Western successfully defend men's and women's team titles at 26th annual Vernacchia Invitational

Michael Dean

April 7, 2007

Complete Results

BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Ruky Abdulai of Simon Fraser University broke two long-standing meet records, and Western Washington University successfully defended its team championships in both the men's and women's divisions, highlighting performances Saturday at the 26th annual Western Washington University Ralph Vernacchia Invitational Track and Field meet at Civic Stadium.

Abdulai earned Outstanding Female Performer honors by breaking two of the oldest records in the history of the meet. Abdulai won the long jump with a leap of 19-9 3/4, breaking a mark set in 1990, and won the 200 meters in 24:38, breaking a record that stood since 1984. Abdulai also ran an unofficial 53.3 anchor leg of SFU's 4x400 relay, nearly making up a 25-yard deficit before finishing third.

Western's Michael Dean (Fr., Tacoma/Stadium) was named Outstanding Male Performer. Dean won the 100 meters in 11:16, and the 200 in 22.30.

Dean's efforts helped the Vikings win the men's championship for the 10th consecutive year. Western had 155 points, well ahead of second-place Central Washington at 99.

Western won the women's championship for the second straight year. The Vikings had 123 points, holding off a late charge from Seattle Pacific, which had 113.

"It's always great to win a meet, especially at home," said Western coach Pee Wee Halsell. "It was fun to see people compete. We don't have a lot of team scored meets during the season, so it's always good to have that opportunity."

Five meet records were set, all in women's events. In addition to Abdulai, Monica Anderson of Seattle Pacific won the pole vault, clearing 12-1 1/2 , Liz Gleadle of British Columbia won the javelin with a toss of 157-7, and Jessica Pixler of Seattle Pacific won the 1,500 in 4:23.17.

Pixler joined Abdulai as a multiple winner, as she also won the 800 (2:10.64). Chelsea Evans of Central Washington won the 400 (58.86) and also ran a leg on a victorious 4x400 relay (3:54.16).

On the men's side, Dean was joined as a multiple winner by Western's Ben Elder (Fr., Lake Stevens), who won the discus (139-9) and shot put (44-0).

Western had a total of 10 victories in men's events, and four in women's events.

Vikings winning single events Saturday for the men were Tyler Thornbrue (Sr., Shelton) in the pole vault (15-7 3/4), Allan Denton (Fr., Los Angeles, CA/Upland) in the long jump (21-8 ¾), Adam Neff (Sr., White Salmon/Columbia) in the 400 meters (49.50), Ben Wargo (Fr., Pullman) in the 400 hurdles (56.49) and Bennett Grimes (Fr., Pocatello, ID/Century) in the 5,000 (15:17.14). On Friday, Chad Portwood (Sr., Cheney) won the 10,000.

Women's event winners for Western were Clara Cook (So., Wenatchee) in the high jump (5-3), Chelsea Sadler (So., Olympia/North Thurston) in the shot put (37-1 1/4), Lindsay Lunderman (Fr., Tacoma/Franklin Pierce) in the 100 hurdles (15.07), and Kim Bascom (Sr., Camano Island/Stanwood) in the triple jump (37-2 ¼).

"We had some excellent performances," said Halsell. "Dean won the 100 and 200, Bennett Grimes won the 5,000 running it for the first time in his life, and we had some personal bests mixed throught the meet for the men and women. That's how you win team meets."

Multi-event competitions were also held in conjunction with the meet. In the decathlon, Josh Freeman, a Western alum competing unattached, won with 6292 points, winning for the fourth straight year. Zeb Udell of Western Oregon placed second at 6,162. Western's Kevin Iverson (So., Mill Creek/Jackson) was seventh at 4,961.

In the heptathlon, Bridget Johnson of Team XO won with 4,446 points. Western's Christy Miller (So., Boise, ID/Bishop Kelly) was fifth with 3,194.