“I think we competed hard as a team today,” Cougars Head Coach Rick Sloan said. “Everyone had everyone else’s back and I couldn’t be more proud of the competitive efforts our kids made. Our coaching staff had everybody prepared and we came out and competed like Cougars throughout the meet. There were moments when we could have faded and folded but we didn’t. There’s a lot to be excited about.”
A largest point swing on both the men’s and women’s sides came early in the day, in the 400m relays, with UCLA dropping the baton in both races, giving WSU a five-to-zero advantage for both genders.
”That 5-0 switch was a giant momentum changer,” Sloan said. “When you’re chipping away at one and two points at a time and you get a 10-point switch, they lose five and we gain five, it makes a big difference.”
Outstanding WSU women’s performances on the track included sophomore Dominique Keel who won the 200m dash (24.23 seconds), finished second in the 100m dash (11.99), and ran on both winning relays. Erin Allen won the 400m hurdles (PR 59.05) as Shaquana Logan finished second and also placed second in the 100m hurdles (13.84). Cougars went one-two-three in the 800m with Abby Regan (2 minutes 9.78 seconds), Ruby Roberts (2:09.88), and Courtney Zalud (2:09.92). Seventy minutes later, Roberts came back to win the 1500m (4:26.25) with Regan third (4:30.52). CharLee Linton and Emily Dwyer took second and third in the 5000m while freshman Steffie Pavey had an impressive collegiate debut in the 3000m steeplechase with a third place time of 11:21.50.
In the women’s field events, WSU dug a hole early in the day with Kristine Felix, defending Pac-12 champion, and Kelsey Bueno, 2013 Pac-12 scorer, both not clearing a bar in the pole vault. But the points were rolling in when Celena Ward (144-feet 2 inches/43.95m) and Kelsie Taylor went one-two in the javelin. Mary Barnett had second-place finishes in the hammer and discus, and won the shot put with Taylor taking third. Katie Dean (PR 18-9 1/4/5.72m) and Logan finished two-three in the long jump. Senior Shantae Young won the triple jump with a PR leap of 40-2 1/4 (12.25m). Holly Parent cleared 5-8 3/4 (1.75m) for second place in the high jump.
“When we went 1-3 on the women’s 1500m, we clinched the win,” Sloan said. “Ruby Roberts and Abby Regan did outstanding jobs with their 800m/1500m doubles and gave the team a big boost. Shantae Young did a great job jumping over 40-feet in the triple jump. Dominique Keel did a terrific job of racing today. Steffie Pavey had a good time for her opening run of the steeplechase.”
The Cougar men sprinters were led by sophomore Andre McBride’s wins in the 100m (10.66) and 200m (21.58) as well as contributing to the 400m relay win. Alex Olobia was third in the 100m and ran on the short relay. Terrance Chambers took a second in the 200m (equaled PR 21.74), anchored the 400m relay, and ran on the second-place 1600m relay. Jacob Sealby, coming off an illness that left his twin brother and fellow quartermiler Lucas in Pullman, took second place in the 400m with an outstanding early season time of 47.33.
WSU men owned the hurdles events with senior Josiah Sims winning the 110m hurdles (14.56) and Garrett Gerling second. Freshman CJ Allen won the 400m hurdles in his collegiate debut with a stellar time of 52.20 and Rashaun Johnson took second place. Andrew Gonzales and Forrest Shaffer finished one-two in the 3000m steeplechase.
Lee George won the 1500m (3:49.84) while Jesse Jorgensen, coming off his eighth-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships a week ago, finished second in the 800m with a PR time of 1:49.27. Matthew Swanson took third in the 800m.
The door closed on the UCLA men when Cougars Andrew Kimpel and Drew Jordan finished one-two in the 5000m in what Sloan called a conservative race. Kimpel’s winning time was 14:11.70 with Jordan’s time was 14:11.75.
In the men’s field events, Tay’lor Eubanks won the triple jump with a leap 49-0 1/4 (14.94m) and PJ Benedictus second with a distance of 48-7 1/2 (14.82m). High jumpers Thane Pierson and Cole Smith finished second and third as Pierson cleared a PR height of 6-10 3/4 (2.10m) and Smith was over the bar at 6-6 3/4 (2.00m). In the throws, Travis Pickett heaved a PR in the hammer of 181-8 (55.37m) for second place and Matt Wardell was second in the shot put (52-8). Senior Kyle Stevens threw the javelin a PR of 212-9 (64.85m) for second place and Sam Ferenchak tossed the spear 197-10 (60.29m) for third.
“In the first event of the day, Travis Pickett had a big PR in the men’s hammer, got us three points, and then we kept grinding all the way the rest of the day,” Sloan said. “We left a lot of points back in Pullman and some of the people we brought were not 100 percent but they competed and battled through to get us the wins. This was a great start to our outdoor season and we need to continue to build on this, get our sick and broken people back, and continue to get better.”
Next week a limited contingent of WSU will compete at the Texas Relays, March 26-29, in Austin, while another group of Cougars will compete at the Duane Hartman Invitational, March 29, at Spokane Falls CC in Spokane.