WWU men looking to dethrone Western Oregon at GNAC Indoor Track and Field Championships
Feb. 16, 2012
SPOKANE, Wash. - With Ali Worthen leading the way, Seattle Pacific looks to be a solid favorite to win its ninth consecutive Great Northwest Athletic Conference women's indoor track-and-field team title this weekend at Jackson's Track in Nampa, Idaho.
But the men's race could be the closest ever with four teams - four-time defending champion Western Oregon, Central Washington, Western Washington and Northwest Nazarene - with the ability to walk away with the championship trophy Saturday afternoon.
Worthen, who won long jump and high jump titles in both 2009 and 2011, has scored 72 career points in three previous meets and is just four points way from the GNAC record of 76 held by SPU long-distance legend Jessica Pixler.
Worthen is one of three previous champions back for the Falcon women. Katy Gross won the pentathlon title last year and is the top seed in the event, while Brittany Aanstad was the 2010 high jump champion.
In all the Falcons have the top-seeded athlete in four individual events including Gross, Worthen (60 hurdles), Kishia Mitchell (60) and Heidi Laabs-Johnson (5000).
Worthen, Gross and Central Washington's Katharine Lotze in the triple jump are the only defending champions in the women's division, but there are several other past champions in the field in addition to SPU's Aanstad.
Joy Warrington of Northwest Nazarene swept the shot put and weight throw two years ago and is the top seed in each event.
Western Oregon's Ashley Potter, the 2010 champion, returns to challenge Lotze in the triple jump and currently ranks fifth nationally in the event with a No. 2 GNAC all-time mark of 39-7.
Emily Warman of Western Washington won the 2010 long jump title and is the No. 1 seed. She will also compete in the triple jump, an event in which she was the indoor national champion in 2009.
Eleanor Siler of Western Washington is the top seed in the 400 and also will compete in the 200, two events in which she swept in 2010. She's going for her third 400 title also winning it in 2009.
CWU's Kati Davis has the same best mark as Anderson to share the favorites role in that event. The Viking women also come into the meet with the best 4x400 relay.
On the men's side, "mock" scoring indicates only 21 points may separate the top four teams.
Western Oregon will be seeking its sixth title in the nine-year history of the meet and has two former long jump champions in the field - Kyle Lane who won the event last season and Matson Hardie who was the 2010 champion when he was voted the Most Outstanding Performer.
If the Wolves are to win they'll need to rely on their depth as Hardie in the triple jump and Ryan Hansen in the 800 are WOU's lone top seeds in the men's division joining Madison McClung, who has the best women's 200 time, as favorites.
Central Washington has three past champions, but just one - Brandon Roddewig in the high jump - from last season. And he's not competing in that event this year.
Brennan Boyes was the 2010 high jump champion and is the top seed, while Bryan Mack was the 2009 60 champion and comes in as the No. 1 seed. Manny Melo in the long jump is also a top seed for the Wildcats.
Northwest Nazarene has one former champion - Maurus Hope who won the 400 in 2009 - but they have four No. 1 seeds, more than any other men's team in the meet and nine athletes that are among the top three seeds, matching Central Washington for the most in that category.
Hope is the top seed in both the 200 and 400, while Rimar Christie in the 60 hurdles and Barak Watson in the 5,000 also bring the best times in their events into the meet.
Seattle Pacific returns two defending champions though it likely doesn't have the depth to challenge the top four.
Nate Seely will be seeking his third consecutive 800 meter title - he's the No. 2 seed in back of Hansen. Nate Johnson is the defending heptathlon champion and the No. 1 seed.
Also competing in the meet are Saint Martin's which could have its first individual champion since 2009, Montana State Billings which could earn its first individual championship ever and Simon Fraser.
The Saints' Sam Washington is the top seed in the men's weight throw and the No. 2 seed in the shot. SMU's last champion was John Riak in the 2009 5,000 meters.
MSUB's Tanner Rottrup is the top-seed in the men's shot and will be attempt to earn the `Jackets first individual title since joining the GNAC prior to the 2007-08 season.
Simon Fraser, in its second season in the conference, has three No. 1 seeds - Ryan Brockerville in the men's mile and Lindsey Butterworth in the women's mile and 800.
Butterworth could led a 1-2-3 sweep for the Clan in latter event as SFU's Sarah Sawatzky and Michaela Kane bring in the second and third best seed times.
The meet gets under Friday morning with the opening events of the men's heptathlon and women's pentathlon.
Finals are also scheduled Friday in the women's weight throw, long jump and pole vault and the men's high jump, long jump and shot put. Both distance medley relays will also be contested Friday along with prelims in the 60 and 60
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