Thursday, May 28, 2009

Cougs, Dawgs & Eagles head to Eugene for NCAA West Regionals...

The second leg of the postseason for Washington, Washington State & Eastern Washington happens at Oregon's Hayward Field for the NCAA West Regional Championships. Regionals are essentially the turnstile for the NCAA Track & Field Championships in mid-June, with athletes needing top-five finishes to earn automatic bids to the national meet. The competition runs Friday and Saturday, May 29-30.

Washington & Washington State were at Historic Hayward Field for the Pac-10 Championships less than two weeks ago, and the Huskies came away with five individual titles, its most since 1998. Washington State is coming off a fourth place team finish in the men's competition.

Competition begins on Friday at 2:40 p.m. with the men's javelin and runs until the 5,000-meters at 7:30 p.m. Things pick back up Saturday at 12 p.m. with the men's discus and go until 4:50 when the final of the men's 4x400m relay takes place.

Washington's loaded women's distance crew will have some decisions to make, as multiple athletes are qualified in several events. Two-time Pac-10 1,500-meter champion Katie Follett ranks fourth in the 5,000-meters, sixth in the 800-meters, but just 11th in the 1,500 despite her Pac-10 win in Eugene. Redshirt freshman Mel Lawrence, the Pac-10 steeplechase champ, is also ranked fifth in the 5k and qualifying for nationals in both would be a tough task. Junior Kailey Campbell and freshman Christine Babcock also both have excellent times in both the 800m and 1500m and could double or choose to focus on one or the other.

The women have five total qualifiers at 5,000-meters including Follett, Lawrence, Pac-10 10,000-meter champ Anita Campbell, and sophomores Kenna Patrick and Lauren Saylor. Junior Falesha Ankton, second in the region in 2008, will look for her second NCAA bid in the 100m hurdles. Sophomores Brooke Pighin and Elisa Bryant lead the women's throws. Pighin ranks 7th in the region in the javelin and Bryant is 11th in the hammer throw. Both are looking to make their first NCAA Outdoor meet. Andrea Peterson and Lara Jones in the pole vault, and Kelly McNamee in the high jump hope to add another meet to their 2009 season with big leaps.

Leading the men will be senior All-Americans Jordan Boase (400) and Austin Abbott (800/1500). Both have racked up five All-American honors, and will certainly be bent on advancing to one last NCAA meet.

The men have a very real shot at sending three vaulters to nationals, with Pac-10 champ Scott Roth leading the way. Senior Jared O'Connor is the defending West Region pole vault champ, and junior Ryan Vu has come into this own of late and scored at the Pac-10 Championships.

Senior sprinter Joe Turner is qualified in the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m relay and could run all three. Turner just missed an NCAA bid last year, finishing 6th in the 200m. Jeff Gudaitis also was one place away last year in the 400m dash, and is back again this season.

Washington State University will be represented by 15 men and 13 women competitors, including reigning NCAA regional champs Jeshua Anderson at 400 hurdles, and Trent Arrivey in the high jump. Pac-10 400 hurdles champ Lorraine King leads the Cougar women's squad into Eugene.

Eastern sends Aaron Mettler, John Clevenger, Cody Irby, Chelsi Friese, Krystal Deyo, Nicole Luckenbach, Michelle Coombs and Amanda Peterson. Stephen Praast and the women's 4x100 relay team earned automatic berths to regionals by placing first in their events at the Big Sky Conference Championships.

Start lists for the men's competition can be accessed here. Women's start lists can be accessed here.

For those planning to drive to Eugene, the time schedule can be accessed here.

NOTE: The sports information offices of the University of Washington, Washington State, & Eastern Washington all contributed to this report.

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