Two Vikings looking to defend titles at GNAC Championships
April 29, 2008
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Western Washington University's Heidi Dimmitt (Jr., Wenatchee) and Erica Rance (Sr., Seattle/Renton) will be looking to defend their individual titles at the seventh annual Great Northwest Athletic Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Friday and Saturday at Ellensburg.
Seattle Pacific is the pre-meet favorite to win its third consecutive women's team title, and Western Oregon and Alaska Anchorage are expected to battle it out for the men's crown.
The Viking women, who finished fourth last year, will fight it out with Western Oregon for the runner-up spot.
Western's men, who placed second last spring, are picked third with defending champion and host Central Washington fourth.
"I know where we're supposed to finish, but we're going there with the goal of winning both (titles)," said Western coach Pee Wee Halsell. "Our emphasis all year was to peak for this week and we have a history of competing our best at this meet."
Dimmitt is the defending champion and current GNAC leader in the women's 400-meter hurdles with a time of 1:02.34.
Rance is second among GNAC leaders in the women's discus with a mark of 133-7. Last year, she entered the meet with just the fifth-best mark, but won the event with a throw of 140-5, nine feet better than her previous best of the year.
Besides Dimmitt, Western's other GNAC women event leaders are Megan Zukowski (Fr., Maple Valley/Tahoma) in the 100 (12.53), Megan O'Connell (Fr., Sammamish/Skyline) in the 400 (58.21), Sarah Porter (Fr., Hockinson) in the 10,000 (36:45.24), Clara Cook (Jr., Wenatchee) in the high jump (5-4 1/2) as well as the 4x100 (48.60) and 4x400 (3:57.60). Porter's time in the 10,000 is a school record.
Track and Field: Tight Races Expected In GNAC
The 2008 Great Northwest Athletic Conference track and field championships that begin Friday at Ellensburg could be the most competitive in conference history.
The men's team title appears to be literally a tossup between Western Oregon, which won three titles between 2002 and 2004 and upstart Alaska Anchorage, which has never finished higher than fourth.
With good days, Western Washington and defending champion Central Washington could also make title runs if the Wolves and/or Seawolves stumble.
Three teams on the women's side - two-time defending champion Seattle Pacific, Western Oregon and Western Washington - all appear to have legitimate chances to win the title.
In the previous six championship meets, the winning teams have never scored fewer than 200 points, but based on seedings, it is possible no team in either gender may reach that figure this season.
If things go according to form, the two winning teams could both emerge with a point total between 180 and 190.
On the men's Alaska Anchorage will rely on its track athletes. In the eight field events, it has only two entries, including defending long jump champion David Registe, who ranks second nationally in that event with a best of 24-10 ½.
The Seawolves will need a big day from Registe to make a title run. He is the conference leader in both the 100 and 200 meters, two events in which UAA could pile up some big points. Michael Madrid is the defending champion in both sprint races and is seeded second behind his teammate.
In all the Seawolves have the top seed in six different events, including David Kiplagat in the steeplechase and both relay events.
Western Oregon also has the top seed in six events and has a conference-best 14 top three seeds, including the decathlon where they already have acquired 18 points with 1-2 finishes from Zeb Udell and Clint Hickey. It was Udell's second consecutive multi-event title.
Madrid (100, 200), Registe (in the long jump) and Udell (decathlon) are among nine returning defending men's champions. John Riak of Saint Martin's in the 10,000 and Greg Hamm of Northwest Nazarene in the triple jump will each be gunning for their third straight victories.
Also seeking to return to the winner's circle are Kiplagat, who is the No. 2 seed in the 5,000; Western Oregon's Lloyd Massey in the 400 hurdles and Anthony Marin in the hammer, and Central Washington's Matt Rogstad and Jonathan Hamilton in the 400 meters and high jump, respectively.
Seattle Pacific won the women's title by 57 ½ points last year, the widest margin in GNAC history, but is without All-American Jessica Pixler this spring.
Still, the Falcons may have the points to win their fourth title in seven years though on paper the spread between SPU, Western Oregon and Western Washington is just 21 points.
If the Falcons repeat, it could be in large part to the javelin where they have the top three seeds in Jeeni Schantin, Lauren VerMulm and Brittany Aanstad and are projected to score 28 points.
The trio rank 3-4-5 nationally and all have posted automatic national qualifying marks. VerMulm won GNAC titles in both 2005 and 2006.
SPU also has the top seeds in the 800 in Lisa Anderberg, 1500 in Jane Larson and steeplechase in Suzie Strickler. Larson ranks second nationally in the 1500 with a best of 4:26.91.
SPU's Melissa Peaslee is the co-conference leader in the pole vault with Christy Miller of WWU (12-3 ½).
Western Washington has a league-best eight conference leaders and Western Oregon has a league best 15 Top 3 seeds, including Jacque Postlewait and Mandy Keifer who finished 1-2 in last week's heptathlon.
Eight 2007 champions are in the field though only five, GNAC record-holder Laura Carr of Alaska Anchorage in the 5,000, UAA's Kim Brady in the long jump, Postlewait in the 100 hurdles, WOU's Sabrina Freed in the hammer and Heidi Dimmitt of Western Washington in the 400 hurdles are the No. 1 seeds.
Other defending champions are second-seed Erica Rance of Western Washington in the discus, fourth-seed Karin Rohde of Seattle Pacific in the steeplechase and fifth-seed Tracie Lundsten of SPU in the pole vault.
Rohde also won the 2006 steeplechase title as is one of five competitors who have posted national qualifying times in that event.
Three other former champions are also in the 337-athlete field include Ashley Puga of Northwest Nazarene, Clara Cook of Western Washington and Sarajane Rosenberg of Western Oregon who won the 1500, high jump and long jump, respectively, two years ago.
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