May 8, 2005
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Washington State's Darion Powell won the decathlon and Julie Pickler took the heptathlon title at the Pacific-10 Conference Combined Events Championships at Drake Stadium on the UCLA campus Sunday.
Powell, a junior from Kirkland, Wash., won the decathlon with a lifetime-best and NCAA Automatic Qualifying total of 7531 points, out-distancing second-place Andy Young from Oregon by 366 points. Julie Pickler, a redshirt sophomore from Sachse, Texas, overtook her twin sister and first-day leader, Diana Pickler, to win the heptathlon with a lifetime-best and NCAA AQ total of 5569 points. WSU's Diana Pickler took second place in the heptathlon with a PR and NCAA AQ of 5563 points and Katie Miller, a junior from Vancouver, Wash., finished in seventh place with a PR and NCAA Provisional Qualifying total of 5000 points. Brandon Brownell, sophomore from Olympia, Wash., injured himself in the high jump Saturday and had to withdraw from the competition.
This is only the second time in Pac-10 history that both the decathlon and heptathlon champions have come from the same school. California's Bevan Hall and Missy Vanek won the multi-events titles in 2000. WSU has captured the conference heptathlon title four of the past five years with Cougar assistant coach Ellannee Richardson winning the title in 2001, 2002 and 2003. This is the first Cougar decathlon title since Leo Slack won the event in 1996. Pickler's seven-event performance is fourth-best in school history while Powell's point total is fifth-best in WSU decathlon history.
After the first events of the Pac-10 Championships, WSU's women lead with a commanding 20 points while the Oregon men have 13 points and WSU is second with 10 points.
Powell opened the second day of the decathlon winning the 110m hurdles with a time of 14.90 seconds. He threw the discus a winning-toss of 153-feet, 8 inches (46.83m). He cleared the pole vault at 14-3 1/4 (4.35m) and threw the javelin 193-9 (59.07m). Powell finished with a 1500m time of 5:04.39.
"For Darion, it was a struggle all the way through," Head Coach Rick Sloan said. "You look at his marks and the marks are good but they didn't come easily. He had to work hard all the way through."
"It was kind of frustrating. I think the conditions here today limited me; all my races were into a head wind and even though they said tailwinds, they would turn right on you in the last 50 meters and be right in your face," said Powell, a 2003 decathlon All-American said. "I did what Coach Sloan told me to do and that is to be Pac-10 champ and qualify for nationals. I can't be disappointed there. I have five weeks to start training for the NCAAs and get in shape. I know right now I'm a little out of shape. A lot of the things I did today were safe things and I think that when I'm at nationals I can just let it all loose. This is my first decathlon of the year and it's always nice just to bang one out and then I'll be ready for the next one."
Julie Pickler, in third place after the first day, took the lead over her sister in the long jump with the top leap of the field of 19-3 1/4 (5.87m) while Diana jumped 18-9 1/4 (5.72m). Miller had a long jump of 17-7 (5.36m).
"Julie put herself in a position to win Saturday with her 200m race," Sloan said. "In the long jump, Julie's 5.87m jump had a 1.9 (meters per second) wind (over 2.0 mps is wind-aided) and Diana fouled her last jump. That 15 centimeters gave the boost to Julie. Diana didn't throw the javelin particularly well and Julie threw a lifetime best and then ran the 800m in a PR time. But Diana didn't go away through the day. I thought they did a terrific job. And Katie didn't have any event that really stood out but did run a lifetime best in the 800m but everything else was very average for her."
The rest of the Cougar track and field teams will join the combined events athletes in Los Angeles for the rest of the Pac-10 Track & Field Championships at UCLA, May 14-15.