Sunday, May 15, 2016

Husky men's distance crew propels Dawgs to highest Pac-12 team finish since 1976...

SEATTLE—With three conference champions from the 1976 Washington Husky track & field team that finished second in the Pac-8 championships in attendance, the 2016 Husky men’s team matched the 1976 squad’s finish by placing second at the Pac-12 championships on a typical Northwest cool and cloudy day at Husky Track.

Oregon won the men’s team title with a final score of 155.6 points, with the Huskies accumulating 122 in second for its highest team finish in 40 years.  Washington State finished tenth with 41.60 points.

The Huskies got victories Sunday from its strength—the middle and long distance events, as Colby Gilbert (left/photo by Paul Merca), and Izaic Yorks took the 5000 and 1500 meter runs, respectively.

Gilbert, who earlier placed sixth in the 1500 in a personal best 3:40.99, bided his time in the large field of runners entered in the 5000, before taking the lead from Colorado’s Morgan Pearson on the final lap.

Aaron Nelson, who won the steeplechase Saturday, closed strongly to take third in a personal best 13:42.06, while Fred Huxham finished seventh in 13:44.39, while teammate Andrew Gardner just missed a scoring spot, finishing ninth in a personal best 13:59.09.

As expected, Izaic Yorks won the men’s 1500 for the second straight time, taking no chances and leading from gun to tape in 3:39.14.

The men’s distance group especially had unprecedented success this weekend, scoring a total of 60 points over the 800m, 1,500m, 5,000m, 10,000m, and 3,000m steeplechase. Gilbert’s win in the 5,000-meters was the first ever for a Husky male in that event in the 57-year history of the meet, and Yorks now owns two of the three 1,500-meter titles in UW history on the men’s side.

Afterwards, a beaming UW head coach Greg Metcalf said, “Our men’s distance group is mostly homegrown Washington kids that feed off each other, and they trust and believe and are confident. We’ve never scored that many points in the 10k and 5k in this meet. Our distance group did a great job on both sides. The measuring stick in this conference across the board is incredible; it’s not for the weak of heart. We had lots of wonderful young kids that (came through) for us this weekend.”

Washington’s other top three finish came from Carson Murray in the high jump, clearing 7-0.5 (2.15m) as Thane Pierson of Washington State won at 7-3 (2.21m).

In addition to Pierson in the high jump, Washington State got its only other victory in the 400 hurdles, as CJ Allen won his second Pac-12 title in a time of 50.36.

Tacoma’s Marcus Chambers played a big part in Oregon’s team title, successfully defending his 400 title in 45.94, finishing third in the 200 in 20.97, and anchoring the Ducks’ 4 x 100 relay to a third place finish.

Seattle native Darian Brooks of Stanford successfully defended his triple jump crown, winning with a mark of 51-11.75 (15.84m).

On the women’s side, the Huskies matched its highest team placing in Pac-12 history, finishing fourth with a final score of 82 points, as Oregon ran away with the team title, scoring 185 points.

Washington State finished eighth with 45 points.

Federal Way HS grad Hannah Cunliffe of Oregon (left/photo by Paul Merca) was the meet’s most outstanding female athlete, winning both the 100 in 11.08, the 200 in a championship meet record 22.49, and running the third leg on Oregon’s winning 4 x 100 relay in a championship meet record 42.71.

“I was happy that I’m in my home town and my family was here, so that was great support that always helps,” Cunliffe said. “To win all three, that’s just a great feeling.”

Washington’s Liz Quick became the third different Husky to win the pole vault title, clearing 13-5.75 (4.11m), before going straight to 14-5.5 (4.41m), which would have been a new school record, missing twice, then running through.

Sophomore Kaitlin Zinsli earned a runner-up finish in the pole vault, clearing a best of 12-10 (3.91m).

Senior Baylee Mires finished third in the 800, running a school record 2:03.91, as Oregon’s Raevyn Rogers, the defending NCAA champ, led a Duck 1-2 finish, clocking 2:02.41.

Washington State’s Liz Harper had the highest individual finish on the day for the Cougs, finishing fourth in the 400 hurdles in 58.20.  She also anchored WSU to a fourth place finish in the 4x400 relay, as the team of Dominique Keel, Christiana Ekelem, Regyn Gaffney, & Harper ran 3:38.17.

Complete results from the Pac-12 championships are available here.

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