Saturday, January 13, 2018

Stars deliver three world-leading performances at season opening UW Indoor Preview...

SEATTLE—The stars came to the Dempsey Saturday.

And the stars delivered as the University of Washington opened the gates of the Dempsey Indoor to open the Huskies’ 2018 indoor track and field season.

Shalane Flanagan (left/photo by Paul Merca), the four-time US Olympian, 2008 Olympic silver medalist in the 10000, and the winner of the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon, returned to the Dempsey for the first time since 2011 and delivered a world leading time at 3000 meters, winning in  8:55.11 on the 307-meter oversized track.

Former Husky Eleanor Fulton did the early pace work for Flanagan, running sub 9-minute pace, before dropping back and finishing seventh in 9:14.57.

Once Fulton dropped back after doing her work for Flanagan, it was a battle for second with Husky alum Mel Lawrence taking it in 8:57.83, followed by current Husky Amy-Eloise Neale, who ran 9:01.96, charging from sixth with 800 meters to go, to catch among others, US world championships team member Sara Vaughn, who ended up fourth in 9:07.37.

Neale’s time is the second fastest in school history, and is also the second fastest time in the collegiate ranks behind former world leader Elinor Purrier of New Hampshire’s 8:55.68.

Another world leading time was run in the women’s 400, as former USC Trojan Jaide Stepter ran 52.50, breaking her own meet record of 53.18 set two years ago.

Note that Flanagan and Stepter's marks will not count for qualifying for the IAAF World Indoor Championships due to the Dempsey being an oversized track.

A pair of London Olympic gold medalists left the Dempsey with wins, as Aries Merritt (left/photo by Paul Merca), the current world record holder in the 110 hurdles, won the 60 hurdles in a meet record time of 7.65, and Dempsey veteran Brittney Reese, the women’s long jump champ in London and the reigning world champ in the long jump, ditched her jumping shoes for sprint spikes and scored a mild upset in the 60 meter dash, winning in 7.31.

Merritt, who missed an extensive period of time after the 2015 world championships after receiving a kidney transplant from his sister, yet nearly made the 2016 Olympic team, tied the world lead with his winning time of 7.65.

Reese took down a field that included NCAA All-American Ashley Henderson (7.33), and Oregon’s Ariana Washington (7.46), who won a gold medal as part of Team USATF in the 4x100 relay at last year’s world championships.

Darrell Hill, the 2016 US Olympian, 2017 world championships finalist and the IAAF Diamond League champion in the shot put, opened up his 2018 campaign by winning the shot put with a best of 65-2.25 (19.87m) on his only fair throw to beat UCLA alum and Greek Olympian Nick Scarvelis, who threw 64-3 (19.58m) on his only fair throw of the day.

Arizona alum and 2017 world championships competitor Liz Patterson won the women’s high jump with a jump of 6-0.75 (1.85m).  Former Husky and Puerto Rican Olympian Diamara Planell Cruz won the women’s pole vault with a clearance of 13-9.75 (4.21m).

2016 Olympic bronze medalist Clayton Murphy, who made his debut as a member of the Nike Oregon Project, won the men’s 800 in 1:51.44, while NOP teammate Yomif Kejelcha of Ethiopia, the reigning world indoor champ at 3000 meters, won the mile in 4:02.70.

Drew Windle of the Brooks Beasts won the rarely contested 1000m run in 2:20.95, then came back to finish second in the men’s 400 in 48.43 to Stanford’s Julian Body, who ran 48.21.

Track and field action resumes at the Dempsey on January 26-27 with the UW Invitational.

NOTE:  The University of Washington sports information office contributed to this report.

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