Sunday, May 30, 2010

Weekend roundup: May 29-30...

With the NCAA West Regionals and the NCAA Division II championships dominating the blog, the weekend review consists of some pro meets that happened while the collegians battled it out in Austin and Charlotte.

At the Fanny Blankers-Koen Games in Hengelo, former Washington Husky Mart Israel (left/photo by Paul Merca) of Estonia finished fourth in the discus with a toss of 204-4 (62.29m).

Israel's 2009 season came to a halt in the qualifying round of the discus at the world championships in Berlin when he was injured at the meet.

Hungary's Zoltán Kövágó won the meet with a mark of 214-11 (65.51m).

Results from the meet in Hengelo can be accessed here.

In Sacramento, Hughes Stadium was the venue for the California Invitational Relays on Saturday, reviving the old Modesto Relays that was a staple of the domestic circuit in May after a one year hiatus following the death of long time meet director Tom Moore.

Marysville-Pilchuck HS grad and world championships finalist Jarred Rome tied for first in the discus with a toss of 205-4 (62.59m) with Indian Olympian Vikas Gowda, who threw the same distance. In what has to be the oddest sets of marks, both threw identical marks in all six rounds.

Former Husky All-American Norris Frederick finished third in the long jump with a mark of 25-1 3/4 (7.66m), in an event won by Trevell Quinley in 26-8 1/4 (8.13m).

Three-time US Olympian Aretha Thurmond finished second in the women's discus with a toss of 204-10 (62.47m), as Becky Breisch won with a mark of 210-10 (64.26m).

In the men's 400m. former Tacoma prep standout Craig Everhart (47.07), and recent Washington All-American Jordan Boase (47.32) finished sixth and seventh, with LeJerald Betters (45.70) taking the win.

Results from the California Invitational Relays can be accessed here.

Kendra Schaaf leaving Washington? Not so fast, my friend!

As ESPN's Lee Corso would say on College GameDay, "Not so fast!"

In response to the blog's post a few days ago, in which Kendra Schaaf's Queen City Striders TC coach Steve Gersten stated that the Washington sophomore would leave the Montlake campus, Washington coach Greg Metcalf told the UW Daily student newspaper that she isn't going anywhere (note italics belong to The Daily)

"Despite a report on a blog published by longtime track writer Paul Merca that UW star cross-country runner Kendra Schaaf will transfer from the school, head coach Greg Metcalf said yesterday that Schaaf plans to stay put.

“I’ve sat down with Kendra, and as of right now, she’s staying,” Metcalf said. “We’ve had conversations, and she’s talked about wanting to leave, but that’s it.”

That conflicts with the report from Merca’s blog, which cites Schaaf’s Canadian club coach, Steve Gersten, as telling the site that Schaaf is indeed leaving UW.

Merca reports that Schaaf, a sophomore, had been rumored to be transferring after competing in just two indoor events and no outdoor events for the Huskies this year. She finished second in the 2009 National Championships.

But as far as Metcalf is concerned, she’s still a Husky.

“I don’t really know why she would want to leave, and as of now, she’s staying,” Metcalf said."

Schaaf is currently still on the roster of the University of Washington.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Husky hurdler Falesha Ankton gets 12th and final spot to nationals...

AUSTIN, Texas--In a meet in which twelfth place is as good as first, University of Washington senior Falesha Ankton (left/photo by Paul Merca) earned a return trip to the NCAA outdoor track & field championships with a twelfth place finish in the second round of the NCAA West Regionals at Mike A. Myers Stadium on the campus of the University of Texas.

Ankton's performance in the 100-meter hurdles was particularly memorable. The senior from Benicia, California came back for a fifth year after her 2009 season ended with her missing the finals at Pac-10s and Regionals by just one spot. She last competed at NCAAs in 2008, making the preliminary round. Ankton chose to return for a fifth year thinking she had unfinished business, and she took fifth at Pac-10s in a slight PR of 13.45 seconds.

In Friday's prelims, Ankton hit an early hurdle and had to push hard to the finish to get through the first round. Assigned to the same lane for her quarterfinal heat, Ankton didn't let the same hurdle foil her twice, as she got out extremely well and was clean over the hurdles en route to a major career-best of 13.37 seconds. However that was fourth in her heat, and only the top-three automatically advance, so Ankton had to wait to see if she would earn one of three time qualifiers.

Ankton sat on the infield of the track on a bench for discus throwers, and watched the last heat. One woman bumped her time down but it held up as the 12th-best time overall, sending her on to Eugene.

"I am on top of the world right now," said a beaming Ankton. "After last year I said I have to redeem myself. I have some unfinished business. This year it was all about outdoors. Every practice, every workout I've just been thinking about making nationals. When I crossed that finish line and I looked up and saw 13.37 I was jumping for joy because I thought even if that doesn't make it, that's a best for me and I can be happy ending my career on that note. But now I have another one and hopefully I can just keep punching the clock and keep moving."

Fellow Husky senior Katie Follett, who was battling stomach ailments all week, went to the lead from the very start and stayed there for all but the final 75-meters or so, when she clearly didn't have her usual kick but still was able to cruise in for third place in 4:19.36, which earned her a spot in third-consecutive NCAA Outdoor Championships.

British freshman James Alaka punched his ticket to Eugene with a third place finish in his heat of the 200 meters, as he set a personal best of 20.71, the seventh fastest time in Husky history. Alaka earned a ticket to Eugene on Friday when he qualified in the men's 100 meters.

For Washington State, freshman high jumper Holly Parent was one of 11 women who cleared 5-feet, 11 1/4 inches (1.81m) in the high jump. Parent cleared the first four bar heights on the first attempt but needed two tries to clear a lifetime-best height of 5-11 1/4, which placed her ninth in the Regional competition. Her mark is the sixth-best high jump in WSU history (tied with Lissa Gray, 1988 in Moscow).

Big Sky hammer throw champion Nicole Luckenbach, Eastern Washington's best hope to qualify for the national championships in Eugene in two weeks, finished a disappointing 27th with a first round throw of 180-3 (54.95m).

Among notable athletes with Washington ties qualifying for the NCAA championships on the final day include former Nathan Hale HS standout Abdi Hassan of Arizona in the 1500m (8th, 3:46.76); Auburn-Riverside's Jordan McNamara of Oregon in the 5000 (6th, 14:07.14); and Bellingham's Jake Riley of Stanford in the 5000 (10th, 14:07.48).

Washington will send eleven athletes to the NCAA meet, which begins May 9th at Hayward Field, while Washington State will send six athletes to the national championships.

Complete results from the NCAA Western Regionals can be accessed here.

NOTE: The University of Washington, Washington State University, and Eastern Washington University all contributed to this report.

Jessica Pixler records twelfth NCAA Division II title; WWU's Ryan Brown wins pole vault...

CHARLOTTE, N.C.--Seattle Pacific's Jessica Pixler (left/photo by Randy Miyazaki, trackandfieldphoto.com) closed out her storied career as one of the most decorated athletes in school history by winning her second straight NCAA Division II title in the 1500 meters Saturday.

The senior from Eastlake HS in Sammamish, who began her career at Seattle Pacific as a soccer player, took command about 250 meters into the race, then stretched her lead way out so that by the time she crossed the finish line, she was 7.5 seconds in front of her nearest pursuer, stopping the watch in 4 minutes, 15.43 seconds.

However, her attempt to add No. 13 never got very far beyond the starting line. Having felt some ankle pain during her 1,500 run, Pixler nevertheless planned to go for the 800 in the second of two timed-finals heats, but dropped out after running 50 meters.

“My ankle has been kind of mess up the last couple weeks. It hasn’t been right since conference", Pixler said. “And being in spikes all weekend took its toll.

“It hurt during the 1,500, and it tightened up a lot,” Pixler added. “I tried to get it loose enough for the 800. We talked about scratching, but if I ran on it, I wasn’t going to hurt it any more. I was hoping when the gun went off, I thought I would get a lot of adrenaline and I wouldn’t feel it. I don’t regret trying -- I just really couldn’t do it.”

Next up for Pixler is the USA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa in late June, where she plans to run the 1500 in her pro debut.

Western Washington junior pole vaulter Ryan Brown won the national title in his event to match the indoor title he won in March, skying a new personal best of 17-8.5 (5.40m).

Brown easily cleared the first three heights attempted, then clinched the national title with a second attempt clearance at 17-0 (5.18m).

He then cleared 17-8.5 on his second attempt, eclipsing his personal best of 17-7 (5.36m) set on May 8th at Husky Stadium in Seattle.

Brown attempted a meet record 18-2 1/2 with a new pole that arrived last week, but it wouldn't allow him to go that height.

The Vikings' Sarah Porter placed third in the women's 5,000 and Alex Harrison was fifth in the men's javelin.

Porter broke her own school record set earlier this season with a time of 16:23.52.

Harrison, who ranked eighth nationally going into the competition, posted a mark of 200-9 (61.20m) on his fourth throw. He was ninth heading into the finals.

Seattle Pacific senior Lisa Anderberg was a beneficiary of Pixler's DNF, as the Kamiak HS grad, who came in as the No. 8 seed, ran a personal-best 2 minutes, 10.37 second, That gave her eighth place, a spot on the awards podium and All-American status.

Complete results from the NCAA Division II championships can be accessed here.

NOTE: The sports information offices of Western Washington and Seattle Pacific University contributed to this report.

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.

Alex Harrison finishes tenth in NCAA D-II decathlon as weather wipes out day two...

CHARLOTTE, N.C.--Day two of the NCAA Division II track & field championships at Irwin Belk Stadium belonged to the weather gods, as two lengthy weather delays due to threats of lightning stopped the meet.

Officials finally canceled the day’s competition at approximately 7:05 p.m. PDT. When they did, Seattle Pacific's Melissa Peaslee was still waiting to take her first try at the pole vault, Amanda Alvarez hadn’t attempted her first triple jump, and Jessica Pixler and Lisa Anderberg never got to the starting line for the 800-meter preliminary heats.

All competition now will be crammed into Saturday.

“It was thunder and lightning and heavy rain, and that’s ultimately why they put it away,” Falcons coach Karl Lerum said. “It wasn’t going anywhere. (Saturday) is not supposed to be great, so we’ll see.”

Saturday’s forecast calls for a chance of more thunderstorms and highs in the mid 80s.

The only events that were completed Friday in Charlotte were the men's and women's multi-event competitions.

In seventh place heading into the final event of the decathlon, Western Washington University's Alex Harrison (above/photo courtesy Western Washington University) finished tenth in second-day action Friday.

Physically spent from the competition, heat and humidity, Harrison scored just 40 points in the 1,500 meters with a time of 7:16.62 for a 6,142 total.

"It was heartbreaking," said Western coach Pee Wee Halsell . "His began cramping up 150 meters into the race and he showed a lot of guts to finish. It was a miracle that he was able to do that."

Harrison, who was 11th after Thursday's five events, moved up to seventh with solid efforts in the Friday's first four events. He scored 759 points with a 15.77 110 hurdles, then had the fourth-best discus mark of 124-0 (620), the third-highest pole vault of 14-3 1/4 (716) and the second-best javelin throw of 194-7 (727).

Competing for the Vikings Saturday are Sarah Porter & Jordan Welling in the 5000m; Courtney Olsen in the 3000m steeplechase, Harrison in the javelin, and Division II's number one ranked pole vaulter, and reigning NCAA indoor champ Ryan Brown.

Central Washington will have no competitors in action Saturday.

The revised start list for Saturday's competition is available here. Note that due to Friday's weather problems, several events will be timed finals, and all field events postponed will revert to a final.

NOTE: The sports information offices of Western Washington University and Seattle Pacific University contributed to this report.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bernard Lagat sets outdoor 3000m personal best in Ostrava...

OSTRAVA, Czech Republic--Washington State University hall of famer Bernard Lagat (left/photo by Paul Merca) set an outdoor personal best, but finished third in the 3000 meter run at Thursday's Golden Spike Meet.

The reigning IAAF world indoor champion at this distance, Lagat ran 7:32.49 under cold and rainy conditions.

Lagat has an indoor personal best of 7:32.43, which is the current American record, set in 2007.

Yusuf Biwott of Kenya won the race in a world-leading 7:31.68 and fellow Kenyan John Kemboi was second in 7:32.16.

The highlight of the meet was Usain Bolt's attempt at a world best in the rarely contested 300 meter dash, in which the Jamaican won in 30.97, but was short of the world best of 30.85 set by Michael Johnson in Pretoria, South Africa in 2000.

Fellow Jamaican Asafa Powell won the men's 100 meters in a 2010 world best time of 9.83.

In a special arrangement by meet organizers, all 100m racers were also given a fully automatic time for 100 yards. Powell's time at the juncture, 9.09 seconds, eclipsed the 9.21, the fastest time ever recorded, run by O'Dea HS graduate Charlie Greene in 1967. The time also trumped the fastest hand time on record for 100y, 9.0, which Ivory Crockett ran in 1974.

Complete results of the Ostrava Golden Spike meet can be accessed here.

Sarah Porter of Western Washington second in 10000; Tyler Fischer 8th in hammer at NCAA D2s...

CHARLOTTE, NC--Passing two runners in the last 600 meters, Western Washington University's Sarah Porter (left/photo courtesy Western Washington University) placed second by less than three seconds in the women's 10,000 meters Thursday at the 2010 NCAA Division II National Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

Porter was clocked in 34:49.60, trailing only Tanya Zeferjahn from Queens NC, who crossed the finish line in 34:46.59.

"She is one tough young lady," said Western coach Pee Wee Halsell of Porter. "She led most of the middle portion of the race and then got passed by Zeferjahn. But she battled to stay with the top group and passed one runner with about 600 meters to go and another while sprinting the last 100 meters and closing on Zeferjahn."

Meanwhile, Central Washington senior Tyler Fischer, who entered the meet seeded 16th in the men's hammer, unleashed a school-record throw of 58.88 meters (193 feet, 2 inches) on his final throw of the preliminaries to advance to the event finals. He finished eighth in the event to become a track and field All-American for the second time in his career. Fischer, out of Cashmere, had previously been a Division II All-American in the discus during the 2008 season.

Michael Hoffman from Western placed tenth with a mark of 189-0 (57.61 meters).

In the men's 10000 meter finals, Western's Jordan Welling placed 11th in 31:21.70 and Bennett Grimes was 14th in 31:37.57.

Western junior Alex Harrison currently stands eleventh in the decathlon with a first-day score of 3,280 points. The leader at 3,865 is Darius Walker from Central Missouri.

"Alex didn't have a great first day, but it wasn't a bad day," said Halsell. "But his second day is always his best, so he will definitely be moving up."

Harrison tied a personal best in the 100 meters with a time of 11.55 (742) and had a personal record of 51.60 (742) in the 400. The Great Northwest Athletic Conference decathlon champion leaped 20-6 1/4 (641) in the long jump, posted a mark of 40-6 in the shot put (627) and cleared 5-6 (528) in the high jump.

In preliminary action, Jessica Pixler took the first step toward yet another NCAA championship winning her heat of the 1,500 meters.

The Seattle Pacific senior, leading by approximately 20 meters for most of the way, came across the line in 4 minutes, 28.68 seconds. That was 2 1/2 seconds in front of second-place Monica Kinney of Grand Valley State, who clocked 4:31.18.

The Vikings' Courtney Olsen qualified for Saturday's final in the women's 3,000 steeplechase. She was one of 12 to accomplish that, placing sixth in her heat with a time of 10:49.85.

Complete results from the NCAA Division II championships are available here.

NOTE: The sports information offices of Western Washington, Seattle Pacific, and Central Washington University contributed to this report.

Javelin throwers from UW & WSU advance to highlight day 1 at NCAA West Regionals...

AUSTIN, Texas--Washington javelin throwers Joe Zimmerman (left/photo courtesy University of Washington) and Kyle Nielsen were the first two Huskies to punch their ticket to Eugene for the NCAA Championships as they finished second and fourth in the West Regional qualifying meet at Mike Myers Stadium on the campus of the University of Texas.

Zimmerman, who was fifth in the Pac-10 championships two weeks ago in Berkeley, threw the spear 235-3 (71.71m) on his first attempt to earn a spot in the national championships in two weeks. On his second attempt, Zimmerman threw 228-3 (69.57m), then followed up with a foul, before passing on his last three attempts.

On moving on to the finals Zimmerman said, "I'm stoked. I was pretty concerned I wasn't going to make it to nationals, and I never thought I'd get second."

Nielsen, the bronze medallist in Berkeley two weeks ago, was one centimeter short of the 70-meter mark, as he threw 229-7 (69.99m) on his second attempt. Like his teammate, Nielsen passed on his remaining three throws.

"We got here early this morning to check in and then we waited about three hours to compete just because of the numbers," said Nielsen. "It was a weird competition, and I think Joe was the only guy who PR'd. Just happy to be moving on."

The third Husky, freshman James Brookman, was four spots short of qualifying for Eugene, as he threw 209-4 to finish 16th. Eastern Washington's Aaron Mettler was 30th with a toss of 194-6 (59.28m).

In the women's javelin, Washington State's Marissa Tschida (171-10/52.37m) and Courtney Kirkwood (164-7/50.18m) earned their spots in the NCAA championship meet by finishing second, and seventh, respectively.

2009 NCAA finalist Brooke Pighin finished 24th with a toss of 145-3 (44.27m), while WSU's Jennifer Hamilton was 33rd at 138-8 (42.26m), and Eastern Washington's Michelle Coombs was 45th at 109-1 (33.26m).

According to UW's media release, Pighin has been plagued by a sore tendon on her elbow that will require off-season surgery.

In the men's 10000, Bellingham's Jake Riley finished third, as the Stanford junior ran 29:38.64 to advance to Eugene. Washington senior Jake Schmitt, a two-time NCAA qualifier in this event, finished 19th in 30:12.06, despite running in the front pack for most of the race.

Eastern's Paul Limpf was 33rd in 31:23.97, UW's Alec Bromka 34th in 31:34.08, while the Huskies' Jordan Swarthout was 37th in 31:55.13. WSU's Dan Geib was 38th in 32:02.22, and Eastern's Kyle King was 40th in 32:43.24.

After running in the lead group for the better part of the race, senior Anita Campbell finished 11th in the women's 10000m run in a time of 34:39.60, two spots behind former Eastern Washington standout Mattie Bridgmon from Oregon, who clocked 34:34.81.

Among the top runners in first round action advancing to the round of 24 in Thursday's first round included defending NCAA 400 hurdles champ Jeshua Anderson of WSU (49.47), the Washington duo of Katie Follett (4:23.33) and Kailey Campbell (4:21.17) in the 1500, along with WSU's Lisa Egami (4:24.24).

In the women's 400 hurdles, WSU's Veronica Elseroad-Wall (59.46) and Brittnay Crabb (1:00.30) also advanced to the round of 24, setting PRs en route.

800 meter runners Joe Abbott (1:48.66 PR) and Anna Layman (2:08.71) of Washington State also advanced to the second round in their events.

The competition continues in Austin Friday afternoon with field events beginning at noon Central Time and running events starting at 4:30 p.m. CT.

Results from day 1 of the NCAA West Regional/Preliminary Round Track & Field Championships are available here.

NOTE: The sports information offices of the University of Washington, Washington State University, Eastern Washington University & the University of Texas all assisted with this story.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

NCAA Division II championships start Thursday; DI regionals on docket...

The NCAA Division II championships get underway Thursday at the Irwin Belk Complex on the campus of Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina.

All of the action in Thursday's session consists of qualifying rounds in running events, except for the multi-events, a few field events, and the men's and women's 10000 meter runs.

Athletes from Seattle Pacific, Western Washington, and Central Washington will be in action Thursday, including heavy favorite Jessica Pixler, as the senior from Eastlake HS in Sammamish is entered in both the 800 and 1500 meter runs in her final collegiate race before she starts her pro career.

Buried in a Seattle Pacific news release about the "Fab Four" group of seniors--Pixler, Jane Larson, Lisa Anderberg and Kate Harline--was the revelation that Larson, who was seeded second in the women's 1500 meter run behind defending NCAA champ Pixler, was forced to withdraw from the national championships because of the discovery of a stress fracture in her femur earlier this week.

You can read the release about the "Fab Four" here...

The schedule of events for the NCAA Division II championships are posted here, while the men's start lists are available here, and the women's start lists are here.

In Austin, Texas, the NCAA Division I West Regionals will be contested beginning Thursday, featuring athletes from the University of Washington, Washington State University, and Eastern Washington.

If you are thinking that this meet will be like the regional meets of years past--think again!

This meet, for all intents and purposes, is the equivalent of the first and second rounds of the national championships. To use the NCAA basketball tournament analogy, the meet in Austin and the East regionals in Greensboro, North Carolina, are the equivalent of the games paring teams down from 64 teams down to the final four, with the NCAA Championships in two weeks in Eugene being the site of the Final Four.

Unlike the Final Four (oh yeah, gotta remember to capitalize the word Final Four, or else the NCAA police will be all over us!), there's no such thing as a regional champion in each of the events. The top twelve (no ties, which could make things interesting, especially in field events, and lane races) marks in each events in Austin and Greensboro, advance to the national finals in Eugene.

The time schedule for the West regionals are available here...the men's start lists are available here, while the women's start lists are available here.

Just for fun, our friends at the USTFCCCA have a downloadable copy of the West & East Regional start list, conveniently packaged as a bracket a la the NCAA basketball tournament for you bracketologists out there--you can download it here!

I hate to admit this, but as a longtime observer of this sport, I'm honestly lost in how this new regional format is supposed to work. If you think I'm lost, then how does the casual fan of the sport who happens to stumble upon the track in Austin or Greensboro to root for his/her favorite athlete/school figure out who's moving on to Eugene?!?

To help everyone out, here's a great article about how the regional meets are supposed to work, and the pros and cons of it, courtesy of The Statesman in Austin.

By the way, a live video stream of the meet is available from the West Regionals...please click on the NCAA West Regionals home page here, and follow the links.


KENDRA SCHAAF NOT RETURNING TO THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON...

For the past couple of weeks, University of Washington sophomore Kendra Schaaf (left/photo by Paul Merca), who was the NCAA cross country runner-up in the 2009 championships behind Illinois' Angela Bizzari, was the subject of numerous rumors, after she only ran in two indoor meets this winter, and didn't run in any outdoor meets for the Huskies.

In a short email exchange with paulmerca.blogspot.com, Schaaf's Canadian club coach, Steve Gersten of the Queen City Striders Track Club, confirmed that Schaaf, the 2009 Canadian senior national cross country champion, is indeed leaving the University of Washington.

Where Schaaf ultimately ends up remains a source of speculation, as the message boards on letsrun.com have her going to either North Carolina, West Virginia or Florida State (disclaimer--take it with the proverbial grain of salt; this site will not speculate, preferring to wait until official word comes out).

Assuming Schaaf ends up at another NCAA Division I school, she would have at most two seasons of eligibility in cross country, and three seasons in both indoor and outdoor track.

During her career at Washington, she helped lead the Huskies to the school's first national cross country championship in November 2008, and won the Pac-10 cross country championship that season, leading the Huskies to a perfect score of 15 points and an unprecedented sweep of the first six places in the conference championship race.

Last season, Schaaf finished first or second in every race of the year, leading the Huskies in every race, as UW won Pac-10, Regional, and Pre-National titles and placed third at NCAAs. She is one of just five women to earn multiple Pac-10 Athlete of the Year honors, and won her first NCAA West Regional title and the first ever for a Husky.

Before entering Washington, Schaaf finished 20th in the 2008 IAAF World Junior Cross Country Championships in Edinburgh, Scotland; seventh in the 5000m at the 2008 IAAF World Junior Track & Field Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland in the 5000, and 13th in the 1500m.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The awards keep coming for Jessica Pixler, plus links...

Seattle Pacific senior Jessica Pixler (left/photo by Randy Miyazaki/trackandfieldphoto.com) was named the West Region Women’s Track Athlete of the Year and Falcons head coach Lerum was honored as the West Region Women’s Coach of the Year for NCAA Division II by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association on Monday.

In addition, Erika Daligcon, Lerum’s assistant in track as well was the head cross country coach, was named the West Women’s Assistant Coach of the Year.

Pixler and Lerum thus swept this year’s USTFCCCA track honors, as they were named winners of their respective awards for the winter indoor season. Pixler also was named by the coaches organization as the West’s Female Cross Country Runner of the Year last fall.

Pixler won the Great Northwest Athletic Conference titles in the 800 and 1,500 meters on May 15 at Western Oregon University in Monmouth, Ore. Both of her times – 2:06.38 in the 800 and 4:24.01 in the 1,500 – were meet records. Pixler also anchored SPU’s victorious 4x400 relay team to end the meet as the Falcons won the team title with 224 points.

She has the top times in all of NCAA Division II in the 800, 1,500 and 5,000, and will contest the 800 and 1,500 at NCAA’s later this week in Charlotte, N.C.

Under Lerum's guidance the Falcons won their first GNAC team title since 2007, and its 224 points was the third-highest total in conference meet history.

Daligcon’s distance crew accounted for two wins (Pixler’s in the 800 and 1,500), factored into a third (Lisa Anderberg and Pixler ran the last two legs of the relay) and contributed 46 points to the winning total. Of Seattle Pacific’s six NCAA qualifiers, half are distance runners: Pixler, Anderberg (800) and senior Jane Larson (1,500).

The USTFCCCA release is available here...

THE LINKS:

Four links are of interest--the first is a column by the Seattle Times' Jerry Brewer on Pixler & Katie Follett (photographed above) and how their friendship developed at last month's Mt. SAC Relays, where they ran the two fastest collegiate times this season.

Brewer writes, "A thousand miles away from home, two Seattle distance runners became close on this April day.

A thousand miles away, Follett and Pixler dashed ahead of the pack, challenging each other, inspiring each other, exhausting each other.

A thousand miles away, they were alone together, legs churning, shattering school records, recording the top 1,500-meter times in women's college outdoor track this season.

Fittingly, the historic day ended with an even more stunning feat: Follett and Pixler had a conversation. It was a deep and revealing and meaningful one. Now, Seattle's two most accomplished collegiate distance runners don't merely know of each other anymore."

You can read Jerry Brewer's column here...

Next is an interview from gohuskies.com with Pac-10 pole vault champion Ryan Vu, who upset heavy favorite and teammate Scott Roth to garner the title.

Vu, a graduate of Bellevue's Interlake HS, talks about the "surreal" experience of his Pac-10 win, the motivating factor of working with Roth, and the small prank that started his pole vaulting career.

Vu, Roth, and the rest of the Huskies head to Austin, Texas later this week for the NCAA West Regionals, with berths to the NCAA Championships in Eugene on the line.

You can read it here...

The second comes from ESPN RISE on University of Washington incoming freshman Katie Flood, who won the 800, 1500 & 3000 (the latter in a nation-leading 9:27.25) at the Iowa state high school meet in Des Moines for Dowling Catholic HS, and ran a leg on her school's winning 4 x 800 meter relay.

According to writer Brian Peterson, "...her display of strength and deceptive speed on the Drake blue oval in her final high school meet allowed her to make a mark on the track that will cement her legacy as Iowa's all time best distance prep."

You can read about Flood here...

Finally, here's an interesting thread we found on letsrun.com about the possibility that University of Washington sophomore Kendra Schaaf, the NCAA cross country runner-up last November, may transfer to another school.

According to the message board posts, North Carolina, Florida State, and West Virginia (the latter two because their distance coaches are Canadian citizens) are the most likely landing spots for Schaaf.

As a disclaimer, folks can take this thread with the proverbial grain of salt. The link to the thread is here.

As this blog stated in our Pac-10 preview, we don't know Schaaf's status, and are not going to speculate on the rumors which have been floating for the last month.

NOTE: Seattle Pacific University's sports information office contributed to this report.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Rome and Waltz place seventh & eighth at Shanghai Diamond League meet; Patterson launches javelin to new stadium record in Tuscon...

Marysville-Pilchuck HS graduate and 2009 world championships finalist Jarred Rome (left/photo by Paul Merca) finished seventh in the discus at the second stop of the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Shanghai Sunday.

Rome, a 2004 US Olympian currently based at the Olympic training center in Chula Vista, threw the discus 203-6 (62.04m). His training partner, fellow Olympian and WSU graduate Ian Waltz, finished eighth with a throw of 200-10 (61.21m).

Meanwhile, in two domestic meets that finished late Saturday, Skyview HS/Vancouver grad and two-time reigning national javelin champion Kara Patterson broke her own stadium record set two days earlier to win the javelin to conclude the two-day Arizona Elite Throwers meet in Tuscon.

Patterson, a 2008 Olympian and world championships competitor last year, launched the spear 202-7 (61.75m) on her very first attempt.

In other events at the Arizona Elite Throwers meet, former Washington Husky Aretha Thurmond finished third in the women's discus with a mark of 203-4 (61.98m) for the three-time US Olympian.

In the men's discus, Club Northwest's Will Conwell finished fourth, as the Washington graduate threw 201-0 (61.28m). WSU graduate Drew Ulrick finished eighth with a throw of 192-8 (58.72m).

At the USATF Occidental High Performance meet held at Occidental College outside of Los Angeles, 2009 world championships team member Ryan Brown finished third in his section of the 800 meters, running 1:48.26.

Results from the Shanghai Diamond League meet can be accessed here.


The results from the Arizona Elite Throwers meet are available here, while the results from the USATF Occidental High Performance meet are available here.

Friday, May 21, 2010

NCAA Regional Fields Announced...

The NCAA announced the names of the athletes and teams that will advance to the West Regional Championships May 27-29 in Austin, Texas.

The old four-section regional championships were scrapped in favor of a two section regional, which makes the meet, in essence, the first and second rounds of the NCAA championships.

In the current format, the top twelve finishers and relay teams from Austin as well as the East Regionals in Greensboro, North Carolina, will advance to the NCAA Championships in Eugene June 9-12.

The only event that will not be contested in the NCAA regional meet is the decathlon, in which the top 24 athletes based on their performance during the regular season were advanced.

Washington's Jeremy Taiwo was the only one from the state of Washington who advanced to the NCAA championships.

The 21st-ranked Husky men earned 15 individual qualifiers plus one relay for what will likely be a total of 17 athletes in Austin, while the UW women qualified 12 athletes for the prelims though entries will not be set in stone until the start lists are released next Tuesday.

Seven Huskies are ranked in the top-10 in the West including senior Katie Follett (No. 1, 1,500m), junior Scott Roth (No. 3, pole vault), junior Kyle Nielsen (No. 4, javelin), freshman James Alaka (No. 5, 100m), senior Ryan Vu (No. 8, pole vault), senior Zack Midles (No. 9, hammer), and junior Brooke Pighin (No. 10, javelin).

Washington State University will be represented by 13 men in 12 events and 17 women in 12 events. The Cougars will be led by two-time defending 400 meter hurdles champ Jeshua Anderson, and Pac-10 javelin champion Marissa Tschida.

Eastern Washington will have a handful of athletes making the trip to Austin, led by Big Sky hammer champion Nicole Luckenbach and 400 meter runner Brad Wall.

The complete list of men's accepted entries can be accessed here, while the complete list of women's accepted entries can be accessed here.

The University of Washington's media release announcing their qualifiers can be read here, while you can click here to read Washington State University's press release.

NOTE: The NCAA, University of Washington, Washington State University, and Eastern Washington University all contributed to this report.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

NCAA Division II entries released, plus Tuscon Elite Throwers meet, Daegu video & Shanghai entries...

In the run up to next week's NCAA Division II track & field championships in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Division II Track & Field Subcommittee has announced those accepted into the NCAA Championships.

Seattle Pacific seniors Jessica Pixler and Jane Larson have the top two seeds – with room to spare – for the 1,500 at next week’s NCAA Division II outdoor championships in Charlotte, N.C. They are two of the six Falcons who are on the list of accepted entries for the meet that was released Wednesday morning.

Competition -- including the preliminaries of the 1,500 -- begins Thursday, May 27, and continue through Saturday, May 29 at the Irwin Belk Complex.

Pixler, who enters her final collegiate competition as a heavy favorite, also is the top seed in the 800 meters, and will be joined in that event by fellow senior Lisa Anderberg, who is the eighth seed.

Also in the meet for SPU is sophomore Brittany Aanstad as the No. 6 seed in the javelin; freshman Amanda Alvarez as the co-No. 8 seed in the triple jump, and junior Melissa Peaslee as the No. 11 seed in the pole vault.

Western Washington University is sending seven athletes, three of whom will compete in two events.

Two Vikings are making return visits to nationals. Going for the third time is Sarah Porter who will compete in the women's 5,000 and 10,000 meters. Making a second straight trip is Jordan Welling who is participating in the men's 5,000 and 10,000.

Completing Western's contingent are Ryan Brown in the men's pole vault, Bennett Grimes in the men's 10,000, Alex Harrison in the men's javelin and decathlon, Michael Hoffman in the men's hammer and Courtney Olsen in the women's 3,000 steeplechase.

For Central Washington, freshman sprinter Anthony Wright and hammer throwers Torrie Self and Tyler Fischer will represent the Wildcats in Charlotte.

Wright has the best qualifying mark of any of the Wildcats' three qualifiers for nationals, having posted the sixth-best time in the nation in the men's 100-meter dash this season. The freshman ran a conference-record 10.43 seconds in the event at last Saturday's Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships. His time is also the fastest in the West Region this year.

Self earned an automatic berth into the national championships with her school- and conference-record hammer throw earlier this season at the WWU Twilight in Bellingham. Self is currently seeded 11th for the national championships with her record mark of 54.67 meters (179 feet, 4 inches), which is also the top throw in the West Region this season.

Fischer will make his third trip in four years to the outdoor national championships, including his second appearance in the hammer at nationals. His best mark of 57.86 meters (189 feet, 10 inches) just made the cut to qualify, and he will be seeded 16th in Charlotte. Fischer participated at the Division II National Outdoor Championships in 2007 (hammer) and 2008 (discus), earning All-American honors with a fifth-place discus finish as a sophomore.

In the current USTFCCCA rankings, the Falcons are ranked seventh, and the Vikings are ranked #23 (men), and #25 (women).

The complete men's entry lists for the NCAA Division II championships can be accessed here, while the women's entry lists are available here.

TUSCON ELITE THROWERS MEET--DAY 1

In the first of what is essentially a two-day throwers meet, Vancouver native Kara Patterson set a Drachman Stadium record in the javelin throw with her mark of 60.33m (197-11) to highlight the first day of the Tuscon Elite Throwers meet on the campus of the University of Arizona.

In the women's discus, three time US Olympian Aretha Thurmond from Federal Way finished third with a toss of 196-4 (59.86m).

In the men's discus, former Husky Will Conwell finished fifth with a throw of 191-10 (58.47m), while former WSU standout Drew Ulrich threw 188-10 (57.57m) to place seventh.

Many of the same throwers will return to Tuscon to compete on Saturday.

Complete results from day 1 of the Tuscon Elite meet can be accessed here.

DAEGU 200m VIDEO

Thanks to the power of YouTube, here is the video of the 200m race won by Ryan Bailey, who trains on the Nike campus in Beaverton.

Former Washington Husky All-American Jordan Boase is in the race as well, in lane two.

Boase was originally entered in the 400 meters in Daegu, but was switched to the 200 the day of the meet, according to him, which may have been a good thing for him, as he was fatigued from the 26 hours of travel from his training base in Florida to Korea.



WALTZ & ROME ON PROVISIONAL ENTRY LIST FOR SHANGHAI DIAMOND LEAGUE MEET

Former Washington State University All-American Ian Waltz, and Marysville-Pilchuck HS graduate Jarred Rome are on the provisional entry list released by the IAAF for Sunday's Diamond League meeting in Shanghai, China.

The meet will feature Jamaica's Usain Bolt in the men's 200 against Ryan Bailey, who won the 200 in Daegu (see above video) and Netherlands Antilles' Churandy Martina, the former UTEP star who was disqualified at the Beijing Olympics for a lane violation in the finals, that cost his country its first medal of any color.

The most current provisional entries for the Shanghai Diamond League meet are available here.


NOTE: The IAAF, NCAA, USTFCCCA, Seattle Pacific, Western Washington, and Central Washington University's sports information offices contributed to this report.

Quick link of the day...

Here's a quick link to a story out of Ghana about the election of former Washington State University triple jumper Francis Dodoo as the first ever elected Chairman of the Ghana Athletics Association (GAA).

Dodoo currently ranks third on the all-time Washington State University list in the triple jump at 55-2 1/4, behind only Joseph Taiwo and Ian Campbell. He won the All Africa Games triple jump competition with a meet record 56-2 (17.12m) back in 1987, and competed in the Olympics.

Dodoo is currently the Director of the Regional Institute for Population Studies (RIPS) at the University of Ghana.

You can read the story here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Måkestad runs second fastest 3000m outdoor time in the world this season...

OSLO, Norway--Former University of Washington standout Ingvill Måkestad (left/photo courtesy runingvill.wordpress.com) continued her string of fine performances Wednesday night in winning the women's 3000 meter run at the adidas Opening Games at fabled Bislett Stadium.

Måkestad ran 8:54.57 in what essentially was a solo effort, winning her race by a margin of 19.12 seconds over the second place competitor, though she said on her Twitter page that she had a pace maker for the first 800 meters of the race.

Her mark is currently the second fastest time outdoors in the world this season, surpassed only by Amy Yoder Begley's 8:53.73 mark from the Brutus Hamilton Invitational in Berkeley last month.

Måkestad, who is positioning herself to be one of the leading contenders for this summer's European Championships in Barcelona in the 1500m, has the sixth fastest time in the world at the shorter distance, running 4:06.08 in Doha, Qatar last week.

The complete results from the adidas Opening Games are available here.

You can follow Ingvill's blog by clicking her picture (written in Norwegian).

Ginnie Powell Crawford wins in Daegu; Jordan Boase eighth in 200 meters...

DAEGU, Korea--Rainier Beach HS grad and two time USA national outdoor champion Ginnie Powell Crawford (left/photo by Paul Merca) scored a narrow victory Wednesday in the 100 meter hurdles over reigning world indoor champion Lolo Jones at the Colorful Daegu Pre Championships Meeting.

Crawford, a former NCAA champion while at the University of Southern California, clocked 12.77 to defeat Jones, who recovered from a very poor start, by one-hundredth, while Canada’s Perdita Felicien took third in 12.80.

Former Washington Husky Jordan Boase, who was originally on the meet's start list for the 400 meters, finished eighth in the 200 meters, running 21.38, in a race won by Oregon's Ryan Bailey in 20.58.

Jamaica's Usain Bolt, the headliner of the Daegu meet, set a world-leading mark of 9.86 to decisively defeat compatriot Michael Frater, who finished second with 10.15.

Next year's IAAF World Track & Field Championships will be contested in late August at this venue.

Results from the Colorful Daegu Pre Championships Meeting can be accessed here by event.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Former Husky Jordan Boase set to run 400m race in Daegu; Ginnie Powell Crawford entered in 100h...

DAEGU, Korea--Former Washington Husky All-American Jordan Boase (left/photo courtesy University of Washington) is among the entries for Wednesday's Colorful Daegu Pre-Championships Meeting on the same track where next year's IAAF World Track & Field Championships will be contested.

The Bothell High School product is entered in the 400 meter dash, where he will face a field that includes 2000 & 2008 Olympic 400 meter hurdles champion Angelo Taylor, along with fellow Americans Jamaal Torrance, Miles Smith, and David Neville.

Boase, who signed with agent Paul Doyle, is now training in Florida. He's raced sparingly so far this season, including two relays and a 200 meter dash, according to this interview he did with media partner Runnerspace.com at the Penn Relays last month, where he ran on the distance medley relay for Team USA:



Also entered in the Daegu meet is former Rainier Beach HS and two-time world championships finalist Ginnie Powell Crawford in the women's 100 meter hurdles, where she'll face recent world indoor 60 hurdles champ Lolo Jones, former University of Illinois star Perdita Felicien of Canada, and former UCLA star and 2008 Olympic hurdles champ Dawn Harper.

Naturally, the hype surrounding the meet centers on Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt's season debut in the 100, according to the preview from the IAAF.

The start list for the Colorful Daegu Pre-Championships Meeting can be accessed here...

Meanwhile, paulmerca.blogspot.com got a short note from another former Husky, Ingvill Måkestad, who informs us that she will be running a 3000 meter race in Oslo at Bislett Stadium Wednesday, where she will shoot for a sub 8:54, on the heels of her 1500m PR at last week's Doha Diamond League meeting.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Pac-10 Track & Field Championships to be shown on delayed basis on FOX Sports Net...

FOX Sports Net will air a two-hour tape delayed show of the 2010 Pacific 10 Conference track & field championships starting Thursday, May 20. Barry Tompkins and Olympic gold medalist Joanna Hayes will call the action, while color commentary will be provided by Tom Feuer.

Krista Blunk will provide additional commentary from the infield.

In the Pacific Northwest, the meet will be shown on Friday May 21st from 11 am to 1 pm, pacific time on FOX Sports Northwest (Comcast HD channel 627 in Seattle area).

Check the local listings for the airing dates of the championships on your FOX Sports Net regional carrier.

The University of Oregon emerged victorious in both the men's and women's competition, held on May 15th and 16th at Edwards Stadium on the campus of the University of California in Berkeley.

Washington State's Jeshua Anderson won his third straight 400m hurdles title, while teammate Marissa Tschida won the women's javelin, and Washington's Ryan Vu was an upset winner in the men's pole vault.

Attached as a .pdf file is the official broadcast schedule, courtesy FOX Sports Net.

2010 Pac-10 Track & Field Television Schedule

Sunday, May 16, 2010

WSU's Jeshua Anderson three-peats as Pac 10 champ, while UW's Katie Follett falls just short...

BERKELEY, Calif. -- Washington State junior Jeshua Anderson (left/photo by Paul Merca) won his third consecutive conference intermediate hurdles title Sunday afternoon during the final day of the Pacific-10 Conference Track & Field Championships at Edwards Stadium/Goldman Field in Berkeley.

Anderson won the men's 400m hurdles in a season-best, national collegiate-leading and Pac-10 championship meet record time of 48.63 seconds. His time Sunday was just 16/100s of a second off his school-record time of 48.47 run last season, and is currently the eighth fastest time in the world this season. WSU's J Hopkins finished seventh in the same intermediate hurdles final in a time of 52.71.

Anderson, the two-time defending NCAA champion, became the third man to win three Pac-10 400m hurdles titles (since 1976), and only the second to win three consecutive times. UCLA's Kevin Young won the intermediate hurdles in 1986, '87 and '88, while UCLA's Brandon Johnson won the titles in 2004, '05 and 2007. Earlier in the afternoon, Anderson finished third in the 110m high hurdles with a time of 14.07.

After the 400m hurdles final, Anderson said, "It (winning) feels good. It's a blessing. I'm happy to be in a race where you've got great competitors. (Comparing this performance to last year's) This one I wanted it more. My goal time was, you know, anything 48, so I thought I'd try to break the barrier, but just stay relaxed, win the race. And everything came out smoothly. I was focused on my hurdles. My mom told me to have that tunnel vision and focus on my hurdles."

Asked about breaking the Pac-10 meet record, Anderson said, "I'm ecstatic. I thank God for everything. I'm a little tired from yesterday but this is a blessing. My goal time was to break the Pac-10 meet record and I was able to do that today."

Senior Trent Arrivey could not successfully defend his 2009 high jump title, settling for second after clearing a outdoor season-best of 7-feet, 1 1/2 inches (2.17m) on his first attempt. USC's Majula Kumara Wijesekar won the high jump with a leap of 7-2 1/2 (2.20m).

Entering 7-2 1/2, Arrivey seemingly had control of the field, thanks to a first attempt clearance at the previous height, but swirling winds made conditions a bit tricky for the four remaining competitors. Kumara Wijesekar, who left the high jump competition briefly in order to get an attempt in the triple jump, salted the victory with his winning jump at 7-2 1/2, before taking two fair attempts at 7-4 1/2.

Washington's Katie Follett could not overcome the gap established by Oregon's Zoe Buckman over the last 200, and fell 5/100ths of a second short of getting the three-peat in the 1500 meter run, as Buckman survived a late charge over the last 50 meters to win the conference title, 4:15.95 to 4:16.00.

Freshman James Alaka earned a pair of third-place finishes in the 100- and 200-meter dashes for the Huskies. The London native also helped carry the stick around in the 4x100m relay, which placed sixth, giving Alaka a hand in 15 points for the men, as they equaled their best finish in the Pac-10 meet since 2006, placing sixth with 68 points.

WSU freshman Stephan Scott-Ellis was the runner-up in the men's triple jump with a leap of 50-10 1/4 (15.50m), accomplished on his third attempt on the day.

WSU's men's 4x100m relay finished third as the team of Brett Blanshan, Nate Washington, Greg Hornsby and Marlon Murray ran a time of 40.29 seconds. Unfortunately Murray was not able to run in the 100m finals a short time later, so the Cougar men missed valuable points from him after he had finished fifth in the prelims.

Joe Abbott finished third in the men's 800m run with a PR time of 1:48.75 for the Cougs, dropping his previous PR time by 22/100s of a second.

The Washington women's squad finished a disappointing ninth with 47.5 points, ahead of only Oregon State, which did not score at all.

Washington State's men's squad finished seventh with 67 points, while the women earned 52 points, good for eighth place.

Oregon, led by multi-event specialists and world championships competitors Ashton Eaton and Brianne Theisen, rolled over the competition, winning the women's team title with 215 points over second place Arizona's 109, while the men won the conference title by 12.5 points, 168.5 to 156 over runner-up USC.

Washington's release of the Pac 10 Championships can be accessed here, while WSU's recap is available here.

Complete results from the Pac-10 Championships can be accessed here.

DIVISION I ROUNDUP

Eastern Washington University won a trio of titles -- including a school record in the 4x100-meter relay -- as the Eagle women finished a best-ever fourth at the 2010 Big Sky Conference Track and Field Championships in Ogden, Utah.

Brianna Okoro won the women’s 200-meter title and Brad Wall triumphed in the men’s 400 meters with a school record time as 11 more Eagles earned All-Big Sky honors by finishing in the top three in their respective events. Including six on Friday, that brought the total to 17 the number of top-three marks the Eagles had at the meet.

The 4x100 relay team, consisting of Sarah Frey, Okoro, Shene Davis and Whitney Leavitt, finished with a time of 45.31 to edge Portland State (45.99).

On the meet's first day, Luckenbach defended her title with a throw of 190-5, well short of her school record of 199-8 set earlier this season.

The Eagle women scored 102 points, eclipsing its previous high of 79 points set in 1999 when EWU finished sixth. That was EWU’s previous best finish, which has occurred on seven occasions. Sacramento State won the women’s team title with 145 points. Runner-up was Northern Arizona (109) followed by third-place Montana (103).

The Eastern men placed fourth with 93 points, trailing winner Weber State (176.5), runner-up Northern Arizona (171) and third-place Sacramento State (130).

Eastern's release as well as a link to results from the Big Sky Conference championships can be accessed here.

SEATTLE UNIVERSITY FINISHES FOURTH AND SIXTH IN THE GREAT WEST CONFERENCE

In Yankton, South Dakota, Seattle University senior Daniel Sullivan won the 400 meter hurdles with a personal-best time of 53.40 seconds, over a full second ahead of his nearest competitor.
Sophomore Tom Mezzera won the 400 meter dash by just 18/100ths of a second with a school record time of 47.52 seconds.

With both teams picked to finish sixth in the preseason coaches' poll, the Seattle U men's squad exceeded expectations with 67 points for fourth place, while the women's team proved the predictions true with 28 points for sixth place. Preseason favorite Utah Valley easily won both titles, compiling 261.5 points on the men's side and 301 points on the women's side.

Seattle University's release can be accessed here, as well as a link to results from the Great West Conference meet.

NOTE: The University of Washington and Washington State University's sports information offices contributed to this report.

Falcons and Vikings take home GNAC team titles...

MONMOUTH, Oregon--Seattle Pacific sprinter Latasha Essien came from slightly behind out of the blocks to win both the 100 and 200 meters on Saturday, while senior teammate Jessica Pixler joined her as a double-winner, and junior Crystal Sims (left/photo courtesy Seattle Pacific University) seemingly was everywhere doing everything as the Falcons laid claim to the Great Northwest Athletic Conference women’s crown at Western Oregon University‘s McArthur Field.

Seattle Pacific finished with 224 points, beating out Western Washington, which was second with 190. The Falcons’ total was the third-highest in conference history. Western Oregon owns the record of 231½ in 2004. SPU’s top total was 226 in 2002.

The Falcons’ championship was its first since 2007 -- when the current crop of seniors were freshmen.

Essien took the 100 in a meet-record 12.16 seconds, breaking the old mark of 12.26 set in 2005. Her winning 200 time was 25.23.

Pixler cruised to the titles in the 800 and the 1,500, breaking the meet records in both. She won the 800 in 2:06.38 (she had the old mark of 2:10.66 in Friday’s prelims), then won the longer race in 4:24.01, beating teammate Larson’s previous record of 4:29.66.

Sims was named the Female Athlete of the Meet. Sims won the heptathlon title last week. On Saturday, she was second in the 200 meters and in the 100 hurdles, third in the 100 meters, and ran the second leg on SPU’s victorious 4x400 relay. On Friday, she took sixth in the long jump.

Altogether, that accounted for 35 points individual and factored into 10 more for the relay.

Freshman Emily Quatier came through the finish in a career-best 57.23 seconds, fending off Western Washington’s Sarah Brownell (57.77) and defending champion Lindsay Brady of Northwest Nazarene (57.84).

Another freshman, Amanda Alvarez won the triple jump for the Falcons with a jump of 39-1 1/4.

The Falcons, who got a good start in the meet with pole vaulter Melissa Peaslee's win on Friday, put the capper on the GNAC crown by winning the 4 x 400 relay, with Jessica Pixler anchoring in a time of 3:53.78.

WESTERN WASHINGTON WINS MEN'S TITLE

Alex Harrison won the men's javelin with a school and meet record toss of 208-5 (63.52 meters) that met the NCAA Division II automatic national qualifying standard as Western Washington University took its first men's title in five years and just the second crown overall.

Harrison scored 24 of the Vikings' winning point total of 197, placing first in the decathlon on May 3-4 and fifth in the shot put Friday with a personal best of 47-7 3/4 (14.52). Central Washington was second in the eight-school field with 160 points, followed by pre-meet favorite Western Oregon with 155.

Western was second in the women's standings with 163 points, its highest finish at a GNAC meet. Favored Seattle Pacific won its fourth crown with 214 points.

"Our men and women each scored around 24 points more than projected," said Western coach Pee Wee Halsell (23rd year). "They really competed and that was fun to see ... We definitely have the best combined program in the conference."

Besides Harrison, other men's event winners Saturday for the Vikings were Ryan Brown, who cleared a meet record 16-10 3/4 (5.15) in the pole vault to win by nearly 2-1/2 feet, and Michael Hoffman, who broke his own school record in the hammer with a mark of 195-2 (59.50).

Western's Jordan Welling placed second in the 5,000 meters (14:43.02) after being runner-up in the 10,000 (31:36.70) on Friday. Will Davis was second in the triple jump with a season-best 47-1/4 (14.33) as was the 4x100 relay (41.79) made up of Justin Thomsen, Anthony Zackery, Shane Gruger and Alex Tilley , who set a school record of 10.75 in a 100 prelim Friday.

Anthony Tomsich bettered his provisional qualifying time as he placed third in the 1,500 (3:51.01).

Pacing the Viking women was Sarah Porter, who destroyed school and meet records in the 5,000 with a national automatic qualifying time of 16:39.39. She placed third in the 10,000 on Friday.

Also taking events for Western on Saturday were Michelle Howe in the 100 hurdles (14.68) and Amanda Overdick in the high jump (5-3, 1.60).

For Central Washington, freshman Anthony Wright from Lakewood won the men's 100 meters and 200 meters and also led Central Washington to a win in the 4x100 relay Saturday at the GNAC track and field championships at Monmouth, Ore.

Both Wright's 100 meter time of 10.43 and CWU's 4x100 mark of 41.10 were meet and conference records and provisional national qualifying marks, while his 200 time of 21.36 was a meet record.

Complete results from the GNAC Championships can be accessed here.

NOTE: The sports information offices of Seattle Pacific and Western Washington, and the GNAC contributed to this report.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Washington's Ryan Vu takes upset victory in pole vault; Marissa Tschida wins javelin to highlight day 1 at the Pac 10s...

BERKELEY, California--A pole vaulter from the University of Washington scored a victory for the Huskies in the event.

But before readers assume that it was reigning NCAA Indoor champ and defending champion Scott Roth, think again.

For the second week in a row, Ryan Vu (left, in black, with Roth & Pat Licari/photo by Paul Merca) the Interlake HS grad scored a lifetime-best 17-7 3/4 (5.38m) clearance on his third and final attempt to stand atop the podium. The win was a bit of a shock in that Vu upset his own teammate, junior Scott Roth, who was the defending champion. Roth cleared 17-3 3/4 (5.28m) to settle for third-place.

"I'm still really speechless and am completely blown away," said the new Pac-10 champ. "Practice has been going well, but this is beyond what I expected. After I knew I had won the competition and tried to clear the next height, I was full of nerves and adrenaline. Still speechless, though, on winning a Pac-10 title."

Vu joins a distinguished list of Pac-10 pole vault champions to work with assistant coach Pat Licari. Roth, Brad Walker, and Kate Soma all won vault titles within the last 10 years and won NCAA Championships as well.

Washington State's Marissa Tschida (left/photo by Paul Merca) won the women's javelin, rifling the spear a distance of 173-feet, 3 inches (52.80m) on her sixth and final throw of the competition to defeat Washington's Brooke Pighin. Cougar teammates Courtney Kirkwood finished fourth with a toss of 154-6 (47.09m) and Jennifer Hamilton finished eighth with a throw of 145-8 (44.41m)

"I knew coming into the meet there was going to be a really good field. The Pac-10 has some really good throwers, so I knew it was going to be very competitive and I had to keep my head pretty level. My throws were okay; a little bit more up and down than I'd like. I was working toward a little bit more consistency than I got today, but I think overall, did the job, got done, not hurting. Hopefully the next two meets I can get my consistency down, keep it around 52, 53 and come off with more victories."

For the Huskies, junior Brooke Pighin placed second with a toss of 160-feet, 11-inches. Her counterparts in the men's javelin combined to score 11 points, led by junior Kyle Nielsen who was third with a mark of 239-7. Freshman Joe Zimmerman tossed a big PR of 233-5 to take fifth and fellow freshman Jimmy Brookman also had a PR heave of 213-3 to take eighth and tack on another point to the Husky total.

In other finals, UW senior Anita Campbell, who has battled injuries this spring, nearly ran her PR Saturday in the 10000, as she took fourth in 33:44.04.

In the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase, Pac-10 record-holder Mel Lawrence gamely ran to third in 10:20.79. Lawrence could not run for a month earlier this season due to a torn hip flexor.

In the men's hammer, senior Zack Midles fouled his first two attempts and faced the prospect of missing the final but he gathered himself on his third throw and earned a legal mark, then had a top throw of 206-2 on his next attempt that wound up earning him third-place for the third-straight year.

On the track for the Cougs, Sam Ahlbeck finished fifth in the men's 3000m steeplechase with a time of 8:53.87. Caroline Austin ran a PR time in the women's 3000m steeplechase of 11:08.45 for 12th place in the final.

Chelsea VanDeBrake was 20th in the women's 10,000m with a time of 37:27.96. In the men's 10k, Dan Geib finished 12th in a time of 30:01.34 and Justin Englund was 14th with a PR time of 30:15.51.

Stephan Scott-Ellis took seventh place in the men's long jump with a leap of 23-3 1/4 (7.09m). He will compete in the triple jump Sunday. In other men's field event finals, Jake Baertlein cleared 15- 1/4 (4.78m) in the pole vault for 13th place, Joe Bartlett threw the shot put 52-8 (16.05m) for 11th, and Jacob Weintraub threw the shot 52-7 1/4 (16.03m) for 12th.

Freshman Holly Parent took fourth place in the women's high jump after clearing the bar equal to her season-best height of 5-10 3/4 (1.80m). Christine Rice cleared 5-4 1/2 (1.64m) for a tie at 10th. Jasmine Johnson-McKeown tossed the shot put at PR distance of 43-0 1/4 (13.11m) for eighth place. Kjirsten Jensen threw the shot put 38-3 1/4 (11.66m) for 13th). Candace Missouri leaped a season-best long jump distance of 18-10 (5.74m) for 12th.

In the men's 10000, Bellingham's Jake Riley, representing Stanford University, finished third in a time of 29:10.93, while Everett HS grad Jeff Helmer finished ninth after leading early in a time of 29:42.58. Washington's Jake Schmitt, one of the early favorites, dropped out, while Alec Bromka (30:44.14) and Rob Webster Jr (30:54.16) finished 16th & 17th.

The complete media release from the University of Washington can be accessed here, while Washington State's release can be accessed here.

Complete results from the Pac-10 track & field championships can be accessed here.

Look for Twitter updates from the Pac-10 meet on this site, and on twitter.com/paulmerca70601.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Former Husky Ingvill Makestad sets personal best in 1500 at Doha Diamond League meeting...

DOHA, Qatar--Former Washington Husky Ingvill Makestad (left/photo courtesy runingvill.wordpress.com) set a personal best in finishing sixth in the 1500 meter run at the Doha Diamond League meeting in Doha, Qatar at the Qatar Sports Club stadium

Makestad ran 4:06.08 in a very fast race won by 2008 Olympic champion Nancy Langat in a 2010 world-leading time of 4:01.63, as Langat ran down Ethiopia's Gelete Burka (4:02.16) over the last 200.

Makestad's previous personal best was 4:09.62, set last year in Heusden, Belgium, which was short of the A standard needed to compete in last year's IAAF world championships in Berlin.

(The Norwegian national record is 4:00.55 set by Grete Waitz in 1978. In an earlier version of this story, we stated that Makestad's time was a new national record. We regret the error.)

While early, Makestad's time puts her among the top contenders in that event for this summer's European Championships in Barcelona, a meet that she told paulmerca.blogspot.com earlier this season that she was aiming for, going so far as to skip the world indoor championships in Doha.

Rainier Beach HS graduate Ginnie Powell-Crawford was overtaken in the final stages of the 100 meter hurdles by both reigning world indoor champion Lolo Jones (12.63) and Olympic bronze medalist Priscilla Lopes-Schliep (12.67).

In the women's discus, three time US Olympian and former Washington Husky Aretha Thurmond finished fourth with a mark of 204-3 (62.26m). Cuba's Yarelis Barrios won the event with a toss of 212-11 (64.90), with reigning world champ Dani Samuels of Australia second at 212-2 (64.67), and Croatia's Sandra Perkovic third at 204-6 (62.33).

Complete results of the Doha Diamond League meet can be accessed here.

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.

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