Wednesday, February 9, 2011

How many runners will break 4 minutes in the mile at the Flotrack Husky Classic?

If there's a story to be told about this weekend's Flotrack Husky Classic, it's a simple one: Come to Seattle to run fast.

Many of America's top collegiate teams will converge upon the Dempsey Indoor Facility for the two-day extravaganza, with the distance races taking center stage.

The biggest question surrounding the Flotrack Husky Classic is whether or not this year's crop of runners in the men's mile will top the 13 men who crossed the line under four minutes in 2010.

In last year's race, ten men broke four minutes in the fast section, and three more dipped under the magical barrier in the B section.

According to the entry lists posted by the University of Washington, 116 men are entered, and 95 women are listed in the mile alone.

American 10000 meter record holder Chris Solinsky and Dempsey facility record holder (3:55.76 set last year) Chris Solinsky (left/photo by Paul Merca) makes his 2011 debut in the same venue where he started his outstanding 2010 season.

NOTE: Just for fun, we've just added a poll on the right side of the blog asking how many runners you think will break 4 minutes Saturday!

In the women's mile, world championships competitor Geena Gall faces Oregon sensation Jordan Hasay, and former NCAA champion Brie Felnagle, now training in Tacoma under her high school coach Matt Ellis.

If you think that those fields are big, try this: 79 women and 77 men in the 800 meters; 86 women and 137 men in the 3000; and 97 women and 103 men in the 5000, that kicks off the meet on Friday night.

In the women's 3000, all eyes will be on 2008 US Olympian Amy Yoder Begley, who is on the comeback after Achilles tendon surgery during the fall. She'll face 2009 Berlin World Championships steeplechaser Bridget Franek, and Canadian Olympian Malindi Elmore.

Washington's Katie Flood, who finished third in last week's USA junior cross country championships in San Diego is also entered, as is teammate Chelsea Orr, who was seventh at nationals, and is tuning up for next week's NACAC cross country championships in Tobago.

The 2009 Foot Locker cross country champion Megan Goethals, one of UW coach Greg Metcalf's prize recruits, makes her indoor debut, though she will be competing unattached.

The men's 3000 may be one of the most intriguing races, as NCAA cross country champ Sam Chelanga of Liberty travels west to Seattle to face the likes of Oklahoma State sensation German Fernandez, Alabama's Emmanuel Bor, Ben Blankenship of Minnesota, Oregon's Matthew Centrowitz, Portland's Trevor Dunbar, along with US Olympian Ian Dobson, and pros Tim Nelson, Kyle Alcorn, and Garrett Heath.

In the men's 400, former Washington Husky Jordan Boase, now based in Portland, returns to the Dempsey to face his old nemisis, Washington State's Jeshua Anderson.

Among field events to watch are the women's pole vault featuring a rematch of last month's UW Indoor Preview in which Stanford's Katerina Stefanidi took the victory over Oregon's Melissa Gergel; the men's pole vault with Washington's Scott Roth facing teammate and Pac-10 champ Ryan Vu, along with former NCAA champ Jason Colwick, and Western Washington's Ryan Brown, the NCAA D2 champ.

The women's high jump could be a great battle between Cal's Kristen Meister, Washington State's Holly Parent and Washington's comebacking Kelly McNamee.

In the men's high jump, look for Washington State's Jovan Vukicevic, who makes his collegiate debut. Vukicevic, from Serbia, has a personal best of 7-5 1/4 (2.27m).

He'll go against former Cal standout Ed Wright, and Oregon State's Obum Gwacham.

In the men's long jump, former Husky Norris Frederick goes against a pair of multi-talented current Huskies, Kasen Covington, and Julian Bardwell, along with UCLA's Nelson Rosario, and Washington State's Stephen Scott-Ellis.

The men's 35-pound weight throw features 2009 Team USA world championship competitor Michael Mai, who had a dominating performance at last month's UW Preview.

As always, entries are fluid and subject to change, depending on scratches, adds, and deletions.

Action gets underway Friday night at 6 pm with the distance medley relays, and resumes Saturday at 8 am.

If you can't get enought track & field, the UW Open meet will be held Sunday at the Dempsey starting at 8 am.

The complete schedule for the Flotrack Husky Classic is available here.

Media partner Flotrack will offer live streaming of the meet on Saturday, with their coverage starting at 2:15 pm pacific time.

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