Thursday, February 21, 2008

Please come to Boston for the indoor...


This weekend begins the big push towards the conclusion of the undercover track and field season, starting Saturday in Boston at the AT&T USA Indoor Track & Field Championships at the Reggie Lewis Center.

A small contingent of runners and field event athletes from the Seattle area are converging onto Beantown in hopes of getting Olympic Trials qualifying marks, and earning spots on Team USA’s squad that will compete in the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Valencia, Spain two weekends from now.

Pole vaulter Brad Walker takes the first step towards defending his IAAF World Indoor title, as he vies for a top two finish at the AT&T USA indoors in order to punch his ticket to Valencia. Walker’s a two-time USA indoor champion in the pole vault, earning the national title in 2005 & 2006.

Walker enters the national championship meet slightly banged up, as he landed awkwardly, and injured his heels after attempting 18 feet, 4 inches, at the Glasgow International invitational last month. Walker blamed the mishap on a new set of poles.

''I'm a bit frustrated because if I had a normal series of poles it would have been a different outcome,'' Walker told The Associated Press in Glasgow.

Also entered in the men’s pole vault is University of Washington sophomore Scott Roth, competing in his second meet of the 2008 indoor season, after gaining a NCAA provisional mark of 17-1 in his season debut at last week’s Husky Classic. According to University of Washington jumps coach Pat Licari, Roth is jumping in order to get some big-meet experience, as well as to jump the NCAA automatic qualifying standard of 18-0 1/2.

One curious entry from a UW perspective is Husky long jumper Norris Frederick, who has jumped 25-8 1/4 this season, 1/4 inch short of the NCAA automatic qualifying mark. Frederick is seeded second in the USA championships, behind Brian Johnson.

When asked whether or not Frederick would go to Valencia if he were to place in the top two and attain the IAAF qualifying standard of 26-7, Licari said no, as the NCAA championships are the week after the world indoors, and that Frederick’s obligation is to the UW.

Former Husky and 2005 NCAA champ Kate (Soma) Conwell (above, /photo by Paul Merca) and 2007 NCAA fifth place finisher Jennie Sewell are entered in the women’s pole vault. Both Conwell and Sewell, a graduate of Sam Houston State, are competing at nationals for Seattle’s Club Northwest.

Former Seattle resident Tiombe Hurd is entered in the women’s triple jump.

On the track, former Huskies Ryan Brown and Bruce Jackson are entered in the men’s 800 meter run. Former Lincoln/Tacoma and UCLA standout Craig Everhart, now training under John Smith in the Hudson Smith International (HSI) camp is entered in the 400 meters.

Courtney Jaworski, who competed as a prep at Tacoma’s Curtis High, and at the University of Pennsylvania, is entered in the men’s 1500 meter run, as a member of the Oregon Track Club.

One notable runner with Washington ties who is not competing in Boston this weekend is Washington State University grad Bernard Lagat, the 2007 world champion at 1500 and 5000 meters. Lagat, who has won four straight meets this indoor season, most recently last week in Birmingham, England, has opted to skip the nationals, and the opportunity to compete at the world indoors.

The AT&T USA Indoor Track & Field Championships will be shown on Feb. 24, 5:00-7:00 p.m. ET, on ESPN2. Results will be posted on a regular basis at www.usatf.org.

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