Thursday, May 13, 2010

It's conference championship time!

paulmerca.blogspot.com is in scramble mode as we prepare to head down to Berkeley, California for the Pacific 10 Conference track & field championships at Edwards Stadium (left/photo courtesy University of California) on the campus of the University of California, beginning on Saturday.

To get you primed for the Pac 10s, here are the links to the University of Washington and Washington State University's media releases for the meet, as well as the Pac-10 Conference release.

Washington won five individual Pac-10 titles last season, its most since 1998, and four of those athletes are back entered in the same events this season. Seven-time All-American senior Katie Follett will be looking for a rare three-peat in her final conference meet. She has won the past two 1,500-meter titles, but only this year does she come in as the true favorite.

Junior Scott Roth will be the heavy favorite to repeat in the men's pole vault. He has the top mark in the conference this season with an outdoor clearance of 18-0 1/2 and also has gone as high as 18-9 1/4 indoors this year. Roth won the NCAA Indoor Championship back on March 12 and this weekend will be his only chance to chase the bars he has targeted until the NCAA Championships.

Sophomore Mel Lawrence, the Pac-10 Track Newcomer of the Year in 2009 and the Pac-10 record-holder in the steeplechase, will be steepling for the first time this year, and competing for the first time since a hip injury sidelined her after the Stanford Invitational at the end of March. Last season Lawrence broke the Pac-10 meet record to win the steeple in 9:54.13.

Senior Anita Campbell dominated the Pac-10 10k last year, winning by more than a full minute over second-place, but she has yet to run a 10k this year and has been working herself into form after some nagging injuries.

Washington State will have two defending champions competing this weekend, in the form of 400-meter hurdler Jeshua Anderson, and high jumper Trent Arrivey. Anderson is as heavy a favorite to three-peat as Pac-10 champ, while Arrivey has not been as consistent this spring. A sub-par effort by the senior from Woodinville could open the door for any of the competitors in the field.

FALCONS, VIKINGS & WILDCATS HEAD TO GNAC CHAMPIONSHIP IN OREGON

Seattle Pacific, Western Washington, and Central Washington will head to Monmouth, Oregon for the Great Northwest Athletic Conference championships, hosted by Western Oregon University.

Folks recall that last year's championship meet was cancelled due to a swine flu outbreak that shut down the campus of Western Oregon as the teams arrived.

Western Oregon is the reigning men and women's team champion winning both titles in 2008. No meet was held last year.

The Wolves figure to battle Central Washington and Western Washington for the men's team title. Seattle Pacific and Western Washington appear to have the best chance to win the women's title.

On the men's side, the final winning margin could be a single digit number and the top three teams could be separated by less than 20 points.

Both Western Oregon and Central Washington have 14 athletes ranked in the Top 3 in individual events and Western Washington has 11. The Vikings may, however, have the best depth.

Here are the news releases for Seattle Pacific, and Western Washington, along with the GNAC release (Central did not post an advance release).
EASTERN WASHINGTON TO BIG SKY CONFERENCE MEET

The Eastern Washington University track and field teams, featuring defending champions in five events, will compete at the Stewart Stadium in Ogden, Utah, for the 2010 Big Sky Conference Championships Wednesday-Saturday (May 12-15).

A total of 48 EWU student-athletes - - 22 female and 25 men – will try to earn all-conference honors by placing in the top three in their events. Two-time defending champion Aaron Mettler (javelin) is back, as well as 2009 champions Nicole Luckenbach (hammer throw), Michelle Coombs (javelin), Stephen Praast (high jump) and the women's 4x100-meter relay.

Last year, Eastern men finished fifth with 82 points while the women were eighth with 55. Northern Arizona won the men's team competition with 169, while Sacramento State won for the women with 161.

Junior Kersee Lind got things underway for the Eagles in the decathlon, which concluded Thursday, as he had a total of 6,611 points in the 10-event competition and ranks second in school history behind the point total of 6,924 set in 2000 by Eric Boyd.

Brandon Lattin finished 11th in the decathlon with a personal-best point total of 6,069. He will compete Friday in the javelin and Saturday in the 4x100 meter relay.

On the women’s side, Elise Jepsen finished 11th in the heptathlon and Liz Cobb was 12th. Jepsen finished with 3,976 points and her best event was the high jump where she finished sixth with a mark of 5-2 1/2. Cobb finished with 3,334 points and her best events were the 200 meters where she finished 10th with a time of 27.51 and she was also 10th in the long jump with an effort of 16-10 1/4.

You can read Eastern's Big Sky preview release here.

SEATTLE U BEGINS COMPETITION AT GREAT WEST CONFERENCE MEET

The Seattle University track and field team earned points in both the men's and women's 10,000 meter runs as competition began at the 2010 Great West Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships Thursday, hosted by the University of South Dakota at Williams Field.

Senior Nicholas Alvarado (San Francisco, Calif.) started the final meet of his collegiate career with a fifth-place finish in the men's 10,000 meter run, finishing in a time of 32:01.43 to pick up four points for the men's track and field team. Junior Hans Heitzinger (Scottsdale, Ariz.) finished in 11th place with a time of 33:47.02.

Rachel Yorkston (Bellingham, Wash.) earned three points for the Seattle U women's track and field team with a sixth place finish in the women's 10,000 meter run, posting a time of 38:38.01. The senior posted her season-best time in the event by almost one full minute.

On the first day of the heptathlon, Kaytie Bateman (Chehalis, Wash.) posted a personal-best point total after the first day, currently sitting in seventh place with 2,112 points. She finished sixth in the 100 meter hurdles in 17.41 seconds, seventh in the high jump after clearing a height of 1.41 meters (4' 7.5"), sixth in the shot put with a throw of 8.38 meters (27' 6"), and seventh in the 200 meter dash with a time of 28.22 seconds.

DIAMOND LEAGUE ACTION GETS UNDERWAY FRIDAY IN DOHA

The IAAF Diamond League series of international caliber track meets kicks off Friday with the Doha Diamond League meeting in the Qatari capital.

Building on the success of the IAAF World Indoor Championships which took place here just two months ago, organizers of the annual Doha fixture have attracted formidable fields to the Qatari capital, across the board, creating a buzz the sport has never witnessed so early in the season.

Former University of Washington standouts Aretha Thurmond and Ingvill Makestad are among the participants in the Doha meet. Thurmond, a world championship finalist last year in Berlin, will compete in the discus, while Makestad will run in the women's 1500 meter event.

Former Rainier Beach HS star Ginnie (Powell) Crawford will be in the women's 100 meter hurdles against a strong field, including 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper, reigning world indoor champ Lolo Jones, and Canadian stars Perdita Felicien, and Priscilla Lopes-Schliep.

The start lists for Friday's meet can be accessed here.

NOTE: The University of Washington, Washington State University, Seattle Pacific, Western Washington, Central Washington, Eastern Washington, Seattle University, and the IAAF all contributed to this report.

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