Thursday, February 16, 2012

Coos Bay native Ali Worthen of Seattle Pacific aiming for 100 career points at GNAC indoor championships...

Western Washington, Central Washington, St Martin's, and Seattle Pacific's track and field teams head out to Nampa, Idaho for the two-day Great Northwest Athletic Conference indoor championships at Jackson's Track, which will host the NCAA Division I championships in a few weeks.

On the women's side, Seattle Pacific looks to have the inside track to winning its ninth straight GNAC indoor title, led by its do-it-all athlete, senior Ali Worthen (left/photo courtesy Seattle Pacific University), who is one of the meet's most compelling stories.

Worthen, who won long jump and high jump titles in both 2009 and 2011, has scored 72 career points in three previous meets and is just four points shy of the GNAC record of 76 held by SPU long-distance legend Jessica Pixler.

As this story via the Seattle Pacific sports information department notes, Worthen, who hails from the same high school (Marshfield/Coos Bay, OR) as the great Steve Prefontaine, could potentially become the first in GNAC history to score 100 career points in the GNAC indoor championships.

She needs 14 points to beat out another legendary SPU multi-eventer, Chris Randolph as the GNAC's most prolific indoor scorer ever, male or female. And, 28 points would put Worthen at the milestone of 100.

Worthen is entered in the high jump, long jump, triple jump, 60-meter hurdles, and 200 meters this weekend.

Worthen is one of three previous champions back for the Falcon women. Katy Gross won the pentathlon title last year and is the top seed in the event, while Brittany Aanstad was the 2010 high jump champion.

In all the Falcons have the top-seeded athlete in four individual events including Gross, Worthen (60 hurdles), Kishia Mitchell (60) and Heidi Laabs-Johnson (5000).

Worthen, Gross and Central Washington's Katharine Lotze in the triple jump are the only defending champions in the women's division.

Emily Warman of Western Washington won the 2010 long jump title and is the No. 1 seed. She will also compete in the triple jump, an event in which she was the indoor national champion in 2009.

Eleanor Siler of Western Washington is the top seed in the 400 and also will compete in the 200, two events in which she swept in 2010. She's going for her third 400 title also winning it in 2009.

In all the Vikings have four top seeds including Brittany Grandy in the high jump and Karis Anderson in the pole vault to match Seattle Pacific's women in that category.

On the men's side, Western Washington and Central Washington are seen as legitimate threats to win the GNAC title, with Western Oregon entering the meet as slight favorites.

Central Washington has three past champions, but just one - Brandon Roddewig in the high jump - from last season. And he's not competing in that event this year.

Brennan Boyes was the 2010 high jump champion and is the top seed, while Bryan Mack was the 2009 60 champion and comes in as the No. 1 seed. Manny Melo in the long jump is also a top seed for the Wildcats.

Alex Tilley of Western Washington is the only other defending champion as he returns as the No. 4 seed in the 60. WWU pole vaulter Cal Rosenberg is the Vikings' lone No. 1 seed.

Seattle Pacific returns two defending champions though it likely doesn't have the depth to challenge the top four.

Nate Seely looks to win his third straight title over 800 meters, while Nate Johnson is the reigning GNAC heptathlon champion.

Saint Martin's will be led by Sam Washington, who is seeded first in the 35-pound weight throw and is second in the shot put. SMU's last conference champ was John Riak in 2009 in the 5000.

The meet gets under Friday morning with the opening events of the men's heptathlon and women's pentathlon.

Finals are also scheduled Friday in the women's weight throw, long jump and pole vault and the men's high jump, long jump and shot put. Both distance medley relays will also be contested Friday along with prelims in the 60 and 60 hurdles.

The heat sheets for the GNAC championships are available here.  The meet program is available here.

NOTE:  Seattle Pacific University and the GNAC contributed to this report.

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