Thursday, May 5, 2011

Curtain falls for final time on Husky Stadium oval Saturday at Ken Shannon Invitational...

Over the ninety-plus years of track and field action at the Husky Stadium (left/photo courtesy University of Washington) oval, many notable athletes have set foot on the track and made their marks on it.

The list of names read like a who's who of track and field, including Marty Liquori, Jim Ryun, Kenny Moore, Steve Prefontaine, Brian Sternberg, Rick Noji, Lee Evans, Harry Jerome, Greg Foster, Dick Fosbury, Phil Shinnick, Michael Johnson, Carl Lewis, Francie Larrieu, Doris Brown, Pam Spencer, Mike Powell, Joachim Cruz, Henry Rono, and countless others who went on to national and international success at the highest levels of the sport.

The venerable stadium hosted two NCAA championships in 1951 and 1971, the 1972 AAU championships (which pre-dates the USA outdoor championships), and the 1990 Goodwill Games, in which 17 of the stadium's 21 men's track-and-field records and 16 of its 21 women's track-and-field marks were set.

Husky Stadium was also the venue for Henry Rono's scintillating world record of 8:05.4 in the 3000 steeplechase at the 1978 Northwest Relays, the second of four he would set in a 78-day span.

The final track and field meet contested at Husky Stadium occurs Saturday as the Huskies host the Ken Shannon Invitational (the Seattle Pacific press release calls the meet the Ken Foreman/Ken Shannon Invitational, but according to UW sources, it is the Ken Shannon Invitational) starting at 9 am with the women's javelin.

Unlike the wildly successful meets the Huskies produce during the indoor season at the nearby Dempsey Indoor, Saturday's meet will strictly be local in nature, with many of the local schools and clubs providing the competition, including Seattle University, Seattle Pacific, Eastern, Central & Western Washington, Gonzaga and Simon Fraser.

Washington will rest most of its front-line athletes in preparation for next week's Pac-10 championships in Tuscon.

Husky All-American seniors Kyle Nielsen and Scott Roth are both headlining the field events. Nielsen currently ranks seventh in the West in the javelin and Roth is the NCAA and U.S. leader in the pole vault.

Former Huskies Katie Follett (800m) and Falesha Ankton (100h) will step onto the Husky track for the final time, as they will compete for Bothell-based Brooks.

The complete schedule is available here; the start lists are available here.

Meanwhile, the Pac-10 track & field championships officially get underway Friday and Saturday in Tuscon with the two-day multi-event competition at Drachman Stadium on the campus of the University of Arizona.

Junior Jeremy Taiwo will be among the favorites for the conference decathlon crown, as he was the runner-up in 2010. Also competing is senior Andrew Ferleman, who was fourth indoors at the MPSF Championships in the heptathlon. In the women's heptathlon, sophomore Sarah Schireman and freshman Shelby Williams will look to break into the top-eight and score some early points for the Dawgs. Schireman was ninth in the heptathlon at the 2010 Pac-10 Multis.

For Washington State, they will be represented by Sean Harris in the decathlon, and Angela Jensen and Shaquana Logan in the heptathlon.

Jensen was sixth in this meet last year, scoring a PR of 5017 points in Berkeley. Harris was 11th in 2009 before redshirting last year with a back injury. Harris earned a personal best of 6641 at last month's Jim Click Shootout in Tuscon. Logan is making her multi-event debut at the Pac-10s.

Action starts Friday at 4 pm, and resumes Saturday at 3 pm.

The big news entering the Pac-10 multi event competition is the announcement from the University of Oregon that Brianne Theisen, the two-time NCAA heptathlon champion, has withdrawn from the meet due to a sore back that's hampered her since the NCAA indoor championships in March.

"Brianne's back troubles have been an on-going issue and she is such a high-caliber athlete that we did not want to jeopardize her long term future," said Oregon head coach Vin Lananna. "This difficult decision was a collaboration between Brianne, our coaches and our medical staff, and one that had to be made in Brianne's best interest."

Theisen, who graduates this spring, does have the option of taking a redshirt season outdoors and returning in 2012, and also has one season of eligibility remaining indoors.

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