Vikings dominate at 28th annual WWU Ralph Vernacchia Team Meet

April 10, 2009

Complete Results

BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Emily Warman (Fr., Sedro-Woolley), Heidi Dimmitt (Sr., Wenatchee) and Sarah Porter (So., Hockinson) all reached NCAA Division II national provisional qualifying standards in winning their events, highlighting Western Washington University performances as the Viking men and women each defended their championships in the 28th annual Ralph Vernacchia Invitational Track And Field Team Meet on Friday at Civic Stadium.

Host Western claimed its 12th consecutive men's title and fourth straight women's crown. The men were not threatened to any significant degree in the 13-team meet, having 116 points to 85 for runner-up Concordia OR; and the women led wire-to-wire but had to hold off a late challenge from Concordia before winning by 6.5 points, 101-1/2 to 95.

Warman, who was the NCAA II indoor national champion in the women's triple jump last month, had a mark of 38-8 3/4 in that event, going 10 inches past the provisional qualifying standard. She also won the long jump in 18-4 1/4, only an inch short of the provisional standard.

Dimmitt won the women's 400-meter hurdles in 1:02.25, and Porter, running the 1,500 for the first time this season, was victorious in 4:36.24.

Western had yet another provisional qualifying effort in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase as Eric Brill (So., Kent/Kentwood) placed second in 9:24.61.

In all, the Viking women won eight events, with Ellie Siler (Fr., Spokane/Lewis & Clark) having a hand in three of those victories. Siler won the 200 in 25.79 and the 400 in a season-best 56.93, and teamed with Dimmitt, Megan Zukowski (So., Maple Valley/Tahoma) and Joana Houplin (So., Olympia) to win the 4x100 relay in 48.46.

The other victory by the Western women came from Michelle Howe (So., Arlington/Lakewood) in the 100 hurdles (15.19),

The Western men had three event winners. Anthony Tomsich (Jr., Fairbanks, AK/West Valley), running the 800 for the first time this season, was victorious in 1:54.63; Will Davis (Fr., Spokane/Central Valley), in his first collegiate competition, won the triple jump with a mark of 46-3 1/4, the best this year in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference; and Ryan Brown (So., Bellingham/Squalicum) who shared victory in the high jump, clearing 6-3/4. Brown was also second in the pole vault, clearing 14-11.

A meet record was set in the men's 10,000 as Sean Sundwall of Club Northwest was clocked in 30:57.

The Vikings remained undefeated for both the men and women in four team scored events this season.

Western next competes on Saturday, April 18, at the Central Washington University Invitational, while over 20 athletes participate in the Mt. SAC Relays on Thursday and Friday.

Warman a freshman sensation

MICHELLE NOLAN - THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

BELLINGHAM - Emily Warman still can't quite believe her good fortune as a freshman at Western Washington University, but then neither can Kaylee Gardner in her first year of track and field coaching.

Warman, who recently became Western's first national indoor champion, set personal outdoor records of 38 feet, 9 inches in the triple jump and 18-41/4 in the long jump to help Western's women claim their fourth consecutive Ralph Vernacchia Invitational title on Friday, April 10, at Civic Stadium.

Although the former Sedro-Woolley High athlete acknowledged she "came out of nowhere as the only freshman in the competition " to win the NCAA Division II indoor triple jump at 39-3 last month in Houston, rookie volunteer assistant Gardner said she is "not surprised at all."

"This is like a coach's dream, to have someone like Emily come in with this kind of talent, work ethic and attitude," said Gardner, who was an all-state soccer player at Bellingham High but gave up the sport at Washington State University to focus on a successful career as a Division I triple jumper.

Maybe that's why Warman - who intends to compete in soccer and both track seasons for all four years at Western if she can - has hit it off so well with Gardner.

"Soccer is still deepest in my heart, but track is now surfacing," said Warman, who won the state Class 3A long jump last spring and took fourth in the triple jump.

"It's so much fun having Kaylee and (longtime head coach) Pee Wee Halsell as coaches," said Warman. "I never imagined I would have such great coaching. Kaylee has been through all this, and she can tell me exactly what I need to work on."

Gardner says Warman had a remarkably mature focus at the indoor nationals.

"It's amazing for a freshman to PR at nationals," Gardner said. "That says a lot about Emily and her competitive spirit, and what kind of athlete and person she is."

A local athlete also played a major role as Western's men swept to their 12th consecutive Vernacchia victory. Sophomore pole vaulter Ryan Brown from Squalicum High leaped a season-best 14-11 for second behind Western volunteer assistant Scott McCoy, and Brown also tied for first in the high jump at 6-03/4.

For the women, Western freshman Ellie Siler scored a quality double in the 400 meters (56.93) and 200 (25.79) and also anchored the 400-meter relay of Heidi Dimmitt, Megan Zukowski and Joana Houplin to victory in 48.86.

Western's Sarah Porter won the 1,500 in 4:36.24, a provisional national qualifying time. The Vikings swept the hurdles behind Michelle Howe (15.19 at 100 meters) and Dimmitt (1:02.25, a provisional national mark).

Whatcom Community College's Laura Carlyle took the 10,000 in 36:51, which would be a provisional national effort if she were at a Division II school.

For the men, Western's Anthony Tomsich won the 800 in a season-best 1:54.63 and freshman Will Davis made his track debut by claiming the triple jump at 46-31/4. Club Northwest's Sean Sundwall set a meet record of 30:58.44 in the 10,000 meters.

Brown, whose indoor best of 16-6 is better than Western's outdoor record by seven inches, qualified for the indoor nationals but did not place. His 14-11 Friday night ranks second in the GNAC this season.

"I used a longer (16-foot) pole after I cleared 14-11," said Brown, who missed three tries at 15-5 while adjusting to the longer pole. "I'm getting good coaching from our four pole vault coaches, and I feel I have a good chance to reach the outdoor nationals.

"My outdoor goal this season is 17 feet, but ultimately I hope to reach 18 feet," said Brown. "One reason I've had success at Western is training differently and lifting weights. I love pole vaulting-I'll still be doing it when I'm 80 years old if I can."

A little more than an hour after anchoring the Western women's sprint relay to victory, Siler toppled across the finish line while winning the 400 meters by nearly three seconds.

"I feel good about that effort," said the freshman, who qualified for indoor nationals in the 200 and 400. "I hurt so bad over that last 30 meters, but I was trying to hold my form together so I wouldn't slow down."