Monday, May 15, 2017

Liz Quick repeats as Pac-12 pole vault champion...

EUGENE—The University of Washington’s Liz Quick (left/photo by Paul Merca) successfully defended her title in the pole vault as the Pac-12 track & field championships concluded its two-day run at Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon Sunday, clearing 13-8.5 (4.17m) on her first attempt.

Quick and teammate Kristina Owsinski, the 2015 champion, went back and forth with the lead after she made her opening height of 12-10.25 (3.92m), but needed a second attempt at the second height of 13-2.25 (4.02m), a bar cleared by Owsinski on her first.

The duo needed two attempts at the next height of 13-4.25 (4.07m), before Quick took control at the next two heights of 13-6.25 (4.12m) and the winning height of 13-8.25 (4.17m), needing only one attempt at both heights, while Owsinski needed two.

Both vaulters went out at 14-0 (4.27m) to give Quick the title based on fewer misses.

 "Like all of these competitions it all comes down to attempts," said Quick. "I made a lot on my second try, then towards the end I figured out some things and started making on my first. I think I competed well and it was really fun to go head-to-head with Kristina. We're just excited to be back here in four weeks (for NCAAs). I'm just really glad that I was here for four years and was able to place on the podium all four years."

In one of the most thrilling races of the afternoon, Washington State’s CJ Allen, who was looking for his third career Pac-12 title in the 400 hurdles, set a personal best of 49.54 seconds, but was nipped at the line by UCLA’s Rai Benjamin by 2/100ths of a second.

Allen was behind for most of the race, but took command over the final hurdle, only to get caught by Benjamin on the run-in less than five meters from the finish.

Defending conference 100 and 200 champion and Federal Way native Hannah Cunliffe of the University of Oregon, who had not run an open 100 or 200 all season long due to illness, finished third in both races, running 11.11 in the 100 and 22.60 in the 200.

Tacoma’s Marcus Chambers of Oregon, the defending Pac-12 400 champion, was second in 45.19 to USC frosh Michael Norman, who ran 45.15 to take the title.

Chambers ran the anchor leg on Oregon’s winning 4 x 100 relay to open the meet in 39.37, while Washington State was a surprising third in 40.36.

Discus thrower Gina Flint (170-6/51.98m personal best) finished a surprising second behind Pac-12 women’s performer of the meet Maggie Ewen of Arizona State, who threw 196-2 (196-2).

Until the dual meet against Washington State three weeks ago, Flint had not competed since last year’s Pac-12 meet in Seattle, due to a knee issue which put her 2017 season in doubt.

The Huskies’ Amy-Eloise Neale, who was one of the favorites in the 1500, got knocked down in a tangle of legs in a very tactical race, but got up to finish sixth in 4:25.87.  She then came back to take second in the 5000 in a drag race, 2/100ths short of the win, as Dani Jones of Colorado, the 1500 champ, also took the win here in 16:12.76 to 16:12.78.

Other podium finishes included Washington’s Onyie Chibuogwo in the women’s hammer, as she took second with a new school record of 201-5 (61.41m); the Huskies’ Casey Burns, who was third in the men’s triple jump (50-9.5/15.48m); the UW men’s 4x400 relay (3:08.42); Spokane native John Dressel of Colorado, who was third in the men's 5000 (14:01.69); and Washington State’s Lateah Holmes, who was third in the women’s high jump (5-7.75/1.72m).

Oregon swept both the men’s and women’s team titles, scoring 175, and 189 points respectively.  Washington was fourth in the women’s team race with 72, and seventh in the men’s, scoring 61. Washington State was sixth in the men’s race with 68.5 points, and tied for ninth in the women’s competition with 45.

The NCAA West Regionals in Austin, Texas is next on May 25-27, as the athletes and teams look to return for the NCAA championship meet back at Hayward Field June 7-10.

NOTE: The University of Washington, Washington State University, and the Pac-12 Conference contributed to this report.

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