May 26, 2007
EUGENE, Ore. -- Six more Washington State University track and field athletes have earned the right to compete at the NCAA Div. I Outdoor Championships after earning top five finishes at the NCAA West Regional Championships at Oregon's Hayward Field Saturday. The six are hurdlers John Cassleman and Robert Williams, triple jumper Moreno Zapata, sprinters Justin Woods and Jaycee Robertson, and thrower McKenzie Garberg. They join thrower Matt Lamb and long jumper Rickey Moody, who advanced Friday, and heptathletes Diana and Julie Pickler who have automatic qualifying marks.
Senior All-American and men's team captain Cassleman (Pullman, Wash.) ran a 400m hurdles time of 51.10 seconds to take second place in the final and earn a return trip to the national championships where he finished fifth in 2006. UCLA's Brandon Johnson won the West Regional intermediate hurdles title in a time of 49.98.
"This weekend was a little slower than I thought it was going to be," Cassleman said. "I was a little disappointed (with my time) because the race felt faster except for the wind on the backstretch and my strides were out a little and that messes with the flow of the race which is essential to my race. But place is always my enemy and I've always felt that time is just an indicator of where you are and it helps with analysis."
Sophomore Zapata (Tacoma, Wash.) catapulted into second place in the men's triple jump when he took flight with a 6.5 meters per second wind for a lifetime-best distance of 51-feet, 9 1/4 inches (15.78m) on his final jump of the day. Zapata's best non-wind-aided jump of the day was his first, a distance of 49-6 1/2 (15.10m). The triple jump winner was Arizona's Daniel Marshall who jumped 51-9 3/4 (15.79m), with a 3.6 mps wind.
Cougar sprinters Justin Woods and Jaycee Robertson had a productive day with Woods (sophomore, Buena Vista, Calif.) qualifying for nationals in both the 100m and 200m dashes, and Robertson (senior, Spanaway, Wash.) qualifying in the 200m after a narrow miss in the 100m. Woods took fifth place in the 100m dash with a time of 10.47 while Robertson finished sixth in a time of 10.55. Robertson came back 45 minutes later to take fourth place in the 200m dash in a time of 21.20 with Woods fifth in a time of 21.21. There were no prelims in either sprint race, only Saturday finals. After the conclusion of the 200m race, both Robertson and Woods noted that the lack of prelims was not a good thing for them.
"After the 100m, I honestly thought my career was over," said Robertson, who will be making his fourth appearance at the NCAA Championships. "On my way to the start of the 200m, I thought about everything I've been through in the past four years, how much I really deserved to be here and how much I really worked to get to this point and not to give up now. I got stuck in lane eight randomly (because of no prelims) and you can hardly see the field so I was at an immediate disadvantage from the start. If you can't see the field it's harder to know where you're at or when to go and when to press or not press."
Woods, who will be making his second appearance at the national meet said, "It's really cool to be going back to the NCAAs. It was harder than I thought it was going to be. I thought it would be easier since we'd have more rest but you don't realize that the prelims give you more of an advantage because you actually get to run on the track. Today was kind of difficult but regionals is just to qualify to the top five and go to the NCAAs so I'll take it. Hopefully I can run both races (100m and 200m). My favorite between the two changes from time to time; every time I say it's one think I come out and PR in the other so I don't want to choose anymore."
Robert Williams (sophomore, Riverside, Calif.) captured fifth place in the 110m hurdles after running a PR time 14.05 seconds. Williams' Friday prelim race equaled his PR time of 14.08 seconds and was seventh fastest in the prelims.
"I was just trying to run steady and I did and I finished pretty good," Williams said. "I'm pumped up to go to the NCAA Championships. I think I can keep dropping my time down."
McKenzie Garberg (junior, Benton City, Wash.) took fifth place in the women's discus with a throw of PR throw of 173-6 (52.89m), a four-foot improvement from her previous PR and the fourth-best mark in school history. Garberg was able to bounce back for the afternoon discus competition after a disappointing ninth-place finish in the morning's hammer throw after tossing a distance of 192-8 (58.73m).
In other Saturday finals, Jon Jeffreys (junior, Spokane Valley, Wash.) threw the javelin 193-5 (58.96m) for 11th place. Trent Arrivey (freshman, Woodinville, Wash.) did not clear the opening height of 6-9 (2.06m) in the men's high jump. Freshman Princess Joy Griffey (Federal Way, Wash.) finished eighth in the 100m dash final with a time of 11.86w after running 11.73 in the prelims.
In the women's triple jump, Sarah Burns (junior, Tacoma, Wash.) finished 10th with a leap of 40-11 1/2w (12.48m), Kaylee Gardner (senior, Bellingham, Wash.) was 11th with a PR leap of 40-11 (12.47m), and Catie Schuetzle (sophomore, Spokane, Wash.) finished in 18th place with a distance of 39-5 3/4 (12.03m).
The men's steeplechase was a two-section timed race with all three Cougars running in the first section. Alex Grant (junior, Bellingham, Wash.) was fourth in the section but 15th overall with a time of 9:08.90, Sam Ahlbeck (redshirt-freshman, Renton, Wash.) finished fifth in the section and 16th overall with a time of 9:09.45, and Chris Concha (junior, Reno, Nev.) was 14th in the section and 31st overall with a time of 9:54.12.
The women's steeplechase was also run in two timed sections. Meghan Leonard (junior, Newberg, Ore.) finished 12th in the second section and 12th overall with a time of 10:34.27, Collier Lawrence (junior, Reno, Nev.) ran a time of 10:55.67 which was eighth in the first section and 24th overall, and Kayle Peterson (senior, Port Orchard, Wash.) ran a time of 10:55.67 which was ninth in the first section and 27th overall. Sara Trané (sophomore, Pixbo, Sweden), the 2007 Pac-10 steeplechase champion, ran a time of 10:59.62 and finished a disappointing 17th in the second section and 25th overall.
In team scoring, the Cougar men took sixth place with 46 points as USC scored 83 points to take the team title. The Cougar women's team finished tied for 22nd with six points. Arizona State's women won the team title with 94 points. The NCAA Championships take place June 6-9 at Sacramento.
Cougar Head Coach Rick Sloan quotes: "It was a great race for John Cassleman and it was the John of last year. Back at 150m to go through the turn, back in the field and then just coming like crazy down the straightaway moving all the up into second place. We are still not quite on the times from last year but the competitive spark is there and he's racing very well. Another week of light work and get him ready and put in the national championships again and anything can happen.
"Moreno Zapata finished in second place and it was probably the most exciting thing for us in the track meet. A lot of great things happened for the Cougars but for Moreno to go from not going to the national championships and finishing what might be ninth place in this competition all the way up to second place and going to the national championships all on one jump was real exciting. It was a great job by him being able to keep himself together on the runway and throughout that jump to jump the farthest jump of his whole life.
On the sprinters: "I couldn't see Jaycee real well in the 100m, he was out in lane eight. Justin got out well and ran a good race at 10.47 and got himself fifth place. I talked to Jaycee afterward and he said that he did not get a good start but he ran a great race once he got out and got moving, he did things very well. He came back in the 200m and ran another strong race there. Both of them are going to the nationals.
"Robert Williams did not get a very good start either in his hurdles race. Yesterday in the prelims he had a great race and ran well for about four hurdles, really really well, the best I've ever seen him. Then he started to press a little bit, hit a hurdle, got sideways and then he lost it from that point on and still equaled his lifetime best. Today, he didn't get out real well but he ran a very smart, disciplined race all the way through; didn't hit hurdles, kept himself in a good position all the way and ran a lifetime best 14.05. At the nationals, we get that start down and run a good, solid race like this and he'll be a 13-second guy.
"McKenzie Garberg had three chances here. The first was in the shot put, she warmed up well, maybe well enough to flirt with a top five bid if she just improves just a little bit and then didn't perform that well in the competition. Her performances in practice leading up to this meet in the hammer had indicated that she was capable of throwing 200-feet and we felt that throughout the competition that she was right on the edge of throwing that far. But here again, didn't quite get the job done. Had a good meet, had a good series and had some good throws but didn't get the throw that she needed. The third time's a charm and she came out in the discus throw and on her second throw of the competition threw a lifetime best, a mark which at the time was second place. Came back with another good throw over 170-feet and held up for fifth place in the competition and an automatic berth in the NCAA Championships. Mac has worked hard and rally put the time in. She and Jessica (Zita) are our only throwers basically on the women's side in the shot, disc, hammer and a large part of that is Mac. She is carrying the load in three events for us. I'm glad to see her get to the national championships and have some fun down there and get that experience under her belt. Hopefully she performs well.
"Rickey Moody had a quiet confidence about him leading up to this meet, ever since the Pac-10 Championship. I think he was confident he could long jump 25-feet and he did, it's just that he stepped over the toe-board on the first jump and that was a 25-foot jump. He competed very well and squeaked himself into the final and the came out in the final and had two good jumps at 24-6 and fraction and then at 24-8 and a fraction. He got fourth place in the competition. It's funny because with Ashton Eaton, the Oregon decathlete, here are two guys trying to get to the nationals in the decathlon and they are 29th and 30th on the list so they likely do not get in in the decathlon so they went around and took the back door and got in in the long jump.
"Matt Lamb did a great job in the discus. He had struggled late this year a little bit, got a little bit rundown and tired. Coach Farwell changed up his training and got him lighter, quicker more active stuff, got away from the heavy lifting and gave him more speed work. He ran a 10.6 in high school in the 100m and he's a fast guy so he started working out with the blocks and it showed. Once he got that first throw under his belt and put it out there with that PR, you could see the tension leave him and he came back with two really good throws to end the competition; his longest throw in the fifth round and then another really good throw. He looks real good and I think his confidence level is real high going into the national meet. He was third last year and we'll see what happens. Guys get alligator arms when they get in the circle at nationals. He does well when the pressure's on.
(on the Picklers using the meet for preparation for NCAA heptathlon): "I wish Julie would have made the 1.76m in the high jump. 1.71m was her highest opening height ever and she was never on due to the octagon apron and you can't find your angles. I think she was off before she ever did a run-through. She never found the line of the run and that is what she does well, she connects that really well. Diana had a great meet and threw close to a lifetime-best in the javelin, with her best series ever. One of the best hurdles races I've ever seen her run in 13.31. By the time she got to the long jump she was getting tired. We got to the track at 10:30 a.m. and the third long jump came around 6 p.m. and she was in a competitive mode either warming up, warming down or competing pretty much the entire day and that took a toll on her after eight hours. She almost long jumped 20-feet and I pulled her out of the high hurdles final today just for safety sake, she's not hurt or anything. I'm sure people are speculating about what's wrong with Diana Pickler, but they'll find out in about a week and a half."