The regular season meet of the year happens Saturday at Mooberry Track on the campus of Washington State University in Pullman, as the Washington Huskies and the host Cougars square off in what’s been known simply as The Dual, starting at 11 am.
Last year, under sunny skies with a live Pac-12 Network audience, Washington swept both the men’s and women’s competition at Husky Track, winning 113-50 on the men’s side, and 99-64 in the women’s competition, one point away from Washington serving up a “Double Hundy (100 point) Burger”
The 212 combined points by the Huskies were the most in school history, and the first time since 1997 that Washington had swept its cross-state rival in the long and storied history of this meet, with the Dawgs winning 13 of 19 women’s events, and 12 of 19 men’s events.
This meet gave first-year WSU coach Wayne Phipps a rude awakening into one of American college track & field’s oldest rivalries.
But this is 2016, and it’s a new meet.
For those of you keeping score, WSU leads the series in the men’s competition 61-37-1, and the UW leads the all-time women’s competition 22-18.
Washington State competed in a scoring meet against UCLA and Arizona on March 22nd, finishing second on the men’s side behind UCLA, and third in the women’s competition behind UCLA and Arizona.
Washington’s lone scoring meet was two weeks ago in Eugene at the Pepsi Team Invitational, finishing third in the women’s contest behind Oregon and Penn State, and third in the men’s competition, also behind Oregon and Penn State, which tied for the title.
The link to the entries are available here. That said, the best advice is to use it as a guide, as all hands are on deck for both teams, which means that there’s a good chance that there will be some substituting and/or adding personnel in certain events. As always, there are questionable entries on both sides, mainly to keep the other side on their toes. Each team can enter athletes right up until the gun fires.
Probably the best way to compare the two teams is to visit the TFRRS.org site, and see how the athletes on both teams stack up against each other.
In the men’s competition, I have Washington winning the meet by a 94-69 count, with four events—the javelin, pole vault, long jump, and hammer starting before the first running event at 1:15 pm.
I have Washington’s Carson Fuller (JT), Jax Thoirs (PV) and Josh Gordon (LJ) winning those first three field events, with Washington State’s Travis Pickett winning the hammer. If Washington State wants to have a reasonable chance of beating the Huskies, their field event crew must snap up those second and third place points, and if possible, get a win in one or two of those first four field events.
In both the men’s and women’s competitions, each team’s multi-event specialists will play a major part in the meet’s outcome. On the men’s side, it’s Washington State’s Dino Dodig, who is in the long jump, pole vault, and 110 hurdles, and for Washington, it’s Josh Gordon (long jump, 110 hurdles, 400 hurdles) and Cole Jensen (long jump, high jump).
In the running events, the Cougars are strongest at 100 and 200, plus the 400 hurdles, led by former Pac-12 champ CJ Allen. From 400 on up is where Washington’s strengths lie.
On paper, I have Washington State winning the women's meet by a 82-81 count. Am I confident the Cougs will win? Not really.
The dope sheet for this meet is based on the assumption that Washington State’s two multi-event specialists, Alissa Brooks-Johnson (above/photo by Paul Merca) and Liz Harper are in full form.
Brooks-Johnson, the reigning Pac-12 heptathlon champ, is entered in the javelin, and both hurdles, while Harper is in the long jump, both hurdles and the 4 x 400 relay. Brooks-Johnson only did three events at last week's Mt. SAC Relays heptathlon, due to a back issue.
Washington’s top multi-eventer, CJ Smith, is entered in the long jump, high jump, 100 hurdles, and triple jump.
If I had to pick one key matchup of the entire women’s meet, it has to be Brooks-Johnson and Harper in both hurdles plus short hurdler Candice McFarland versus the Husky hurdles crew of Kimmie Stueckle, Naivasha Sophusson Smith, Morganne Hill, Krista Armstead, and Carly Lester. Someone (or two) from the Washington hurdle team MUST step up and either split Brooks-Johnson and Harper or beat one or both of them.
Both 4 x 100 relay races are huge from a psychological standpoint for both teams. On paper they are evenly matched, so passes will be crucial.
Washington State has an edge in experience on the women’s side in the sprint relay. It’s up to the youngsters on the Husky 4x1 to not get caught up in the moment, and just do their job if they want to get the win in that event.
Here are my dope sheets, along with comments, with the men first, followed by the women. For those of you planning to be at Mooberry Track, please feel free to print this and follow along during the course of the meet:
As always, happy reading, and let the smack talk begin!
NOTE: The University of Washington and Washington State University contributed to this preview.