Tuesday, April 30, 2013

National D2 heptathlon leader Ali Worthen wins third GNAC conference title...

MONMOUTH, Oregon--Ali Worthen of Seattle Pacific (above/photo courtesy Seattle Pacific) broke her own meet record in winning the Great Northwest Athletic Conference heptathlon title Tuesday at McArthur Stadium with a total of 5,390 points.

It was the third straight heptathlon title for Worthen who scored 4,904 points in winning the 2011 event and 5,199 in winning the 2012 heptathlon.  Worthen, a graduate of Coos Bay, Oregon's Marshfield HS,  is the current national leader with a season-best score of 5,492 points.  

Alaska Anchorage freshman Karolin Anders was second with 5,034, and SPU senior won the javelin in piling up a career-high 4,992 points to take third.

Worthen, Anders and Gross now rank 1-4-5 in NCAA Division II. Worthen has the national-leading score of 5,492 from the MONDO Mid-Major Challenge in Sacramento three weeks ago. While her score from the past two days didn't quite match that, it was hardly cause for concern.

“I feel pretty good about it,” Worthen said. “I came into the meet just trying to have a strong performance, but not really trying to push it. I feel like I improved on the shot put and the 800 from Sacramento State (those were her two PRs), and that's really what I wanted to focus on the past couple weeks. Every time I'm running the 800, I'm running it a little bit better.”

Worthen started with a long jump victory on Tuesday, going 18 feet, 6 ½ (5.65m). Her other win came in the meet-opening 100-meter hurdles on Monday. Worthen's time of 14.17 was just .01 shy of the 14.16 PR she set in Sacramento.

Worthen also won the final event, the 800, running 2:17.77.

Central Washington's Tayler Fettig finished fifth with 4436 points, followed by Maliea Luquin of Seattle Pacific at 4324 points in sixth.

Emily Strasler of Western Washington was seventh at 4017 points.  Hannah Scholter of Saint Martin's finished 12th at 3573, and Julian Joy of Central Washington was 13th at 3246.

Cody Thomas won the decathlon with a final score of 6392 points.  Andrew Venema from Central Washington was third at 5876, while Dylan Gordon of Western Washington was sixth at 4314 points.

NOTE: The sports information office of Seattle Pacific and the GNAC office contributed to this report.

SPU's Ali Worthen leads at the break of GNAC heptathlon...

MONMOUTH, Oregon--After four events, Seattle Pacific's Ali Worthen (above/photo courtesy GNAC), the current NCAA Division II leader this season in the heptathlon, currently leads the competition after Monday's first day of the GNAC multi-event championship.

Worthen, a redshirt senior from Coos Bay, Oregon,  set a heptathlon meet record in the 100 hurdles and also bettered the old meet record in the 200 in scoring 3,224 points in the first four events of the seven-event competition.

She ran the hurdles race in a time of 14.17 breaking her own meet record of 14.30.  Her time of 25.09 in the 200 bettered the old standard of 25.39 though Alaska Anchorage's Grace Morgan, who ended the day in 10th place with 2,235 points, claimed the new record with a time of 24.78.

Worthen leads UAA's Karolin Anders of Alaska Anchorage by 232 points.  Anders netted 2,992, 20 better than SPU's Katy Gross,  Anders had the best mark in the shot put (37-8 3/4, 11.50m).  Tayler Fettig of Central Washington had the best high jump mark, setting a meet record (5-7 1/4, 1.72m) and is fifth with 2,851 points.

SPU's Maliea Luquin stands 6th at 2646 points, while Western Washington's Emily Stralser is 8th at 2377 points.

In the decathlon, Cody Thomas leads after the first day with 3555, 370 points better than Andrew Venema of Central Washington, who is in a tight battle with Eric Gaines, as Gaines is only two points behind at the break.

Michael Holland of Saint Martin's is fourth with 2795, and Dylan Gordon of Western Washington stands sixth at the break with 2503.  Seattle Pacific's Nate Johnson was forced to withdraw after popping his hamstring in the 100 meters, the decathlon's opening event.

In tracksuperfan.com's first annual All-Dual meet team, Washington's Mel Lawrence and Megan Goethals, along with Washington State's Caroline Austin were selected to the squad based on their excellence, versatility and/or ability to double (or triple or quadruple) at a high level.

The athletes named to the squad are available here.

tracksuperfan.com will release its final dual-meet rankings for both men and women shortly.

Finally, the USTFCCCA released its national Division I computer rankings, and Washington's women's team has dropped slightly to # 22 from #19 last week.

Texas A&M is the country's #1 team, followed by Kansas and Florida.  Arizona is the top Pac-12 team at #5.

On the men's side, Florida, Texas A&M, and Florida State are the country's top three teams, with Oregon the top team from the Pac-12 at #5. 

NOTE:  The GNAC, USTFCCCA, and tracksuperfan.com contributed to this report.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Case number one on why dual meets are important in college track and field...

There were no rabbits in the distance races.

There wasn't an attempt at a sub-4 minute mile (then again, they ran the 1500).

There almost was an 18-foot vault by the Huskies' Jax Thoirs.

There were no mentions in either school's recap about how many athletes they qualified for the conference championships, or for that matter, automatic and provisional qualifiers, which unfortunately is the standard operating procedure in what seems like every track & field release put out by NCAA Division II and III schools (then again in the Pac-12, there is no real qualifying mark but there is a total limit on how many athletes you can bring, and in NCAA Division I, there's the West & East Regional meet that decides who goes to nationals).

There was a winning team.

There was a losing team.

Get this--the meet got coverage from the state's biggest newspaper, the Seattle Times, and even a photo spread on its web site!

And there were a lot of young men and women wearing either purple and gold singlets or crimson and grey scraping, scratching and clawing for points for their schools.

More than hitting qualifying standards, Saturday's Washington/Washington State dual meet was about having your teammates' backs.

Ask Ruby Roberts of Washington State and Howard Lao of Washington.

Ask Shawna Fermin.  Ask Danny Shelton.

The junior from Kingston, Washington was in a best case scenario, good for a third place finish in most of the pre-meet projections in the 1500 meter race against the vaunted Husky distance crew that included Megan Goethals, the new school record holder in the 5000 and 10000, and Christine Babcock, who qualified for the US Olympic Trials and held the national high school record in the 1500 at one time.

Roberts held her own and beat Goethals in the last few steps to win the race in a time of 4:20.18, 2/10ths of a second ahead of Goethals, last year's NCAA 5000 meter runner-up.

In the men's 110 hurdles, which was projected as an 8-1 win for the Huskies, Lao took advantage of a misstep over the last few barriers by WSU's Ramsey Hopkins, who placed third in last year's conference meet, to get third and the extra point to make it 9-0 Washington, behind teammates Chris Williams and Shayne Moore.

Like a punt return run back for a touchdown, or an alley oop for a dunk at a crucial point in the game, both of those races swung the momentum of the meet, and set up fantastic finishes.

Near the conclusion of the men's 3000, shot putter Danny Shelton, who had just survived several weeks of spring football for the Huskies, and led the event for the first five stanzas, suddenly found himself in second place after WSU's John Fullington took the lead in the sixth round with a toss of 50-8 3/4 (15.46m), responded with a big toss of 53-1 1/2 (16.19m) to get the win.

With Tyler King and Aaron Nelson's 2-3 finish in the 3000 behind the Cougars' Todd Wakefield happening about the same time as Shelton's shot put heroics, those events slammed the door on the Cougars' chances of leaving Seattle with another win in this meet.

In the winner-take-all 4 x 400 meter relay, Fermin, one of the conference's best 400 meter runners, calmly made up ground on UW anchor Gianna Woodruff to lead the Cougs to a 3:42.99 to 3:44.98 victory, an event they were expected to win.

However, Shawna Fermin's heroics in the final event would not have been possible without Roberts' win in the 1500.  

Years from now, very few people will remember how fast these young men and women ran, jumped or threw.  I have no idea how many can rattle off the final score of the dual meet (it was the UW men winning 92-71, and the WSU women winning 86-77). But people will remember the excitement in the stands, and the start of a new tradition of Husky winners running up the home straight and high-fiving the crowd, something that you never saw at Husky Stadium.

Granted, the meet was made even more special by the fact that this was the first meet on the Huskies' new purple track and that the school tied the annual dual against the Cougars to a huge track alumni event that included a Friday night dinner, and yes, a beer garden near the finish line for the alums!

Now, I've never attended USC/UCLA, Harvard/Yale, Cal/Stanford, or any of the other big rivalry meets, but meets like this will help make college track and field more relevant to the average Joe that most likely has no clue about personal bests, automatic or provisional qualifying, or any of the mumbo jumbo that makes the sport so damn hard to follow unless you're intimately involved with it.

Did your team win or did your team lose?  That's what casual fans can relate to.

It would be awesome if some of the other schools in this state made dual meets part of their schedule--can you imagine SeattleU vs Eastern Washington, Eastern Washington vs Gonzaga (if the school ever made the commitment to be more than a distance running program), Western Washington vs Seattle Pacific or Western vs Central?

I'd love to see Washington State fire up their alums for this meet next year the way Washington got their alums jacked.  Hell, I'd love to see the UW alums and parents set up a tailgate party before the meet next year across the street from Mooberry Track.  The moment any of those things happen, I think you'll see this dual meet taken to a new level!

I will guarantee you this--having a dual meet will galvanize your alumni and fan base a lot more than competing in a whole season's worth of invitational meets!

NOTE:  Photo of Washington's Matt Anthony acknowledging the crowd courtesy University of Washington.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Washington alum Katie Mackey gets world championship B standard in the 5000 at Payton Jordan...

PALO ALTO, California--University of Washington alum Katie Mackey (left/photo by Paul Merca) finished second in the 5000 meter run at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational Sunday night at Cobb Track & Angell Field on the campus of Stanford University.

Mackey, running for the Seattle based Brooks Beasts, ran 15:23.65 to finish behind 2012 US Olympian Kim Conley, who posted a winning time of 15:22.07,

Tacoma's Brie Felnagle finished seventh in a time of 15:29.14.

Another former Husky, Colton Tully-Doyle, who also competes for the Brooks Beasts, finished fourth in his heat of the men's 1500 in 3:49.49.

Club Northwest's Levi Keller won the men's pole vault with a jump of 17-4.5 (5.30m).

In the men's 800, Washington State alum Joe Abbott finished third in a time of 1:47.43.

In section 2 of the men's 5000, former Western Washington standout Jordan Welling was 11th in 13:50.91.

Eastern Washington alum Mattie Suver, who competed at last month's IAAF world cross country championships for Team USA, finished 13th in the women's 10000 in a time of 32:29.14, while Western Washington alum Sarah Crouch, a former NCAA Division II champ at 10000, finished 20th in 34:21.97 late Sunday night.

Bellingham native Jake Riley was 26th in the invitational section of the men's 10000 in 29:06.29.

One set of results we missed over the weekend was the UCSD Triton Invitational in La Jolla, California hosted by UC San Diego.

Four-time US Olympian and Husky hall of famer Aretha Thurmond won the invitational discus competition with a mark of 202-3 (61.65m).

Estonian Olympian and one-time Husky Märt Israel finished fourth in Thursday's elite invitational discus with a mark of 205-9 (62.71m), and third in Saturday's competition with a throw of 206-0 (62.80m).

In the same Saturday competition, Marysville-Pilchuck HS alum and Olympian Jarred Rome finished fourth with a best of 205-3 (62.56m).

WEEKEND RECAP: Yes, there were other meets involving Washington athletes this weekend!

To say that it was a busy weekend for yours truly, with the activities surrounding Husky Track & Field Alumni weekend, and the UW/WSU dual meet Saturday, is a gross understatement.

I neglected to give folks a preview of all of the other meets involving Washington athletes around the country.

Incidentally, the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational, which is basically a distance-centered meet, happens Sunday--we will have a recap later in the day or on Monday.

In lieu of that, here's the rundown on what else happened this weekend:


In Philadelphia, Washington State alum Jeshua Anderson (left/photo by Kirby Lee, Image of Sport) ran a 45.9 third leg on the USA Blue team that finished fourth in the USA vs the World 4 x 400 meter relay.

In that event, the USA Red team of Torrin Lawrence, Manteo Mitchell, Bershawn Jackson, and Tony McQuay won in a time of 3:00.91.

In the distance medley, Bernard Lagat's USA Blue team finished fourth in a time of 9:19.33, as Ethiopia (9:16.34), Kenya (9:17.03), and USA Red (9:18.21) took the top three places.

Lagat had the third fastest 1600 meter split of the day, running 3:54.8 on his anchor leg.

In the collegiate 4 x 800m relay, Princeton, with Bellevue HS grad Michael Williams, finished fifth with a time of 7:21.62, as he ran a 1:51.05 opening leg.  Penn State won with a time of 7:14.14.

In the women's 4 x 1500 relay, Oregon, with Bellingham's Becca Friday on the anchor, finished second behind Michigan.  Friday ran a 4:20.3 on her leg.

Rainier Beach HS grad Michael Berry ran a 45.3 split on Oregon's distance medley relay that finished third in 9:26.80 behind Penn State (9:24.68) and Villanova (9:24.68).  He also ran a 45.9 split in the 4 x 400 relay, as the Ducks ran 3:06.24 to finish fourth.

Results from the Penn Relays are available via pennrelaysonline.com.


In Des Moines, Iowa, UW alum Brad Walker finished second in the London Games Pole Vault Rematch, as he cleared 18-4 1/2 (5.60m) to finish behind Bjorn Otto of Germany, the winner of Wednesday's Pole Vault in the Mall.

Otto's winning height was 18-8 1/4 (5.70m), while Olympic champ Renaud Lavillenie finished in a tie for third at 18-0 1/2 (5.50m).

Rainier Beach HS grad Ginnie Crawford finished seventh in the 100 hurdles in a time of 12.94, as Queen Harrison won in 12.71.


In Spokane, Eastern Washington's Cora Kellerman (left/photo courtesy Eastern Washington University) fired off a toss of 170-0 (51.81m) to win the women's javelin, a mark that's second all time in school history, Her mark also currently ranks tenth in the nation and seventh in the Division I West Region at the moment.

Equally impressive was the throw by teammate Michelle Coombs in second with a mark of 164-9 (50.21m).

Gonzaga's Lindsey Drake raced to a school record in the 1500, winning in a time of 4:24.33.


Seattle University's Shaddye Melu set one of two school records at Friday's Oregon State High Performance meet in Corvallis, winning the men's high jump with a leap of 6-8 3.4 (2.05m).

The Redhawk's Collin Overbay lowered his own SR in the 1500, as he finished third in a time of 3:50.33.


Friday, US Olympian Donn Cabral, who resides in Bellingham, won the 3000 steeplechase at the Western Washington Twilight meet at Civic Stadium, as the Princeton alum cruised to a 8:51.86 solo mark, crushing the meet record by more than 20 seconds.

The Vikings' Bethany Drake earned a NCAA Division II auto qualifying mark in the javelin, throwing 157-4 (47.96m).

NOTE:  The sports information offices of Gonzaga University, Eastern Washington, Western Washington, and Seattle University contributed to this report.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Cougars and Huskies split the annual dual meet in debut of Husky Track...

SEATTLE--As expected, the University of Washington and Washington split in the annual dual meet to open the new Husky Track next to the soccer stadium on the northeast end of the campus.

What no one expected was that it was the Washington State women that took the victory and that the Washington men would win decisively.

The Washington State women prevailed over the Huskies 86-77, while the Husky men took the victory over their cross state rivals 91-72.

For Washington State, Shawna Fermin (left/photo courtesy Washington State University) played a major role, anchoring the Cougs to the win in the 4 x 100 relay, as the team of Cindy Robinson, Dominique Keel, Christiana Ekelem, and Fermin ran 45.45 to the Huskies' 46.36, an event on our dope sheet we projected Washington to win.

As expected, Fermin led a 1-2-3 Cougar sweep of the 400, as she ran 55.01, with Bree Winfrey second at 55.79, and 57.19 for Briauna Watley in third.

With 18 of 19 events scored and the score 81-77 in favor of the Cougs, the meet came down to a winner-take-all 4 x 400 meter relay, and the chance for the Huskies to christen the new track and allow the numerous Washington track and field alums who came from all over the country to see the Dawgs sweep both meets, as moments before the women's 4 x 4, the Husky men clinched the team victory with Tyler King and Aaron Nelson's 2-3 finish in the 3000, an event the Cougars were expected to sweep.

In the 4 x 4, 400 hurdles winner Kayla Stueckle of Washington and Bree Winfrey  were slightly even as they made the first exchange.

800 meter winner Baylee Mires then opened up a lead on the second leg for Washington over Christiana Ekelem of the Cougs, while Krista Armstead of Washington maintained the lead in her leg against WSU's Dominique Keel.

In the final leg, it appeared that Husky anchor Gianna Woodruff, who earlier finished second to Stueckle in the 400 hurdles, had enough of a lead to possibly hold off Fermin, but Fermin, who was second in last year's Pac-12 meet at 400 meters, made a charge entering the top of the final turn, and extended her lead over the final straightway, to lead the Cougars to a 3:42.99 to 3:44.98 win.

"I'm very proud of the Cougar women and a great competitive effort today," Cougar Head Coach Rick Sloan said. "They kept their focus and closed the deal. The Huskies did a nice job of competing but I was proud of the way our women responded to the challenge. We thought the women's team win would go down to the 4x4 race and we were right. Shawna did a great job being very competitive and mature throughout the whole meet."

If there was a duo that Sloan needed to thank to get the Cougs in a position to steal the win, it was distance runners Ruby Roberts, and Caroline Austin.

In what was probably one of the biggest momentum switches of the meet, Roberts, the junior from Kingston, ran a tactically smart race and stole the race from Megan Goethals in the 1500, running 4:20.18 to Goethals' 4:20.38, with the Dawgs' Maddie Meyers fourth in 4:32.57 in an event the Huskies were expected to sweep.

Austin and Zalud did what they were supposed to do in their races against the Huskies' strength, and that was to split their first two scorers.  In the opening running event of the meet, Austin ran 10:09.55 for second behind meet record holder Mel Lawrence's 10:08.52, just off the meet record time of 10:07.52 set in 2009.

In the men's competition, the Dawgs needed to get off to a good start early, and they got the job done in the meet's opening event, the men's hammer, as Robert Henderson won the men's hammer throw with a toss of 175-1 (53.36m), then Aaron Nelson won the steeple over defending champ Andrew Gonzales of WSU, 9:02.48 to 9:02.53.

Three events were turning points for the Dawgs--the 110 hurdles, shot put, and 800.

Freshman Chris Williams (above on right/photo courtesy University of Washington) won the race in 14.36, followed by teammate Shayne Moore in 14.52.

What no one expected was that Howard Lao snuck ahead of the Cougars' Ramsey Hopkins, a Pac-12 scorer last year to take third in 14.63 to Hopkins' 14.72 to complete the Husky sweep.

In the shot put, contested in the anonymity of the east end of Husky Track while the running events were going on, the Cougar faithful erupted when John Fullington passed sophomore Danny Shelton on his final throw to take the lead with a toss of 50-8 3/4 (15.46m). But UW's two-sport star responded to the pressure on his ensuing sixth and final throw, surpassing Fullington's mark by more than two feet to win at 53-1 ½ (16.19m), and share some leaping chest bumps with his teammates.

In the 800, Derrick Daigre, who UW coach Greg Metcalf intended to redshirt this season, changed Metcalf's mind after a strong second place finish at last week's Oregon Relays, finishing behind US Olympian Andrew Wheating.

Daigre, who no one outside of the team thought would be a factor, came up big as he made a late break for home with about 150 meters to go, and held off pre-meet favorite Jesse Jorgensen to take the win in 1:50.14. to 1:50.16.

One of the most impressive individual performance on the men's side came from Jax Thoirs in the pole vault as he cleared a personal best 17-7 1/4 (5.37m).

Washington State was expected to sweep the penultimate running event, the men's 3000, but didn't get the job done, as the Huskies' Tyler King  (8:15.97) and Aaron Nelson (8:17.47) went 2-3 behind the Cougs' Todd Wakefield (8:14.79).

Wakefield was a double winner for the Cougs, as the Australian import won the 1500 earlier in the day, running 3:47.52, to the 3:49.12 of Washington's Joey Bywater, and exacting revenge on Bywater, who beat him a few weeks earlier at the Pepsi Team Invitational in Eugene.

In recapping the day, Husky coach Metcalf said, "I've been to a lot of these dual meets over the years, but this was by far my favorite one."  

"To see so many alums and fans out here today in this new intimate setting, it just feels like a very special place already. It's a venue our kids can be proud of and call their own, and our alumni can look at and know they helped build the program and get excited about the direction it's heading."

Washington and Washington State will send competitors to Los Angeles for next week's Pac-12 Multi-Events Championships at USC, while the rest of the UW team competes in the final home meet, the Ken Shannon Invitational.

Washington State will be across the border in Moscow, Idaho for the Vandal Jamboree, at the University of Idaho.

NOTE:  The University of Washington and Washington State University contributed to this report.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Track Superfan and I give our takes on Saturday's UW vs WSU dual meet!

If it's the last weekend in April, that must mean it's time for the annual Washington vs. Washington State dual track & field meet.

One of collegiate track & field's oldest rivalries resumes Saturday at the newly built Husky Outdoor Track Facility just north of the Husky Soccer Field.

According to WSU records, the Dawgs and Cougs will meet for the 97th time, with WSU leading the series 62-32-1.  Washington's release says that the series is 61-34-1; whatever it is, the Cougs have had the Huskies' number historically.

The women's dual meet series, which began in 1979, is more clearcut, with Washington holding a 21-16 lead all time.

In last year's meet, WSU used a sweep of the men's 3000 (left/photo by Paul Merca) to win the meet 87-76, while the Husky women emerged victorious 89-74.

The UW/WSU meet will be streamed live via pac-12.com

Before I post my prediction, Jesse Squire, who compiles the collegiate dual meet rankings for Track & Field News, runs the awesome tracksuperfan.com, and is now part of a new track & field web site, dailyrelay.com, has graciously written his take on this intense rivalry meeting.

All indications are that both meets will be very close.  The latest editions of the Track and Field News dual meet rankings – compiled by yours truly – show Washington at #15 and Washington State at #17 for the women, and Washington State at #10 and Washington at #11 on the men's side.  Paul Merca's preliminary dope sheets showed the women's meet clinched in the second-to-last event, and the men's meet coming down to the 4x400 relay.

So what events will determine the winner? In a meet this close, the answer is all of them.  The unexpected happens, an unlikely hero can come from nowhere, or a superstar can become a goat.  But if I were to rank the events in terms of how influential they might be, here is how I see it.


Pole Vault

Pole vaulting is unpredictable in general, but especially so in a dual meet.  UW's Logan Miller is the best in the field, but even the best of athletes can no-height in the vault. With four good vaulters in the field, two from each team, literally anything could happen here.  If it's anything but a 5-4 split, it will give a huge leg up to whichever team comes out ahead.


The javelin is early in the schedule, but the field is very strong.  These two teams bring seven of the Pac-12's top 13 throwers.  UW's Jordin Seekins was an upset winner at Oregon's Pepsi Team Invitational. Paul dopes this one as 6-3 in favor of the Cougs.

3000 meters

The Huskies are one of the nation's powerhouses in women's distance running, and Paul predicts a 9-0 sweep for them.  That could clinch the meet.  Just one Cougar sneaking in for a point or two could keep it alive going into the 4x400 relay.

Shot Put

This is the last field event on the slate.  WSU's Mary Barnett is the favorite while UW depends on a pair of freshmen, Alyx Toeina and Beverly Coleman.  Toeina beat Barnett at the Pepsi Team Invitational, but pressure could get to the rookies.  Paul dopes this as 5-4 for Washington State.

1500 meters

Again, Washington's strength in the distance events presumes a 9-0 sweep.  Washington State's Ruby Roberts might be able to sneak in for a point, and it would be huge for the Cougars if she did.


4x400 Relay

Washington's best time this season is about a second and a half faster than Washington State's, but throw that out the window.  Everyone on both relay will already have run one or two events, so the most important variable is who has the most gas left.  And if someone comes up hurt, then an alternate can play a major role.

4x100 Relay

The two teams are decently closely matched, but things happen in the 4x100.  Disaster can strike at any time.  With "classic" dual meet scoring of 5-0 in relays, they're crucial.  Paul has Washington winning.

Hammer Throw

The top four entrants in the meet are WSU's Travis Pickett, Ryan Randall and Chris Baltazar and UW's Robert Henderson.  Their best marks this season are all within 18 inches of each other.  It's a totally pick-em event.  Note that when these two teams met at Oregon's Pepsi Team Invitational, Henderson fouled out and scored no points for the Huskies.  Paul dopes this as 5-4 in favor of Washington but the Cougs have three good throwers to the Huskies' one.

800 meters

The 800 meters is generally an unpredictable event.  Add that some athletes may be doubling back, such as UW's Michael Miller and WSU's Todd Wakefield, and it's extra unpredictable.  Paul dopes this as 5-4 in favor of the Cougars.


WSU's Oliver Henry should win this, but second and third are up for grabs and that's where duals are won and lost.  Robert Henderson is UW's one real shot to score here; Paul dopes this as 8-1 for the Cougs.

3000 meters

A sweep by Washington State is a distinct possibility, and that's how Paul has it doped.  The discus will probably be finishing up during this race, and those two events are probably the strongest for the Cougs.  So if the Huskies have a commanding lead going into this race, the lead could melt away in a matter of minutes.  But if a single Husky runner crashes the party, someone like Tyler King, it could be decisive.

A statistical note: Marie Lawrence's steeplechase meet record is the second-fastest ever run in a collegiate dual meet.  The record is 9:51.65 by Arizona State's Lisa Aguilera in 2003.

Final score:  I'm going 85-78 Huskies in the women's meet, and 84-79 Cougars!

My thoughts:

In the women's meet, I have Washington winning 83-80, with the four field events (hammer, javelin, pole vault, and long jump) key for the Dawgs.  They must get off to a good start, and get 21 points from those four events.

One of the X factors early is WSU's Charlotte Muschamp, who is entered in the high jump and triple jump, and is expected to score.  She's also entered in the long jump, where she does not have a mark this season.  Triple jumpers can long jump.

The Washington women have a lot of entries in the distance races (800 meters & up), but who actually runs in what event is shrouded in mystery, and may remain so up until the starter calls for sweats off.  We're assuming this is a strategic decision on coach Greg Metcalf's part--with the talent he has in his arsenal, he can afford to do that.

If Washington State can get more than 3 points out of the trio of Caroline Austin, Ruby Roberts, and Courtney Zalud in the distance races, consider that a victory.  The Cougs need some production out of those three to have a chance of taking the W to Pullman.

The shot put is the final women's field event of the day, with WSU's Mary Barnett the favorite.  I'm in agreement with Jesse that freshman throwers Alex Toeaina and Beverly Coleman must stay close to Barnett, and not let the big-meet pressure get to them.  The 3000 will be going on about the same time, and if the two Huskies do their job, the meet's over and Washington wins.

On the men's side, I'm in agreement that the two relays will play a large part in the meet's outcome, which I have at 87-76 Washington.

In reality, the men's meet has the potential to be a close Husky win, or if things go against the dope chart, a blowout win for WSU.

I have the hammer, long jump, 110 hurdles, and both short dashes as being key swing events, with solid favorites for the win, and the second and third place finishers crucial for either squad.

In my view, the Huskies must pile on the points before 3:00 pm if they want to win, as I have the Cougs coming out ahead in the triple jump, 800 (with the Huskies' Derrick Daigre an X factor, after he finished second to Olympian Andrew Wheating last week at the Oregon Relays.  Daigre ran unattached), 400 hurdles, discus, and 3000.

Should both my predictions of a UW victory come to fruition, I have a hunch that somebody named Greg Metcalf may be going swimming in the steeplechase pit.

Below is my dope sheet, which you can print and take with you to the meet.

NOTE: Thanks to Jesse Squire for contributing to this article!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Defending champ Brad Walker places fourth at Drake Relays Pole Vault in the Mall...

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa--University of Washington alum Brad Walker (left/photo courtesy Drake Relays), the defending US Olympic Trials champion, finished in a tie for fourth at the Drake Relays Pole Vault in the Mall at the Jordan Creek Town Center Wednesday night.

Walker, who was the defending champion in this event, and previous meet record holder at 18-9 1/4 (5.72m)  finished tied for fourth this year with Mark Hollis as each cleared a height of 18-0.5 (5.50m) on their second attempts. Both failed to clear 18-4.5 (5.60m). Steve Lewis, who finished fifth in London, was sixth on Wednesday night clearing a height of 17-6.5 (5.35m) on his final attempt.

Bjorn Otto of Germany, the 2012 men’s silver medalist at the indoor World Championships and at the London Olympics, cleared a height of 19-0.25 (5.80m) on his final try to claim the victory over France's Renaud Lavillenie, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist, and set the new event record. He then attempted 19-2.25 (5.85m), but missed on all three attempts.

Lavillenie took second with a jump of 18-8 1/4 (5.70m), followed by US indoor champ Jordan Scott at 18-4 1/2 (5.60m).

Cuba's Olympic silver medalist Yarisley Silva won the women's competition with a jump of 15-9 3/4 (4.82m), to also set a new meet record.

NOTE:  The Drake Relays contributed to this report.

Wednesday's links: Husky track reunion weekend, national rankings, Mo & Galen, and direction of big city marathons...

Here are your links for Wednesday, as we prepare for one of the busiest weekends, with meets here, there, and everywhere, including Saturday's UW vs WSU dual meet at the new University of Washington track & field facility, the Drake and Penn Relays, the Payton Jordan meet at Stanford, the WWU Invitational in Bellingham, and the Duane Hartman Invite in Spokane…

In conjunction with the opening of the new track, the University of Washington will host a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the facility and dinner Friday for alums and friends of the program.

The event gets underway at 5 pm at the track complex, located next to the Husky Soccer Stadium, followed by a tour of the facility.

Following the tour, the scene shifts a few hundred meters south to the Conibear Shellhouse for a dinner and program featuring the coaching staff and members of the current team, along with numerous UW track & field hall of famers, Olympians, All-Americans, and NCAA champions.

The weekend concludes with Saturday's annual dual meet against the Cougars on the new track.

The event is close to being sold out, with only a few tickets left ($45 per individual, $20 for youth 13 & under,  or $120 for two adults and two youth)

The ticket to this event includes the tour of the facility, dinner and beverages, a giveaway item, and admission to the Big W Club Alumni tent for Saturday's meet.

Organizers are encouraging folks to purchase their tickets in advance.

For more information on the weekend's events, please visit gohuskies.com/events and click on the track & field alumni weekend button…

Speaking of the current UW team, the Husky women's squad is ranked #19 in the current USTFCCCA women's poll released Tuesday.

Washington drops from #14 in the computer polls, as all marks from the 2012 season are now thrown out.

Texas A&M is the new women's #1 team, followed by Kansas and Arizona.

On the men's side, Florida, Texas A&M, and Arkansas are the country's top three teams, with Oregon the top Pac-12 squad at #4.

In Division II, Seattle Pacific's squad has dropped to #23 in the national women's poll after being #16 in the last national poll.

Like the Division I computer poll, all marks from 2012 are no longer factored in this week's rankings.

Lincoln of Missouri is the nation's #1 women's team in the poll, followed by Grand Canyon, and Academy of Art.  The top GNAC women's team is Alaska Anchorage, ranked #8.

Saint Augustine's, Adams State, and Grand Canyon are the nation's top D2 schools, with Alaska Anchorage the top GNAC squad at #18.

The Oregonian has a great story and photos written by one of the friends of the blog, Ken Goe, on Mo Farah and Galen Rupp.

Goe, and photographer Thomas Boyd followed double Olympic champ in the 5000 and 10000 Mo Farah, training partner and Olympic 10000 silver medalist Galen Rupp, and coach Alberto Salazar, on a specialized training day, that started with them doing sprint work at a local high school track in Portland, then a workout at a fitness facility.

After that session, the runners went home for a nap, then finished with a run.

Finally, Toni Reavis, one of the most respected followers of the international running scene, writes in his blog that it's time for running to get media wise, after spending the weekend in London covering the Virgin London Marathon.

He contends that the great battle in London, in which Emmanuel Mutai was caught by two time champ Tsegay Kebede in the last kilometer, was lost in the media.  Instead, all the hype was showered upon local hero and double Olympic champ Mo Farah, who only ran the first half of the race, and dropped out, as a precursor to him running the full distance in next year's London Marathon.

A combination of not-very-media-savvy elite runners, which causes a disconnect with fans and sponsors, and the emphasis on the sideshows that happen at big city marathons, is leading the sport down the road towards what he calls "a series of clown shows and Jerry Lewis-like charity fund-raisers rather than sporting events."

Brad Walker faces stacked field in Pole Vault at the Mall...

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa--University of Washington alum Brad Walker (above/photo courtesy Drake Relays) returns to Iowa to compete in Wednesday's Drake Relays Pole Vault in the Mall at the Jordan Creek Town Center.

Walker, the 2012 US Olympic trials champion and a former world indoor and outdoor champ, faces a field that includes the gold and silver medalists from last year's London Olympics, Renaud Lavillenie of France and Bjorn Otto of Germany.

Walker is the defending Pole Vault in the Mall champion, as he cleared 18-9 1/2 (5.72m) in last year's competition.

The women's field is just as loaded, as it features defending Olympic champion Jenn Suhr going against Cuba's Olympic silver medalist Yarisley Silva and Oregon alum Becky Holliday.

The Drake Relays got underway Tuesday with the Grand Blue Mile on the streets of Des Moines, which doubled as the USA 1 mile road race championship event.

Stanford alum Garrett Heath was the men's champ, running a course record 4:02.79.  

In the women's race, Yale alum Kate Grace, who competes for Seattle based Oiselle, won the women's race in a course record 4:43.02 on a cold day.

Grace and Heath each collected the top prize of $5,000 and an additional $2,500 reward for setting a course record.  Overall, 23 professional milers, including nearly a half-dozen Olympians raced for $30,000 in purse money.

NOTE:  The Drake Relays contributed to this report.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Jeshua Anderson takes the win and gets 'A' standard as Mt. SAC Relays conclude...

WALNUT, California--Washington State alum Jeshua Anderson (above/photo by Randy Miyazaki, trackandfieldphoto.com) won his second outdoor meet of the 2013 season, as he cruised to victory in the 400 meter hurdles at the Mt. SAC Relays at Hilmer Lodge Stadium on the campus of Mt. San Antonio College.

Anderson, the 2011 USA and NCAA champion at that distance, defeated USC's Reggie Wyatt, as he ran 49.14 to Wyatt's 49.58.

Spokane native Britney Henry finished second in the women's hammer, as she threw 228-10 (69.75m), behind the winning effort of Sultana Frizell of Canada, who threw 234-10 (71.57m).

With her throw, Henry has achieved the 'B' standard for the world championships.

In the women's 400, Washington State's Shawna Fermin finished fourth in the 400 in 52.88, while former Husky Jordan Carlson made her pro debut with a sixth place finish in 53.56.

In the invitational 4 x 100, Washington's squad of Chris Williams, James Alaka, Quadelle Satterwhite, and Maurice McNeal finished fourth in a season best 40.25, slightly faster than what Washington State (40.62) ran in Friday's collegiate section.

Alaka ran season bests in both the invitational 100 and 200s, running 10.52 and 20.96, as he finished seventh in both races.

Washington State alum Blessing Ufodiama was seventh in the women's triple jump with a best of 42-6 3/4 (12.97m).

In Pullman, WSU's Stephan Scott-Ellis, a senior from Tacoma, was a triple winner, claiming the men's long jump with a leap of 23-feet 8 1/4 inches (7.22m), the 200m dash in a wind-aided time of 21.26 seconds, and ended the day with a win in the triple jump with a wind-aided leap of 50-9 1/2 (15.48m) at the Cougar Invitational at Mooberry Track.

The Cougars' Holly DeHart,  a sophomore from Kent, won the women's 100m dash in a season-best time of 12.13w and then was victorious in the 200m dash in a season-best time of 24.74w.

Washington State's Australian import Todd Wakefield took the men's 1500 in a meet record time of 3:44.88, while the Cougs' Jesse Jorgensen won the 800 in a PR 1:49.56.

"I was pleased with the way our people stepped up their performances this week," WSU head coach Rick Sloan said. "This is the time of year when we expect to see their best efforts coming out in competition. We start the championship season next week at the dual meet with the Huskies followed by the Pac-12 meet and then the NCAA meets. These upcoming meets should show that we have worked hard the entire year and I'm excited to see what performances are coming from the Cougs."

In Ellensburg, Central Washington's Bryan Mack, Braden Keller, and Tayler Fettig had the three best marks at the Spike Arlt Invitational.

Mack won the men's triple jump with a best of 49-5 (15.06m), while Keller, one of the top throwers in NCAA Division II, won the javelin with a best of 212-2 (64.67m).

Fettig won the women's high jump with a leap of 5-8 3/4 (1.75m).

On Friday, Marysville-Pilchuck HS alum Jarred Rome opened his 2013 season with a win at the Jesse Owens Classic in Columbus, Ohio.

In less than ideal throwing conditions, Rome threw 204-4 (62.22m) for the win.

On his Facebook page, Rome said, "I've wanted to do this meet for like 15 years! It was fun but the 46 degree weather wasn't so fun!!"

NOTE:  The sports information office at Washington State University contributed to this report.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Goethals takes down another Regina Joyce UW school record at Mt. SAC...

WALNUT, California--Washington junior Megan Goethals (left/photo by Paul Merca) took down another school record in an impressive showing over 5000 meters in the invitational section at the Mt. SAC Relays.

Competing against a number of post-collegiate and pro runners, Goethals finished seventh in the race, running 15:33.63 to knock down Husky hall of famer Regina Joyce's 31-year old school record of 15:35.60, set in 1982.

"I one hundred percent thought the record could go down tonight," said Husky head coach Greg Metcalf. "If it went perfect she thought she could run just under 15:30. She was out hard and competed incredibly well. She had to run under 5:04 in the last mile to break it, so she hung on in Megan Goethals style; she was gutsy and tough and got it done."

Goethals was the second collegian in the race, only trailing winner Abbey D'Agostino of Dartmouth, who nipped her for the NCAA title at this distance last year.  D'Agostino ran 15:11.35, the third fastest time in NCAA history, and got the IAAF world championships 'A' standard in the process.

Wenatchee native Hannah Kiser of Idaho was 12th in 15:44.06, while Washington's Lindsay Flanagan ran a personal best of 16:01.45.

Washington State's men's 4x400m relay team of Terrance Chambers, Byron Howell, Lucas Sealby and Dana Wells ran a season-best time of 3:10.75, finishing just a second behind Boise State in the 22-squad event.

Earlier in the day, the men's 4x100m relay team of Greg Hornsby, Trevor Rogers, Brett Blanshan and Andre McBride were the runners-up with a time of 40.62 seconds.

The Cougar women's 4x400m relay team of Dominique Keel , Christiana Ekelem , Bree Winfrey and Shawna Fermin  ran a time of 3 minutes 38.54 seconds, finishing behind Colorado (3:38.17) by 37/100s second.

In Azusa, Western Washington's Brock Steffen, Alex Donigian, Jason Nokes, and Jonathon Poolman won the men's 4 x 100 meter relay at the Bryan Clay Invitational.

The foursome ran 41.36 to win by nearly 2/10ths of a second.

Brett Watson of the Vikings won the men's high jump, clearing 6-9 3/4 (2.08m).

Seattle Pacific's McKayla Fricker finished second overall in the women's 800, running 2:09.42.

SeattleU's Katie Tougas broke her own school record in the 200m, running 25.82.

NOTE:  The sports information offices of the University of Washington, Seattle University, Washington State University, Western Washington University, and Azusa Pacific University contributed to this report.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Washington's distance runners open proceedings at Mt. SAC Relays...

WALNUT, California--Action opened on the track Thursday at the fabled Mt. SAC Relays on the campus of Mt. San Antonio College, with numerous heats of distance races.

In the fast section of the women's open 1500, Washington's Eleanor Fulton (left/photo courtesy University of Washington) finished eighth in 4:23.13, while Stanford grad and new Seattle resident Lindsay Allen, who is training under coach Danny Mackey, was 12th in 4:24.96.

In another section, sophomore Baylee Mires ran a 4:25.66. Next fastest was senior Mel Lawrence, improving her season-best with a time of 4:27.09, then redshirt freshman Joelle Amaral, who set a PR going under 4:30 for the first time at 4:29.12. Junior Liberty Miller ran 4:30.98 and senior Justine Johnson posted a time of 4:32.45, both season-bests. Freshman Maddie Meyers clocked 4:32.90 to round out the group.

SeattleU's Sophie Curatilo ran 4:37.45 in her heat.

Michael Miller led the men with a career-best time of 3:47.16 in the second heat on the men's side. James Cameron had a good showing of 3:50.81, with Tyler King posting a similar time of 3:50.86 in a separate heat. Redshirt frosh Aaron Nelson, ranked in the top-10 nationally in the steeplechase, had a PR of 3:52.86. Gareth Gilna ran 3:55.06 and Kyle Blume ran 3:57.88 as well.

The men's steeple saw Seattle Pacific's AJ Baker run 9:41.58 in his heat.

In the invitational elite steeple, WSU alum Collier Lawrence, representing Seattle-based Oiselle, was fourth in 10:08.73.

In the men's 10000, Washington State's Justin Englund was 21st in 29:52.56.

In another section of the men's 10000, SeattleU's Matthew McClement was 23rd in 30:28.40.

At Azusa, first day leader Jeremy Taiwo's attempt to win the Mt. SAC Relays decathlon title ended with the dreaded no-height in the pole vault.

Taiwo started day two by running 14.83 in the 110 hurdles, then threw the discus 121-5 (37.01m).

Starting at 14-9 (4.50m), Taiwo missed his three attempts at that height, earning no points.

He then threw 139-3 (42.45m) in the javelin, but did not start the 1500m.

Husky freshman Josh Gordon finished sixth overall with a final score of 6640 points.

Washington's Shelby Williams and Jaleecia Roland each completed their heptathlons, with Williams placing 15th out of 24 finishers with 4,690 points, and Roland finishing 21st in her first full college heptathlon with 4,325 points.

NOTE:  The sports information office of the University of Washington and Azusa Pacific College contributed to this report.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Washington schools and pros head to Cali to chase better marks at Mt SAC, Bryan Clay and Beach Invites...

Most of Washington's nine Division I and II schools are off to southern California for either the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, the Bryan Clay Invitational at Azusa Pacific, and the Beach Invitational hosted by Long Beach State, held at Cerritos College in Norwalk.

Action got underway Wednesday in Azusa with the multi-events portion of the Mt. SAC Relays, and the California Invitational at Azusa Pacific.

Washington's Jeremy Taiwo (above/photo courtesy University of Washington), competing in his first decathlon in almost two years, leads the field after the break with a first day score of 4151 points, ahead of Andy Lillejord of North Dakota at 3907, and 2007 world championships team member Jake Arnold at 3880.

The Huskies' Josh Gordon sits in seventh with a score of 3724.

Taiwo won his heat of the 100 at 10.91, and led a 1-2 finish in the long jump by the Dawgs, jumping 24-7 3/4 (7.51m), to Gordon's 23-2 3/4 (7.08m).

In the shot, Taiwo threw a safe 36-6 1/4 (11.13m) after fouling his first two attempts, while Gordon threw 36-4 1/4 (11.08m).

Taiwo came back to win the high jump at 6-11 3/4 (2.11m), with Gordon third at 6-4 3/4 (1.95m).

In the 400, Taiwo ran 49.15, while Gordon ran 51.19.

In the California Invitational section of the heptathlon, the Huskies' Shelby Williams is in 15th at 2984, while teammate Jaleecia Roland sits 20th with 2779.

Williams ran 15.35 in the 100 hurdles, with Roland running 15.65.

In the high jump, both Williams and Roland cleared 5-3 1/4 (1.61m).

Williams won her section of the shot put, throwing 40-4 (12.29m), while Roland threw 34-4 3/4 (10.48m).

In the 200, Williams ran 26.42, while Roland was clocked at 26.99.

The Huskies, Cougars, Eagles, Falcons, Vikings, Redhawks, and Saints will have some sort of presence at the Mt. SAC Relays, with the Huskies sending the largest contingent, and Saint Martin's only entering 1500 meter runner Joseph Patti.

Several pros with Washington ties are entered in what's billed as the world's largest track meet with over 7000 participants ranging from high schoolers to Olympians.

Among those pros entered are Brie Felnagle in the 1500, Ginnie Crawford in the 100, Mark Wieczorek and Colton Tully-Doyle in the 1500, Blessing Ufodiama in the triple jump, and Jeshua Anderson in the 400 hurdles.

Action in the three-day Mt. SAC Relays gets underway Thursday with distance races taking center stage.

For the Cougars, those who did not make the trip to California are staying home to compete in the Cougar Invitational at Mooberry Track on Saturday.  Gonzaga and Seattle University are sending groups of athletes to Eugene to compete at the Oregon Relays at Hayward Field Saturday.

Don't let what happened Monday take the joy of running away...

Monday's Boston Marathon should have been about the three man battle between Ethiopia's Lelisa Desisa, and Gebre Gebremariam  against Kenya's Micah Kogo, over the last 600 meters down Boylston, and Kenya's Rita Jeptoo winning the women's title seven years after her victory in the 2006 edition.

Unfortunately, the battle up front will forever be a minor footnote after the bombing near the finish line.

In all of my years running races as a youth at distances from 30 yards to the marathon, I've learned that you don't dare tell a runner that they can't do it, and that runners will find a way to always move forward.

This photo of 78-year old Northwest masters legend Bill Iffrig (photo by John Tlumacki, Boston Globe) who was knocked down short of the finish at Monday's Boston Marathon, will forever be one of the lasting images of what should have been a celebration of all that is good about the sport, but instead turned to a day of tragedy that ended the lives of three people, injured hundreds, and changed the lives of countless others.

You, the readers of this blog, are part of a large worldwide community of runners, and I know that whether you're a 10-flat sprinter, a sub-4 miler, or trying to get rid of that last 30 pounds from years of inactivity, that you run with joy and a sense of purpose, no matter what the ultimate goal.

As you go for your run today, don't give in to the fear that running isn't a safe activity.  Don't let the threat of terrorism take away your sense of purpose when you run, and most importantly, don't let it take away who you are.

Runners find a way to hurdle obstacles.  This barrier is no different.

Monday, April 15, 2013

More than a number: Video feature of University Place resident Andrea Geubelle...

Courtesy of the University of Kansas, here is a video piece on University Place resident Andrea Geubelle (left/photo by Paul Merca), a ten-time All American in the long and triple jumps, and won three NCAA titles, the most in the school's history.

Her journey to the pinnacle of collegiate track & field hasn’t come without hardships though. Despite some bumps along the way, Geubelle’s constant drive and dedication has pushed her on the verge of collegiate and American track & field history.

Last weekend, Geubelle ran on Kansas' 4 x 100 meter relay team as they won in 44.92 at the John McDonell Invitational in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

She also made her collegiate debut in the 400 meters, winning her heat in 55.45, and finishing fifth overall.

This week, Geubelle competes at home in her final Kansas Relays as an undergrad in Lawrence, one of the country's most prestigious relay meets.

One result we missed on the recap was the Randall Cunningham Invitational on Saturday in Las Vegas, as several Eastern Washington athletes competed in the meet hosted by the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.

Jordan Arakawa won the hammer throw with a toss of 211-1 (64.34m), and Marlyn Anderson won the shot put at 56-6 3/4 (17.24m).

Brad Michael won the 400 in 47.69, and Michelle Coombs won the javelin at 155-4 (47.35m).

NOTE:  The sports information offices of the University of Kansas and Eastern Washington University contributed to this report.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

WEEKEND WRAPUP--Vikings sweep Ralph Vernacchia Team Invitational; Team Washington sweeps WAR...

Dicey weather in the state of Washington played a part in the two big invitationals in Bellingham and Spokane that most of the state's Division I and II schools participated in.

At the Ralph Vernacchia Team Invitational hosted by Western Washington in Bellingham on Saturday, the Viking men won the team title for the 16th straight year, while their women's team took top honors for the seventh time in eight years.

The Viking men nearly doubled their closest competitors, finishing with 222 points. Washington was second with 119 and Saint Martin's was third in the 13-team field with 88.5.

The WWU women finished with 262 points, more than double the mark of second-place Washington at 129 in the 12-team field.

"Once the weather cleared up, we had a pretty solid day," said WWU coach PeeWee Halsell, who saw the early events hampered by a freakish April snowstorm before skies cleared in the afternoon.

The Huskies' Gareth Gilna (above/photo by Paul Merca) was the lone individual double winner on the men's side, winning the 1500 in 3:52.85, then took the 800 in 1:54.90.

On the women's side, Sarah Ulrey of Club Northwest won the 400 hurdles (1:03.10) and the 100 meters (12.24).

In the WWU Multi-Events meet held in conjunction with the Vernacchia, Taylor Fettig from Central Washington won the heptathlon with a final score of 3999 points, and Michael Holland of Saint Martin's won the decathlon with a score of 5104.

Also on Saturday in Spokane, cool temperatures and brisk winds were the order of the day at the WAR VI meet held at Spokane Falls Community College.

Idaho took top team honors in the women's competition, scoring 122.5 points, followed by Eastern Washington at 92.2, and Washington State at 85.

Team Washington won the WAR title with a final score of 406.1 to 352.9.

In the men's team competition, Whitworth was the team champion with 114 points, followed by Spokane CC at 88.17, and Idaho at 79.83.

Team Washington won the WAR title by a final score of 478.17-300.83 over Team Northwest (schools from Idaho, Montana and Oregon).

Seattle Pacific's Emily Quatier had probably the most impressive performance on the track, winning the 800 in 2:14.70, as the Falcons went 1-2 in the event, with Lynelle Decker second in 2:15.00.

NOTE:  The sports information offices of the University of Washington, Western Washington University, Washington State University, and Seattle Pacific contributed to this report.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Worthen and Gross go 1-3 in heptathlon at MONDO Mid-Major Challenge...

SACRAMENTO-–They were the only two NCAA Division II athletes in the meet. But by the time the heptathlon was finished on Friday, Seattle Pacific seniors Ali Worthen (left/photo by Paul Merca) and Katy Gross left a whole bunch of Division I competitors behind them.

Worthen gradually stretched out her first-day lead on the way to a personal-best winning total of 5,492 points, and Gross came up big in the last two events to claim third place with her own PR total of 4,919 in the MONDO Mid-Major Challenge at Hornet Stadium on the Sacramento State University campus.

Worthen, the graduate of Coos Bay's Marshfield HS, who already was the D-2 national leader with her winning score of 5,243 at the Chico Multi-Event Classic on Feb. 28-March 1, now is atop the list by an even wider margin. 

“The great thing about having a meet like Chico so early is you're really able to see what needs work,” said Worthen, whose previous PR was 5,297 in last year's NCAA third place finish. “After Chico, we were thinking javelin, hurdles, and I have to sprint faster. So this last month, we've been focusing on those events that I was struggling with at Chico – and those were events that I aced.”

Everett native Gross, competing in her first heptathlon of the year, moved up to No. 5 on the national list. Her score easily exceeded the NCAA provisional qualifying standard of 4,400 points, and isn't far from the automatic qualifying total of 5,069. 

“My PR coming in was 4,799, and I was just hoping to get 4,800 or higher,” Gross said. “I came in feeling like I was ready, and was just toning up some of my events. I felt like I got a solid meet all the way through, and I ended well with the javelin and the 800. For sure, the hurdles race (on Thursday) and having a good PR to start things off always boosts my confidence.

After setting three personal bests and tying another one on Thursday, Worthen came up with two more PRs on Friday. She threw the javelin 118 feet, 2 inches (36.03m) to finish second behind Gross' winning toss of 134-4 (40.95m). Worthen's mark beat her previous best of 116-0, set at the 2012 NCAAs.

She then broke the 2:20 mark for the first time in the meet-ending 800-meter run, coming across the line second in 2:18.07. That was nearly three seconds faster than her 2:20.78 at Chico last month.

Worthen was the winner in Friday's long jump, going 18-7 ¼ (5.67m).

Gross won the javelin with an NCAA provisional-qualifying mark of 134-4. That was good for 686 points and pushed her up to third overall.

The metric measurement of 40.95 meters for her javelin toss put Gross onto the NCAA list.

That left the 800 – definitely not her favorite event of the seven. But Gross came up with the best run of her career, finishing in 2:34.47. That was nearly three seconds faster than her old PR of 2:37.20, set at the NCAAs in 2011.

NOTE:  The sports information office of Seattle Pacific University contributed to this report.

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