Friday, May 14, 2010

Ten questions about the Pac-10 meet...

As we head to Berkeley for this weekend's Pacific-10 Conference track & field championships at Edwards Stadium, there are always questions surrounding the meet of this caliber.

Without further ado, here are my best efforts to answer ten questions about the Pac-10 meet.

1) Will anyone come close to the Oregon Ducks for the team titles?

No, no, and you're kidding. On the men's side, they've gotten a head start with Ashton Eaton winning the decathlon, and Marshall Ackley finishing third. Likewise on the women's side, Brianne Theisen and Erin Funkhouser in the heptathlon went 1-5, so they're well on their way.

The Ducks have athletes on the women's side that can score in nearly every event.
Eaton is entered in the long jump, the 100 and the 110 high hurdles, and is among the favorites in the long jump and the highs.

And we all know of Oregon's depth in every event from 800 meters on up. The Ducks are so deep that Olympian Andrew Wheating is only entered in the 800, when he has the best time in the Pac-10 over the 1500.

2) Can Washington's Katie Follett get the three-peat in the women's 1500?

I think that Follett's got a good chance to claim her third straight title, but will have to deal with Oregon freshman Jordan Hasay, a 2008 Olympic Trials finalist, as well as her teammates Zoe Buckman, and Alex Kosinski. What happens early in the finals will play a role in the finish of the race, as the Ducks may make it a tactical race early.

3) Is there anyone in the conference that can knock off Washington State's Jeshua Anderson in the 400 hurdles?

The only one that might have a shot at Jeshua Anderson is USC freshman Reggie Wyatt, who took down Anderson's national high school record in the 300 hurdles last year. With Anderson being in better running shape than he's ever been, thanks to his decision to leave the football team last fall to concentrate on track, I don't see Wyatt beating Anderson.

4) Speaking of the Cougars, how do you think defending conference high jump champ Trent Arrivey will fare?

On paper, Arrivey should be the clear-cut favorite, but quite honestly, he hasn't lived up to his status as defending Pac 10 champ, 2008 NCAA west regional champ, and Olympic Trials qualifier. He's jumped 7-4 1/4 indoors, but only has an outdoor best of 7-1 (2.16m) this season, and was a non factor at the NCAA indoor championships.

Look to see how he jumps early in the competition. If he can jump 7-2 with no misses and put pressure on the other jumpers, including Arizona frosh Edgar Rivera-Morales, the senior from Woodinville should win.

5) For the Huskies, how do you think sprinter James Alaka will do?

For most of the opposition, the Washington freshman from London, England has been under the radar, despite having the fastest time in the conference at 200 meters (20.87), and the second fastest time in the 100 at 10.22.

USC's Ahmad Rashad is still the favorite in both events, entering the meet with a best of 10.08 in the 100, and 20.93 in the 200.

According to the heat sheets published yesterday, Alaka in the 100 is in heat 1 on the very outside, so he has to run essentially solo (winner automatically goes to the final, plus the four fastest times from the four preliminary heats). If he can advance to the finals in both sprints with ease, he may be the guy I pick for an upset special.

6) Can Anna Layman of WSU get back to the form that made her an All-American and an NCAA finalist two years ago in the 800?

Layman, who has a lifetime best of 2:04.03, has shown signs of getting back to the form that got her into the finals in the 800 at the NCAA championships in Des Moines in 2008, running 2:05.70 at the Johnson/Joyner-Kersee meet at UCLA in early April.

She has on paper the easier of the two qualifying heats (top 2 plus four fastest from the heats). She'll potentially have to deal with Cal's Sofia Oberg, Oregon's Zoe Buckman and Anne Kesserling, and Arizona's Christina Rodgers in the finals. If she runs with a purpose in the finals, she can easily win the race…or she can just as easily finish out of the top six.

7) What do you think from a Washington state perspective may be the best field event?

Easy. Women's javelin. This will be a repeat of the UW/WSU dual meet with Washington State's Marissa Tschida and Courtney Kirkwood going up against Washington's Brooke Pighin.

In the dual meet in Pullman, Tschida got the victory with Pighin getting second and Kirkwood third. Kristine Busa from USC may be the thrower that could spoil the UW/WSU party, as she's ranked second in the conference.

8) Dawgs and Cougs who may be up for individual titles that haven't been mentioned yet?

For UW, Scott Roth, the reigning NCAA indoor pole vault champ, along with defending conference champs Mel Lawrence in the steeple and Anita Campbell in the 10000 are the Huskies' best chances for individual titles. Javelin thrower Kyle Nielsen may have to pop a big one to overtake Oregon's Cyrus Hostetler.

In the men's 10000, the Huskies' Jake Schmitt, a Bay Area native is second on the conference performance list, and wants to end his college career with a Pac 10 title at Cal, where he actually competed for a year before transferring to UW. He'll have to contend with Bellingham's Jake Riley from Stanford, along with All Americans Luke Puskedra from Oregon, and Chris Derrick from Stanford.

He may be a foot away from conference leader Jonathan Clark of UCLA, but WSU's Stephan Scott-Ellis is on a roll in the triple jump, and could pull the upset, after winning the UW/WSU dual meet with a jump of 51-3 in less than ideal conditions. Steeplechaser Sam Ahlbeck could emerge victorious in an event that appears to be wide open, even with Oregon's sub-4 miler AJ Acosta entered.

9) Prognostications on how UW & WSU will finish?

On my very rough dope sheet, I have the WSU men's team finishing fourth or fifth, and the women fifth or sixth.

The Huskies realistically may be looking at a bottom third finish in the conference championship meet. On both the men's and women's side, they've got some big point producers, but not enough depth, particularly in the sprints, jumps and throws to be in contention. A fifth place or higher finish will be considered a major coup.

10) Why isn't the Huskies' NCAA cross country runner-up Kendra Schaaf running, especially considering that she was redshirted in track last year?

You got me. There have been rumblings that she's injured again. There have been other rumors surrounding Schaaf, but we are not going to speculate on her status.

Since the NCAA cross country meet, she has only run two track races--the MPSF indoor where she was fourth in the 3000, and the UW Last Chance meet on March 6th, where she ran 9:20.53 for 3000m.

My best answer is I don't know.

Oh by the way, if you want to follow the Pac 10 meet, please click here for live results.

No comments:

Blog Archive