Saturday, February 17, 2018

Wildcats hang on to win 4x400 relay and tie Seattle Pacific for GNAC women's indoor crown...

NAMPA, Idaho—In track and field, nearly all meets end with the 4 x 400 relay.

The Great Northwest Athletic Conference indoor championships at Jacksons Track at the Ford Idaho Center finished in the most exciting way possible, and in the end, both Seattle Pacific and Central Washington (above/team photo courtesy GNAC) tied for the women’s team title.

With the team score at 132-126 in favor of the Falcons going into the 4 x 400 relay, the scenario for the Wildcats was simple: they had to finish six points ahead of Seattle Pacific to tie for the team title, or hope the Falcons finished worse than sixth in the two-section final.

The Falcons went into the meet with the third fastest time in the conference at 3:52.68, with Central Washington having run 3:55.48, so short of a breakdown or an injury, the possibility of a SPU collapse was above slim to none.

In the race, the Wildcats battled Alaska Anchorage through the first two legs before taking control on the third leg, while Seattle Pacific was in fifth with a noticeable gap over sixth place Western Washington.

On the anchor leg, the Wildcats gave the baton to 400 meter champ Ali Anderson who pulled away from Alaska Anchorage’s Danielle McCormick, the 800 champ, only to have Simon Fraser’s Alana Mussatto make a late charge over the last lap of the 200-meter oval.

As they exited the final turn, Anderson had about a step lead and just hung on to give Central the win in a season best 3:50.64 to Simon Fraser’s 3:50.68.

Meanwhile Seattle Pacific maintained its fifth place position, crossing the line in 3:57.81, comfortably ahead of Western Washington’s 4:01.15. Had the Vikings finished ahead of the Falcons, that would have given the team title outright to Central Washington; conversely, had Simon Fraser caught Central, the Falcons would have gone home with its 12th championship.

With the tie, Central Washington became the first team in conference history not named Seattle Pacific or Alaska Anchorage to win the women’s indoor team title.

Besides leading the Wildcats to victory in the 4 x 400, Anderson won the 400 in 55.68, and the 200 in 25.00.

She was joined on the victory stand by hurdler Mariyah Vongsaveng, who won her second GNAC 60 hurdles crown in 8.58.

While the Falcons got kick started Friday by Scout Cai’s wins in both the pentathlon and pole vault, they got a conference crown from freshman Renick Meyer, who won the 60 in 7.71.

Western Washington was fifth with 78 points, led by Jasmine McMullin’s double victory in the long jump on Friday (18-9.75/5.73m), and in the triple jump (41-7.25/12.68m), where she set both a conference all-time and meet record. That mark also gave McMullin an auto qualifier into next month’s NCAA D2 championship meet.

Saint Martin’s finished eighth with 11 points.

On the men’s side, Western Washington was the top Washington school in fifth with 76.5 points, with Central Washington sixth at 64.5 points.

Saint Martin’s was ninth with 17.5 points, while Seattle Pacific was tenth with 7 points.

In its first full season as a NCAA D2 member, Concordia/Oregon won the men’s title with 114 points, six points better than three-time champ Alaska Anchorage.

Western Washington got its only win of the meet from Tupre Wickliff in the high jump, clearing 6-7 (2.01m), while Central Washington got a victory from Braydon Maier in the heptathlon, as he scored 5006 points.

The Wildcats’ Kodiak Landis, who has an auto qualifying mark for the NCAA D2 championships, failed to finish after taking a fall in the 60 hurdles.

In Albuquerque, New Mexico, University of Washington alum and 2016 US Olympian Jeremy Taiwo won his second national heptathlon title at the USATF Indoor Track & Field Championships Saturday at the Albuquerque Convention Center.

Taiwo, who entered the day in second place after Friday’s first four events, finished third in the 60 hurdles in 8.19, worth 935 points.

He then set a personal best in the pole vault, clearing 16-6.75 (5.05m) after a small hiccup at 15-3 (4.65m), where he needed three attempts to get over the bar.

In the 1000 meter run, he ran a season best 2:41.36, to finish with 858 points and a final two-day score of 5935 points, 12 better than Wolf Mahler, who set a personal best score of 5923.

Washington alum Katie Mackey of the Brooks Beasts finished second in the women’s 3000, running 9:01.68, while fellow alum Mel Lawrence was fourth in 9:10.55, and former Husky Eleanor Fulton didn’t finish, dropping out after 1600m.

Mackey’s second place finish behind Shelby Houlihan’s 9:00.08 puts the Washington alum on her first major national team, as she’ll head to Birmingham, UK for next month’s IAAF World Indoor Track & Field Championships.

In other events involving Washington athletes:

—University Place native Andrea Geubelle was second in the women’s triple jump, with a season best 45-2.5 (13.78m) as Tori Franklin won in a personal best 46-5.25 (14.15m). WSU alum Kiana Davis was eighth at 41-7 (12.67m); 

—In the men’s 3000, Garrett Heath of the Brooks Beasts was sixth in 8:01.04, while teammate Izaic Yorks was eighth at 8:04.68.  Olympic silver medalist Paul Chelimo won in 7:57.88; 

—In qualifying action, former Renton native Devon Allen won his heat of the 60 hurdles in 7.58. Drew Windle of the Brooks Beasts won his heat of the men’s 800 in 1:49.20.

Hannah Fields (2:07.72), Savannah Colón (2:10.17) and Baylee Mires (2:12.24) of the Brooks Beasts all failed to advance in their heats of the women’s 800.

The mens’ 400 saw both Michael Berry (46.42) and Marcus Chambers (47.52) fail to advance, despite running season bests.

Complete day 2 results of the USATF Indoor championships are available here.

In La Libertad, El Salvador, just outside San Salvador, Tacoma native Joe Gray won the men’s 10k race at the NACAC/Pan American Cup Cross Country championships Saturday.

Gray ran 30:02 to outdistance USA teammate Augustus Maiyo, who ran 30:05, as the USA placed five runners in the top seven.

Washington alum Aaron Nelson, competing on his first USA national team, finished seventh in 31:09.

In the men’s under-20 8k race, Washington redshirt freshman Thomas Nobbs finished third in 25:23 to help Canada take the team title, as the USA’s Connor Lane, who attends Stanford won in 25:06.

Washington freshman Tibebu Proctor was 12th in 26:13.

Here’s Nelson’s Instagram post after the race:

In South Bend, Indiana, the Washington men’s and women’s distance medley relay squads took a shot at moving up the NCAA Division I performance lists at the Alex Wilson Invitational, hosted by the University of Notre Dame.

The women’s team of Anna Maxwell, Raquel Tjernagel, Hannah Derby & Maddie Meyers finished 12th in 11:14.17, short of their season best of 11:08.83.

Meanwhile, the mens’ squad of Nate Beamer, Ryan Croson, Devan Kirk and Colby Gilbert finished sixth in their section, running a season best 9:43.81.  

In a separate section, the University of Wisconsin, with Seattle Prep alum Joe Hardy running the opening 1200 leg, finished third in 9:27.72 behind Stanford (9:26.91) and Oregon (9:27.17).

Both Washington squads will have one final shot to qualify for the NCAA championships at next week’s MPSF championships at the Dempsey Indoor.  The women’s team will need to run in the low 11:04 range, while the men’s team will have to run at least low 9:31 to have a shot at one of the 12 spots.

NOTE:  The Great Northwest Athletic Conference, USA Track & Field, the El Salvador Athletics Federation, University of Washington and Notre Dame all contributed to this report. The IAAF and TFRRS provided statistical information.

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