Friday, January 30, 2009

Dawgs take NCAA lead with school record in distance medley relay...

Junior All-American Katie Follett (left/photo courtesy UW Sports Information) ran a blistering final leg of the women's distance medley relay, leading the Huskies to an NCAA Automatic qualifying mark to highlight the first night of the UW Invitational at the Dempsey Indoor. The UW women's DMR, comprised of freshman Christine Babcock, junior Falesha Ankton, junior Kailey Campbell, and Follett, are now the NCAA leaders.

The first night of the two day meet featured mostly heptathlon and pentathlon competitions, but ended with dramatic performances in the 5,000-meter runs and the distance medley relays.

Each of the final races featured an NCAA Automatic mark, culminating with Washington running a school-record 11:05.80 in the DMR. After the first two legs, BYU opened a large gap with Stanford in second and the Huskies running third, but Ballard High's Campbell closed the gap on the 800-meter leg, running a 2:08 split.

She handed off to Follett who passed Stanford early on and continued tracking down BYU, eventually pulling past the Cougar on the final turn. Follett's 1600-meter leg was approximately 4-minutes, 34-seconds.

"I just tried to keep my eyes up and looking ahead at the BYU runner," said Follett. "Coming around on the last lap, with about 200-meters to go I thought I'd be able to catch her so I just said okay let's turn on the jets. It's a really great feeling that my starting point this season is already better than my PR from last year. That's a testament to our workouts and everyone is in really good shape right now."

A Dempsey record would be broken just a few minutes later in the men's distance medley relay, as the men from No. 1-ranked Arkansas defeated an Oregon relay that featured a pair of 2008 Beijing Olympians. Arkansas' Andy McClary overtook NCAA Cross Country Champion and 10,000-meter Olympian Galen Rupp of Oregon in the final lap, powering Arkansas to an NCAA-leading time of 9:28.35. Oregon also eclipsed the former facility record, finishing in 9:29.39.

The Ducks took the lead on the 800-meter leg thanks to U.S. Olympian Andrew Wheating. The Huskies placed sixth in 9:52.12 but had the lead after the first two legs thanks to senior Austin Abbott and junior Jeff Gudaitis.

Senior Lindsey Scherf became the first Oregon woman to run a sub-16:00 indoor 5,000 meters when she ran 15:55.67 in her first 5K of the season. Scherf’s mark was nearly :09 seconds better than the previous Duck record, Magdalena Sandoval’s 16:04.40 from 2004. It was also an automatic qualifier for the NCAA Indoor Championships for the Scarsdale, N.Y., native, who won the Friday’s race by nearly :17 seconds.

Seattle Pacific's Jessica Pixler finished second with an outstanding time of 16:12.65, while fellow SPU All-American Jane Larson was ninth at 16:55.02.

2008 U.S. Olympic high jumper Sharon Day won the women's pentathlon, competing for Asics. Day set another Dempsey record with 4,276 points. She was followed by Oregon's Brianne Theisen, who eclipsed the auto standard with 4,181 points. Washington senior Daria Amiad-Pavlov hit the NCAA provisional mark right on the head, scoring 3,700 points for a fifth-place finish.

In the first day of the heptathlon, Ashton Eaton, the reigning Pac-10 and NCAA decathlon champion, had the leading 60 meter time, 6.84 seconds, which ranked fourth on the UO list. The junior from Bend, Ore., also won the high jump in 24-11, which was yet another NCAA provisional mark for the Ducks.

He then tied for first in the high jump at 6-10.25, which was a PR by 2.5 inches.

Eaton held a sizable first day lead in the heptathlon with 3,394 points.

Results of day 1 are available by clicking here...Video of Friday night's races are available here, courtesy of media partner RunnerSpace.com.

NOTE: The University of Washington and University of Oregon sports information offices contributed to this report.

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