Thursday, February 18, 2010

WSU & UW to send athletes to Vandal Collegiate; GNAC championship meet preview...

Both Washington and Washington State University are expected to send a group of athletes to compete in Friday's Vandal Collegiate indoor track & field meet at the Kibbie Dome on the campus of the University of Idaho in Moscow.

Field events begin at 3 p.m. in the Kibbie Dome and running events are set to start at 4 p.m., while the men's and women's discus will be held Saturday, Feb. 20, beginning at 11 a.m. The meet is expected to conclude Friday around 9:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, the GNAC holds its conference meet Saturday in Nampa, Idaho.

The meet gets underway at 9 a.m. at the Jackson's Indoor Track at the Idaho Center Sports Complex with the women's shot put and high jump. The first running event will be the prelims of the women's and men's 60 hurdles at 11 a.m. Fans can follow the action on the GNAC web site which will be updated with results periodically during the meet.

Western Oregon is the two-time defending men's team champion, but will have to fight off both 2005 and 2006 champion Western Washington and 2007 champion Central Washington. Seattle Pacific has won all six previous women's titles but should receive a stiff battle this season from the Vikings, who were second in both divisions last year.

WOU does appear to have a slight edge in the men's race with 16 individual athletes among the top 3 seeds in their events, including four No.1s - Matt Kaino in the 400, Andy Loscutoff in the 60 hurdles, Matson Hardie in the triple jump and Jason Slowey in the shot put. Kaino could also be a factor in the 200, though he didn't run that event this winter.

The Wolves, who also will be the favorites in the men's 4x400 relay, also have four athletes who have the second-best seed marks and six with the No.3 best marks.

Western Washington, ranked #23 in the current USTFCCCA Division II poll, has only nine Top 3 seeds - three No.1s, two No.2s and four No.4s, but the Vikings appear to have the best depth with 25 other athletes with marks that rank them in the Top Eight. Those totals don't include Anthony Tomsich who didn't have a qualifying time in the 800, but is entered as a wild card.

Tomsich is the No.1 seed in the mile with a best of 4:07.06. The Vikings other top-seeds are two-time defending pole vault champion Ryan Brown, who has the nation's best vault this winter (17-1 ½), and Jordan Welling, the 2008 champion, in the 5000. He brings a time of 14:20.03 into the meet. Tomsich, Brown and Welling have all set GNAC records this winter in those events.

Brown and Welling are among eight male athletes who already have a conference championship on their resume.

Western Oregon's Ashtin Mott won both the 60 and 200 in 2008. He's entered in the 200 and 400 this year.

Central Washington has three defending champions in four events - Bryan Mack in the 60, Rendel Jones in the triple jump and Tyler Fischer in the weight throw and shot put. However, only Fischer (in the weight throw) comes in as the top seed.

Two other Wildcats - Brennan Boyes in the high jump and Anthony Wright in the 60 - are the top seeds.

Maurus Hope of Northwest Nazarene is back to defend his title in the 400. Hope, who is the No. 1 seed in the 200, comes in as the No. 4 seed in the longer event. Justin Felt of Seattle Pacific is the top seed in the long jump, an event he won in 2007. Another top seed is Northwest Nazarene's Matt Stark in the 800.

In the women's meet, Western Washington, ranked #22 in the current USTFCCCA poll, has 16 athletes ranked among the top three in their events, including six No.1s, four No.2s and four No.3s. Seattle Pacific, ranked #8 in the current USTFCCCA poll, has 13 (three No.1s, seven No.2s and three No.3s), but that doesn't include Jessica Pixler in the 800 or Latasha Essien in the 60 who are entered as wild cards.

Essien and Pixler are among five past GNAC champions in the SPU lineup.

Essien is the three-time 60 champion and will attempt to join Central Washington's Krissy Tandle as the only athlete in meet history to win the same event four times and the first to do it four years in a row. Tandle won the shot put in between 2005 and 2007 and again in 2009.

Pixler swept the 800 and mile titles in 2007 and 2008 before losing to Ashley Puga in classic races last year and she has a GNAC-record best time of 4:32.88 this winter in the mile. She hasn't run the 800.

Ali Worthen is the defending champion in the high jump and long jump, though she comes in as only the 12th seed in the latter event. She is the second seed in the high jump behind teammate Brittany Aanstad.

Melissa Peaslee won the pole vault title in 2008 and after having back problems the past two seasons comes into the meet as the No. 1 seed.

SPU's Jane Larson won the 5,000 title each of the past two seasons but will opt to run the mile and 800. She is the No. 2 seed in both events.

Western Washington has two returning champions among its six No. 1 seeds. Ellie Siler is the favorite to win the 400 again where she has a seed time 2-1/2 seconds better than any one else.

Michelle Howe will be seeking her third straight title in the 60 hurdles and brings in a 2010 best time of 9.02, significantly better than the second seed time of 9.22 by Terra Schumacher of Seattle Pacific.

WWU's other top-ranked women include Joana Houplin in the 60, Sarah Porter in the 5,000 and Emily Warman in the long jump and triple jump. Warman didn't win either one at the conference meet last year finishing second in both events but she did go on to claim the NCAA national title in the triple jump setting a GNAC record with a mark of 39-3.

Laura Vonarx of Northwest Nazarene was the triple winner a year ago and returns this season with the fourth-best mark.

In addition to the WWU and SPU women other athletes who enter the meet with the best marks include Sarah Kathrein of Western Oregon in the 200, Annan Applebee of Western Oregon in the 800, Joy Warrington of Northwest Nazarene in the shot put and Torrie Self of Central Washington in the weight throw.

If the women's team race comes down to the relays, Western Washington and Seattle Pacific will each enter one of the two events as the favorite. The Vikings have the top-seed in the 4x400, while Seattle Pacific has the top-seed and a GNAC-record time of 11:33.13 in the distance medley.

On the men's side, Western Oregon's best 4x400 time of 3:17.45 is a GNAC-record and provisional national qualifying mark and is nearly six seconds better than anyone else in the conference. None of the GNAC's men's title contenders have run the distance medley this winter.

Here's a link to meet information
, including start lists.

NOTE: Washington State University, the University of Washington, and the GNAC Conference all contributed to this report.

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