meter relay, which will feature senior Sam Rucker, Alaka, McNeal, and senior Ryan Hamilton on the anchor. The Dawgs made it through in the 4x1 last year, eventually placing 16th at NCAAs. Next up is the quarterfinal races for the Husky 1,500-meter runners, and the quarterfinals of the 200-meters for Alaka.
In the women's 5,000-meter run, sophomore Megan Goethals and redshirt freshman Liberty Miller will finally get to compete on Saturday evening, as the 5,000-meters puts the 48 athletes into two big heats and advances the top-12 straight from those two races. Goethals won her 5k prelim last year in Eugene, going on to take sixth in Iowa, while Miller makes her NCAA debut.
Lastly, the Husky men's 4x400-meter relay makes its first appearance in the new prelims format. Though seeded just 22nd, the Huskies are coming off a big season-best of 3:10.36 at Pac-12s and could be in the mix if they take a couple more seconds off that mark. Rucker, Alaka, and McNeal will all run, with senior Miles Timpe getting his first career NCAA competition.
ALL ROADS LEAD TO IOWA: For the second straight year, the outdoor track season heads towards Des Moines, Iowa for the NCAA Championships from June 6-9. Athletes will reach the final site by qualifying through the preliminary rounds, held at two different locations. The western half of the country will be in Austin, Texas for the West Prelims on May 24-26, and the eastern half will meet in Jacksonville, Florida. There are no set NCAA qualifying standards anymore; athletes will qualify for the prelims by ranking in the top 48 in their event in their respective region. For relay teams it will be the top 24. The top-12 finishers from each regional meet then advance to Des Moines. Therefore most events will feature initial fields of 96 athletes over the two sites, that will be whittled down to 24 that advance to Iowa.
ALAKA, JUILFS CAPTURE PAC-12 TITLES: In the inaugural Pac-12 Track & Field Championships, James Alaka and J.J. Juilfs took home individual titles to highlight impressive all-around efforts from the Husky men's and women's teams. At Oregon's Hayward Field, both UW teams placed in the top half of the conference standings. The Husky men's team tied for fifth with 78 points, its best finish since 2006, and the Washington women were sixth out of 12 teams with 54 points, tying their best conference finish since 1998. Oregon took both team titles on its home track. All told the Dawgs had 11 podium (top-three) finishes and broke three school records on the women's side. Juilfs provided the biggest jolt on day one, pulling out the upset win in the pole vault in front of some hometown support. He cleared a career-best 17-10 1/4 to become the third different UW pole vault champ in the past four years. The following day, after falling just shy of defending his conference title at 100-meters, Alaka got back on top with a big PR in the 200-meter final, running 20.45 seconds to win and also hit the Olympic `A' Standard. He becomes the first UW sprinter to win back-to-back conference titles. School records on Sunday came fast and furious. Junior Logan Miller nearly made it a UW pole vault sweep, as she took second with a new record of 14-4 1/2, the No. 7 mark in Pac-12 history. It took the No. 3 mark by Stanford's Katerina Stefanidi (14-8 1/4) to keep Miller from the title. Junior Shaniae Lakes then turned in a shocking series of triple jumps, smashing the school record by more than a foot and a half with her final mark of 43-3 1/4. That earned Lakes a second-place finish, one inch away from the title. The third record was predictable, as senior Jordan Carlson broke her own 400-meters record for the fourth time this year, running 53.03 to take third in the finals. Sophomore Katie Flood was just edged out in the 1,500-meter final, taking second in 4:13.80, and sophomore Megaon Goethals was third in the 5,000-meter final in 16:19.00. Other podium finishers for the men were Alaka in the 100m (a PR of 10.22), sophomore A.J. Maricich who tied for second in the high jump with a lifetime-best 7-1 1/2, sophomore Maurice McNeal who took third in the 400-meters in 46.59, and junior Joe Zimmerman, second in the javelin (231-10) and leading four Huskies in the top-seven in that event, as Quinn Hale was fourth, Jimmy Brookman was fifth, and Curtis Clauson was seventh.
HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: Both Husky teams moved up significantly in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association rankings following the Pac-12 meet, which saw numerous PRs from the Dawgs. The UW women head into NCAA Prelims ranked 28th nationally, receiving the biggest amount of points from three athletes: Katie Flood, Logan Miller, and Shaniae Lakes. Flood ranks second nationally at 1,500-meters with a time of 4:11.66, Miller is fifth in the pole vault with her new school record clearance of 14-4 1/2, and Lakes is ninth nationally with her new triple jump record of 43-3 1/4. Also ranking in the top-25 nationally among athletes declared for the NCAA meet are Megan Goethals (13th, 5000m), and Amanda Peterson (25th, Javelin). The men are ranked 47th this week, getting their most points from seventh-ranked James Alaka at 200-meters and J.J. Juilfs who is ranked 11th in the pole vault. Also in the top-25 are Alaka at 100-meters (19th), and Joe Zimmerman in the javelin (22nd).