Friday, May 1, 2015

MEET PREVIEW: Washington State vs. Washington in The Dual...

UW sub-4 minute miler Izaic Yorks (#917) defeated Jesse Jorgensen
(#973) in the 800 at last year's UW/WSU meet in Pullman.
Paul Merca photo
The outdoor track & field meet of the 2015 season in the state of Washington happens Saturday at Husky Track on the campus of the University of Washington as the Huskies host the Washington State Cougars in what is simply known as “The Dual”

Up until this season, both schools could not agree on what the all-time record is (was) in the men’s competition, which began in 1901.  After throwing out meets in which other schools competed as well as invitationals which were scored as dual meets, both list the all-time record as 61-36-1 in favor of the Cougars, with the asterisk stating that the 61-36-1 on the UW release stating that that record includes additional dual scores (two or more duals) in a season.

The women’s records are more clearcut, with the first dual meet between the two schools held in 1979.  Both agree that the Huskies lead the all-time series at 21-18, but if you throw out additional meets in the same season, it’s a 18-17 Washington lead.

The Cougars have competed in one scored meet involving three or less teams this season, a triangular meet with UCLA and Long Beach State on March 24th, in which the men were third and the women second, while the Huskies ran in Eugene at the Pepsi Team Invitational against the Ducks and the University of Kentucky, where the men were second and the women third.  The Pepsi Team Invitational was highlighted by Meron Simon’s improbable win in the steeplechase, thanks to a colossal blunder by Oregon’s Tanguy Pepiot, who celebrated a victory a wee bit early.

The meet entries are posted here.  As I’ve written in past meet previews, I’ve taken entries, particularly in the distance races with a grain of salt, as both schools have been known to play games with the entries just to keep the other coaching staffs guessing.

There is a bit of a wrinkle to this, in that the Pac-12 Network will televise the meet live from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm with Paul Sunderland, Tom Feuer, Jerome Davis, and Amanda Pflugrad on the call.  There are several events that will be contested before the two-hour television window.  

Ten field events will be contested before the start of the television broadcast, starting with both javelin competitions on Friday afternoon starting at 4 pm.  The field events starting before the telecast includes what I think is the best event of the entire meet, the women’s pole vault, featuring the last two Pac-12 champions in Kristine Felix (2013) of WSU, Diamara Planell Cruz (2014) of UW, and the Huskies’ two-time MPSF indoor champ Kristina Owsinski.

The most notable running events contested before the start of the telecast are the women’s 3000 at 12:40 (women's 3000 is normally towards the end of the meet, but was moved to satisfy TV), followed immediately by the two steeplechase races.  Both 1500 meter races begin just after the meet goes on the air live, so coaches may have to stop and think about using key athletes for a distance double because of the time between events.

I’ve enlisted the help of two nationally-known track & field experts to give their predictions on Saturday—Jesse Squire, who writes for the Daily Relay, and compiles the collegiate dual meet rankings for Track & Field News, and Kevin Saylors, who also contributes to Track & Field News, and is one of the best spotters and stat guys in the business that an announcer can have, as he’s spotted for the stadium announcers at the Olympics and World Championships.  Saylors will be working for the Pac-12 Network on the telecast.

Squire has Washington sweeping the meet by a 103-60 count on the men’s side, and 108-55 on the women’s side.

Saylors also has the Dawgs sweeping the meet 109-54 on the men’s side, and a lot closer on the women’s side at 91-72.

We are all in agreement that Washington should sweep—I have it 109-54 on the men’s side, and 110-53 in the women’s competition.

If Washington should sweep and score 100+ points, it would mark the first time since 1997 that the Huskies have accomplished the feat (103-99 men, 100.5-80.5 women in Seattle).  The Cougars last swept the Huskies and scored 100+ points in 2010 in Pullman, winning the men’s competition 108-55, and the women’s competition 114-49.

Our composite form chart is available here for the women's competition:

Here's our composite form chart for the men's competition:

Washington State must get off to a fast start in the events before the meet goes live, or else television viewers will quickly find something else to watch before the first hour of the meet is over.

The Cougars must get those second and third place points in the sprint races to neutralize the Huskies’ depth in the distances.  Both 4 x 100 relay races could provide a momentum swing that could carry over to the individual races for the Cougars if they can beat the Huskies.

As mentioned earlier, the women’s pole vault at noon is THE event to watch.  I’ll also put the men’s pole vault, featuring the Husky trio of Jax Thoirs, Lev Marcus and former Pac-12 champ JJ Juilifs as an event to watch, along with the men’s 800 featuring WSU’s Jesse Jorgensen from Puyallup and sub-4 miler Izaic Yorks of the Huskies, though reigning Pac-12 champ Derrick Daigre of UW will not compete.

Washington’s Baylee Mires and Washington State’s Abby Regan are matched up in both the 800 and 1500, in what might be a Pac-12 championship meet preview, particularly in the 800.

Washington State’s lack of depth in the women’s throws will hurt, and hurt big.

From a distance perspective,there’s an interesting sub-plot for the Huskies, as Pac-12 steeple champ Aaron Nelson, US junior 5000m champ Colby Gilbert, 2012 NCAA 1500m champ Katie Flood, and NCAA steeple finalist Liberty Miller are all scheduled to run. All have battled various ailments/injuries over the last several weeks.

For the Washington alumni and friends of the program, as the school is putting together a series of activities surrounding the meet, including an alumni dinner Friday night at the track, along with a beer garden at the edge of the track.  Saturday’s meet also marks the 40th anniversary of Washington’s win over the Cougars by a 95-68 count, a meet made famous by the Billy Hicks (above/photo by Larry Dion, Seattle Times) finger-pointing incident in the 220 yard dash.  Later in the 1975 season, Hicks would team with Keith Tinner, Jerry Belur and Pablo Franco to win the NCAA mile relay title.

The Huskies will pay homage to its past by wearing white retro singlets Saturday.

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