Friday, April 21, 2017

Dawgs and Cougs set to go at it Sunday on the Purple Track (and the Pac-12 Network)...

The University of Washington hosts Washington State University Sunday for The Dual meet at Husky Track, with the women’s hammer throw kicking things off at 10 am, followed by a bevy of field events until 2pm, when the women’s 3000 meter run commences.

Fans who can’t make it out to Husky Track can watch the meet live on the Pac-12 Network (channel 628 on Comcast Seattle) between 3-5pm, with Jim Watson handling play-by-play, and analysis from Dwight Stones and Tom Feuer, while Elizabeth Moreau is the field reporter.

In the 2016 edition of The Dual contested at Mooberry Track in Pullman, Washington swept both the men’s and women’s competition under cloudy and windy conditions, getting the fabled “Hundy Burger” on the women’s side, 100-63, and the men just missing on the “Hundy Burger”, winning 95-68.

Last year’s meet was the first time Washington strung together consecutive sweeps over the Cougars since 1996-97.  Washington has a four-meet winning streak on the men’s side, its longest since 1932, when the Dawgs won 11 meets in a row. On the women’s side, the Huskies have a modest two-meet winning streak over the Cougs.

WSU leads the series in the men’s competition 62-37-1, while Washington has a 23-18 lead all time in the women’s meet.

Washington won 12 of 19 women’s events, and 11 of 19 men’s events.  Multiple individual event winners from last year’s meet returning for this year’s competition include UW’s Colby Gilbert (left/photo by Paul Merca) in the 1500 & 3000; Kennadi Bouyer of the Huskies in the 100 and 200; UW’s Gina Flint in the shot and discus; and WSU’s Liz Harper in the 100 and 400 hurdles, plus the long jump.

WHO’S GONNA WIN, YOU ASK?

Once again, I’ve enlisted the help of both Jesse Squire from dailyrelay.com, who compiles the national dual meet rankings for Track & Field News, and Seattle resident Kevin Saylors, who is one of the best track & field spotters/stats mavens in the game, having spotted for numerous announcers at World Championships and Olympics.

On the men’s side, Squire has Washington winning comfortably by a 96-67 margin, while I have the Dawgs squeezing it out by a 83-80 count, and Saylors projecting a win by the same 83-80 margin.

Make no mistake that Washington State is a vastly improved squad over the team they trotted out last year.

In my mind, three of the biggest reasons for the improvement of the Washington State squad are freshman Sam Brixey in the 110 hurdles, hammer thrower Brock Eager, returning from a redshirt season, and short sprinter Ja’Maun Charles.

Brixey has been an asset for the Cougs in both the 110 hurdles and on their 4 x 100 relay, while Eager has been throwing consistently over 63 meters in every meet this season.  Charles has the fastest time of either the UW or WSU sprinters in the 100 and 200.

While they don’t have a difference making/All American distance runner of the caliber of the Huskies’ Colby Gilbert, for the most part, WSU’s distance runners match up well with the UDub’s; after all, they did qualify as a team for the NCAA cross country championships last season, and Washington didn’t.

That said, the combination of Brixey, Eager, Charles, and WSU’s distance squad collectively could be the difference makers in having another senior class graduate without never beating the UW and a win on the purple track.

Adding to the mystery surrounding the meet are questions surrounding UW distance runners Fred Huxham and Andrew Gardner. Both are entered in the meet—Huxham in the 3000, and Gardner in the 3000 and steeplechase.  Both have not competed outdoors this season, so there’s the possibility that they’ve been entered by Husky head coach Greg Metcalf simply as a distraction to the WSU coaching staff.

I had both Gardner and Huxham scoring in their events in my original dope sheet, but until I see them on the line Sunday, I don’t have them.

Squire and I agree that Washington State will sweep the hammer and that UW will sweep the pole vault.  He does have UW sweeping the 1500, but I’ve flip-flopped on that event, thinking that WSU’s Chandler Teigen may squeak out that third place finish. I’d think that WSU would have extra incentive to score in this event, after Colby Gilbert took a broom with a UW flag attached and swept the finish line after the race.

Despite his final men’s score being an identical 83-80, Saylors, who will be working as the Pac-12 Network booth statistician, has confidence that Washington can sweep both the 1500 and 3000s.

Washington’s ability to rack up points in the six events contested before the 3pm TV window will play a large part in the final outcome of the meet. One of those six events—the long jump—will be a battle between multi-event specialists Josh Gordon of the UW and Dino Dodig of WSU. If he comes out of UW’s Spring Game Saturday unscathed, wide receiver Dante Pettis could factor in the outcome of the long jump, as he’s jumped 23-10.5 (7.27m) this season.

Washington’s hurdle crew must step up to get those crucial second and third place finishes if they want to stave off a possible Washington State win.

On the women’s side, I have Washington winning by a 101-62 count, while Jesse has the Dawgs by a 100-60 count (2 points vacated).  Kevin has the Huskies winning by a 98-65 count.

While Washington has a little bit more breathing room in the women’s meet, their hurdle crew must step up against Washington State’s 1-2 punch of Liz Harper (left/photo by Paul Merca) and Alissa Brooks-Johnson.  Husky redshirt freshman Darhian Mills appears on paper as the only one who could give either of them a battle.

Both the 100 and 400 hurdles could be the most entertaining events of the meet, especially if Mills can either split or beat both Harper and Brooks-Johnson.

You may have read this before in previous posts this season, but one women’s event you won’t want to miss is the pole vault at 1 pm, featuring three of the last four Pac-12 champions in this event—WSU’s Kristine Felix, and Washington’s Kristina Owsinski and Liz Quick. After coming off of Achilles tendon surgery that ended her 2016 season, Owsinski appears to be better than ever.

With the UW projected to win the women’s competition easily, NCAA scorer and North American U20 steeplechase record holder Charlotte Prouse won’t be missed too badly. The sophomore has not raced this outdoor season, though she is entered in the steeple. Like Andrew Gardner and Fred Huxham in the men’s races, I’ll believe it when I see it.

Given the nature of the dual meet, all hands are on deck, and coaches can enter athletes right up to a few moments before the start of the event. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—some of the questionable entries must be taken with a grain of salt, as there is some gamesmanship happening between the two staffs.



The dope sheets are attached at the bottom as an Excel file. You can print this out and bring it with you or have it alongside your TV while watching the meet.


As always, happy reading, and let the smack talk begin!

Paul Merca's Projections:


Jesse Squire's Projections:


Kevin Saylor's Projections:


NOTE:  The University of Washington and Washington State University contributed to this report.

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