UW Athletes Set Sights on National Titles at NCAA Track & Field Championships
May 26, 2000
WED.-SAT., MAY 31 - JUNE 3
This Week: Washington send its largest contingent of athletes in 10 years to Durham, N.C. this week to compete at the NCAA track and field championships. The four-day meet runs from Wednesday, May 31 through Saturday, June 3 at Duke University's Wallace Wade Stadium. Six women and six men from the Husky track & field team, including Pacific-10 Conference champions Ja'Warren Hooker (men's 100 and 200 meters) and Ben Lindsey (men's shot put) will represent Washington in a total of 14 events. The 12 athletes form Washington's largest NCAA championship group since the last time the meet was held at Duke and 14 Huskies competed. Senior Ben Lindsey, who ranks sixth nationally in the men's shot put and No. 8 in the discus, makes his fourth consecutive appearance at the championships. His best finish was a fifth-place discus performance in 1998. Also ranked among the top-10 in their events are: Hooker (4th, 200 meters, 10th, 100 meters), Jacob Predmore (8th, decathlon), Margaret Butler (8th, women's 3,000 meters) and Anna Aoki (ninth, women's 10,000 meters). Hooker placed third in the 100 meters at the 1998 championships, but did not qualify last year. Aoki, the 1998 Pac-10 champ, competes in the NCAA women's 10,000-meter race for the third straight season. Eight Huskies will be making their NCAA championship meet debuts.
Television Coverage: The meet is nationally televised on a delayed basis by CBS Sports. A two-hour highlights package airs on Sunday, June 4 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time on CBS (KIRO, channel 7 in Seattle).
Washington's 2000 NCAA Outdoor Championship Competitors
Record Breakers: Four Washington school records fell this year. The 19-year-old men's 200-meter mark fell on April 15 when junior Ja'Warren Hooker clocked a time of 20.33 in Tempe, Ariz. That shattered the previous UW standard of 20.46 established by LaNoris Marshall in 1981. Hooker shaved another .01 off that record on May 6 in Provo, Utah with a time of 20.23 that ranks No. 7 among all-time Pac-10 sprinters. Hooker also smashed the 400-meter mark with a time of 44.91 on May 13 in Seattle that is nearly one second better than the mark of 45.81 set by Orlando McKay in 1990. The 11-year-old men's 5,000-meter record was eclipsed on March 26 when junior Dave Bazzi posted a time of 13:47.63 at the Stanford Invitational. Bazzi bettered by nearly six seconds the previous record of 13:53.45 set by Alan Hjort in 1989. Sophomore Sandy Erickson improved her own women's pole vault record by eight inches with a clearance of 12-11 1/2 on April 29 in Eugene, Ore. Erickson's previous best was a mark of 12-3 1/2. Additionally, Hooker matched his 100-meter mark on March 26 at Stanford, but it was a slightly wind-aided mark that does not qualify for record purposes. Hooker set the UW 100-meter record of 10.18 seconds on May 2, 1998, replacing Pablo Franco's mark of 10.26 that had stood since 1975.
F A S T F A C T S: The group that represents the UW in Durham has a distinct Northwest flavor to it. Nine of the Huskies' 12 NCAA championship competitors are from the state of Washington: Anna Aoki (Vancouver, Wash./Fort Vancouver HS), David Bazzi (Seattle, Wash./O'Dea HS), Ja'Warren Hooker (Ellensburg, Wash./Ellensburg HS), Ben Lindsey (Lynnwood, Wash./Lynnwood HS), Cami Matson (Kent, Wash./Tahoma HS), Jacob Predmore (Duvall, Wash./Cedarcrest HS), Kelsey Sheppard (Bellevue, Wash./Lake Washington HS), Justin St. Clair (Tacoma, Wash./Franklin Pierce HS) and Sesilia Thomas (Spanaway, Wash./Spanaway Lake HS). Two other Huskies hail from the Northwest: Margaret Butler (West Vancouver, B.C./Sentinel HS) and Matt Phillips (Philomath, Ore./Philomath HS). The lone import is Sandy Erickson who prepped at Whitefish High School in Montana ... The last time a Washington individual won an NCAA outdoor track & field championship was 1988 when Jennifer Ponath won the women's shot put crown. The last Husky men's outdoor national title was registered in 1986 by Mike Ramos who won the decathlon with a total of 8,322 points that stood for 12 years as the collegiate record before being broken last year by Tennessee's Tom Pappas (8,463) ... The best team finish for the UW women's squad was 10th-place in 1988 ... The best finish in recent history for the Husky men was a sixth-place effort in 1979. Since then, the UW men have cracked the national top-20 twice, finishing 15th in 1985 and 18th in 1983.
So Long Shannon: This weekend's competition marks the 32nd and final NCAA championship meet as a Husky for throws coach Ken Shannon who will resign after 40 years in the coaching profession, 32 of them at Washington. Shannon, 63, served as the head men's coach at UW from 1969 until 1997 when he handed over the reigns to Orin Richburg and became an assistant coach. His 29-year tenure was the second-longest head coaching stint by a Husky coach in any sport, topped only by Hec Edmundson who served as UW track coach for 36 years from 1919-54. Shannon led the Husky men's team to 12 Top-10 NCAA finishes. His Washington throwers, both men and women, collected 27 conference championships and 10 NCAA titles. Under his tutelage, UW throwers competed in the Olympic Games on seven occasions. Shannon began coaching in 1960 at Occidental College and was an assistant at UCLA from 1964-68.
Coaching Staff: Ken Shannon isn't the only prominent coach on the Washington staff. The Husky men's and women's track teams are coached for the third season by Orin Richburg, a nationally-acclaimed mentor who will serve as head coach of the U.S. National men's track & field team at the 2001 World Championships in Winnipeg. In 15 years as head coach of the Washington women's team, he compiled an impressive 72-25-1 dual-meet record since his arrival in 1986. The UW women's team ranked among the top-10 dual-meet teams in the nation every year during the 1990s. Richburg's 1988 Husky women's squad finished 10th at the NCAA championship meet, the best national finish in the school's history. His Washington teams have produced 10 conference and two national individual champions. The UW distance runners are in the capable hands of former Husky All-America steeplechase competitor Greg Metcalf, a 1996 U.S. Olympic Trials finalist. Metcalf coached the women's cross country team to an unprecedented three straight NCAA championship berths. Joining the staff this season as an assistant coach is former 400-meter world record holder and 1968 Olympic gold medalist Lee Evans. At the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, Evans won the gold medal in the 400 meters with a time of 43.86. That record stood for 20 years until being eclipsed in 1988 when Butch Reynolds ran 43.29. Evans earned a second gold medal in 1968 as part of the United States' 4 x 400-meter relay team that clocked a time of 2:56.1 that also stood as a world record for 20 years.
Hooker Highlights: Washington junior sprinter Ja'Warren Hooker received the Pacific-10 Conference Men's Track Athlete of the Week award on May 15 for the third time this season after shattering a 10-year-old school record in the men's 400 meters at Husky Stadium. Running the 400 meters for the first time since 1998, Hooker clocked a sizzling time of 44.91 seconds on May 13 in the Seattle Pacific Invitational to break his second school record in as many meets. He shaved nearly one second off the Washington 400-meter record of 45.81 established in 1990 by Orlando McKay. That time was the fifth fastest in the world this year, qualifying Hooker for the U.S. Olympic Trials. The Ellensburg (Wash.) High School product is eligible to compete in three events at the Olympic Trials, having reached qualifying standards in the 100 (10.18), 200 (20.23) and 400 meters. Hooker will likely participate in the 200m and 400m at the Trials that are scheduled for July 14-23 in Sacramento, Calif. From six to eight of the top 400-meter performers will earn berths on the U.S. Olympic team, including five athletes to train for the 4 x 400 relay. Hooker now owns three Washington school records, including the 200-meter mark of 20.23 that he set on May 6 in Provo, Utah and the 100-meter standard of 10.18 that he established as a freshman in 1998. The Pac-10 honored Hooker twice before this season, naming him the athlete of the week on April 17 and May 1. Hooker has reached NCAA automatic standards in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter events. He will compete in the 100 and 200 at the NCAA Championships, May 31-June 3 in Durham, N.C.
Back on Track: Junior Ja'Warren Hooker is back on track, literally, after struggling through an injury-plagued 1999 campaign. He was sidelined until mid-April of the 1999 season with a stress fracture in his left shin and was unable to defend the 1998 NCAA Indoor 55-meter championship he won as a freshman. That was the first NCAA track title for a Husky since 1988. Hooker placed third in the 200 meters and fourth in the 100 at the 1999 Pac-10 championships, but did not compete at either the 1999 NCAA Indoor or Outdoor meets. Upon his return in 2000, Hooker finished sixth in the 60- (6.68) and 200-meter (20.67) events at the NCAA Indoor meet and was named the Western Region Indoor Track Athlete of the Year. He clocked NCAA automatic qualifying times in the 100 (10.18w), 200 (20.23) and 400 (44.91). He won the Drake Relays 100- and 200-meter races to earn the Maury White Award at the meet's top male. Hooker raced to a pair of conference titles at the Pac-10 championships, winning the 100- and 200-meter events. As a freshman, Hooker was named the 1998 Pac-10 male track and field athlete of the year. He became the first double-event winner in Husky history at the 1998 Pac-10 championships, winning the 100- and 200-meter titles. After opening the 1998 outdoor season with 21 consecutive sprint victories, Hooker was beaten for the first time in the finals of the NCAA 100-meter championship in Buffalo, N.Y. where he finished third. Also during 1998, Hooker established a new school record in the 100 meters with a time of 10.18. He is the first Washington track & field athlete to garner Pac-10 Athlete of the Year honors since 1976 when the award was introduced. Hooker played receiver on the Husky football team his first two years (1997 & 1998). As a freshman in 1997 he scored four touchdowns, including an 89-yard kickoff return at Arizona the first time he touched the ball as a collegian. Hooker appeared in eight games during 1998, catching nine passed for 78 yards before a shoulder injury ended his season.
1999 NCAA Recap: Washington sent four women along with two men's qualifiers to the 1999 NCAA Championships in Boise, Idaho. In men's competition: Justin St. Clair placed 12th in the javelin (219-1) and Ben Lindsey was 19th in the discus (165-8). In women's competition: Cecilia Barnes finished 11th in the discus (169-3), Deeja Youngquist (36:24.33) and Anna Aoki (36:54.34) were 17th and 19th in the 10,000 meters and Keisha Griffis was 19th in the 400-meter hurdles (1:01.01). Both men's NCAA competitors return along with Aoki to compete for the Huskies in 2000.
High Husky Finishers: The Huskies are seeking the school's first individual outdoor track & field national title since Jennifer Ponath won the 1988 women's shot put crown. The last championship for the Husky men was 1986 when Mike Ramos won the decathlon competition with a total of 8,322 points that stood for 12 years as the collegiate record. The Huskies hope to continue a streak that has seen at least one UW men's athlete post a top-12 NCAA finish each of the last 27 years, dating back to 1974. Three Huskies were top-10 finishers in 1998: then-freshman sprinter Ja'Warren Hooker was third in the 100 meters, Ben Lindsey placed fifth in the discus and Geoff Perry placed 10th in the 1,500 meters. Last year, the Huskies were led by the 12th-place men's javelin performance of Justin St. Clair.
Awesome Anna Aoki: The Washington women's team features one of the finest women's distance runners in the nation, senior Anna Aoki (Vancouver, Wash./Fort Vancouver HS). She secured her third consecutive NCAA Outdoor Championships berth with an automatic qualifying 10,000-meter time of 34:07.93 on March 25 at Stanford. Aoki also reached the NCAA provisional standard in the 5,000 meters (16:28.30). Aoki won the 1998 conference 10,000-meter championship, was the Pac-10 runner-up in 1999 and placed fourth this year on May 20. She registered a career-best time of 34:05.30 on March 27, 1999 at Stanford, the third-fastest 10K time in Husky history. At the 1999 NCAA Outdoor championships, Aoki placed 19th (36:54.34) after finishing 17th in 1998. Aoki has qualified for NCAA Indoor championship competition on three occasions in the 5,000 meters. She raced to a 13th-place performance in 1997, 12th in 1999 and 14th in 2000. Aoki has been a mainstay of the UW women's cross country team that qualified for each of the last three NCAA Championships and placed 14th in 1997, ninth in 1998 and 13th in 1999.
Big Ben: Washington senior Ben Lindsey won his first Pac-10 title on May 20, unleashing a season-best shot put of 63-11 3/4 that is the nation's sixth longest effort. Lindsey, who was second in the discus (195-8) at the conference championships, makes his fourth consecutive appearance at the NCAA championships. His season-best discus mark of 198-11 was posted on March 18 at UCLA. Lindsey boasts a career-best mark of 202-7, thrown on March 28, 1998 in San Diego, that is the third longest in Washington history. The school record of 214-7 was set by Borys Chambul in 1976. The three-time All-American battled a late-season bout with mononucleosis last year, but still managed to finish third in the shot put (60-2) and fifth in the discus (182-9) at the 1999 Pac-10 meet. He placed 19th in the discus at the 1999 NCAA championships after finishing fifth in 1998 and ninth as a freshman in 1997. Lindsey was the 1998 Pac-10 shot put runner-up and finished fifth (62-5 3/4) at the 1998 NCAA Indoor championships. His personal-best shot put mark of 65-4, registered on May 2, 1998 at Husky Stadium, was the second best effort in Husky history and trails only the school record 65-11 set in 1979 by Steve Summers. Lindsey won the Washington state high school discus title three times and claimed two prep shot championships. Lindsey is only the third Washington athlete to win a conference men's shot put championship, joining Russ Vincent (1976) and John Hubbell (1969).
Hot Hurdler: Sophomore Kelsey Sheppard (Kirkland, Wash./Lake Washington HS) joined an elite group this season, become the ninth woman in Husky history to complete the 400-meter hurdles in under a minute. Sheppard's top clocking as a freshman was 1:01.72. She placed 11th in that event at the 1999 Pac-10 championships. Sheppard signaled that great things were looming by bettering her PR in the 2000 season's first two meets. On March 26 at the Stanford Invitational, Sheppard broke the one-minute barrier with a time of 59.55. She has remained under a minute every meet since, a total of 10 straight races, and has five first-place performances. Sheppard posted a fourth-place time of 59.10 at the Pac-10 championships, May 21 in Eugene, Ore. On May 6 at Brigham Young, Sheppard clocked a career-best time of 58.29 that is the fourth-best mark in school history. Sheppard is ranked No. 20 nationally in the circular hurdles. She also boasts Washington's top times in two other events, the 100-meter hurdles (14.23) and 400 meters (54.6).
2000 NCAA Indoor Recap: Two individuals represented Washington in three events at the 2000 NCAA Indoor Championships, March 10-11 in Fayetteville, Ark. Junior Ja'Warren Hooker placed sixth in both the 60-meter dash (6.68) and 200 meters (20.67). He was the 55-meter champion in 1998. Anna Aoki made her third NCAA Indoor appearance, placing 14th in the women's 5,000 meters (16:47.32).
Prolific Predmore: Senior Jacob Predmore (Duvall, Wash./Cedarcrest HS) makes his NCAA championships debut this week. The national championship meet marks only the fifth decathlon competition for the former long jump and hurdle specialist who has trained the last three years for the treacherous 10-event competition. Predmore qualified for the NCAAs with a career-best 7,406-point total at the Drake Relays (April 26-27). That provisional qualifying mark is the fifth-highest in Husky history and ranks No. 8 among NCAA competitors. Predmore placed third at the Pac-10 championships (May 13-14) with a 7,298-point tally. He finished sixth at the 1999 conference meet with a score of 6,444. He reached the Pac-10 Conference qualifying standards in four individual events, the long jump (23-11 1/2), triple jump (47-11 3/4), 110-meter hurdles (14.53) and 400-meter hurdles (52.81). Predmore placed ninth in the 100m hurdles, 10th in the 400m hurdles and 12th in the long jump at the conference championships.
Spear Specialist: Junior Justin St. Clair is the latest in a long line of Washington javelin standouts, having reached the NCAA provisional standard with a mark of 230-1 that ranks No. 13 nationally. St. Clair placed 12th at the 1999 NCAA Championships with a heave of 219-1. His career-best effort of 231-3 is the ninth longest mark in Husky history. St. Clair placed 11th (203-1) at the Pac-10 championship meet after placing third in 1999 (224-5) and seventh in 1998 (209-0). He was named the Pac-10 men's athlete of the week on April 6, 1999. St. Clair won six of the 10 javelin competitions he entered this year and placed second at the Drake Relays for the second straight season. Since 1970 when coach Ken Shannon began training Washington javelin competitors, a Husky won 10 of 32 conference men's titles. The most any other conference school can claim is six. Add in 1987 Pac-10 women's titlist Helena Uusitalo, who won the 1986 NCAA title, and Washington athletes have accounted for seven AAU/TAC national javelin championships and three NCAA titles. Also, three UW individuals have earned U.S. Olympic Team berths, including Duncan Atwood twice (1980, 1984). In 1989, Darryl Roberson set an American collegiate record of 249-6 with the new javelin. Washington has had at least one men's or women's javelin competitor qualify for the NCAA championship meet and place among the top 13 during 16 of the 18 years since the NCAA began sponsoring women's sports in 1982.
Last Week (Pac-10 Championships Recap): Washington athletes collected four championships during the two-day Pacific-10 Conference meet, May 20-21 in Eugene, Ore. Junior Ja'Warren Hooker sprinted to victories in the men's 100- and 200-meter races, senior Ben Lindsey won the men's shot put and freshman Kate Bradshaw raced to a surprising victory in the women's 10,000 meters. Bradshaw won by 25 seconds, overcoming three higher ranked opponents with a time of 34:41.03. Hooker repeated the feat he first accomplished in 1998 when he won both Pac-10 sprint titles, becoming the only Husky athlete to win multiple events in the same season at the Pac-10 championships. USC repeated as conference men's champion with 154 points. Stanford was second with a score of 122.5 followed by Arizona State with 101. The Husky men had an 83-point tally, tying UCLA for fourth place. UCLA won its fourth consecutive women's title, amassing 167.5 points. USC had a 161-point, second-place tally and Stanford finished third with 114 points. The Washington women were seventh with 58 points. Hooker broke from a tight pack and took the lead for good after the opening 20 meters on the way to a winning 100-meter time of 10.19 seconds. The 200-meter race saw Hooker burst out of the blocks and lead from wire-to-wire, crossing the finish line in 20.39. Lindsey posted a winning mark of 63-11 3/4 in the shot put and was second in the discus (195-8). Senior Ben Meyer clocked a career-best time of 13.96 in the men's 110-meter hurdles en route to a third-place finish.
2000 Pac-10 Men's Results (May 20-21, Eugene, Ore.): 1, USC 154, 2, Stanford 122.5, 3, Arizona State 101, 4(tie), Washington & UCLA 83, 6, Arizona 75, 7, Oregon 71, 8, California 68, 9, Washington State 59.5.
2000 Pac-10 Women's Results (May 20-21, Eugene, Ore.): 1, UCLA 167.5, 2, USC 161, 3, Stanford 114, 4, Washington State 86, 5, Arizona State 75, 6, Arizona 65, 7, Washington 58, 8, California 54.5, 9, Oregon 37.
NOTE: For a complete version of the Washington track & field release in PDF format, please click click on the "Weekly Release" link listed under "Husky Hits" on the right hand column of the Husky Track web page.