Sunday, May 15, 2011

Anderson gets Pac-10 title number four; the Flash Man, Layman, Scott-Ellis & WSU 4x1 bring it...

TUSCON--To quote the famous American philosopher Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, it was time to "Bring It" at the Pacific 10 track and field championships at Drachman Stadium on the campus of the University of Arizona.

Jeshua Anderson (left/photo by Randy Miyazaki/trackandfieldphoto.com), James Alaka, Anna Layman, Stephan Scott-Ellis, Michael Berry, and the Washington State men's 4 x 100 meter relay brought it Saturday night as one of the best championships in recent memory concluded.

Anderson won the 400 meter hurdles in a new meet, WSU school, and stadium record time of 48.13, and joined Steve Prefontaine of Oregon, Rick Brown of California, Randy Williams of USC, Scott Neilson of Washington, Balazs Kiss of USC, Jerome Davis of USC, and Aaron Aguayo of Arizona State as the only men to win four individual conference titles in the same event during their career at their schools.

Anderson was pressed early by USC's Reggie Wyatt and Stanford's Amaechi Morton on the backstretch before taking command late, crossing the line in a current US best time of 48.13, the second fastest performer in the world this season, and the fourth fastest time in the world, behind three marks by South Africa's LJ van Zyl.

In the big picture, Anderson now is in a major position to challenge for one of the spots on this summer's world championship team that goes to Daegu.

However, he must get past the NCAA first round and championship meets before he exercises any thoughts of wearing that USA uniform.

After the 400m hurdles win, Anderson told the media, "It feels good. I'm glad I was able to break my personal record which is two years old. I'm happy with my time and I know that I can keep running and keep getting faster."

YOU CAN'T GET A GOOD PHOTO WITHOUT FLASH...

Washington's James Alaka (left/photo by Randy Miyazaki/trackandfieldphoto.com) became the first man in Washington history to score the 100/200 sprint double since Olympic relay pool member Ja'Warren Hooker turned the trick in 2000.

Alaka claimed his first title in the 100-meters, as he accelerated through the middle of the track and leaned across the line for the win in 10.29 seconds, edging Arizona State's Ryan Milus who was second in 10.34.

An hour after the 100m final. Alaka, competing despite a cold, was in the middle of the pack coming off the curve, but hit top speed down the homestretch and just caught up to USC's Joey Hughes, the 400-meter champion, passing him at the line to win in a time of 20.85 compared to Hughes' time of 20.87.

The Flash Man walked away from Drachman Stadium as the athlete of the meet for scoring the most points for their team.

Washington State's Anna Layman won the women's 800m run in a lifetime-best time of 2-minutes, 3.48 seconds, grabbing the win by out-leaning Arizona senior Christina Rodgers (2:03.52) at the line.

"From the gun I was committed to staying with Christina Rodgers for the first 700 meters and take my chances of passing her with 100m meters to go," Layman said. "All year long I knew this was how it was going to go because she is a tough runner and I knew she was going to take it out fast. So if I could just be mentally tough and go with, I would have a chance."

The Cougar men's 4x100m relay team of Greg Hornsby, Nate Washington, Brett Blanshan and Marlon Murray won the conference title with a time of 39.48 seconds, the second-best time in WSU history, beating Arizona State (39.51) and their cross state rivals, Washington (39.62).

Murray, speaking to the media in Tucson after the relay race said, "This feels really good. We came out, executed and did exactly what our coaches told us. We knew our handoffs had to be prefect and we had to run well. We are not done. We are looking forward to regionals and a national championship. I have to thank my teammates who put me in a position to win. Last year we were down with a couple injuries but we came back, had a great race, and now we have to move forward."

Stephan Scott-Ellis, a sophomore from Tacoma, won the triple jump with a PR leap of 52-feet, 2 inches (15.90m), the 10th-best triple jump in school records. Scott-Ellis, who finished fifth in the long jump Friday with a PR distance, only had two measured triple jumps Saturday, with the winning effort coming on his fourth round try.

Oregon's Michael Berry, a freshman from the University of Oregon from Seattle's Rainier Beach HS, made a strong charge down the final straightaway to win the men's 400 in a time of 44.91

Washington's Scott Roth, one of the favorites in the men's pole vault, finished fourth, as tricky wind conditions played havoc with the field.

Windy conditions prompted Roth to use a short approach, and he cleared his first height with ease, but trouble came up at 16-9 ½, where Roth needed a third attempt to get up and over. Only three other vaulters made that height, but Roth was unable to clear the next bar at 17-1 ½ despite moving back to a full run-up. He had to settle for fourth-place.

The Huskies' Megan Goethals, impatient with the way the field decided to run slow, finished second in the 5000 meter run, taking out the pace, and building up close to a ten-second lead.

A pack of three runners finally tracked her down with four laps to go, but Goethals hung with them rather than fading. On the final lap, she had enough left in the tank for a big finishing kick, as she tried to chase down multiple NCAA Champ Jordan Hasay of Oregon. For a second it looked like Goethals just might pull it off, but Hasay was able to hold on for the win in 16:24.10 with Goethals in second in 16:25.13.

In the final men's team scoring, Oregon repeated as men's team champs with 129, followed by host Arizona at 111 and a three-way tie for third at 99 between USC, UCLA & Arizona State at 99. The Cougars were seventh at 85, and the Huskies were eighth at 81 points.

Oregon won the women's team title at 154.5 points to Arizona's 150. The Cougars were seventh at 49, and the Huskies a disappointing ninth at 37 points.

Complete results from the Pac-10 track and field championships are available here.

NOTE: The University of Washington, Washington State University, the University of Arizona, and the Pac-10 Conference contributed to this report.

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