PULLMAN--University of Washington pole vaulter Jax Thoirs (left/photo by Paul Merca), teammate Aaron Nelson, and Washington State high jumper Charlotte Muschamp all earned victories in the first full day of competition at the Pacific-12 Conference track & field championships at Mooberry Track on the campus of Washington State University.
Thoirs had a bit of a shaky start, needing three attempts to clear the opening height of 16-8 3/4 (5.10m). He passed 17-0 3/4 (5.20m), then needed two attempts to make the next height of 17-4 1/2 (5.30m) to assure himself of a top-5 finish.
The Scottish national took command of the competition, clearing 17-8 1/2 (5.40m) on his first attempt, then was the only one to clear 18-0 1/2 (5.50m) to salt away the victory. He then took a couple of shots at a Scottish national record of 18-6 1/2 (5.65m).
2012 Pac-12 champ JJ Juilfs of Washington was fifth with a clearance of 17-4 1/2 (5.30m), while WSU's Austin Sodoroff was sixth at 16-8 3/4 (5.10m). Washington's Chris Williams tied for eighth at 16-2 3/4 (4.95m).
Nelson, the Walla Walla native, bided his time and hung near the middle of the pack until the halfway point of the race then worked his way to the front with a kilometer to go, battling Colorado's Blake Theroux for the lead with a lap to go.
A 64.17 final lap was more than Theroux could take, and Nelson cruised to a new personal best of 8:49.09.
Nelson's long time high school and collegiate rival Andrew Gonzales of Washington State took third in 8:57.40, and WSU teammate Forrest Shaffer was sixth in 9:06.92. Washington's Tim Cummings, who was in the lead pack for most of the race, failed to finish after taking a spill at the water barrier.
In one of the upsets of the meet, Washington State's Charlotte Muschamp defeated pre-meet favorites Chancey Summers of Oregon, Alexis Walker of UCLA, and Lauren Crockett of Oregon, clearing a personal best of 5-11 1/2 (1.82m).
The native of New Zealand was clean over the first three bars she cleared, opening at 5-7 14 (1.71m), 5-9 1/4 (1.76m), and 5-10 1/2 (1.79m).
With Summers and Walker having made 5-10 1/2 on their third attempts, the pressure was on the duo to get an early clearance at 5-11 1/2, which neither achieved. Meanwhile, Muschamp salted the victory away with a second attempt clearance at 5-11 1/2, before ending the competition with three misses at 6-0 3/4 (1.85m).
In other finals involving athletes with state of Washington ties, the University of Washington's Liberty Miller finished third in the women's steeplechase in 10:18.56. Teammate Lindsay Flanagan finished fourth in the 10000 despite losing a shoe in a time of 34:47.32. In the women's javelin, Husky freshman Ashley Alexander was eighth with a toss of 148-6 (45.28m).
The men's javelin saw Washington's Quinn Hale finish second at 231-6 (70.56m), with Washington State's Kyle Stevens third at 224-9 (68.50m), the Huskies' Carson Fuller fourth at 221-10 (67.63m), and his teammate Curtis Clauson seventh at 214-2 (65.29m).
In the long jump, the University of Oregon's Alec Fellows, a graduate of Edmonds-Woodway HS was sixth with a best of 24-3 3/4 (7.41m).
After eight events in the men's team scoring, the University of Washington sits in second with 40.25 points, behind Oregon's 70.25. Washington State is currently in tenth with 18 points.
In the women's team standings after seven events, Oregon leads with 64 points. Washington State is tied for seventh at 19 points, while Washington is tenth with 12 points.