May 28, 2011
TURLOCK, Calif. - Western Washington University's Ryan Brown (Sr., Bellingham/Squalicum) successfully defended his national title in the men's pole vault, clearing a winning height of 17-1 3/4 (5.23 meters) on Saturday at the 2011 NCAA Division II National Outdoor Track and Field Championships held at Al Brenda Track at Warrior Stadium on the campus of host Cal State Stanislaus.
It was the fourth national championship for Brown, who also won back-to-back indoor pole vault titles in 2010 and 2011.
Brown entered the competition as the national outdoor leader with a height of 17-2 3/4. After passing at 15-10, he cleared 16-2, 16-6, 16-10 and 17-1 3/4, each on his first attempt. He then missed two tries at 17-3 3/4 and one at a meet record 18-2.
"I really came into this competition confident and ready to go," said Brown. "It started raining midway through the competition, but nothing could hold me back."
"He was clean every time on his first four jumps," said Western coach Pee Wee Halsell (24th year). "It was beautiful to see. He came in here to do a job and he did it."
Brown no heighted twice during the season, once at the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships and the other at Stanford's Payton Jordan Invitational. Each time Western assistant Dick Henrie, who coaches the pole vaulters, was unable to make the trip because of conflicts with his job at the Bellingham Parks and Recreation Department.
"We've been through a lot," Brown said of Henrie. "He knows my pain and where I'm at, so it was great having him here.
"I knew after the conference meet that my head wasn't in it. I was letting too many little things bother me. So, between then and now, I worked hard to mentally prepare myself."
Brown's personal-best is a school record 17-8 1/2 set last year.
Earlier Saturday, Western's Monika Gruszecki (Sr., Edmonds/Meadowdale) ended her career the same way she began it, with a national title in the women's javelin.
Gruszecki won with a school-record throw of 163-6 (49.85 meters), six-feet, seven inches further than her previous personal-best.
Gruszecki also was a national champion in 2007, and placed second at nationals in 2008.
Gruszecki is just the second Western athlete to win more than one individual national title, the other being Brown.
On Thursday, Viking distance runner Sarah Porter (Sr., Hockinson) won the national title in the women's 10,000 meters. Her time of 33:17.39 was a meet record and the fourth fastest in NCAA II history.
Q&A with Monika Gruszecki
Former WWU javelin thrower Monika Gruszecki now works an an intern with the NCAA
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