Friday, April 10, 2009

UW at Sun Angel Classic in Tempe; WSU at Rafer Johnson/JJK Invite at UCLA...

Washington track and field returns to Arizona for the second straight weekend, this time heading to Tempe for the Sun Angel Classic. The meet, hosted by Arizona State, is one of the biggest and best of the outdoor season and several Huskies will be making their outdoor season debuts at their main events on Saturday. The meet features just one event this Friday, the men's and women's hammer throw, then picks up Saturday, April 11, with the headlining heats beginning at 6:30 p.m.

In addition to the group in the desert, Washington will also be sending approximately 30 athletes up to Bellingham for the Ralph Vernacchia Meet hosted by Western Washington on Friday night at Civic Stadium. Action gets underway at Western at 3 p.m.

In the latest USTFCCCA track and field rankings, the Husky men moved up to a season-high No. 14 position, while the women improved as well, nearly breaking into the Top-25, at No. 27.

Last year at this same meet, All-American sprinter Jordan Boase opened up in the 400-meter dash, and made a name for himself with a Sun Angel meet record run of 44.82 seconds which remains his PR. Boase will look to follow the same script this season, as he is set to compete in the premiere heat of the 400 Saturday night. Boase should be helped along by a strong field that includes LSU's Robert Simmons, who finished just behind Boase in fourth-place at the NCAA Indoor Championships.

Competing in the premiere heat of the 800-meters is five-time All-American Austin Abbott. The Chehalis, Wash. senior will be running for the first time since winning the 1,500-meters at the Stanford Invitational in 3:41.62, the second-fastest time in UW history and the fastest in the NCAA this year. Abbott will now turn his focus to the 800m, where he has earned two of his All-America honors.

All-American pole vaulters Scott Roth and Jared O'Connor will head UW's efforts in the field events. Both are in the top flight of the pole vault, and Roth is coming off back-to-back wins at Stanford and at last week's Jim Click Shootout, where he cleared 18-1 to set a new personal outdoor best. Junior Zack Midles will also throw the hammer on Friday for the first time this season. Midles is the fifth-ranked hammer thrower in school history and took seventh at West Regionals last season.

For the women, the mid-distance events will be the ones to watch, as no Huskies will run anything longer than 1,500-meters. In the premiere heat of the 800-meters, freshman Christine Babcock will compete for the first time at a distance shorter than her usual mile/1,500-meter focus.

Washington will have a total of seven women running in the 1,500-meters on Saturday, including freshman Kendra Schaaf, who is slated to make her collegiate debut on the track after leading the Husky cross country team to the NCAA title in the fall. She will be joined in the top heat by junior All-American Katie Follett, running the 1,500-meters for the first time since the U.S. Olympic Trials last summer. Also in the top heat is redshirt freshman Mel Lawrence, and Anita Campbell, Kenna Patrick, and Bailey Schutte will all run in the second heat.

In the sprints, junior Falesha Ankton will look to continue improving her season-best in the 100m hurdles. Ankton is already qualified for Regionals with a time of 13.55 seconds that ranks 15th in the nation. Freshmen Bianca Greene, Amber Finley, and Jordan Carlson will also continue gaining experience and picking up speed in the short sprints, while Syreeta Martin and Joi Glass will run the 400m hurdles.

Regional and NCAA Indoor qualifier Kelly McNamee will ocmpete in the women's high jump, as will Regional qualifiers Lara Jones and Andrea Peterson in the premiere section of the pole vault. In the throws, look for big marks from Elisa Bryant in the discus and hammer throws, and Brooke Pighin in the javelin. A transfer from Fresno State, Pighin already ranks fourth on the UW Top-10 javelin list after one competition.

Earliest results can be found on the athletic websites for Arizona State (www.thesundevils.com) and Western Washington (www.wwuvikings.com).

Meanwhile, selected members of the Washington State University track and field teams will compete at the Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational meet, April 9-11, at UCLA's Drake Stadium. This meet includes a women's heptathlon and men's decathlon during the first two days. Fans can follow the results on the following web link: http://www.clerkofthecourse.com/ucla/2009/jjk-rafer/.

The Cougars' Jeshua Anderson was honored as the Pac-10 Male Track Athlete of the Week for March 30-April 5. Anderson successfully defended his Texas Relays title with a winning time and improved NCAA RQ of 49.48 seconds.

Washington State junior Kyle Schauble is currently in second place after the first day of the decathlon at the Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational track and field meet at UCLA's Drake Stadium.

Schauble, from Kennewick, Wash., scored 3,347 points in the first five events of the 10-event competition. WSU freshman Sean Harris (Kent, Wash.) is in fifth place with 3,174 points. Rice University's Clayton Chaney leads the six-man field with 3,582 points.

Schauble opened the day with a 100m dash time of 11.29 seconds and long jumped 22-feet, 3 3/4 inches (6.80m). He threw the shot put a personal-best distance of 33-6 (10.21m), high jumped 5-5 (1.65m) and ran the 400m in a time of 50.74. Harris ran the 100m in 11.89 and long jumped 19-6 (5.94m). He led the field in the shot put with a distance of 41-1 1/2 (12.53m), and in the high jump with a PR leap of 6-3 1/2 (1.92m). Harris finished the day with a 400m time of 56.05.

WSU's Angela Jensen (sophomore, Tacoma) is in fourth place after the first four events of the women's heptathlon with first day PR total of 2,923 points. Jensen ran the 100m hurdles in a time of 14.51, high jumped 5-1 1/4 (1.56m), threw the shot put 29-8 3/4 (9.06m), and ran the 200m in a PR time of 25.31. USC's Nia Ali leads the four-woman field with 3,546 points.

Seattle Pacific also has athletes competing at the Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner Kersee meet, as well as the Ralph Vernacchia meet in Bellingham. Seattle University will also have athletes competing in Bellingham.

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

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