The NCAA indoor track & field championships get started Friday at Gilliam Indoor on the campus of Texas A&M, with the Washington Huskies sending four athletes, and Federal Way’s Hannah Cunliffe among the key athletes in the University of Oregon’s attempt to repeat as national champions.
Washington sends to College Station pole vaulters Liz Quick (above/photo by Paul Merca) and Chase Smith, and distance runners Colby Gilbert and Amy-Eloise Neale.
For Gilbert, who will contest both the 5000 Friday night, and the 3000 Saturday, this marks his third straight NCAA indoor appearance, while Quick makes her second appearance at the national championships. Smith and Neale, who will run the mile, are making their national indoor championship meet debut.
Smith competes in the finals of the men’s pole vault on Friday, while Quick jumps on Saturday. Neale runs a semifinal in the mile Friday.
One of the big stories heading into the NCAA championships is whether or not Federal Way HS grad can withstand the pressure of being the #1 seeded sprinter in the 60 meter dash, after winning the MPSF title, and setting an all-conditions collegiate record of 7.07 on February 11th in Albuquerque, while helping the Ducks get the valuable points needed to help win another national indoor title.
Cunliffe is entered in the 200 meters as well, where she is ranked second behind teammate Death Stevens. Most knowledgeable track & field prognosticators project Cunliffe to contribute 18 points for Oregon’s cause. Cunliffe will run a semi-final in both the 60 and 200 on Friday
Colbert native John Dressel of the University of Colorado runs in the finals of the men’s 3000 on Saturday.
After some withdrawals, Tacoma native Marcus Chambers of the University of Oregon was added to the field in the men’s 200.
ESPN3 will have live streaming coverage of the NCAA championships starting at 3:25 pacific time, and Saturday at 1:55 pm, wth a re-air of the meet on Sunday March 12 at 4pm on ESPN2.
Meanwhile, the NCAA Division II got underway Thursday at the Birmingham Crossplex in Birmingham, Alabama.
Central Washington’s Kodiak Landis stands third at the break in the heptathlon with a score of 2958 points, as Shakiel Chattoo of Azusa Pacific leads with 3242 points.
Landis ran a personal best of 7.07 in the 60, followed by two straight PBs in the long jump (23-1.75/7.05m) and the shot put (41-1/12.52m), before finishing the day by high jumping 5-11.25 (1.81m).
In the women’s 5000, sisters Georgia and Shannon Porter, who compete for Western State (Colorado), and Saint Martin’s, finished together, in eighth & ninth place, respectively.
Georgia ran 16:46.09, while Shannon finished in 16:51.76. Alexis Zeis of U-Mary won the race in 16:23.22.
In the semis of the women’s mile, Mary Charleson of Seattle Pacific finished seventh in her heat, running 4:56.49, as Emilee Trost of Minnesota-Duluth took the race in 4:46.53.
Charleson, along with Sarah Macdonald, Chynna Phan and Lani Taylor, will compete in the distance medley relay Friday, while Landis finishes up in the heptathlon.
Also competing Friday are Central Washington’s Mariyah Vongsaveng (60 hurdles), pole vaulter McKenna Emmert and Luke Plummer (triple jump), Saint Martin’s Mikel Smith (high jump); and Western Washington’s Anna Paradee (pole vault).
NOTE: The NCAA and the sports information offices of the University of Washington, Central Washington University, and Seattle Pacific contributed to this report.