Thursday, April 30, 2009

Memories of the UW/WSU dual track & field meet (part 3--The participants speak out)...

One of my first memories of how heated the rivalry between Washington and Washington State is came during my sophomore year at Franklin High School in Seattle when we got free tickets to watch the 1975 edition of the UW/WSU track meet at Husky Stadium.

On a cold, grey Seattle day, we watched the Dawgs and Cougs go at it on the old blacktop track that surrounded Husky Stadium. As the meet progressed, you could see that emotions on both sides, particularly among the sprinters were running high, as there was quite a bit of woofing going on between both teams.

It all came to a head in the 440 featuring Billy Hicks, who would later anchor Washington’s mile relay team to a national championship. Hicks apparently took exception to something one of WSU’s runners said, then proceeded to win the race.


Before crossing the line, Hicks proceeded to turn around and wag his finger at the WSU runners a la Dikembe Mutombo, as if to say “Not in my house!” A Seattle Times photographer captured that moment and it was published in the paper the following day.


The following are memories shared by a number of former athletes from both schools about their experiences competing in this meet, in response to our post on Facebook.


Other than correcting minor grammatical errors, very little editing was done--paulmerca.blogspot.com thanks all for sharing their thoughts. Special thanks go to Linda Chalich at Washington State & Mike Bruscas from the University of Washington, as well as to all the athletes who responded.


Who from the current teams will create new memories to pass on to future Cougars and Huskies on Saturday? We will find out!

KATE (SOMA) CONWELL, UW (2005 NCAA pole vault champion)

This was always my worst meet of the year so I'm not sure I have any good memories...one year, (discus thrower) Will (Conwell) even broke up with me on the bus ride on the way home from the meet. :( Ouch, and that was the same weekend I got my first speeding ticket on the way to catch the bus over to Pullman, followed by a no height at the meet.


BILL AYEARS, WSU (1988 team captain)


In the 1988 meet in Pullman, Julio Richburg (UW) got a rolling start in the 100m and he has never been in that position. A little dog felt the heat of a BIG FAST COUGAR running him down like a National Geographic mommmment (spelling for emphasis). He has never ran that fast and been that scared and lose that badly.



E. GARRY HILL, WSU (current editor, Track & Field News)


My memories of the WSU/UW duals are fond indeed. Why wouldn't they be? In my era the pendulum had swung mightily to our side of the state and we were eating the Huskies alive.

In the one year I managed to eke out a varsity letter, 1968, I remember doing a dopesheet before the meet and calculated that we could win the meet with only 6 (!) guys.

Of course when two of the guys were World Record-caliber people like (distance runner) Gerry Lindgren and (discus thrower) John Van Reenen, there were a lot of guaranteed points…points they'd still get today.

And on a cool windy day in Pullman we instead used a full team and clubbed them 107-38.

CHRISTIAN BELZ, UW (Two-time Swiss Olympian)

It was very unusual to have just two teams competing against each other. Before coming to the US I have never heard of such a thing (apart from the obvious like a soccer game!), so lets say that at least in track & field. No wonder the rivalry is this big when you have one opponent only! It’s so absolutely comparable to what is going on here (in Switzerland) in soccer or ice hockey, and let me tell you, fans are very fanatic here! I was impressed, though, with the intensity the races were run. Of course I remember competing against Bernard Lagat!

Another memory is the long bus trips to Pullman (and back!). That was always a lot of fun and very important for team building, things I miss over here in Europe.


MARTIN BINGISSER, UW (hammer thrower)

At UW, the hammer throw is contested off campus at West Seattle Stadium and we typically hold the hammer throw the night before the dual meet in order to accommodate the meet schedule. As the men started to warm up in 2005, we had about as many competitors (5) as we had spectators. Just as we were about to start, a large bus pulled up in the parking lot and the entire WSU team emptied out. All of a sudden, the ring was surrounded by a sea of crimson and grey, with a few Husky fans intermixed. The crowd was loud and cheering for everyone. As I entered my ring for my first throw, I was booed for the first time in my career. I responded by throwing a personal best and taking the lead.

As the competition continued, the WSU team continued to support their teammates. It also became increasingly clear that I would easily win the competition. I had a lead of nearly 50 feet and the second place competition was going to have to throw a massive PR to even come close to me. The WSU fans realized there was nothing they could do about my lead, so they began to cheer for me too. I had some big fouls in the fourth and fifth rounds and the crowd began rhythmically clapping for my final attempt. It all paid off as I threw another personal best. More importantly, I scored our team's first points. We ended up winning the meet and snapping a four year losing streak.

For me, this is what the dual meet was about. We all wanted to win, but it was as much about having fun and seeing people succeed. When the WSU fans realized they wouldn't win, they still wanted me to succeed.

KEVIN TURNER, UW (triple jumper)

For me it was in May of '79 when I beat my old high school rival Robert Williams in the triple jump on my last jump. It won me Husky of the week honors. I still have the award on my wall.

JIM MC KAY, UW (distance runner)

I'm pretty sure that was the year (1990) (that we were the third ranked dual meet team in the country and WSU was the 2nd. We had just beaten Oregon at home and we went to Pullman with a really good chance of beating them. However, when the day came it was 18 degrees and snowing. (in May!) The wind was blowing like crazy and everyone did really poorly.

One funny memory is John Chaplin checking everyone in. I've never seen an opposing head coach take on those duties - especially such a high profile head coach. He made funny little disparaging comments to everyone. He hardly took a breath to let you tell him your name. I think he was trying to psych us out.

JODY PAGE, WSU (hurdler)

My junior season at WSU Chaplin made me cancel surgery to have my tonsils out to compete the WSU vs UW dual meet. He said he hadn't lost to UW in 25 years & wasn't taking any chances. I competed in the 110m HH, 100m, Long Jump, 4 x 100m & 4 x 400m that week. It was the most physically demanding meet I ever competed in & was the 1st time in my track career that I felt like I was part of a team & tradition. We won the meet & while there were much larger ones I competed in that was the performance I was most proud of in my career at WSU.

KOLLEEN (FAIRES) SEALS, WSU (triple jumper)

I remember my sophomore year duel against UW. UW hosted it and it was not too warm out. At that meet we had 9 PRs set and we swept the jumps. (Rob) Casselman was the coach at the time and when we boarded the bus he was so excited. His speech when longer then normal with lots of happy shouts and yells. It was a great day until the bus broke down on the way home....



COLLIER LAWRENCE, WSU (steeplechaser)


My freshman year they needed bodies in a few races so I got put in the 400 hurdles just because I was a steeplechaser. I don't think I even broke 75.

Last year (2008) I just remember all the distance runners from WSU and UW on the fence by the steeple pit cheering for the entire meet. While there is the rivalry there, is that common ground where we are making friends outside our team and helping make an environment that is fun to compete in.

KIRA HARRISON, UW (distance runner)

My favorite part about the dual meet is how it brings the team together. With so many different events and different kinds of athletes, it can be hard sometimes to focus on the entire team when you are trying to focus on your own events. But being a team is what track is all about and the dual meet always brought everyone to their feet cheering for one another. I love that feeling.

LEE GORDON, WSU (1985 team captain)

The most vivid UW/WSU dual meet year for me was definitely 1984. We always had ever-improving relay teams; both the 400- and 1600-meter relays were made up of long sprinters like Kris Durr and Gabriel Tiacoh, 800 runners like Calvin Harris and Tim Manson, jumpers like Joseph (Taiwo), and sprinters like Dennis Livingston and myself.

The year before, the Huskies were good as well in the 400 relay with the team of Sterling Hinds, Byron Howell, LaNorris Marshall, and Dennis Brown. They placed 2nd at the NCAAs and were calling themselves "the Atomic Dawgs" after the song by George Clinton/Parliament Funkadelic, and were talking all sorts of mess.

Well, we came out to Seattle with our non-sprinter based relay team and spanked them in our dual meet. After that, every now and then I would come across steroid rumors against me and us, but have always felt a perverse satisfaction from the accusations since they came from the beating we gave the "Dawgs" that year!

WILL CONWELL, UW (6th, 2008 US Olympic Trials)

In 2005 Mat Schwinn and I were trying to take 1st and 2nd in the mens discus. The WSU thrower Drew Ulrick was ranked 2nd and had a good chance of ruining our top 2 finish. Mat and I proceeded to intimidate Drew by throwing his discus, asking him if he was sure he knew what he was doing and making several comments on his technique. After being mentally shaken up, he took his first 2 throws and fouled. His 3rd throw was a stand throw of 99-11 which was 80 feet under his Personal Best at the time. That was his best mark of the meet and Mat Schwinn and I ended up placing 1st and 2nd as planned.

DIANA PICKLER, WSU (2008 US Olympian, heptathlon)

When I think back at my memories of the WSU/UW dual I really can’t pick one out. I can remember the feeling I got each time we battled it out. In my career at WSU the Cougars always came out victorious!!

As a freshman coming from Texas I did not get that into the the dual or pay that close attention to who was leading through the comp. I soon learned the rivilary between the two universities, and from that year on I remember running up and down the field going up to coach Sloan saying where are we , how much are we up? How much are they down?? It was great seeing everyone on the team step up and do their part when they were needed.

Now that I have thought back I can remember my two favorite memories. The first one was the 4 x 100 during my junior year. We were not expected to beat them in that race, but we knew that we could. I was third leg watching how good Nicole Hatcher and La Shawnda Porter ran and was so excited after I handed off to (sister) Julie I remember screaming out to her GO!! That was one of the best feelings, seeing all of us running so well and coming out with the victory against the Huskies.

One of my other favorite memories (I believe this was the same year) was watching Sara Burns and Kaylee Gardner both jump over 40 feet in the triple jump. Sara did it first and then Kaylee busted out a big jump, it just showed how the Cougs compete. There is no other meet that brings the Cougs closer together--it is a great way to kick off the championship season.

JULIE PICKLER, WSU (five-time All American)

I had no problem remembering my favorite dual memory. Actually, it ranks as one of my favorite memories from my five years at Washington State track. It was the dual meet held at UW in 2005. The bus took the whole team over to the competition site at West Seattle Stadium and probably created the largest crowd ever at the UW/WSU dual for the hammer throw. The Cougs were everywhere—sitting on top of the shed, in the grass, all over the place! Ben Hampton led the cheers as it was the most Cougar spirit I have ever felt and it was so exciting to have everyone cheers and the WSU throws respond so well. It was so much fun and it is an experience I will never forget.

Photos courtesy University of Washington & Washington State University. Other photos by Paul Merca

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Olympic 1500m champ Rashid Ramzi tests positive...

As reported by several news agencies, 2008 Olympic 1500 meter champion Rashid Ramzi (#408/photo by Paul Merca) of Bahrain tested positive for a banned substance called Mircera, the commercial name for the blood-booster CERA.

The Moroccan-born runner, who won the 800-1,500 double at the 2005 world championships, gave Bahrain its first ever Olympic track and field gold medal with victory in Beijing in 3 minutes, 32.94 seconds.

Ramzi's "B" sample will be tested in France on June 8 and he will face an IOC hearing the same day, the Bahrain Olympic Committee said.

"The Bahrain Olympic Committee apologizes for receiving such news from the International Olympic Committee since it ensured Ramzi went through all the necessary doping tests before the games and they were all negative," the committee said in a statement.

In a prepared statement, the IAAF said, "The cases are currently confidential, and the IAAF is bound by its Rules and unable to confirm the names or nationalities of any athletes involved or comment further at this stage. The usual results management procedures for samples taken during the period of the Olympic Games will now apply including the option for all athletes to have their B samples tested. The IAAF must wait for further details from the IOC before considering any provisional suspension of the athletes and a decision is not expected within the next week."

Auburn's Chris Lukezic, who would have been a finalist in the 1500 at the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki had Ramzi not been ahead of him, has an interesting take on Ramzi's possible disqualification.

Jarred Rome third in Chula Vista Challenge; ex Husky Israel sixth...

Marysville-Pilchuck High School graduate and 2004 US Olympian Jarred Rome finished third in the Chula Vista Discus Challenge Tuesday at the US Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California.

Rome threw 214-8 (65.43m) to finish behind reigning world and Olympic champion Gerd Kanter (232-5/70.84m, current world leader), and Erik Cadee of the Netherlands (215-3/65.61m).

Former Washington Husky Mart Israel from Estonia, who is Kanter's training partner, finished sixth with a mark of 212-9 (64.86m).

The meeting was the first of three 'USA World Record Challenge' meets hosted this month in California. The next two will be held in Salinas on May 5th and 12th. Kanter has competed exeptionally well in Salinas in the past.

Memories of the UW/WSU dual track & field meet (part 2)...

For outsiders to fully comprehend the meaning of the Washington/Washington State dual track and field meet, one must have some knowledge of long time WSU head coach John Chaplin (left/photo courtesy Washington State University).

During his tenure as head coach, Chaplin guided WSU to the top of the Pacific-10 Conference, as witnessed by WSU’s three straight conference titles from 1983-85, and three consecutive second place finishes at the NCAA Championships during the 1980’s, plus another Pac-10 title and NCAA runner-up finish in 1991.

Chaplin guided the Cougars to five straight undefeated dual meet seasons (1981-85) and nine overall in 21 years, plus the mythical dual meet championship six times.

WSU, under Chaplin’s guidance, repeatedly finished in the first division in the Pacific-10 Conference and the top 10 in the NCAA standings in cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field. His 1977 indoor squad captured the NCAA team title, the first and only official NCAA title in the school’s history.

Chaplin coached Cougar teams won 202 of 217 dual meets, a near-perfect winning percentage of .931.

After retiring from Washington State, he became active within USA Track & Field, and was the head men's coach for the US Olympic track team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

In his 21-season tenure as head track coach at Washington State from 1974 to 1994, Chaplin compiled an impressive 21-1 dual meet record against the Huskies. In the eyes of many Husky track athletes and supporters, just the mere mention of his name evoked reactions ranging from rolling eyes to blunt, no holds barred expletives.

In 1981, I was in the WSU training room at Bohler Gym waiting on triple jumper Kevin Turner and another Husky athlete receiving treatment from our team trainer, when Chaplin, who had a reputation as a bit of a motormouth, plopped himself onto a treatment table and said loudly, “We’re kicking your ass today”, after which he picked himself off the table, and walked out of the room.

All of us looked at each other as if to say, “He did not just say that!” and “Thanks for telling us the obvious”, given that his team was loaded with world-class talent, and had beaten the UW earlier that season in Seattle 98-65.

Though Washington still lost in Pullman 91-72, Chaplin’s comment fired up several members of the Huskies, particularly those who ran poorly against the Cougars in the earlier meeting in Seattle that season.

During a break at the USA Track & Field convention in Reno in December, I reminded Chaplin of his antics in Pullman, to which he put his arm around me in fatherly fashion and said, “I was only trying to get into your heads.”

Washington distance runner Jim McKay, a member of the 1990 team that lost to the Cougars 110-53 in Pullman, recalls that Chaplin took on the dual role of coach and check in clerk that year, presumably because they were short on officiating help on a May day which McKay said was 18 degrees and snowing.

“One funny memory is John Chaplin checking everyone in. I've never seen an opposing head coach take on those duties - especially such a high profile head coach. He made funny little disparaging comments to everyone. He hardly took a breath to let you tell him your name. I think he was trying to psych us out.”

If there was one common theme about Chaplin’s modus operandi when it came time for the UW/WSU dual meet, it was the fact that he wasn’t about to let the Huskies get one over him and his team.

Jody Page, a hurdler on one of Chaplin’s final teams said, “Chaplin made me cancel surgery to have my tonsils out to compete the WSU/UW dual meet. He said he hadn't lost to UW in 25 years & wasn't taking any chances.” (editor’s note—don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story).

“I competed in the 110m HH, 100m, long jump, 4 x 100m & 4 x 400m that week. It was the most physically demanding meet I ever competed in & was the first time in my track career that I felt like I was part of a team & tradition. We won the meet & while there were much larger ones I competed in that was the performance I was most proud of in my career at WSU.”

Next, we let the athletes take over with their tales of this in-state rivalry.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Memories of the UW/WSU dual track & field meet (part 1)...

To get all of you psyched for Saturday's dual track & field meet at Husky Stadium between the University of Washington Huskies and the Washington State Cougars, here is the first of a series of memories that participants from both schools sent paulmerca.blogspot.com in response to a post on Facebook, which asked both Huskies and Cougars to drop a short note on the most significant memory(ies) of competing in this meet, whether it was good/bad/funny/unusual, etc.

One of the first to respond was hammer thrower Dwight Midles, who competed for the Cougars in the mid-1970s, during the era of the Huskies' "Fab Four" of shot putter Russ Vincent, discus thrower Borys Chambul, javelin thrower Rod Ewaliko, and hammer thrower Scott Neilson.
Midles, who is one of the top high school hammer coaches in Washington, currently has a son, Zack (left/photo courtesy University of Washington sports information), who competes for the University of Washington.

This piece is written from two different perspectives--a competitor's perspective, and one of a father whose son competes for the rival school.


Many thanks go out to Dwight Midles for sharing his take on this rivalry between Washington and Washington State:


I was a member of the WSU track team from 1975 to 1977. My event was the hammer throw and my first meet against the Huskies was in 1975. There is one very clear memory I have of that first meet against the Huskies. At the 1975 meet all the throwers walked into the weights and measures room, to have their implements certified the morning of the meet.

Russ Vincent (former great U of W shot putter who was wearing a goatee beard at the time), Borys Chambul (former great U of W discus thrower), and Rod Ewaliko (former great U of W javelin thrower) were in the room wearing their Husky colors. Marl Murrey, John Ewing, myself, and WSU throws Coach Rick Sloan (now head coach) were there for the Cougars. There were some other people in the room but since it has been so many years, I do not recall all their names.

A Cougar fan came into the room and yelled, "Hey coach, the mayor of Pullman will be here for the meet and wants to know where he has to go to get the tickets. Husky Russ Vincent loudly yelled, “Gee I didn’t know the town of Pullman even had a mayor, I thought all they had was a bunch of cows and billy goats in Pullman”.

A few Huskies laughed at the joke, but Russ laughed the loudest. All us Cougs were a bit taken aback by this, shall we say nasty comment, and then John Ewing (a small but very witty Cougar hammer thrower) said loudly, “Gee the animal tech department at the University of Washington is doing wonders, they are making billy goats talk”. All of us Cougars then had a good laugh, as John was clearly referring to Russ Vincent’s goatee that made him look something like a billy goat.

For me that was the first real introduction to the heated rivalry between these two track and field teams. The Huskies went on to win the 1975 meet by a score of 95 to 68 in a bit of an upset. I helped the Cougars by placing 3rd in that 1975 meet in the hammer, but we still lost and that hurt. We had sweet revenge the following year when the Cougars beat the Huskies badly over in Pullman by a score of 117 to 45 in the 1976 meet, and then beat the Huskies again in the 1977 meet by a score of 88 to 75 in Seattle. I had the misfortune of taking second in both the 1976 and 1977 meets in the hammer, to Husky great Scott Neilson. In fact I do not believe I, or anybody else in college every beat Scott in the hammer during his entire 4 years at the University of Washington.

As the years passed I always looked back with a great deal of satisfaction having had a part in beating the Huskies in two of three meets that I competed against them in. The Cougars went on a long win streak after that 1975 loss to the Husky Track and Field team, and beat the Huskies something like 22 years in a row as I recall. I did not care for the Huskies and I was very honest about it. I got married to a fellow Cougar (Lisa Nordman who I met while a student at WSU) and had 4 wonderful children. I raised them all to hate Huskies, and said bad things about the U. of W. every chance I got. I wanted to make sure I brought my children up in the right kind of environment. After all I expected all of my 4 children to attend WSU as they would have been the 4th generation in our family to be a Cougar.

I began to teach two of my sons how to throw the hammer when they were in middle school out in pastures around the Olympia area. I also had a part in introducing the hammer to high school age kids in the State of Washington. My sons were having some great success, particularly as they began to enter High School. My oldest son Adam set the number two all time mark in US High School history when he threw the 12 lb hammer 242 feet 1 inch in 2002. That mark still stands as the Washington State High School All time boys hammer throw record. Adam had scholarship offers from all over the US, but I honestly thought he would be a Cougar and continue to help WSU pound the Dawgs. After all, Adam would have been a 4th generation Cougar, so I did not think he would go anywhere but WSU. WSU never offered Adam a scholarship, and he opted to attend USC.

Adam’s decision to go to USC was a surprise and disappointment to me, but he said he wanted to be a Trojan and go where he was wanted. Adam went on to earn All American honors at USC in the hammer in 2005, 2006, and 2007, managed to win a Pacific-10 hammer title along the way, and maintain his long term friendship with the U of W’s outstanding number two hammer thrower of all time on the U of W list, Martin Bingisser. Martin and Adam had been good friends and competitors since they both started throwing the hammer in high school.

After Adam opted to attend USC, I still thought I had another chance with my youngest son Zack, becoming a Cougar. Zack was also having great success at the High School level with the hammer. He had also received a great many scholarship offers from various school across the US, including the University of Washington. At the time I did not think much of the U. of W. offer, as I knew in my heart Zack would never be Husky. He could never turn his back on his father and compete for the hated Huskies.

A son has a way of doing what they want, however, and I was soon to find out just how powerful that desire can be. After numerous visits to various colleges Zack told me he wanted to go to the U of W in the fall of 2004 while a senior in high school. He liked the Campus and Coach (Greg) Metcalf and he felt he could get a great education there while also working with Martin Bingisser. Most importantly he said, "Dad they really make me feel like they want me."

The throws coach who recruited Zack, Bud Rassmussen, left Washington in 2005 for another job, but Zack got along well with the new throws coach at the U of W (Reedus Thurmond) and continued to improve.

So that is how I found myself a fan of the Husky Purple and Gold Track and Field team, something I never thought would happen. At Zack’s first track meet against the Cougars in 2007, he placed second in the hammer with a lifetime best throw. The Huskies won the 2007 meet and Zack made a point to rub that in real hard to me.

One year later I was in Pullman for the 2008 meet where Zack won the hammer with a lifetime best, captured 3rd in the shot put with a lifetime best, and then won the discus with a lifetime best. Unfortunately for Zack, the Huskies lost the 2008 meet, but I told Zack he had scored more points in this one meet for his team, then I did in my entire career as a Cougars against the Huskies.

After the meet Zack and I were standing by the fence in the southeast corner of the Cougar Track and my old coach, Rick Sloan came walking toward us. Zack saw him walking directly toward us and said “He is on his way I suppose Dad, to gloat about his great win”. Rick pointed his finger at Zack with a motion to come toward him. Zack asked me, “Dad I think he wants to talk to me”. I said yea Zack, looks like he wants to talk to you and Zack slowly walked toward him.

Rick said “Zack I know you are down because the Huskies lost this meet but I have never seen a kid throw three lifetime best marks in three different throwing events, on the same day, against their biggest rival like you did today, so you should be very proud of your effort and I know your Dad is too. Zack said he was speechless, and just looked at Coach Sloan and said “Thanks coach”.

Zack walked back to me and told me what Rick had said and how shocked he was. I looked at Zack and said “You should never be surprised about great things that real Cougar men do Zack”. Zack had a few choice words for me at that point, as he was still getting over the Husky loss.

I am looking forward to attending the 2009 meet and hopefully watching Zack throw another lifetime best or two against my old team. I am also going to wear purple and gold and cheer for my son.

PS--I have a daughter in high school, who throws the hammer, and is nationally ranked and she might yet become a Cougar.

Give us this day our dual track & field meet...

A while ago, someone asked me (left/1977 photo courtesy Franklin High School archives) the question, "If there was one aspect of track & field that you wished could be brought back, what would it be?"

Without hesitation, I answered "The high caliber dual meet".

The dual track & field meet has gone the way of the Edsel--it's a rare entity.

One of my earliest experiences with the sport of track & field revolved around the dual meet. As a sophomore at Seattle's Franklin High School, one of the first meets I was involved in was a dual meet in mid-March 1975 against Nathan Hale HS, one of the state's premier track teams.

I ran a 4:58 mile that afternoon, placing third, and scored one point for my team. Franklin eventually won the meet 65-61, and started a three-season undefeated streak. More significantly, that meet against Hale gave our team the belief that we were a good team. We went on to win the first of three straight Seattle Metro League track championships.

Two other memories of dual meet participation included two straight wins against Renton High my junior and senior seasons, with each victory by one point or less, with each event coming down to the triple jump, which was still going on after the mile relay concluded.

I will never forget the sight of my teammates giving Greg Henderson a ride around the track on their shoulders after he clinched the victory over Renton with a victory in the triple jump as the airplanes roared around us from the nearby Renton Municipal Airport (Renton Stadium is conveniently located behind Boeing's Renton plant).

As this is the week of the University of Washington/Washington State University dual track meet (Saturday May 2nd at Husky Stadium), I will save some of my memories of that meet for an article I'll post later this week.

In an era where well-financed NCAA division I college teams are opting to fly their teams to warm weather venues to chase regional qualifiers, blah, blah, blah, it's refreshing to know that some schools still value the dual meet.

On the West Coast, the USC/UCLA dual is still going, as is Cal/Stanford. A few weeks ago, UCLA flew up to Eugene for a dual meet against Oregon, which generated a lot of excitement among the fans who came out to Hayward Field.

In the Midwest, Michigan and Ohio State renewed their annual dual track meet both indoors and outdoors. USATF CEO Doug Logan recently made overtures to the Jamaican federation for a series of home-and-home dual track meets for 2010 and 2011.

For all of that, there still aren't enough dual meets at the collegiate level.

From a personal perspective, there is nothing that helps athletes prepare to compete at a higher level than a dual meet. You can't replicate the feeling of having to get third in the 5000 after you've run a 1500/800 double knowing that if you can somehow run 14:50 and squeeze past the other team's third runner, you give your stud 4 x 4 relay team a chance to put the meet away.

Here's a link to a great blog piece from Conway Hill on the state of the dual meet.

I'll have a post in the next few days on the UW/WSU dual track meet--stay tuned!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Weekend roundup: April 17-18...

Here's a roundup of what happened in the world of Washington state pro and college track and field over the weekend, courtesy of the sports information offices at Drake University, the University of Washington, Eastern Washington University, Gonzaga University, and Washington State University:

At the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, Olympian Aretha Thurmond from Federal Way finished fourth in the discus under rainy skies, throwing 182-1.

Former Auburn High School standout Chris Lukezic (left/file photo from 2005 World Championships in Helsinki by Paul Merca) was also fourth in the men’s invitational mile, clocking 4:01.80. Lukezic recently relocated to Colorado from the Washington, DC area after his longtime coach, Juli Henner was hired to be the distance coach at the Air Force Academy.

At the Oregon Relays in Eugene last Saturday, University of Washington junior Falesha Ankton won the 400-meter hurdles today in her first attempt at the distance since last season. Ankton finished just short of the Regional mark in 1:01.11, the fastest by a Husky this year.

Junior Jeff Gudaitis had an impressive day, running a PR in the 200-meter dash of 21.89 seconds that won his heat and was the fourth fastest of the day. He then took second overall in the 400-meter dash, running 47.60.

Washington's two women's relays each ran the fastest times for Husky quartets in two seasons. In the 4x100m, Falesha Ankton, Dominique Lauderdale, Jordan Carlson, and Bianca Greene carried the baton around the track in 46.28 seconds. Later in the evening, Joi Glass, Amber Finley, Syreeta Martin, and Carlson ran the 4x400m in 3:51.09.

In the field events, senior Jared O'Connor won the men's pole vault with a clearance of 16-7 1/4. Sophomore Brooke Pighin had another great day in the javelin, placing third with a throw of 157-5. Junior Zack Midles was also second in the hammer throw, with a solid mark of 206-11.

Taylor Nichols and Nicole Vielma took second and third in the women's triple jump, respectively, with marks of 38-9 1/2 for Nichols and a PR of 37-2 1/2 for Vielma.

In day one of the Oregon Relays, Joey Bywater of Lake Stevens, Wash., earned his first NCAA Regional trip by running 3:45.43 in the 1,500-meter run.

Sophomore Elisa Bryant posted her second Regional qualifier of the season, this one coming in the hammer throw, which he tossed 178-feet and 1-inch. Bryant is also qualified in the discus throw.

A number of other Huskies also enjoyed career-best outings Friday night. Freshman Allison Linnell dropped 13 seconds off her best steeplechase time, running 10:51.67, to just miss the Regional mark by less than two seconds. Linnell already ranks sixth on UW's Top-10 steeple list. In the men's steeple, David McCary dropped seven seconds from his personal best, placing sixth in 9:22.66.

Several PR's came out of the 1,500m runs. Senior Emily Collins ran 4:38.13 and freshman Kayla Evans was close behind in 4:40.77. On the men's side, junior Jake Schmitt got some work at a quicker pace than his usual longer distances, and PR'd in 3:50.75. Redshirt freshman Faisal Abdullahi also ran 3:53.92, five seconds faster than his season-best.

In the 5,000-meters, junior Brooke Anderson ran a significant best, crossing the line in 17:10.50, more than 13 seconds than her previous fastest.

Still more PR's came from sophomore Peter Follmer in the discus throw, who threw 165-7, and from freshman decathlete Jeremy Taiwo, who threw a very strong 175-3 in the javelin. UW's top javelin thrower, sophomore Kyle Nielsen, took third in a loaded field with a mark of 227-4.

Eastern Washington sent several athletes to Eugene, led by Nicole Luckenbach who broke her own school record in the hammer with a throw of 185-7 to finish fourth. It was her third throw this season of over 180 feet. Earlier this season she qualified for the NCAA West Regionals and Big Sky Conference Outdoor Championships with a throw of 182-10 that broke Julie Nielson’s record of 182-8 set in 2001.

Michelle Coombs had a personal-best javelin throw of 148-3 to finish fourth. That mark ranks her eighth in school history. Ashley Stabl had a personal-best 400-meter hurdle time of 1:02.34 to rank seventh in EWU history. New conference qualifier Mari Bingham had a throw of 41-10 1/2 to finish seventh in the shot put.

On the men’s side, Armand Hopkins finished eighth in the triple jump with a mark of 46-4 1/2 to qualify for the conference championships.

Other BSC Championship qualifiers include Paul Limpf and Kersee Lind. Limpf qualified in the 5,000 meters with a time of 14:33.64 and Lind qualified in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 55.38.

Back in Spokane, two Washington State University freshmen women reached NCAA Regional Qualifying marks in the javelin, and two more frosh women won other throwing events Saturday at the Duane Hartman Invitational Track and Field Meet at Spokane Falls Community College.

Courtney Kirkwood (Othello, Wash.) won the women's javelin with a lifetime-best and improved NCAA RQ mark of 170-feet, 8 inches (52.01m). Kirkwood's throw was a 10-foot improvement on her PR and the second-best toss in Cougar women's history, behind sophomore teammate Marissa Tschida's 175-11 thrown last week. Kirkwood's throw also broke Tschida's freshman school record of 161-8 thrown last year.

Jennifer Hamilton (Longview, Wash.) finished second in the javelin with a PR and NCAA RQ throw of 149-3 (45.49m), the ninth-best throw in WSU history, and the fourth Cougar woman to reach NCAA RQ in the javelin this season. Hamilton was also runner-up in the shot put by 1/4 inch to fellow frosh Anna Albrecht (Pullman) who won with a toss of 41-7 1/4 (12.68m).

"Courtney has been working hard to get caught back up in the javelin after training for the heptathlon all through the fall," Cougar Associate Coach and throws coach Debra Farwell said. "She has worked every day of the spring on the javelin. Last week she had a couple of good training days, worked on a couple of cues and she was back in sync with javelin throwing. Today she warmed up well and hit those cues. Today there was no doubt she was a javelin thrower."

Rounding out the Cougar freshman women's day, Kjirsten Jensen (Arlington, Wash.) won the women's hammer with a PR throw of 167-7 (51.07m) and Cassie Whitfield (Puyallup, Wash.) placed third with a PR throw of 156-0 (47.56m). Ashley Kenney (Spokane Valley) was the runner-up in the women's discus with a season-best throw of 146-2 (44.55m) and fourth in the shot put (38-8 3/4).

Barry Leavitt (senior, Benton City, Wash.) won the men's 400m hurdles with a season-best and improved NCAA RQ time of 51.30 seconds. Trevor Habberstad finished second in the intermediate hurdles with a time of 53.65.

Phil MacArthur (senior, Ione, Wash.) won the men's hammer with an NCAA RQ throw of 198-0 (60.36m), but has already thrown 199-5 this season. Conner Larned (freshman, Enumclaw, Wash.) finished second in the hammer throw with a toss of 153-8 (46.85m), a PR improvement of nearly 30-feet. Larned won the discus with a throw of 160-1 (48.80m) with Joe Bartlett second (157-7).

Other Cougar women winning events Saturday included: Morgan Clem (200m, 25.54), Emily Farrar (1500m, 4:42.28), Jalisa Williams (100m hurdles, 14.92), Lorraine King (400m hurdles, 1:00.95), Alexa Huestis (pole vault, 11-11 3/4), and the 4x100m relay team of Angela Jensen, Princess Joy Griffey, Candace Missouri and Clem (47.04).

WSU men claiming victories included: Joe Abbott (800m, 1:53.08), Trevor Habberstad (110m hurdles, 14.86), Beau Carrillo (pole vault, 15-1), Moreno Zapata (triple jump, 46-7 1/4) and the 4x400m relay team of Kyle Schauble, Abbott, Luke Lemenager and Bob Hewitt-Gaffney (3:21.38).

For Eastern Washington, Bonnie Berscheid had a season-best throw of 156-2 in the discus to win that event. The two-time defending Big Sky discus champion had already qualified for the regional and conference championships earlier this season with a throw of 155-9. Her career-best throw of 157-11 came last year at the NCAA West Regionals when she finished ninth.

New conference qualifier Irene Lowe had a high jump mark of 5-3 3/4 to win that event.

Gonzaga's team, composed entirely of distance runners, saw Laura Volcheff and Lindsey Drake posted second-place finishes on the women's side and Jared Graham ran a season-best in the men's 800 meters to highlight Gonzaga University's performance.

Volcheff was runner-up in the 3,000 meter steeplechase in 11:45.71, just a half-second shy of her season best. Molly Funk, participating in the event for the first time this season, was seventh in 12:01.72.

Drake finished second in the 5,000 meters in 19:23.45 while Molly Moore was fourth in 20:15.70.

Graham posted the best Bulldog time of the season in the 800 meters, placing sixth in 1:58.03.

Ian Berge finished sxith in the men's 5,000 meters in 16:06.59, just shy of his season best of 16:06.05, while Brian Slamkowski was seventh in 16:09.73, shattering his previous season best of 16:09.73.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Husky women's 4 x 1500 third at Penn Relays; men's sprint medley second...


Video courtesy media partner flotrack.org

PHILADELPHIA -
In its first trip to the legendary Penn Relays in 16 years, the UW track and field team picked up second- and third-place finishes in its two relays today at University of Pennsylvania's Franklin Field.

The storied event, now in its 115th season, features more than 400 races over the course of the week and 22,000 competitors from elementary school children up to some of the elite superstars of professional track. Washington had not sent a squad to Penn since 1993, head coach Greg Metcalf's senior season at UW.

One reason for UW's return to the Relays was a belief they could bring home two titles, and the Dawgs nearly pulled it off with two top-three finishes.

First up was the Women's 4x1500-meter Championship of America, featuring the Husky quartet of juniors Kailey Campbell and Katie Follett, redshirt freshman Mel Lawrence, and true freshman Christine Babcock on the anchor.

After the first couple laps, the race became a four-team battle between Washington, Tennessee, Georgetown, and Villanova. The Lady Vols set an American Record in the distance medley relay this year, and won the DMR title at NCAA Indoors and also won the Penn Relay DMR on Thursday, so they had the target on their backs.

Campbell opened with a 4:18 split, putting UW right in the mix. Follett then took the baton and turned in her best showing of the season with a 4:16 split, as she took over the lead over the final 20 meters and handed off to Lawrence in first place. Lawrence held the lead for much of the third leg, but the four teams were still bunched together far ahead of the rest of the field. Georgetown and Tennessee put on a kick and opened up a small lead heading into the final leg. Lawrence still ran 4:20 for her leg, a four-second PR.

On the anchor leg, Tennessee and Georgetown both sported multiple-time All-American seniors, while Babcock was running just her third college 1,500m. Babcock pulled away from Villanova, but Tennessee's Sarah Bowman led the Vols to the win in 17:08.34 followed by Georgetown in 17:11.80, and then the Huskies in 17:14.55. All three teams broke the previous meet record of 17:15.62 set by Michigan in 2007.

"I thought all four ran great," said assistant coach Kelly Strong. "Coming in you have to know that Tennessee is going to run tough. They won the DMR at NCAA's and won it again yesterday, and Sarah Bowman is one of the best. We also knew that Georgetown and Villanova would be strong. So we looked at the Penn Relays record which was 17:15 by Michigan and that was an average of 4:19 flat. We knew we were capable of doing that so the four of them had that as a goal."

Babcock knew she might be in for a challenge against the NCAA Mile Champion but just tried to stay within herself.

"I was just trying not to think about it when I saw Tennessee warming up. I knew if Bowman was anywhere close I was in trouble," she told Flotrack.org. "I just went in there thinking I'd just try my best and whatever comes out of it, that's what happens, I can't really focus too much on who I'm racing because I can't control them."

Several hours later, it was time for the Men's Sprints Medley Championship of America, featuring four Husky seniors: Joe Turner, Kenjamine Jackson, Jordan Boase, and Austin Abbott. The sprint medley is organized with two 200-meter legs followed by 400-meters and 800-meters. Turner and Jackson ran well over the first two legs, but it was Boase who shocked the onlookers when he went into overdrive and powered from the back of the pack all the way into first place for the hand-off to Abbott.

Abbott led early on the final leg, before letting Tennessee's Joe Franklin move in front and sticking right behind him. Abbott looked in good position for his patented finishing kick, but Franklin was very strong and was able to hold off Abbott, as Tennessee thwarted UW again for the win in 3:17.77. Abbott and the Huskies finished second in 3:18.81, ahead of Albany, and two-time defending champion LSU which took fourth.

Sprints coach Raul Sheen was happy with that the four seniors got a chance to shine on one of the sport's largest stages.

"It was an amazing experience and a neat way to reward four seniors that have done a lot for the program," said Sheen. "We're talking about the premier meet in the US and really in the world at this time of the year, and to go out and be competitive and hear our name over the loudspeaker means a lot for these four guys and for our program."

Washington Track & Field 115th Penn Relays Philadelphia, Penn. - Franklin Field

Women's 4x1500m Championship of America Top-Five Finishers: 1. Tennessee, 17:08.34; 2. Georgetown, 17:11.80; 3. Washington (Kailey Campbell, Katie Follett, Mel Lawrence, Christine Babcock), 17:14.55; 4. Villanova, 17:22.29; 5. Penn, 18:11.87.

Men's Sprint Medley Championship of America Top-Five Finishers: 1. Tennessee, 3:17.77; 2. Washington (Joe Turner, Kenjamine Jackson, Jordan Boase, Austin Abbott), 3:18.81; 3. Albany, 3:18.89; 4. LSU, 3:19.61; 5. Seton Hall, 3:19.84

NOTE: The University of Washington sports information office contributed to this report. Video courtesy media partner flotrack.org.

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.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sports Illustrated reports Kara Goucher wants to run the London Marathon...

Here's a link to a report from Sports Illustrated stating that Portland's Kara Goucher (left/file photo by Paul Merca), who finished third in Monday's Boston Marathon, wants to run Sunday's London Marathon.

The story, written by the Associated Press, states that Goucher felt that she only went for a jog followed by a hard 10k.

In Monday's Boston Marathon, Goucher ran 2:32:25 to finish third, off her personal best of 2:25:53, set in New York last fall. She was in contention with less than a mile to go after leading from miles 20 to 25, but was unable to respond when winner Salina Kosgei and defending champ Dire Tune accelerated onto Boylston Street less than 800 meters from the finish line.

Monday's Boston Marathon was marred by an unusually slow early pace that kept a larger group of women in contention than what many experts projected, given that the field boasted several of the world's top female marathon runners, including last year's winner, Dire Tune, 2007 Boston champion Lidiya Grigoryeva and top Ethiopian Bizunesh Bekele.

Kenya's Salina Kosgei won in 2:32:16 and last year's champion, Dire Tune, finished second by a one-second margin. The win was the slowest Boston victory since Lisa Larsen Weidenbach won the 1985 edition in 2:34:06.

WSU's Trent Arrivey and Marissa Tschida & UW's Anita Campbell named Pac-10 Track & Field Athletes of the Week...

WALNUT CREEK, CA--Washington junior distance standout Anita Campbell (left/photo by Paul Merca) was named the Pac-10 Women's Track Athlete of the Week today for the week of April 13-19. Campbell is the first Husky woman to win the weekly award in four years.

Meanwhile, former Woodinville High and current Washington State junior high jumper Trent Arrivey also garnered the conference's Pac-10 men's field athlete of the week honors.

Arrivey's teammate, sophomore javelin thrower Marissa Tschida received Pac-10 women's field athlete of the week honors as well.

Arrivey cleared a lifetime-best and improved NCAA Regional Qualifying height of 7-feet, 4 1/2 inches (2.25m) as the top collegiate high jumper at the Mt. SAC Relays. His mark ties the fourth-best men's high jump mark in school history with Doug Nordquist (Pullman, 1981), and ties the national leader this season.

Tschida threw the javelin a school-record distance of 175-feet, 11-inches (53.63m) to finish as the top collegian, and second overall in the women's university/open javelin at the Mt. SAC Relays, an elite field that included several recent Olympians. Her 175-11 toss is an improved NCAA Regional Qualifying mark by over 10 1/2 feet. Tschida shattered the WSU women's record of 169-7 (51.70m) thrown by Jenna Dean in 2005.

Campbell ran a 15 second PR in the 5,000-meters at the Mt. SAC Relays on Friday night, crossing the line in 15:45.85, which is the second-fastest time in school history, and ranks fourth in the NCAA this season. A three-time NCAA 5,000-meter competitor, Campbell had not run the distance outdoors since 2007. Campbell already ranked sixth nationally as well in the 10,000-meters.

NOTE: The Pac-10 Conference contributed to this report.

Discus thrower Will Conwell gets USATF Foundation grant...

INDIANAPOLIS - The USA Track & Field Foundation has presented Elite Athlete Development Grants to ten athletes, including former University of Washington discus thrower Will Conwell (left/photo by Paul Merca), Foundation Executive Director Tom Jackovic and Chairman Bob Greifeld announced Tuesday.

"One key aim of the USATF Foundation is to encourage American athletes to pursue their dreams of Olympic greatness," said USATF Foundation Director Chris Borch. "In the difficult process of selecting athletes to receive grants, we've seen there is never a shortage of talent or the willingness by athletes to sacrifice or work hard. Instead, the shortfall is almost always financial."

Since his graduation in 2006, Conwell has continued to train with University of Washington throws coach Reedus Thurmond and compete for Club Northwest, and he has steadily become one of the top discus throwers in the nation. At the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials, Conwell placed sixth in the discus with a mark of 202-feet, 7-inches and was just three feet shy of third-place and a spot on the Olympic roster.

The four-time letterwinner ranks among the finest discus throwers in UW history, with a collegiate-best of 200 feet, 1 inch that is Washington's fifth-longest ever.

The Kent, Wash., native closed his career with three-consecutive top-five finishes at the Pac-10 Championships, and an NCAA Championships berth in 2006. As a senior, he became just the 10th Husky men's athlete ever to be named a Pac-10 Conference Athlete of the Week after achieving his collegiate-best toss of 200-1 in San Diego. That mark ranked Conwell seventh in the 2006 collegiate rankings, and was the 12th-best by an American men's thrower last season.

Conwell saw significant improvement in his only year working with throws coach Reedus Thurmond, adding 23 feet to his previous lifetime-best during the 2006 season.

A 2001 graduate of Kentwood High School in Kent, Wash., Conwell originally attended Washington on a football scholarship before switching to track full-time in 2003. Conwell earned a bachelor's degree from Washington in 2006, and is currently pursuing graduate studies.

At last weekend's Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, California, Conwell threw 184-3.

The Foundation Elite Athlete Grant Program contributes to the pursuit of world-class performances by American post-collegiate track and field athletes. Athletes must meet minimum performance standards to be eligible and must also participate in the Win With Integrity youth outreach program.

The USATF Foundation provides a means to attract and guide funds to new and innovative track and field programs with an emphasis on providing opportunities for youth athletes, emerging elite athletes and anti-doping education. The Foundation depends upon donations from its Board of Directors and from generous fans of track & field.

For more information or to contribute to the USA Track & Field Foundation, visit www.usatffoundation.org.

NOTE: USA Track & Field contributed to this report.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

paulmerca.blogspot.com wants Dawgs and Cougs to share their stories...

paulmerca.blogspot.com is looking for athletes, coaches, and anyone else to share their stories and perspectives on their participation in the University of Washington/Washington State University dual track and field meet.

This year's meet will be held on May 2nd at Husky Stadium. In last year's meet, the Cougars swept the Huskies in Pullman 116-47 (women) and 93-70 (men).

Washington State would love nothing more than to sweep the Huskies in their house in 2009; conversely, the Dawgs would love nothing better than to ruin the WSU Track & Field alumni reunion weekend that's starting the night before the meet in Redmond by kicking the Cougs across the Cascades back to Pullman.

From a personal perspective to start the conversation on the UW/WSU dual track meet memories, one of the first college track meets I ever saw was the UW/WSU meet in Husky Stadium in 1975, when the Huskies beat the Cougars 95-68.

That meet was capped by Billy Hicks of the UW pointing his finger and talking trash at a WSU runner in the 440 as he crossed the finish line, which was captured by an alert photographer and put in the next day's Seattle Times.

We are looking to write a piece on this on or about May 1st and would like to hear your stories on your favorite memories of this in-state rivalry.

If you follow paulmerca.blogspot.com on Facebook, please drop us a note there, or email us at clubalrd at earthlink dot net!

We look forward to hearing from you!

Nike pushes the button once again...

Just released a few days ago at nikerunning.com, and on its YouTube channel is a series of video clips promoting Nike's updated Free 5.0 shoe, which closely mimics barefoot running, and releases to the public next month.

The video centers around a running camp called Bear Butte, with its director, nationally ranked masters runner David Olds. Nike endorsers Nick Symmonds, Lauren Fleshman, Adam & Kara Goucher are prominent in the video as well.

The timing of the video series is more than coincidental, as it was released a few days before Monday's Boston Marathon, a race in which Kara is one of the leading contenders.

For your viewing pleasure, here it is (disclaimer--viewing may not be appropriate for all ages):

WSU's Trent Arrivey now among NCAA high jump leaders...


WALNUT, Calif. -- Washington State junior Trent Arrivey (above/photo courtesy WSU Sports Information) cleared a lifetime-best and improved NCAA Regional Qualifying height of 7-feet, 4 1/2 inches (2.25m) Saturday at the 51st Annual Mt. SAC Relays at Hilmer Lodge Stadium in Walnut, Calif.

Arrivey, an All-American high jumper from Woodinville, Wash., soared to tie the fourth-best men's high jump mark in school history with Doug Nordquist (Pullman, 1981). His mark ties the national leader going into the weekend, Matt Fisher from Minnesota.

The news was not all good for another Cougar All-American, Jeshua Anderson. The sophomore from Woodland Hills, Calif., ran a season-best and improved NCAA RQ time in the 110m hurdles of 14.16 seconds for eighth place but later in the day fell in the 400m hurdles. WSU Head Coach Rick Sloan said it looked like Anderson cleared the eighth hurdle but brought it down with his trail foot. He walked away from the track on his own.

Phil MacArthur (senior, Ione, Wash.) threw the hammer an NCAA RQ of 198-6 (60.50m), but he has already thrown 199-5 earlier this year.

The WSU women's 4x400m relay of Princess Joy Griffey, Lorraine King, Brittnay Crabb and Veronica Elseroad-Wall ran a season-best time of 3:43.46. The men's 4x400m relay was scratched.

For the University of Washington, Falesha Ankton placed fifth in the invitational flight of the 100-meter hurdles, setting a season-best and matching her lifetime-best in 13.46 seconds. Ankton finished one spot behind five-time UW All-American Ashley Lodree, who holds several school records including the 100m hurdles. Lodree was fourth in 13.33 seconds.

Freshman high jumper Kelly McNamee equaled her outdoor best with a clearance of 5-8 ¾. In the men's invitational pole vault, sophomore Scott Roth and senior Jared O'Connor both cleared heights well above the Regional mark, though they did not improve on their season-highs. Roth went over 17-4 ½ and O'Connor cleared 17-0 ¾ one day after he went 17-2 ¾.

Additional former Huskies competing at the Mt. SAC Relays included 2008 grad and nine-time All-American Norris Frederick, who took third in the long jump with a leap of 25-feet, 6-inches. Also, former pole vault and gymnastics standout Carly Dockendorf cleared 13-7 ¼ in the women's pole vault invitational.

UW throws coach Reedus Thurmond and his volunteer assistant, Will Conwell, both threw the discus and finished within a few inches of each other. Thurmond's best went 184-10 and Conwell threw 184-3. Conwell is coming off a great 2008 season that saw him place sixth in the discus at the U.S. Olympic Trials, missing the Beijing Games by just a few feet. Also competing in the men's hammer throw was 2007 grad Martin Bingisser, who recorded a best of 207-1.

FRIDAY MT. SAC RECAP

Washington State's Marissa Tschida threw the javelin a school-record distance of 175-feet, 11-inches (53.63m) Friday at the 51st Annual Mt. SAC Relays at Hilmer Lodge Stadium in Walnut, Calif.

Tschida (pronounced chee-tah), a sophomore from Missoula, Mont., was the top collegian but finished second in the women's university/open javelin, an elite field that included several recent Olympians. Her 175-11 toss is an improved NCAA Regional Qualifying mark by over 10 1/2 feet. Tschida shattered the WSU women's record of 169-7 (51.70m) thrown by Jenna Dean in 2005. WSU's Courtney Kirkwood threw the javelin 138-10 (42.33m) for 17th in the same section.

"I knew I could throw over 51 meters and I did it at this meet," Tschida said. "I think I have a better understanding of my form this year. Coach (Deb Farwell) and I are getting on a similar page for what she tells me to do. I understand the technical terms more and I understand exactly what she is trying to get me to do. I can maneuver my body and get it into position. This isn't my final PR."

Reny Follett (junior, Lewiston, Idaho) won the men's university/open 400m dash in a season-best time of 47.48 seconds.

Also on the track, Lisa Egami (junior, Coquitlam, B.C.) finished second and ran an NCAA RQ time in the women's Olympic Development 1500m of 4:22.61, just off her Stanford Invite time of 4:22.57.

Washington junior Anita Campbell and freshman Christine Babcock turned in outstanding runs today that rank among the fastest in school history, highlighting several strong efforts for UW track and field athletes at the Mt. SAC Relays held at Hilmer Lodge Stadium.

Both members of UW's national champion cross country squad, Campbell and Babcock turned in two of the best track performances of the season this evening. Campbell ran the second-fastest 5,000-meters in school history, setting a 15-second personal best with a time of 15:45.85 that will put her fourth in the NCAA, matching her standing in the 10,000-meters which she ran three weeks ago.

Campbell now ranks behind only UW legend Regina Joyce, who set a mark of 15:35.60 in 1982. More remarkable is the fact that Campbell is the third Husky this year to run 15:50 for the 5k. At the end of March, Katie Follett ran 15:48.72 and Mel Lawrence went 15:50.36 at the Stanford Invite. Including Joyce, only three Huskies had ever gone under 16-minutes for 5,000-meters prior to this season. The Huskies now boast three of the top-six 5k times in the NCAA this year.

Babcock continued her outstanding freshman season earlier in the day, as she ran the sixth-fastest 1,500-meter time in school history in just her second attempt at the distance.

Competing close to her hometown of Irvine, Calif., Babcock was running on the same track where she set the National High School 1,500-meter record last year in 4:16.42. She was just a fraction of a second off that time today, crossing the line in 4:16.50.

In the men's 1,500-meter invitational, Husky senior Austin Abbott was just off his personal-best, finishing third in 3:41.70.

To read Washington's full Friday recap, click here. Washington State's full Friday recap is available here.

In the small college section of the women's 10000 at Mt. SAC, held on Thursday, Western Washington University's Sarah Porter won her heat of the women's 10,000 meters with a NCAA Division II automatic qualifying time of 34:58.37.

Teammate Lauren Breihof also broke the old school record and bettered her own provisional qualifying time by nearly a minute as she placed third with a 36:04.47 clocking.

To read Western's full recap, click here...

Full results from all events from the Mt. SAC Relays can be accessed through their web site, which you can click here...

Next week Washington will send the majority of its team to the Oregon Relays in Eugene, but a select group will travel to the famous Penn Relays in Philadelphia. Both events are April 24-25.

Washington State track and field teams will compete at the Duane Hartman Invite in Spokane April 25.

NOTE: The sports information office of Western Washington, University of Washington & Washington State University contributed to this report.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Inspirational story about an autistic runner...

Every once in a while, I'll step away from the central function of this blog, which is to help fans of the elite level of this sport follow their favorite athletes from this state.

Columnist Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times writes a fantastic piece about Andy Bryant from Seattle, a 27-year old autistic man who attended Ingraham High School in north Seattle (a school in which I coached track and cross country in the early 1990s), who is running in Monday's Boston Marathon.

Brewer writes, "Andy Bryant doesn't run. He vanishes — out of his mind, out of his autism. His coach says he moves as if he's in another world, weaving a little, defying textbook running strategy. If he could learn to maintain a straight line and pace himself, Bryant might be an elite marathoner.

Instead, he must settle for being an inspiration.

It's a consolation only because, with Bryant's unceasing thirst to race, there's rarely time to reflect. Besides, his mind doesn't work that way. He survives on routine, so a distance runner's detailed training schedule matches him perfectly. It fulfills his foremost desire: to be accepted.

"I don't want to have autism," Bryant says often. "I want to be one of the guys."

To read the rest of Brewer's column, please click here...

NOTE: Live coverage of the Boston Marathon, featuring Portland's Kara Goucher will be shown on UniversalSports.com beginning at 6:30 am pacific time (9:30 am eastern) Monday April 20th.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dawgs, Cougs, Vikes at Mt. SAC; Dominique Arnold to open as well....

The prestigious Mt. SAC Relays take place this week in Walnut, Calif. and the Huskies will be sending a strong contingent to compete, with the majority of events taking place on Friday and Saturday, April 17-18 at the Hilmer Lodge Stadium. The meet boasts a large field featuring collegiate, high school, and elite professional athletes, with several U.S. Olympians planning to make their season-debuts at this year's meet.

American record holder in the 110 hurdles and former Cougar Dominique Arnold (left/file photo by Paul Merca) is also scheduled to open his 2009 season at Mt. SAC.

Arnold set the American Record of 12.90 seconds in Lausanne, Switzerland in 2006. He is a former NCAA Champion out of Washington State University, 2006 US Outdoor Champion and the 2006 World Indoor Championship 60 Meter Hurdles Bronze Medalist.

"I look forward to opening my 2009 season at my home meet and seeing the fans in Walnut," said Arnold. "I have been running at the Mt. SAC Relays since I was in high school and I remember watching some of the greatest athletes in history, like Carl Lewis, compete at the Mt. SAC Relays. These athletes inspired me and I hope to do the same with the younger generation who will be watching."

Washington State will send a contingent of athletes to the Mt. SAC Relays as well, led by reigning NCAA and world junior champion in the 400 hurdles Jeshua Anderson. The sophomore was named the Pac-10 athlete of the week for his performance in winning the Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner Kersee meet at UCLA last week.

Here are WSU's entries in the Mt. SAC meet:

WSU Women
100m - Princess Joy Griffey
200m - Princess Joy Griffey
1500m - Lisa Egami
5000m - Michelly Foley, Isley Gonzalez
100m Hurdles - Brittnay Crabb
400m Hurdles - Brittnay Crabb, Veronica Elseroad-Wall, Caroline Hedel, Lorraine King
3000m Steeplechase - Amanda Andrews, Sara Trané
4x400m Relay - Griffey, Elseroad-Wall, Crabb, King
High Jump - Maria Creech
Pole Vault - Alexa Huestis, Hiliary Moore
Long Jump - Candace Missouri
Triple Jump - Candace Missouri, Jessica Yates
Javelin - Courtney Kirkwood, Marissa Tschida

WSU
Men 100m - Justin Woods
200m - Justin Woods
400m - Reny Follett
800m - Joe Abbott
10,000m - Drew Polley
110m Hurdles - Jeshua Anderson
400m Hurdles - Jeshua Anderson, J Hopkins, Barry Leavitt
4x400m Relay - Leavitt, Follett, Anderson, Woods
3000m Steeplechase - Sam Ahlbeck
High Jump - Trent Arrivey, Ryan Deese, Shawn Swartz
Pole Vault - Jake Baertlein, Beau Carrillo
Long Jump - Christian Crain
Triple Jump - Sean Wilson, Moreno Zapata
Shot Put - Joe Bartlett
Discus - Joe Bartlett
Hammer - Phil MacArthur

Western Washington University will also send a handful of athletes to Mt. SAC, led by cross country All-American Sarah Porter in the women's 10000.

The Cougars will send a small contingent to the VS Athletics/Long Beach Invitational at Cerritos College on April 18th.

In the decathlon portion of the Mt. SAC Relays, held at Asuza Pacific, the Huskies' Jeremy Taiwo fouled on all three long jump attempts. Washington senior Liz Fuller is currently 15th with 2720 points.

Also on Thursday, sophomore Lauren Saylor will run in the 10,000-meters, her first career attempt at the distance. Saylor has already qualified for Regionals in the 5,000-meters and will look to join teammate Anita Campbell as NCAA 10k qualifiers.

The rest of the Huskies swing into action starting on Friday. For the 14th-ranked Husky men's team, senior Austin Abbott will lead a mid-distance crew also featuring Chris Ahl, Joey Bywater, Jake Schmitt, Jordan Swarthout, and Colton Tully-Doyle. Abbott still holds the NCAA's fastest time in the 1,500-meters this season and ranks seventh at 800-meters. Schmitt meanwhile is 12th in the 10k but will be running a shorter distance this weekend.

Men's sprinters will have the week off but UW will be well represented in the field events, with Regional qualifiers Scott Roth, Jared O'Connor, and Ryan Vu all competing in the pole vault, and Zack Midles and Kyle Nielsen in the throws. Nielsen has PR'd by 27 feet this season and currently ranks fifth nationally in the javelin with a best of 239-2.

In addition to Saylor, making the trip for the 27th-ranked UW women will be Campbell, Kenna Patrick, Laura Mickelson in the distance events and freshman Christine Babcock, who returns to the site of many of her record-setting high school runs. A native of Irvine, Calif., Babcock broke the national high school 1,500-meter record last year at the Mt. SAC track as a senior at Woodbridge High School. Her time of 4:16.42 qualified her for the 2008 Olympic Trials.

Junior Falesha Ankton and freshman Dominique Lauderdale will compete in the sprints for the women, while Kelly McNamee and Taylor Nichols handle the jumps. Regional qualifiers Lara Jones and Andrea Peterson will look to shine in the pole vault, and sophomores Brooke Pighin and Elisa Bryant will flex their muscles in the throws. Bryant has qualified for Regionals in the discus, while Pighin is 15th in the nation in the javelin throw, with a best of 162-feet that ranks second in UW history.

For a schedule of all the weekend's events and links to results please visit www.mtsacrelays.com.

HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: Both the men's and women's squads did not move in this week's USTFCCCA Rankings, with the men coming in at No. 14 and the women at No. 27. The rankings compile Regional qualifiers in every event and assign points to the athletes that estimate their likelihood of scoring points at the NCAA Championships. In individual events, Washington's Austin Abbott remains the NCAA leader in the 1,500-meters, with his time of 3:41.62 set at the Stanford Invite. Several other Huskies are currently ranked in the top-10 in their events. Scott Roth has the nation's third-best pole vault at 18-1, while senior Jordan Boase is third in the 400m in 45.67. Sophomore Kyle Nielsen sits fifth in the javelin throw (239-2) while Abbott is seventh in the 800m (1:49.18) to go with his 1,500m time. Senior Jared O'Connor is also tied for eighth in the pole vault with a best clearance of 17-4 1/2. On the women's side, Katie Follett (15:48.72) and Mel Lawrence (15:50.36) rank third and fourth, respectively, in the 5,000-meter run. Anita Campbell's 10,000m time from Stanford (33:40.22) is fourth overall, and freshman Christine Babcock is eighth in the 1,500m with a time of 4:19.13. Follett is just behind in 10th-place at 4:20.00.

UP NEXT: Washington will be splitting its squad, with the majority of the team heading to the Oregon Relays in Eugene, but a select group of Dawgs will travel to the Penn Relays, one of the most storied and famous track meets in the country. Washington is expected to enter in the women's 4x1,500-meter relay, and potentially in the men's sprint medley relay. Check back next week for more specifics on each event.

NOTE--The sports information offices of the University of Washington, Washington State University, Western Washington University, and Mt. San Antonio College all contributed to this report.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pac-10 and GNAC honors for Anderson, Pixler and Davis...

Washington State's Jeshua Anderson was named Pac-10 men's outdoor track athlete of the week after winning the 400 hurdles at the Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational in Los Angeles last weekend in a national-best 49.44 seconds.

Western Washington's Will Davis was named GNAC outdoor track and field male athlete of the week after winning the triple jump at the WWU Ralph Vernacchia Team Meet with a personal-best mark of 46 feet, 3 ¼ inches.

Seattle Pacific's Jessica Pixler was named GNAC women's track athlete of the week after setting a conference record in the 1,500 meters of 4 minutes, 17.68 seconds in a victory at the Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational.

Anderson and Pixler have earned athlete of the week honors from their respective conferences earlier this season.

NOTE: The sports information offices of Washington State, Western Washington and Seattle Pacific all contributed to this report.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Christine Babcock breaks UW freshman record in 800...

TEMPE, Ariz. - Rain put a damper on many of the expected fast races Saturday at Arizona State's Sun Angel Classic, but the Washington track and field squad still managed to post eight new or improved Regional qualifying marks during the meet. Three Top-10 school marks were set and Christine Babcock (left/photo by Paul Merca) broke the UW freshman record in the 800-meters.

While personal bests were hard to come by, several Huskies successfully persevered through the conditions to post impressive times and marks.

Babcock, already an All-America in cross country and indoor track during her first season, ran 2:06.55 in the 800 to break Mary Dong's freshman record of 2:06.75 that had stood since 1987. The time is her second Regional qualifier, along with the 1,500m.

Five-time All-American Jordan Boase made his outdoor debut in the 400-meters following his third-place NCAA Indoor finish, and won the premiere heat in 45.67 seconds. Running out of the same heat, junior Jeff Gudaitis also secured a Regional mark with a time of 47.17 seconds.

One Husky shrugging off the rain was sophomore Brooke Pighin, who PR'd in the javelin with an outstanding throw of 162-feet. That mark is the second-best in school history with the new implement which came into use in 1999. Pighin now ranks 12th nationally.

In the men's throws, junior Zack Midles qualified for Regionals in the hammer throw, held Friday afternoon, then set a new PR in the discus today. Friday, Midles threw 206-4 in the hammer, then went 166-4 with the discus to take second, just three feet shy of a Regional mark in that event as well.

Washington had its usual stellar showing in the women's 1,500-meter run, with four women running under 4:30. Five-time All-American junior Katie Follett, the reigning 1,500m Pac-10 Champion, opened up at the distance for the first time since the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials, and ran 4:20.00, a strong showing given the conditions. Junior Kailey Campbell also ran 4:22.65, just off her season-best, and redshirt freshman Mel Lawrence hit the Regional mark in her first ever 1,500 in a time of 4:24.10. Also notable was the showing by junior Anita Campbell, who ran 4:28.09 in the B heat, a PR of 10 seconds for the long distance specialist.

The last new Regional mark came from senior Austin Abbott, whose qualification in the 800-meters was little more than a formality, but the five-time All-American took care of business with a time of 1:49.18.

In the women's 200-meter dash, junior Falesha Ankton moved into 10th on the school's Top-10 list with a time of 24.52 seconds. Ankton now ranks in the Top-10 in nine different events indoors and outdoors.

One event most negatively impacted by the weather was the pole vault, but senior Jared O'Connor still managed to place second with a clearance of 16-6 ¾ as everyone's heights were well down across the board.

The Huskies will hope for better conditions next week at the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, Calif. which run April 16-18.

NOTE: The University of Washington sports information office contributed to this report.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Jeshua Anderson & Jessica Pixler highlight WSU & SPU performances in Los Angeles...

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- World class hurdler Jeshua Anderson led the Washington State track and field performers Saturday in the invitational events of the Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational track and field meet at UCLA's Drake Stadium.

Anderson, a sophomore from Woodland Hills, Calif., won the men's 400m hurdles and lowered his NCAA Regional Qualifying time to 49.44 seconds. Trevor Habberstad, a sophomore from Santa Clarita, Calif., became the fourth Cougar man to reach NCAA RQ in the intermediate hurdles with a fifth-place finish in a lifetime-best time of 52.47, after running a PR time Friday of 53.51 in the open race. J Hopkins, a freshman from Everett, took sixth place in the intermediate hurdles with a time of 53.39.

Anderson also improved his NCAA RQ time in the 110m hurdles with his sixth-place finish of 14.20.

For the second time in two weeks, Seattle Pacific junior Jessica Pixler rewrote the book in the 1500 meter run, powering around the Drake Stadium track in 4 minutes, 17.68 seconds Saturday afternoon, enough to win by eight seconds.

Pixler (Sammamish, Wash./Eastlake HS) took nearly a full second off her previous record of 4:18.64 that she established on March 27 at the Stanford Track & Field Invitational. When the outdoor season began last month, Pixler already owned the GNAC’s 1,500 standard of 4:19.81.

Less than an hour later, Pixler finished third in the invitational 800 meters, logging a 2:08.78. It was her first 800 run of the current outdoor season and was fast enough to give her an NCAA Division II automatic qualifying time. She now has automatic times in the both the 800 and the 1,500.

Fellow Falcon junior Jane Larson (Fall City, Wash./Cedar Park Christian HS) joined Pixler in the 1,500 on Saturday, and finished seventh in 4:30.33, making her an automatic NCAA qualifier.

That was Larson’s first 1,500 of the outdoor season and came on the heels of Friday’s solid fifth-place finish in the open 800 meters. Her time of 2:14.09 was an NCAA provisional qualifying mark.

The 800m races were good ones for the Cougs Saturday afternoon. Luke Lemenager (junior, Maple Valley, Wash.) ran an NCAA RQ and PR time of 1:49.92 for sixth place and freshman Joe Abbott (Reno) ran a PR time of 1:51.98 for 11th place in the men's race. In the women's invite race, Lisa Egami (junior, Coquitlam, B.C.) improved her 800m NCAA RQ and PR time with her second-place finish in 2:08.16.

In the shorter races, Reny Follett ran a season-best 400m dash time of 47.95 for fifth place and Justin Woods' 200m time of 21.53 is a season-best and seventh place. Princess Joy Griffey clocked in a 100m dash time of 11.96 for seventh place, and ran a season-best 24.36 in the 200m (10th).

Jalisa Williams ran a 100m hurdles time of 14.80 for eighth. Veronica Elseroad-Wall ran a season-best 400m hurdles time of 1:00.92 for sixth place while Lorraine King finished seventh in a time of 1:01.13, and Brittnay Crabb ran a time of 1:03.78 for 10th.

The WSU men's 4x400m relay team of Anderson, Hopkins, Abbott and Woods took fifth in a time of 3:13.40. The Cougars women's 4x400m relay team of Griffey, Crabb, King, Elseroad-Wall finished sixth in a time of 3:44.32, and a women's "B" team finished 11th in a time of 4:00.70.

In the women's 1500m, Sara Trané ran a season-best time of 4:30.25 for sixth and Marisa Sandoval finished 11th in a time of 4:52.61. Dominic Smargiassi took seventh place in the men's mile with a time of 4:17.72.

On the field, Anna Albrecht threw the shot put 39-0 1/2 (11.90m) for seventh, and Ashley Kenney threw the discus 140-5 (42.80m) for sixth.

"We had a good number of performances here that we can be very pleased with and they show that we are moving in the right direction," WSU Head Coach Rick Sloan said. "I was also pleased with how well the kids competed. They were winning races and in contention in races. Cougars were very prominently visible during the competition today. We had a lot of things to be excited about."

A selected group of Washington State competitors will compete in the Mt. SAC Relays next weekend in Walnut, Calif.

Complete results from the Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner Kersee Invitational can be found here...

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

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