SEATTLE--Rainier Beach HS grad Michael Berry (left/photo by Paul Merca) of the University of Oregon cemented his spot in next week's NCAA indoor championships with his decisive win in the 400 at the UW Final Qualifier to close out Washington's home indoor season.
The junior, who owns a relay gold medal from the 2011 IAAF world track & field championships in the 4 x 400, was quick out of the blocks and was slightly behind the Huskies' James Alaka at the break before Alaka ran another 50 meters and dropped out after completing pacing duties.
Berry's final time of 46.03 was a season best and the fourth fastest time in NCAA Division I this season, and a tenth of a second off the Oregon school record he set at last year's NCAA indoor.
The Huskies' Jordan Carlson, running in her final race in the purple & gold, won the women's 400 in a time of 54.47, as she was pressed by USC's Ashley Liverpool (54.47), an NCAA qualifier outdoors last year for Iowa.
In a bit of a surprise, Boise State's Emma Bates, the Mountain West 3000 champ, won the women's 5000 in a potential NCAA qualifying mark of 15:50.78, over Japanese Olympian Yuriko Kobayashi (15:54.18), who is training in Tuscon under Arizona coach James Li, and the Wildcats' Jennifer Bergman (15:55.60), who was third in last week's MPSF race over this distance.
As expected, former American 10000 meter record holder Chris Solinsky of Portland, won the men's 3000 in a time of 8:05.38, as he continues to make a comeback from an injury filled 2012 that forced him to miss the US Olympic Trials.
While Washington's Joey Bywater won the mile in 4:01.81, he fell short of becoming the fifth UW runner to break 4 minutes in the mile, and more importantly, get in a position to go to next week's NCAA championships.
In South Bend, Indiana, Washington State's distance medley relay squad of Todd Wakefield, Jacob Sealby, Jesse Jorgensen, and Drew Jordan finished 22nd in a time of 9:40.20.
The unofficial split times were 2:57 for Wakefield in the 1200m, 47.7 for Sealby in the 400m, 1:48.8 for Jorgensen in the 800m, and 4:05 for Jordan in the 1600m.
In Chico, California, Seattle Pacific redshirt senior Ali Worthen from Coos Bay, Oregon earned an automatic berth for the NCAA Division II championships in the heptathlon, winning the event with a final two-day score of 5243 points, beating the automatic standard of 5200 points.
Worthen was just 54 points off her third place score at last year's NCAA championship meet.
In taking the title at the Chico Multi-Event Classic, she won two more events--the long jump (19-0 1/2, 5.83m), and the javelin (113-5.5/34.59m), and scored a personal best in the 800 of 2:20.78.
In the men's decathlon, the Falcons' Nate Johnson was tenth with a final two day score of 5368 points.
Johnson's downfall was in the pole vault, where he no-heighted, picking up no points for his effort.
NOTE: The sports information offices of the University of Washington, Washington State University, University of Oregon, and Seattle Pacific University contributed to this report.