NCAA Vets Lead Huskies In Season Opener
SEATTLE – Big efforts ranking near the top of the NCAA leaderboards from All-Americans Kennadi Bouyer and Colby Gilbert mixed with promising starts from several young Dawgs made for an entertaining Dempsey opener at the UW Indoor Preview. Washington fans were also treated to a new facility record set by 2016 U.S. Olympic finalist Kate Grace, and a season-opening victory from 2016 1,500-meter Olympic Gold Medalist Matthew Centrowitz, all in a Dempsey day's work.
Bouyer, an NCAA finalist in the 60-meter dash last year and the school record-holder, got her season rolling today with an impressive 7.29-second runner-up finish today. That was just .02 off Bouyer's record mark of 7.27 that she ran in the NCAA semifinals last year. It puts her at No. 3 in the NCAA in the early going as she looks to return to NCAA Indoors in March.
Gilbert looked ready to take on the track, putting a tough cross country season behind him with a sub-four-minute mile, the second time he's broken that barrier, and the fastest. Gilbert tailed former NCAA Champion and professional Nike runner Eric Jenkins for most of the mile, coming in a step behind Jenkins in 3:58.96, with Jenkins running 3:58.68. Gilbert moves up to No. 5 in UW history with the new mile best and also goes to No. 2 in the NCAA this season.
The Vancouver native also becomes the third Husky with multiple sub-fours, joining school record-holder Izaic Yorks who ran four, and 2009 grad Austin Abbott who did it twice. Last season, Gilbert ran a sub-four minute mile of 3:59.84, then went on to run on the DMR and in the 3,000-meters at NCAA Indoors, taking second on the relay and eighth in the 3k.
The American Olympians both put on a show in the women's and men's 3,000-meters. Grace, an Olympic finalist at 800-meters in Rio and the 2016 U.S. Champion, showed her range by running a world-leading time of 8:47.26 to break a five-year-old Dempsey record formerly held by another Olympic silver medalist, Sally Kipyego. Centrowitz, who became the first American to win gold in the 1,500-meters since 1908, appeared to barely work up a sweat while dominating the men's 3k to win in a time of 7:49.89, winning by over 11 seconds and setting a meet record by nearly five seconds.
Among the strong debuts was sophomore Sarah Stavig, a transfer from Washington State, as the Bothell natvie ran 7.54 seconds in the qualifying and prelims of the 60-meters, already jumping in to the No. 9 spot in school history. In the men's 60-meters, senior Lucas Strong opened with a career-best 6.87 seconds to make the final, where he finished seventh.
Junior Eric Simpson opened his indoor season with two straight PRs, as he went 8.17 seconds in the 60-meter hurdle prelims and then ran 8.13 in the finals to take fourth overall. His previous best coming in was 8.25. Sophomore Darhian Mills also opened with a big PR, going 8.84 in the qualification round.
Senior transfer Whitney Diggs took third in her first 400-meters as a Dawg, running 56.57, while junior Carolyn Birkenfeld was fourth in 56.59. Sophomore Ryan Croson was fourth in the men's 400-meters at 48.82, an indoor PR. Near the close of the meet, Diggs and Birkenfeld ran on the women's 4x400m relay that included Alexis Ford and Imani Apostol, and the four brought home the victory, with Apostol holding off San Diego State and Stanford teams down the stretch to win in 3:46.11.
One of the biggest feel-good stories came at the pole vault, where in her first competitive meet since rupturing her achilles tendon last February, two-time All-American Kristina Owsinski got a win in the women's pole vault at 13-6 ½. Owsinski was competing unattached as she only has outdoor eligibility remaining. Senior Elizabeth Quick tied for second-place with a 13-0 ¾ clearance. Annika Dayton and Kaitlin Zinsli both made 12-6 ¾. In the men's vault, freshman Zach Shugart had a solid start with a first attempt make of 16-2 3/4 to take third.
Hannah Derby and Mason Fletcher had strong openers at 600-meters. Derby won her heat easily in 1:32.11, a PR by a full second, while Fletcher took third in the top heat in 1:19.69, over two seconds faster than his 2016 mark of 1:21.82. Redshirt freshman Jonathon Cantle also had a nice official debut with a time of 1:20.70.
More leaders in the field included Josh Gordon taking second in the long jump at 23-3 ½, and true freshman Bryce Fausset placing fourth in the high jump with a make of 6-6 ¾. Mayson Douglass and Elizabeth Quick both made 5-5 in the women's high jump.
At a thousand meters, senior Blake Nelson took fourth in a talented field, running 2:25.62, nearly two seconds faster than his time in the same race from a year ago. All-American Amy-Eloise Neale opened up in the 1,000-meters on the women's side, finishing seventh overall in 2:46.82.
Freshman Kaitlyn Neal, a standout on the cross country course this fall, opened up with a solid mile time of 4:51.73, and redshirt freshman Charlie Barringer was fourth in his 3k heat to lead a number of young Dawgs in that event, crossing in 8:21.76.
"There were a lot of exciting new pieces, and it was a great start to our year," said Head Coach Greg Metcalf. "To watch Kennadi Bouyer pick up where she left off last year, to run 7.29, in what was potentially one quarter of the NCAA final or more out there today, that was great. Colby, coming off a cross country season he's not entirely thrilled about, to go battle Eric Jenkins and run 3:58 was a very classy performance and I'm excited about where he's headed. Then you want your youngsters to go do something cool. I was impressed with Sarah Stavig, she's a nice addition to our team. Darhian Mills started to show some of her potential today that was nice to see. Hannah Derby looked very solid today. It's fun to go see some of our young distance runner guys, putting uniforms on them for the first time in months, and I thought they competed well."
Washington will have another big home weekend in just two weeks' time with the UW Invitaitonal on Jan. 27-28 back in the Dempsey.