Saturday, March 14, 2015

Planell Cruz sets new Puerto Rican national record in finishing fourth for UW; Donigian misses 60 title by hair...

FAYETTEVILLE, Arkansas—University of Washington pole vaulter Diamara Planell Cruz (above/photo courtesy University of Washington) scored a personal best and upped her Puerto Rican national record with a fourth place finish at the NCAA Division I indoor track & field championships at the Randal Tyson Center, hosted by the University of Arkansas.

With training partner Kristina Owsinski competing alongside in the field of 16 athletes, the duo opened with first attempt makes at the opening height of 13-5.25 (4.10m).  Both needed two tries at the next height of 13-9.25 (4.20m).

Owsinski was eliminated at the next height of 14-1.25 (4.30m), giving her a tie for ninth place, while Planell Cruz needed a third attempt to clear.

The reigning Pac-12 champ’s confidence skyrocketed after a first attempt make at a personal best 14-3.25 (4.35m), before she was eliminated at 14-5.25 (4.40m).

Arkansas’ Sandi Morris took the victory, tying the meet record of 15-1 (4.60m), in a competition that saw the defending champ Kaitlin Petrillose of Texas and the collegiate record holder Demi Payne of Stephen F. Austin both failing to clear their opening heights.

“I felt really good from the start, I was going over high bungees in warm-ups, so it felt like everything was on,” said Planell Cruz. “I just had to keep my groove going and keep that rhythm along through the meet … I never like third attempts, nobody ever does, but this year I’m trying not to let third attempts get to me. You’ve just got to commit to the jump and I think that’s what saved me, I just committed to the jump.”

In other action involving Washington based athletes, Stanford’s Darian Brooks of Seattle finished 12th in the triple jump with a best of 51-5.5 (15.68m).  The Huskies’ Colby Gilbert was 13th in the men’s 3000 in 8:06.60, while Maddie Meyers was 14th in the women’s 3000 in 9:33.65.

Host Arkansas won the women’s team title with 63 points, while Oregon took the men’s team title by a convincing 74-50 margin over runner-up Florida.

In Birmingham, Alabama, Western Washington’s Alex Donigian’s (left/photo courtesy Western Washington University) attempt to win the school’s first national title at 60 meters came up 1/1000th of a second short, as he finished second to Lamar Hargrove in 6.717 to his 6.718, though the official results will credit both with 6.72 at the NCAA Division II championships.

In fact, the third through fifth place finishers were credited with 6.73 in what perhaps was the closest finish in the Division II finals.

In other results from the meet, Central Washington’s Luke Plummer was eighth in the triple jump with a best of 48-10.25 (14.89m).  Western’s Katelyn Steen was tenth in the women’s 3000 in 9:42.68, while Central’s Tayler Fettig mustered a 12th place finish in the women’s high jump at 5-6 (1.68m).

In the NCAA Division III championship meet at Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the University of Puget Sound’s Allanah Whitehall was fifth in the women’s 60 dash finals in a time of 7.7.1

Roosevelt HS grad Lucy Cheadle, competing for Washington University of St. Louis, was sixth in the women’s 3000, running 9:51.75.

NOTE:  The sports information departments of Western Washington University and the University of Washington contributed to this report.

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