Saturday, February 26, 2011

Freshman Megan Goethals surprises MPSF championship field by winning 3000m run...

SEATTLE--If there was an athlete who'd receive the award for the most unexpected win in a conference championship meet, that award would go to Megan Goethals (#2, left/photo by Paul Merca).

While she had the pedigree of being the national high school cross country runner of the year in 2009, and won the Foot Locker national cross country title as a senior out of Rochester, Michigan, the University of Washington freshman wasn't expected to be a factor for the Huskies during the indoor season, especially when she was shut down by the coaching staff about halfway through the cross country season due to health problems.

After an impressive outing at the Flotrack Husky Classic two weeks ago, Washington coach Greg Metcalf made the decision to line her up at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championships at the Dempsey Indoor Facility Saturday, and the freshman took advantage of the opportunity to give the Huskies its only individual win of the meet, taking home the gold in the 3000 meter run.

Goethals was always near the front of the pack, with Stanford's Stephanie Marcy of Sequim and teammate Jessica Tonn doing the bulk of the front running until the last two laps, when Arizona's Hannah Moen tried to make a break for home.

It appeared as if Moen had broken away from the leaders, but Goethals stayed patient, and ran down the Arizona junior in the last 50 meters, winning 9:18.28 to 9:18.53.

Tonn finished third in 9:19.77, while Marcy was fourth in 9:19.96, and the Huskies' Katie Flood was fifth in 9:20.32.

While Goethals' winning time was marginally slower than the 9:18.09 personal best she set two weeks ago, her win provided a psychological boost to the entire Husky women's distance program, as numerous teammates stood in the alley way beyond the finish line to offer congratulatory hugs to the winner.

The Oregon Ducks won the women's championship meet, scoring 138 points to defeat second place Arizona by 10 points.

The Huskies finished fifth with 62.5 points, while Washington State was ninth with 16 points.

Stanford won the men's team title with a score of 107.5 points, with Arizona again finishing second with 102 points.

Washington State finished seventh with 63 points, while the Huskies were eighth at 57 points.

Besides Goethals' victory, the other top three finishes for the Huskies came from Joey Bywater, who earned a third place finish in the mile in 4:02.84; Taylor Nichols in the triple jump, who finished second with a jump of 40-7.5 (12.38m); and Kelly McNamee in the high jump, where she tied for third at 5-8.5 (1.74m).

Courtesy of the University of Washington, here is video of UW coach Greg Metcalf's thoughts on the MPSF meet.

For Washington State, top three finishes came from Greg Hornsby, who finished third in the 60 meter dash in 6.84; Bowerman Award candidate Jeshua Anderson was second in the 400 meters, running 47.13; Joe Abbott was second in the 800, running 1:50.86; and Stephan Scott-Ellis finished third in the triple jump with a leap of 50-10.25 (15.50m).

The Cougars' 4 x 400 meter relay team also cracked the top three, finishing second in 3:10.80, as Anderson couldn't quite catch Oregon anchor Michael Berry, the Rainier Beach HS grad.

Perhaps the best individual performance of the meet came in the women's high jump, as Arizona's Brigetta Barrett cleared an NCAA-leading mark of 6-3.5 (1.92m), a mark which ranks her in the top 15 in the world this season.

For many of the NCAA Division I schools, there will be several last chance qualifying meets for teams and individuals to compete in around the country, including one hosted by the University of Washington next Saturday.

Complete results of the MPSF Championships are available here.

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