Friday, March 6, 2009

It's Last Chance Weekend!

The eyes of American collegiate track & field (at least in the NCAA Division I) will be focused on the Dempsey Indoor Facility, as well as tracks at LSU, Notre Dame, Arkansas, Iowa State, Virginia Tech, Boston University (ECAC Conference), and the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston (IC4A Championships) as it's last chance weekend for those who wish to run in next weekend's NCAA Championships in College Station, Texas.

Washington State got Last Chance weekend started Friday night, as their women's distance medley relay ran a school record and NCAA Provisional Qualifying time at the University of Notre Dame Alex Wilson Indoor Track and Field Invitational held in South Bend, Indiana.

The Cougar DMR team of Lisa Egami, Lorraine King, Anna Layman and Sara Trané ran a time of 11-minutes, 17.92 seconds, which was third place behind teams from West Virginia and Kansas State.

Egami, a junior from Coquitlam, B.C., ran the 1200m opening segment in a split time of 3:24 and handed off to King, a senior from Fontana, Calif., who ran the 400m in a split time of 53.8. Layman, a sophomore from Spokane Valley, ran the 800m leg in a split time of 2:10.7 and the Cougars were in the lead when Trané grabbed the baton for the 1600m segment. Trané, a senior from Pixbo, Sweden, went out to a speedy first 800m, running a pace of 2:14, but was up against two top milers from WVU and K-State and could not hold the lead.

Egami claimed the WSU mile record time this season (4:44.92) and Trané ran the WSU indoor 3k record this season (9:28.54).

The Cougar foursome smashed the WSU DMR record of 11:47.11, set in 1999 in an outdoor meet in Eugene by Lisa Schaures, Sharika Higgins, Alishia Booterbaugh, and Megan Maynard.

King will run in the 400 Saturday at Notre Dame in search of a qualifier.

Meanwhile, the Cougs' Jeshua Anderson (400m dash), Robert Williams (60m hurdles) and the men's 4x400m relay squad of Barry Leavitt, Reny Follett, Justin Woods and Anderson, will compete at the Cyclone National Qualifying Meet in the Iowa State Lied Recreation Center in Ames, Iowa on Saturday.

The Washington Huskies will stay home and host a last chance meet at the Dempsey Saturday, beginning at 10:30 am.

The meet is of a much smaller scale than the typical meet at the Dempsey, but will still feature some very competitive races as the majority of entrants are those with a legitimate shot at NCAA's that are trying to better their standing on the national level and get off the bubble, to borrow a term from March Madness. The field events begin with the women's pole vault at 10:30 a.m. while track events kick off at 11 a.m. and will last until approximately 3:30 p.m.

Several members of Washington's 16th-ranked men's team will be looking to hit NCAA qualifying marks this Saturday or else improve their current marks. One Husky athlete currently "on the bubble" is junior Jake Schmitt in the 5,000-meters. Schmitt currently ranks 17th in the nation, and will try to improve his time on Saturday. In the men's pole vault, senior Jared O'Connor will look to better his provisional mark of 17-1.

The men's mile will be one of the most intriguing races of the day, with senior Austin Abbott running his first mile at the Dempsey since 2007. Abbott is one of three four-minute milers in UW history, and while he has focused mostly on the 800-meters, and has earned an NCAA trip in the 800 this indoor season, Abbott showed he still has great potential in the mile by running a blazing 1600m leg in the DMR last weekend, helping UW qualify for nationals in the relay. The field will also include former UW four-minute miler Eric Garner, and Oregon All-Americans A.J. Acosta and Galen Rupp.

Rupp's entry in the mile has created quite a bit of buzz on the message boards
, as the 2008 US Olympian at 10000m looks to break four minutes in the mile for the first time in his career, a feat already accomplished this season by teammates Andrew Wheating and Matthew Centrowitz.
Rupp, who ran a NCAA provisional time at 800m of 1:49.87, is also expected to get some help from Nike Oregon Project runners Joachin Chapa, Julius Achon, and Josh Rohatinsky.

The women's mile will feature several Huskies, three of which have earned NCAA Provisional times but will look to shave off as much time as possible. Junior Katie Follett, sixth in the mile run at last year's NCAA's, will lead the way. She currently ranks 19th nationally.

In her final Dempsey Indoor appearance, Falesha Ankton will try to run a new PR in the 60m hurdles. Ankton is tied for 40th with a best of 8.41 seconds, and while she is already qualified for nationals as part of the distance medley relay, she would like nothing better than to qualify as an individual as well.

Also right on the cusp for the women is senior Lara Jones, who joined the Huskies this season from Duke. Jones has already improved her lifetime-best clearance by six inches in just a few months working with coach Pat Licari, but may need to vault just a bit higher to make NCAA's. Jones currently is tied for 18th. Fellow senior Andrea Peterson will also look to make the jump to nationals, as she sits in a tie for 28th.

The women's pole vault is probably the meet's premier field event, as several outstanding jumpers, including former NCAA champ Ellie Rudy from Montana State, Greek World Junior Championships medalist Katerina Stefanidi from Stanford, and high school All-American Allison Stokke from Cal compete against Washington alum Carly Dockendorf and the magic 4.16m mark (13-7 1/4) which would almost assure those who clear that height a spot in the "Big Dance" next week.

Finally, University of Washington freshman Joey Bywater (second from left without shirt), along with former Mt. Rainier HS standout Ryan Prentice (right without shirt/photo by Mike Scott), now a frosh at Oklahoma State University, will represent Team USA at the NACAC Cross Country Championships Saturday in Titusville, Florida, near Cape Canaveral.

Prentice & Bywater will run in the junior men's 6 kilometer race, against squads from Jamaica, Canada, Mexico, and other countries that make up NACAC.

NOTE: The sports information office of the University of Washington and Washington State University, along with USA Track & Field assisted in this report.

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