Friday, May 28, 2010

Jeshua Anderson leads trio of Cougs to Eugene; five Huskies move on to NCAA nationals...

AUSTIN, Texas -- Three Washington State All-Americans advanced to the national championships Friday, giving the Cougars five Eugene-bound athletes with one more day of competition at the NCAA West Regional/Preliminary Round Track & Field Championships, at Mike A. Myers Stadium.

Five Huskies fought their way into the NCAA finals and seniors Zack Midles and Ryan Vu all came through in the clutch to extend their seasons.

For the Cougars, Jeshua Anderson (left, in black shirt/photo by Paul Merca)ran the top time in the men's intermediate hurdles quarterfinals of 48.65 seconds, just off his season-best and previously nation-leading time of 48.63. Across the country at the East Regional meet, Anderson's nemesis, Johnny Dutch from South Carolina, ran a time of 48.12 so will go to Eugene as the top seed.

Anna Layman ran with the front pack during the entire 800m race and in the final 100 meters looked as though she might be boxed in but the petite Cougar maneuvered into the lead just before crossing the finish line in her quarterfinal heat. She ran a season-best time of 2-minutes, 5.17 seconds, which was the second-fastest time of the day after running the 24th and final time to advance out of Thursday's first round.

Trent Arrivey was one of seven men to clear 7-feet, 1 inch (2.16m) in the high jump and will return to the NCAA Championships. Arrivey's mark was sixth-best after the three-time All-American passed at the opening height of 6-7 (2.01m) and cleared 6-9 (2.06m) on his first attempt. He didn't clear the final height of 2.16m until his third and final attempt.

For the Huskies, NCAA indoor champion Scott Roth was especially businesslike, as his stay in Austin consisted of two jumps. Roth passed up to 17-2 ¾ and cleared it on his first try. The bar was raised to 17-4 ½, and again Roth was over on one attempt. That was all that was needed to whittle the field of 48 down to 12, giving Roth a tie for first.

Joining Roth in Eugene will be senior Ryan Vu, who was nearly flawless himself in qualifying for his first career NCAA Championships. The reigning Pact-10 Champion missed his first attempt at 16-8 ¾, but after assistant coach Pat Licari instructed him to use the next biggest pole, Vu cleared easily on his second attempt. From there he had first attempt makes at the next three heights, winding up in a tie for fourth overall.

It was a busy but gratifying day for freshman James Alaka, as he solidified himself as one of the top sprinters in the West by advancing yet again in the 100-meter dash. Alaka was third in his quarterfinal heat in 10.42 seconds. He is the first Husky to make NCAAs in the 100-meter dash since Ja'Warren Hooker's heyday. Alaka then came back just over an hour later for the opening heats of the 200-meters, and moved on yet again with another third-place finish in 20.93 seconds.

The next Huskies to step up big on Friday were hammer throwers Zack Midles and Angus Taylor, both of whom endured a long day in the heat to each set career-bests. Midles, an All-American last year in the hammer, launched his first throw 212-feet, 7-inches, basically guaranteeing himself a top-12 spot and a trip to Eugene with one fling. That was more than a foot beyond his old PR and would end up slotting him fifth on the day.

Taylor opened up with a toss of 198-5, a PR by a few inches. That throw placed him 14th after the full field completed its first three throws, with the top-16 advancing to the finals.

Knowing he'd have to improve again to grab a top-12 spot, Taylor delivered with a big toss of 201-feet even, his first throw ever over 200-feet. His next two tosses were also past his old PR coming into the day, but it wasn't quite enough for the sophomore, as he placed 13th overall, needing to throw one foot farther to move on.

Falling short of the goal of competing at Hayward Field was WSU sophomore Joe Abbott who ran a PR time in the 800m for the second consecutive day but his mark of 1:47.87 was the 13th-best time by a mere 9/100s second.

WSU senior Sam Ahlbeck battled the heat and humidity but just missed a return trip to the NCAA Championships after finishing 14th in the 3000m steeplechase with a time of 8:54.72, just 46/100s second off the 12th-place time.

In the first of three 16-woman heats in the 3000-meter steeplechase, sophomore Mel Lawrence placed fourth in 10:16.32. Only the top three advanced automatically, so Lawrence had to sit and worry over whether her time would earn one of the three time qualifiers for the women.

The wait would pay off, as each of the next two heats were progressively slower than the first, so Lawrence became the fifth Husky on Friday to secure a spot at NCAAs. Her time actually wound up being seventh-fastest on the night.

For Eastern Washington, Sarah Frey finished 24th in the finals of the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 1:02.68. Brianna Okoro finished 39th in the 200 meters with a time of 24.70, and Ben Cogdill had a no height in the pole vault.

Other notables with Washington connections advancing to Eugene included hammer thrower Jordan Stray of the University of Oregon, a junior from Centralia with an eighth-place throw of 209-3, and teammate Becca Friday from Bellingham in the 800 meters (2:07.01).

The meet concludes Saturday with WSU sending Matt Lamb and Joe Bartlett in the men's discus, Kjirsten Jensen in the women's hammer, Holly Parent in the women's high jump, Stephan Scott-Ellis in the men's triple jump, the women's 4x100m relay team, the women's 4x400m relay team, Lisa Egami in the women's 1500m quarterfinal, and Jono Lafler in the men's 5000m.

The Huskies will have Katie Follett and Kailey Campbell run in the quarters of the 1,500-meter run, the men's 4x100-meter relay competes in a quarterfinal heat, and Colton Tully-Doyle, Max O'Donoghue-McDonald, Kayla Evans, and Lindsay Flanagan all run in the 5,00-meter semis. Then there are quarterfinal rounds for Alaka in the 200m and Falesha Ankton in the 100m hurdles. Shaniae Lakes in the triple jump is the only field event competitor.

Eastern will send out its women’s 4x100-meter relay team (Frey, Okoro, Shene Davis and Whitney Leavitt) and Big Sky champ Nicole Luckenbach in the weight throw.

Results from both Thursday and Friday are available here.

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

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