Sunday, April 23, 2017

Dawgs sweep Cougs in The Dual on a wet, nasty Seattle day...

Washington's Ryan Croson brings home the baton in the
deciding 4 x 400 relay, while Jacopo Spano raises his arms in triumph,
with Husky sprint coach and NFL legend Eric Metcalf behind Spano
(Howard Lao photo)
SEATTLE—If you want to know why the dual meet matters, look no further than Husky Track on a rainy, dreary Sunday where you knew that personal and/or season bests were going to be few and far between, but competing and making sure you didn’t let your teammates down mattered.

The University of Washington men’s team won the annual Dual Meet against the Washington State Cougars by a count of 84-79, while the women’s squad coasted to a 96-66 win over their cross-state rivals.

This gave the Huskies the sweep of the meet for the third consecutive year, the longest streak in the storied history of the meet.  While the women have a modest three-meet winning streak, the men extended their streak to five in a row, the longest since the Huskies won 11 in a row from 1915-32.

The real story of the men’s competition was in the way it ebbed and flowed, with Washington holding the lead at 42-35 (scored 5-3-1 in individual events, and 5-0 relays) after nine events.

At that point, the Cougars stormed back, thanks in part to a 8-1 win in the 400 hurdles led by WSU’s CJ Allen (50.50);  a 9-0 sweep of the 200 led by Ja’Maun Charles’ 21.53 clocking to notch his second win on the day; and a surprising second place finish in the 3000 by Wazzu’s Sam Levora (8:21.16 to 8:21.27), as he overtook the Huskies’ Mahmoud Moussa a few steps before the finish to give the Cougars a 75-74 lead with only the triple jump and 4 x 400 relay remaining.

In the oh-by-the-way category, Washington All-American Colby Gilbert easily won the 3000 in 8:17.70 to go along with his win in the 1500, where he ran 3:49.34.

Entering the final two events, both teams had to win the 4 x 400, and earn a 5-4 decision in the triple jump to win the meet.

Reflecting the state of the entire meet, the 4 x400 relay had its ebb and flow, with Washington State taking the lead through the first two legs, led by Ja'Maun Charles and CJ Allen.

On the opening leg, Charles (originally listed in the results as running the third leg, but replaced Corey Allen) got out well ahead of the Huskies’ Lucas Strong before handing off to CJ Allen, the two-time Pac-12 champ in the 400 hurdles.

CJ ran a strong leg, but the Huskies’ Italian Stallion, Jacopo Spano, kept it even to give third leg Michael Thomas a reasonable shot, as he was matched up against the Cougars’ Ray Littles, who was subbed for Charles when Charles was moved to the leadoff leg.

Thomas eventually overhauled Littles, getting payback for Littles' second place finish in the open 400 over Thomas (48.83 to 49.12) as he handed the baton to Ryan Croson, who was matched against 800 meter runner Matthew Swanson of the Cougars.

Croson extended the lead. giving the Huskies the win in 3:14.69 to WSU’s 3:15.58, and an apparent victory in the men’s meet.

Though for all intents and purposes, the Huskies got a 5-4 win in the triple jump, the event was not yet finished, so it could not be announced to the fans in the stands and also watching on the Pac-12 Network that the Huskies had won the meet. 

Washington’s Casey Burns, ranked #2 in the Pac-12 with a season and personal best of 51-10.5 (15.81m), took two jumps to easily win the competition with a best of 50-1.75 (15.28m).

Washington State’s Robby Flores, the only athlete in the 4-man triple jump field with a realistic shot at catching Burns, finished second with a sixth round jump of 48-0.75 (14.65m) to officially end the Dual, a few moments after Croson crossed the line.

The Cougars’ Josh Colbert was third at 44-6.75 (13.58m), while Husky pole vaulter Lev Marcus was pressed into triple jump duty and finished fourth at 44-0.5 (13.42m).

Afterwards, an ecstatic UW head coach Greg Metcalf said, “That was what college athletics is all about.”

“We had to win the 4x4 to win the meet. Every kid on our team knew it. We had some guys that were cramping but we drug a couple guys on the track. They (Lucas Strong & Jacopo Spano) kept us close, Michael Thomas ran incredible and gave Ryan Croson a shot with a lap to go, and he delivered the goods. That’s the way a track meet is supposed to end.”

Cougar head coach Wayne Phipps said, “I was extremely proud of the way our teams competed today. It would have been great to get the win, especially with it being so close on the men’s side, but absolutely no fault of the effort put forth today.”

In the women’s team competition, the Cougs kept it close early, but a sweep of the 1500 and an 8-1 count in the 400 and 800 meter runs put the meet solidly in the Huskies’ favor.

Reigning Pac-12 cross country champ Amy-Eloise Neale (4;24.79) won the 1500 in 4:24.79.

Double winners for Washington included Laura Anuakpado in the 200/400 (25.04/53.72) and Gina Flint in the shot/discus (48-3.25/14.71m and 148-11/45.38m).  Kiana Davis had a double win for the Cougs, taking the high jump (5-7/1.70m) and the triple jump (40-9.5/12.43m).

Here are highlights of the meet, courtesy of the Pac-12 Network.

With the way athletes on both sides competed Sunday, this is proof that dual meets are still relevant and that other collegiate squads around the country should make duals an important part of their season, instead of sending parts of teams to various meets around the country in pursuit of qualifying marks.

Dual meets are easy for the average fan to follow—no BS about their athletes getting top-10 marks or (and this is my pet peeve, especially when reading press releases from Division II schools) obtaining provisional qualifying marks for the national championship meet.  There will be very few references to “provisional qualifiers” in this blog, and your school’s press release goes into the trash pile.


Before the start of the meet, Husky Hall of Famer Keith Tinner, who passed away on April 14th of a heart attack, was honored by the Washington track & field program.

Tinner ran the opening leg on the Huskies’ mile relay team that won the NCAA national title in 1975, handing the baton off to Jerry Belur, with Pablo Franco and Billy Hicks comprising the rest of the quartet.

Their time of 3:04.0 (converted to 3:04.16) stood as the UW school record until 2005.

The NCAA championship relay team was inducted into the Husky Hall of Fame in 1988.

Tinner won five state titles in the 220 and 440 while at Tacoma’s Lincoln HS, and was the first high schooler in state history to break 47 seconds in the quarter. His feats earned him a spot in the Tacoma/Pierce County Athletic Hall of Fame.

He worked for the Tacoma School District for over 20 years. 

Tinner is survived by son Kevin, daughter Kassie, brother Robert, and sisters Linda and Denise.

Here is the UW track team’s remembrance of Tinner on its Instagram account.

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

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