Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cougars off to Texas A&M; Huskies host UW Invitational...

It's a busy weekend for the state's collegiate track and field teams, as many of them are in action in various venues.

Washington State University takes its show to College Station, Texas as one of three teams competing in the Pac-10/Big 12/SEC Challenge meet on the campus of Texas A&M.

Each conference will feature three schools in a meet that will score the top eight places for each event, including a pentathlon and heptathlon. The Big 12 is represented by Texas A&M, Baylor and Texas. The SEC will contend with Arkansas, Florida and South Carolina, while the Pac-10 brings in Oregon, Stanford and Washington State.

"Of the meets I've been involved in, and I've been involved in a whole lot of indoor meets, this might be the best field I've seen, ever, at one site during the regular season," Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry said.

"Having a meet where we score it between the Big 12, SEC and Pac-10 is a fun concept. It worked well last year when we had a Big 12 versus SEC Showdown. There is some pride in being in the Big 12 as well as the SEC and Pac-10. It is a different scenario and makes for a great competition."

Of the nine teams competing at Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium this weekend, eight of the men's teams and six of the women's squads are ranked among the top 25 this indoor season. Nine of the programs (five men and four women) are currently ranked in the top 10.

Washington State's entries for the Pac-10/Big 12/SEC Challenge are posted here, along with WSU's press release.

Most of the state's other teams will convene at the Dempsey Indoor Facility for Friday & Saturday's UW Invitational.

The two day meet, which is one of the country's biggest indoor meets gets underway Friday night, and will feature the 5,000-meter runs, distance medley relays, and the beginning of the pentathlon and heptathlon events.

The men's 5000 Friday night is one not to miss for local track fans, however, as American 5,000-meter record-holder Dathan Ritzenhein (far left/photo by Paul Merca) will lead the field. Ritzenhein, ninth in the Beijing Olympics marathon, ran 12:56.27 last year to set the new American mark at the Zurich Weltklasse meet. He'll be joined in that race by another 2008 U.S. Olympian, Billy Nelson, who competed in the steeplechase.

Saturday's portion of the meet is structured so that the slower heats will be run in the morning and early afternoon. Then, beginning at approximately 3:15 p.m., the fast heats of each event will go off, making for nearly three solid hours of top notch racing on the track.

In the latest national rankings, the Husky women checked in at 13th, while the men moved up to No. 25. On the team front, joining the Huskies this weekend will be a number of Pac-10 teams and Top-25 groups from farther east. BYU's third-ranked women's team will be on hand, as will 17th-ranked Arizona and 25th-ranked UTEP. 8th-ranked Arizona State leads on the men's side, while Arizona is ranked 20th. Squads from California, USC and UCLA will also make the trip, as will Colorado, Tulsa, Princeton, Cal State Northridge, and Portland to name just a few more.

Seattle Pacific, Seattle University, Western Washington, and Eastern Washington are some of the top schools from this state entered in the UW Invite.

As always, the distance races will provide a lot of excitement, with the men's 3000, featuring U.S. Olympian and American indoor 5k record-holder Galen Rupp (above, leading Ritzenhein), and top pro Scott Bauhs.

Three-time US Olympian Jen Rhines (left/photo by Paul Merca) is the headliner in the women's 3000, which will feature several members of UW's third place NCAA women's cross country team.

The men's 800-meters should be especially strong, with pros Evan Jager, Tim Bayley, and Tyler Mulder all competing.

Several Husky long distance runners will drop down to run the mile including Max O'Donoghue-McDonald and Cameron Quackenbush. Rupp is also entered in the mile as is Chris Solinsky, the 2009 U.S. runner-up at 5,000-meters and a World Championships participant.

Seattle Pacific's Jessica Pixler is entered in both the 5000 and the mile, but will make a day-of-race decision on which event to run. Western's Sarah Porter is also entered in the mile.

On the field, Canadian Olympian Ruky Abdulai is entered in the pentathlon and the long jump. Look for fellow Canadian Olympian Mike Mason in the high jump against former Oregon standout Kyley Johnson and Sri Lankan Olympian Manjula Kumara Wijesekara from USC.

Former Husky Carly Dockendorf highlights the women's pole vault field, that includes Cal's Allison Stokke, and Olympian Leila Ben-Youssef.

In the men's weight throw, look for US world championships team member Michael Mai, a captain in the US Army based at Fort Lewis. Cal State Northridge's Reindell Cole highlights the men's long jump field.

A possible NCAA Division II battle between reigning indoor champ Emily Warman of Western Washington and Seattle Pacific's frosh sensation Amanda Alvarez in the triple jump is worth watching.

The entry list for the UW Invitational is posted here.

No comments:

Blog Archive