Vikings ready for Indoor National Championships
March 11, 2010
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -
by JOE SUNNEN - THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
When Western Washington University junior Sarah Porter made her first trip to the NCAA Division II National Indoor Track and Field Championships as a freshman, she went with one teammate and a small case of the jitters.
Two years later not only is she heading back to nationals confident she can repeat as an All-American in the 5,000 meters, but the Vikings are sending so many athletes along with her they might as well be chartering a plane to Albuquerque, N.M.
"Having so much support there is going to be great," Porter said in a phone interview. "When I went as a freshman it was great, but there were only two of us so it was a little different. This time it's more of a team thing."
This year, the Vikings are sending 11 athletes to the two-day event beginning Friday, March 12, including seven automatic qualifiers. That's up from the eight who made the trip a year ago and head and shoulders above the two automatic qualifiers from that group last season.
The 11 athletes matches the most WWU has sent in the last 11 years since joining the NCAA. The group includes eight women and three men.
"This is a very solid group that is constantly getting better," WWU coach Pee Wee Halsell said in a press release. "We are definitely going to score some points on both the men's and women's sides."
Leading the way for the women's team will be Porter and sophomore jumper Emily Warman. Porter placed sixth in the 5,000 last year and Warman won a national championship in the triple jump.
Both earned All-America honors for their efforts and will be looking to do the same again, possibly in multiple events. Warman will also compete in the long jump this season, while Porter is the final leg of Vikings' distance medley relay team.
"We just missed All-America last season in the relay and I sort of feel like it was my fault as the anchor leg," Porter said. "I'm going there looking for sweet redemption."
Also looking for some redemption of sorts will be WWU men's distance runner Jordan Welling. He finished ninth in the 5,000 last year, just missing a place on the podium and an All-American nod.
"The competition is as deep as it's ever been in my race so it's not going to be easy," Welling said in a phone interview. "Really, it's an honor to just toe the line with some of those guys. It's a really tough field."
Junior Ryan Brown will also be looking for All-American status. He's cleared a national-best 17 feet, 1 1/2 inches in the pole vault this season and has a chance at a national championship. He placed 13th last season at the national.
Another strong showing by the Vikings at the national meet would help the program continue its growing reputation as a serious contender at the biggest levels of track and field and cross country.
Also making the trip are men's miler Anthony Tomsich, women's distance relay team members Courtney Olsen, Megan O'Connell and Rachel Johnson, and the women's 4x400 relay team members of Ellie Siler, Michelle Howe, and Sarah Brownell.
"When we go to these kinds of meets people know who we are now," Welling said. "It's always exciting to be part of an upcoming program."
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