|Katie Knight (l) and Ruby Roberts|
are entered in the 1500 and 3000.
Paul Merca photo
One of my favorite meets of the year happens this Saturday in Pullman at Mooberry Track on the Washington State University campus, as the Huskies face the Cougars in the annual dual meet, or Apple Cup of track & field.
For this meet, it doesn't matter how fast you run, how far you jump, or how far you throw, as long as you finish first, second or third, and that the guy or gal wearing the opposite color singlet is behind you.
Washington State leads the series on the men's side, but the score of the series remains in dispute, as WSU claims the series is 62-33-1, while the UW says it's 61-35-1. There is no argument over the series score between the two women's teams--it's Washington 21, Washington State 17.
WSU coach Rick Sloan is 11-9 against the Dawgs on the men's side, and 13-5 as the leader of the women's team (Sloan became the head coach of the combined teams in 1996).
Unlike the Huskies, the Cougars are battle tested in two scoring meets this season, sweeping UCLA in late March, and sweeping Arizona, Air Force, Kansas State, and New Mexico at the Jim Click Shootout in Tuscon on April 13th.
For what it's worth, here are the entries for the meet. Keep in mind that there are some questionable entries by both teams just to keep the other side guessing. Each team can enter athletes right up until the gun fires.
Once again, I've enlisted the help of one of the country's leading experts on collegiate track and field dual meets, Jesse Squire, who writes for the Daily Relay, and compiles the collegiate dual meet rankings for Track & Field News.
Squire has WSU sweeping the Huskies by a 86-77 count on the men's side, and a 95-68 score on the women's side.
Here is his form chart:
On the men's side, I have the Huskies getting the win by a count of 85-78. Having said that, it is a very shaky 85-78 (remember it takes 82 points to win the meet). While I can't substantiate it, I almost want to give Washington State 5 points before the meet even begins, because this is Cougar coach Rick Sloan's final dual meet, as he retires after the end of the season, and that the team wants him to go out by sticking it to the Huskies.
There is also the senior factor for the Cougs (finals start next week at Washington State, with graduation a week from Saturday). Those seniors, many of whom won't compete in the sport after leaving WSU, also want to ride off into the sunset with a win against the Huskies to go along with that diploma.
Washington must get off to a fast start early, with the four field events before 1 pm a key, with 28 points in the long jump, hammer, javelin, and shot put a key. If Washington comes away with 20 points or less in those events before the first running event starts, it could be a long afternoon.
For Washington State, the 2:00 hour is their hour of power, with the 110 hurdles, 400, 100 and 800 keys, with 27 points in those four events the target if they want to be in position to win the meet, not to mention the 400 hurdles and 200 at 3:05 and 3:20. The Cougs must win those six events, period. I see them getting 41 points in those six events.
On the women's side, Washington's lack of depth in the short sprints, hurdles (100, 200, 100H, 4 x 100) and the long jump will hurt them in this meet, as I have WSU winning the meet 85-78. The Cougs are projected to get 38 points in those five events.
The Washington State duo of Abby Regan and Ruby Roberts (above/photo by Paul Merca) will offset the Huskies' depth in the distance races. With Washington's Baylee Mires, an NCAA qualifier in the 800 out, I expect Regan to win the 800, but don't count 2012 NCAA 1500m champ Katie Flood out, especially after her performance last week at the Drake Relays, where she anchored the Dawgs to two wins in the 4 x 1600 and distance medley relays.
Roberts has made yet another jump this season, breaking the school record in the 5000 at the Stanford Invitational last month, and will be a factor in the 3000 towards the end of the meet, despite going against All-American Megan Goethals of UW. If she's close to the front in the last 400, the Dawgs had better look out. Also, she won the 1500 in last year's dual meet in Seattle, which helped spark the Cougars to the victory, spoiling the opening of Washington's new track.
My picks for the best three events to watch Saturday are the men's 800, the women's 400 hurdles, and the women's pole vault.
In the 800, the matchup between WSU's All-American Jesse Jorgensen and UW's Derrick Daigre will be exciting, as Jorgensen hasn't forgotten Daigre's come from behind win in last year's dual, which turned out to be a momentum changer for the Huskies.
In the women's pole vault, you have an NCAA competitor in the UW's Diamara Planell Cruz facing off against teammate and MPSF champ Kristina Owsinski and the Cougars' Kristine Felix, the reigning Pac-12 champ. This could be a preview of the Pac-12 championship meet in Pullman in two weeks.
The women's 400 hurdles features Washington's Kayla Stueckle and Gianna Woodruff against Washington State's Erin Allen. Stueckle and Woodruff, who both qualified for the NCAA meet last year, are ranked #2 & #3 in the conference so far this season, with Allen in at #8.
Here is my dope sheet:
Happy reading, and let the trash talking begin!
NOTE: Special thanks to Jesse Squire for contributing to this post! The University of Washington and Washington State University sports information offices contributed to this report.