Saturday, April 6, 2013

Dawgs win seven events, while Cougs win two in soggy Pepsi Team Invitational...

EUGENE, Oregon--Under less than ideal conditions, the Washington Huskies garnered seven victories, and the Washington State Cougars chalked up two wins in the four-team, rain-soaked Pepsi Team Invitational at Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon.

In the overall men's team battle, Oregon squeezed out a 194.5-180.5 victory over Texas A&M, with the Cougars third at 165.5, and the Huskies fourth at 129.5.

The Aggies from College Station turned the tables on the Ducks in the women's team competition, winning 201-181, with the Huskies third at 146, and the Cougs fourth with 138 points.

Washington got wins on the women's side from sixth-year steeplechaser Mel Lawrence (10:07.78), javelin thrower Jordin Seekins (149-2/45.48m), pole vaulter Logan Miller (13-3.5/4.05m); and 400 hurdler Kayla Stueckle (59.55).

On the men's side, Jeremy Taiwo in the high jump (6-9.75/2.08m),  pole vaulter JJ Juilifs (16-6.75/5.05m), and 1500 meter runner Joey Bywater (3:52.78) were victorious.

Both of Washington State's wins came on the men's side, as long jumper Stephan Scott-Ellis (24-9/7.54m) and shot putter Matt Wardell (51-10/15.80m) bested their opposition.

"We had a lot of very good performances but they were even better under the conditions we were competing most of the day. I thought our kids really got out and competed," Cougar Head Coach Rick Sloan said. "For the most part we got better today. The marks were going to be irrelevant today; it was about competing against the others in your event and I think the Cougars did a good job of that. Being 15 points behind Texas A&M is not a bad thing."

Two of Washington's signature wins came from runners who seemed like they've been around the Husky program forever.

Mel Lawrence, who enrolled at Washington way back in the fall of 2007, won the steeple, as she looked easy and relaxed like she did back in that record-setting season of 2009, as she gradually pulled away from the pack and set a meet record in winning with a time of 10:07.78. That's nearly identical to the time she ran in her first college steeple four years ago.

"I did my first water pits in two years on Thursday, and they were kind of rough (laughs), so I was kind of nervous going into it. But I talked to my sister before and it is kind of like riding a bike, you have that muscle memory that kicks in. It felt really good, I actually surprised myself a little bit, so I'm pretty happy."

In the men's 1500, Joey Bywater (above/photo by Eric Evans, University of Oregon Sports Information), the UW senior from Lake Stevens who narrowly missed breaking 4 minutes in the mile this indoor season, turned in one of the most thrilling finishes of the day, as bided his time through a slow 1,500-meters and kicked it into high gear with a full 300 meters to go, chasing down WSU's Todd Wakefield who had gone out to a big lead, as well as Oregon All-American Elijah Greer. Bywater took the lead on the homestretch and held on to win in 3:52.78, a kicker's race if there ever was one.

"I kind of expected it to be a little bit tactical, but actually the first 100 meters people popped off the line pretty good, so I started to gear up for a respectable pace. Then, I don't know, maybe about 300 meters in it really slowed down, and it even slowed down more and felt like a 5k at one point. So I knew it was just going to explode. With like 600 to go I started getting really antsy, waiting for someone to pop out, and then with 500 to go, (Wakefield) made a big move on the inside and took off, and our group still didn't really go yet so I was getting nervous, but one of the Oregon guys started to take off and then it started to open up. I didn't want to try to do too much on the curve, so I waited until the backstretch, and then with 300 to go I knew it was time to just throw down whatever I had left, so I just went for it."

For his part, Wakefield said on his Twitter feed, "it was a mad dash and a lot of lactic!!"

In the Oregon media release toting the meet, the battle was supposed to be between WSU's Anna Adamko, and Kendall Munoz of Texas A&M, with Liz Brenner of Oregon battling in the mix in the women's javelin.

Nobody noticed Washington senior Jordin Seekins (left/photo courtesy University of Washington), until the first round of the competition, as she rifled the spear a personal best 149-2 (45.48m).

Adamko ended up second at 143-4 (43.68m), and Brenner third at 142-2 (43.34), with Munoz sixth at 139-10 (43.02m).

"It was kind of bittersweet, because I scratched a 10-foot PR (laughs). But it was good, I woke up today and I said `I want to win this meet.' That's just what went through my head, I was pretty amped up for today."

Rainier Beach HS grad Michael Berry of the host Ducks won the 400 as he held off a challenge from A&M’s Ricky Babineaux to win in 46.20. Babineaux was second in 47.38.

The complete results of the Pepsi Team Invitational are available here.

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

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