Thursday, April 23, 2009

Huskies split squads to compete at Penn & Oregon Relays...

ON THE TRACK: This week finds the Washington track team dividing ranks, with a select group of eight athletes journeying to Philadelphia to compete in the legendary Penn Relays this Friday, Apr. 24, while the majority of the team will be in Eugene, Ore. for the Oregon Relays on Friday and Saturday. At the 115th running of the Penn Relays, one of the most storied meets in track and field, Washington will be entering a women's 4x1500-meter relay and a men's sprint medley relay.

THE PENN RELAYS: This historic meet was first contested in 1895, and is now in its 115th year of existence. Washington has never won a Penn Relay title and was last at the meet in 1993 during head coach Greg Metcalf's senior season. The meet is held at University of Pennsylvania's Franklin Field, deemed by the NCAA as the oldest stadium still operating for football games. The meet features competition from all age groups with elementary school children all the way up to elite superstars of track and field. Several 2008 Olympians will be competing this weekend including Allyson Felix, LaShawn Merritt, Asafa Powell, and Lauryn Williams. Many individual events are on tap, but the meet headlined by the Relay Carnival, which runs from the 23rd to the 25th. More than 400 races will be run, and the Relays attract more than 22,000 entrants annually, more competitors than the Olympic Games.

Both Washington relays will be in action on Friday. The Huskies have formidable lineups entered in both the 4x1500 and the sprint medley relay and will be hoping to make history with their first relay win. In the 4x1500, Washington has four women already qualified for Regionals in the event an all will win, starting with junior Kailey Campbell, who has run a personal-best 4:22.38 this year that currently ranks 27th on the NCAA list. Junior Katie Follett, the 2008 Pac-10 1,500m Champion, will be up next; she has a lifetime best of 4:15.78. Redshirt freshman Mel Lawrence runs third with a top time of 4:24.10 in her only attempt at the length. Anchoring the relay will be true freshman Christine Babcock, a former national high school record holder at the distance who has already run 4:16.50 this season, currently sixth-fastest in the NCAA. Washington will be battling with extremely talented teams from Tennessee, Georgetown, Villanova, Penn State, Florida, and Duke.

The men's sprints medley goes in order of 200-meters, 200-meters, 400-meters, and 800-meters. Running the 200-legs for the Dawgs will be seniors Kenjamine Jackson and Joe Turner. Jackson, a Seattle native and transfer from Cal State Northridge has a personal-best of 21.10. Turner was part of UW's Pac-10 title winning 4x100 relay last year, and his top 200 time of 21.06 ranks eighth in school history. The Huskies should really shine in the final two legs, as seniors Jordan Boase (above/photo courtesy University of Washington) and Austin Abbott close out. Boase, a three-time 400-meter All-American owns one of the fastest PR's of any collegian at 44.82. Abbott has two top-eight finishes in the 800-meters at NCAA's, and has a top time of 1:48.14 at 800-meters. Abbott also ranks second in the NCAA at 1,500-meters this year. Washington will try to dethrone defending champion LSU, as will foursomes from Arkansas, Florida, Tennessee, Texas, and TCU to name just a few.

Fans can view a live stream of both UW relays on www.thepennrelays.com then clicking Live Events under the Multimedia tab. The College Women's 4x1500 Championship of America is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Pacific time on Friday, and the College Men's Sprint Medley Championship of America will be at 3:45 p.m. Pacific.

THE OREGON RELAYS: Those Huskies not traveling east will be making their first trip this year to Oregon's Hayward Field for the Oregon Relays. Both the Pac-10 Championships and the NCAA West Regional Championships will be held at Hayward Field this year, so this weekend provides a chance for the Huskies to reacquaint themselves with the facilities, or experience them for the first time for the newcomers on the roster. Washington will be traveling a full squad and competing against a full Oregon contingent as well as squads from Colorado, Oklahoma, Oregon State, Wyoming, Portland, Idaho, Wichita State, Central Michigan, and Seattle Pacific to name a few.

A few Huskies to watch out for in Eugene include junior Falesha Ankton, who is slated to run the 400-meter hurdles for the first time this season, an event she made Regionals in last year. The women's sprinters will be well represented with freshmen Amber Finely, Bianca Greene, Joi Glass, and Jordan Carlson all making their first trip to Eugene along with sophomore Dominique Lauderdale. The women are entered in both the 4x1 and 4x4 relays as well.

Sophomores Kyle Nielsen and Brooke Pighin will both throw the javelin against highly-ranked Ducks. Nielsen currently ranks fifth nationally while Pighin is 16th. Junior Zack Midles, coming off PR's in both the hammer and discus last week, will focus solely on the hammer this week, and sophomore Elisa Bryant will look to add a Regional mark in the hammer to her discus qualifier.

Washington's five Regional pole vault qualifiers will all be in action, led by sophomore Scott Roth who currently sits third with a best clearance of 18-1. Lara Jones and Andrea Peterson lead a learge women's vault group, and Regional qualifying freshman Kelly McNamee will be competing in the high jump.

In the distance events, while UW's top four mid-distance runners will be in Philadelphia, the women will still have a strong distance group chasing Regional marks and PR's this weekend. Bailey Schutte will run the 1,500 and Brooke Anderson will tackle the 5k, while Mo Huber, Amanda Stopa, and Allison Linnell all have legitimate chances of securing a Regional bid in the women's steeplechase.

Men's runners to watch include junior Jeff Gudaitis in the 400-meter dash, and junior Brian Govier and freshman Ryan Soberanis in the 800-meters. Junior Jake Schmitt leads a number of Dawgs entered in the 1,500-meters, including Chris Ahl, Joey Bywater, Colton Tully-Doyle, and Faisal Abdullahi. At 5,000-meters, junior Kelly Spady and freshman Max O'Donoghue-McDonald will be looking to make a Pac-10 push.

NOTES: Washington State will stay close to home, as they will compete in the Duane Hartman Invitational in Spokane, while Gonzaga and Eastern Washington will join the Cougars in Spokane...Seattle Pacific drives up to Bellingham on Friday to participate in the Western Washington twilight meet...Seattle University, Gonzaga, Seattle Pacific and Eastern Washington will also send select athletes to the Oregon Invitational as well.

The sports information offices of Seattle Pacific, Seattle University, Gonzaga, Eastern Washington, University of Washington & Washington State University all contributed to this report.

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