CERRITOS, California—University of Washington alum Diamara Planell Cruz (left/photo by Paul Merca) broke her own Puerto Rican national record in winning the pole vault competition at the Mt. SAC Relays Saturday afternoon, and more importantly, cleared the Olympic Games qualifying standard to enhance her chances of selection for her country’s Olympic team.
Planell Cruz, who completed her eligibility at the University of Washington at last month’s NCAA indoor championships in Birmingham, Alabama, started the day with a second attempt clearance at 13-9.25 (4.20m), then cleared 14-1.25 (4.30m) to win the competition over Malin Dahlstrom of Sweden, who cleared a best of 13-9.25.
Planell Cruz then went straight to the Olympic qualifying standard of 14-9 (4.50m), which she made on her first attempt. She then took three unsuccessful shots at 15-1 (4.60m), which would have broken the meet record of 14-11 (4.55m) held by three athletes.
In that same competition, Washington’s Liz Quick failed to clear her opening height of 13-3.5 (4.05m).
The women’s 100 meter dash provided some fireworks as well, as Federal Way HS graduate Hannah Cunliffe of the University of Oregon ran the fastest collegiate time in the nation so far this season of 10.99 in finishing second to former Oregon standout Jenna Prandini, who ran 10.95 for the victory and the fastest time in the world so far this season.
Cunliffe’s time is the second fastest time in the world so far in 2016.
Cunliffe also ran the third leg on Oregon’s 4 x 100 meter relay team that won the invitational section in a time of 42.68, a new school record and the fastest collegiate time this season.
Washington State assistant coach Angela Whyte won her section of the women’s invitational 100 hurdles and finished second overall in a wind-aided time of 12.81, beating in her heat former University of Washington volunteer coach Christie (Gordon) Moerman, who ran 12.96 to finish fourth overall.
A day after winning at the Bryan Clay Invitational, former Husky Gianna Woodruff finished fourth in her section of the 400 hurdles (fifth overall), running 58.36, as Jaide Stepter of USC won in 55.90. Washington State’s Liz Harper ran 59.39 in that same heat for seventh place and ninth overall.
WSU alum Jeshua Anderson, who was the world leader in the 400 hurdles going into this weekend, suffered his first loss of the year, finishing second in 49.54, as Khallifah Rosser of Cal State LA won in 49.27. Current Cougar CJ Allen won his section in 50.26 to finish fifth overall.
Washington State’s 4 x 400 relay squad of Regyn Gaffney, Dominique Keel, Christiana Ekelem and Liz Harper finished third in their section and fourth overall, running 3:36.76, the fourth fastest time in school history.
In Long Beach, Washington State alum Blessing Ufodiama won the women’s triple jump at the Beach Invitational held on the campus of Long Beach State University.
Ufodiama had a best of 44-0 (13.41m) to win handily, leaping into a small headwind. More significantly, that mark got her the qualifying mark for this summer’s US Olympic Trials.
Rainier Beach HS grad Ginnie Crawford won the women’s 100 hurdles, running a windy (+2.3) 12.83.
In other action at the Beach Invitational:
—Washington’s Frank Catelli missed the 60 foot barrier in the men’s shot put, throwing 59-11.25 (18.27m) to take third overall;
—Eastern Washington’s Katie Mahoney finished second overall in the women’s 1500 and broke her own school record in the process, running 4:22.92;
—The Huskies’ Chris Williams was sixth in his section and seventh overall in the 110 hurdles in a wind-aided 14.24. Travis Milbrandt was ninth overall and third in his section in a wind-aided 14.41;
—Washington’s Alexis Ford was seventh overall in the women’s 400 in 55.31;
—Eastern Washington’s Jeremy VanAssche won his heat of the 100 in a windy 10.60 to finish sixth overall;
—Seattle Pacific’s Jalen Tims came oh-so-close to breaking the 60 second barrier in the 400 hurdles, running 60.06 to win her heat and take sixth overall;
—Washington’s Quadelle Satterwhite was third in his heat and fifth overall in the mens’ 200 in 21.40, running into a headwind.
In Eugene, Spokane native Britney Henry won the women’s hammer at the Oregon Relays, with a toss of 216-1(65.87m).
The University of Oregon’s Marcus Chambers, a native of Tacoma, won the men’s 400 in 46.95.
In the men’s 5000, Auburn-Riverside alum Jordan McNamara was third in the 5000 in 13:57.87 in his season opener. Kellen Manley of Gonzaga won the men’s 3000 steeple in 9:01.16. Tacoma native Dakarai Hightower won the men’s high jump at 7-0.25 (2.14m), while UW alum JJ Juilfs was second in the men’s pole vault at 16-11 (5.16m). Another former Husky, Kyle Nielsen, won the men’s javelin with a toss of 213-8 (65.14m).
Finally, in Nassau, Bahamas, Rainier Beach HS grad Michael Berry was fourth in his section of the 400 at the Chris Brown Bahamas Invitational in 45.99, as Kyle Clemons of Great Britain won the section in 45.48.
In that same meet, Jeshua Anderson lost his world lead in the 400 hurdles, as his old collegiate rival Johnny Dutch took the lead in winning with a time of 48.36.