This weekend marks the beginning of championship weekend for athletes in the pro ranks and in Division II, with the USA Indoor Track & Field Championships on the line in Albuquerque, and the GNAC Championships in Nampa, Idaho.
For the pros, this year's USA indoors has significant meaning, with spots on the line for the IAAF world indoor championships in Sopot, Poland on March 7-9.
Danny Mackey's Brooks Beasts will have a significant presence in New Mexico, as they'll have athletes in every race from 800 meters on up.
In the men's 800, they'll be led by Moscow world championship silver medalist Nick Symmonds (left/photo by Paul Merca), with Mark Wieczorek and Cas Loxsom also entered.
The women's 800 will have Erica Moore and Nike training partner Phoebe Wright toeing the line.
In the 1500, Garrett Heath of the Beasts enters the meet as the top seed, with teammate Riley Masters in the field. Heath is also entered in the 3000.
Katie Mackey, who won the mile at last weekend's Husky Classic in her season opener, is entered in the 1500.
The Beasts will have a large presence in the 3000, with Cal alum Deborah Maier and Seattle Pacific grad Jessica Tebo in the 3000, along with training partner Brie Felnagle from Tacoma, who represents adidas. Jamie Cheever and former NCAA champ Angela Bizzarri are also entered for the Beasts.
Bernard Lagat, who was named USATF athlete of the week for last weekend's winning effort at the Millrose Games, is entered in the 3000, as he takes a step toward defending his world indoor crown in the 3000.
Other athletes with Washington ties entered in the meet include Bellingham's Becca Friday (1500), Gonzaga grad Lindsey Drake (1500/3000), Bellarmine Prep and WSU alum Shaquana Logan (60 hurdles), Levi Keller and Ryan Brown (pole vault); former UW standouts Sarah (Pappas) Sheppard (pole vault) and Norris Frederick (long jump); University Place native Andrea Geubelle (long/triple jumps); WSU alum Blessing Ufodiama (triple jump); and former Bellingham resident and 2012 Olympian Donn Cabral (1500/3000).
NBCSN and Universal Sports will provide television coverage of the USA indoor championships, with USATF.tv assisting with web coverage.
Speaking of the Beasts, friend of the blog Ken Goe of the Portland Oregonian wrote a great piece on the squad, and how their presence could help create a rivalry between the OTC/Elite in Eugene, the Nike Oregon Project and Team Schumacher in Beaverton, the NJ/NY Track Club, and the Boston New Balance group.
In Nampa, the Western Washington men's team is the pre-meet favorite to defend its GNAC title, despite dropping out of the USTFCCCA top 25 national computer rankings.
The Vikings have eight athletes seeded #1 out of 17 events, and return five defending champs, though Alaska Anchorage, which is the only GNAC team ranked in the top 25, could give the Bellingham school a serious run.
Back to lead Western Washington’s men are five athletes – Alex Donigian (20 points), Jonathon Poolman (15 points), Kevin Yates (13 points), Logan Myers (12 points) and Brett Watson (12 points) - who combined for 72 of WWU’s winning team total of 152 last year.
On the women's side, Alaska Anchorage is the the pre-meet favorite.
Seattle Pacific looks for big points from defending champ McKayla Fricker and Lynelle Decker in the 800, as both are ranked in the top 10 nationally.
Other Washington athletes ranked in the NCAA D2 top ten nationally going into the GNAC meet include Tayler Fettig of Central Washington in the high jump, and Western Washington's Cheyanna Pinley in the pole vault.