Sunday, May 13, 2018

WSU freshman Sander Moldau wins Pac-12 pole vault title...

STANFORD, California—Washington State freshman pole vaulter Sander Moldau (left/photo by Paul Merca) overcame the tricky winds to win the men’s pole vault at the Pac-12 Track & Field Championships Sunday afternoon at Cobb Track and Angell Field on the campus of Stanford University.

The native of Estonia cleared 17-feet 2 1/4 inches (5.24m) to win the pole vault, the eighth time a WSU competitor has won the conference title in this event but the first time since 1995, when Christos Pallakis was victorious.

Moldau needed only one attempt at the three bars of 16-6 1/2 (5.04m), 16-10 1/4 (5.14m) and his winning height of 17-2 1/4 (5.24m). He missed on all three of his attempts at a final height of 17-7 (5.36m).

The WSU men's team was seventh with 56.5 points and the women's team was tenth with 26 points.

Washington's men's squad placed eighth out of the 10 teams with 42 points, while Oregon won the team title with 174 points, the fourth most in conference history.

USC ended Oregon's run of nine women's team titles, scoring 170 for first while the Huskies were ninth out of the 12 teams, finishing ahead of Washington State, Oregon State, and Utah.

Sophomore Nick Johnson led a trio of Cougars men scoring in the 110m hurdles. Johnson was the runner-up with a wind-aided PR time of 13.84 seconds with seventh in a time of 15.50w.

WSU’s Brock Eager was not able to repeat as the men's hammer champion, finishing second by a mere 21 inches. Eager threw 218-feet 1 inch (66.47m) and USC's Nathan Bultman threw 219-10 (67.01m) to win the title.

The University of Washington’s lone podium (top 3) finish in Sunday’s meet came from Amy-Eloise Neale in the women’s 1500,

Neale reached the Pac-12 track podium for the second time in her career after taking second in the 5,000-meters last year. As the 1,500m final went off, the field dragged badly through one lap until Neale went around the outside and up to the lead to start making it a respectable pace.

The senior from Snohomish via Great Britain led until the bell lap when Jessica Hull of Oregon took the lead. Neale was in fourth with 150 meters to go and kicked past one runner but Hull and Christina Aragon of Stanford had pulled too far away, with Neale taking third in 4:24.44.

Washington had near misses on the podium, as 400 hurdler Hanna Tarleton, and both Husky 4 x 400 relay teams finished fourth.

Tarleton, the senior transfer from Bellingham who ran in the NCAA championships in 2015 for Division III Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, ran 58.62

Tarleton combined with Carolyn Birkenfeld, Iman Brown, and Imani Apostol to win their section of the 4 x 400 relay in 3:38.03, the third fastest time in school history.

In the meet’s final event, the Husky men followed that up with a season-best time by three seconds, running 3:08.81 to take fourth overall, running a squad comprised of Kemuel Santana, Evan Mafilas, Michael Thomas, and Ryan Croson,

Reflecting on the day, WSU vault coach and current American record holder Brad Walker said, "Sander was definitely the most composed vaulter in the field today. The winds were really gusty and changing directions frequently, but Sander had no problems committing to the jump and had no misses until after he had won the competition. It's pretty rare for a freshman to be so solid in a big championship, but there was never a point where I didn't feel like he was in control of the competition."

"I liked the way we competed down the stretch today, especially with great fourth-place finishes for both of our 4x4 relays," said Husky head coach Greg Metcalf. "Overall, we left some points on the board this weekend, but with such a young group and so many kids competing at their first Pac-12s, I think they learned a lot. They will have an opportunity now to grow from this and come back better."

The results from the Pac-12 championships are available here.

Washington State’s recap is here, while Washington’s release is available here.

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

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