Western men's spike squad should stay near top despite major graduation losses
Feb. 25, 2003
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -
Feb. 25, 2003
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Returning national performers Danielle Juarez (Olympia/North Thurston) and Ashlee Vincent (Bellingham/Squalicum) lead the way as the Western Washington University men's and women's track and field teams enter the 2003 season.
Juarez, a senior, earned NCAA Division II All-America honors in the women's pole vault last spring, placing fifth at the national championships. Vincent, a sophomore, competed in the women's 3,000 meters, and also had provisional qualifying marks in two other events.
Their continued presence as part of a large group of returnees means the women's squad has high hopes of being in contention for the Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship, won by Seattle Pacific last year.
"We're going to be a better team this year," said Western coach Kelven "Pee Wee" Halsell (16th year). "We have every event covered, and we've added depth in a lot of areas. We want to be right there challenging Seattle Pacific and Western Oregon."
The women were third in the GNAC championships last year. The Western men were second behind Western Oregon a year ago. Graduation has put a dent in the corps of throwers which was the heart of last year's team, but added depth in other areas should keep the Vikings near the top of the conference.
"We'll be more balanced," Halsell said of the men. "The throws carried us last year, but we won't have to rely on any particular area now, we'll just need good production across the board."
Here's an in-depth look at the two squads:
Sprints & hurdles: This was perhaps the weakest area of the squad last season, but appears stronger now. Perhaps the top returnee is junior Ryan Los (Gig Harbor/Peninsula), who was third at the GNAC championships in the 400 hurdles, can also run the 200, and was the anchor on the 4x400 relay. He had a season-best of 56.03 in the 400 hurdles.
Also back is junior Steve Brockett (Bellevue) in the 200 and 400. He had Western's top time in the 200 (23.36).
After that, a number of newcomers figure to contribute. In the 100, junior Chris McClung (Vancouver/Skyline), a transfer from Clark CC, has run a 10.93. In the 110 hurdles, freshmen Dustin Wilson (Silverdale/Central Kitsap) and Jeff Luckstead (Walla Walla), finished second and fifth, respectively, in the Class 4A State Championships.
"It's an unproven group, but they've been working hard and I have a good feeling about what they can accomplish," said Halsell.
Middle & long distance: Senior Zach Boteilho (Camas), who was fourth in the Pacific West Conference in the 5,000 in 2001 and also had Western's best time in the 10,000 that year, returns after missing last season. Boteilho, who as an unattached runner won the 10,000 at the 2002 University of Oregon Invitational, can even slot into the 3,000 steeplechase occasionally.
Senior Brian Brancheau (Edmonds/Edmonds-Woodway) and junior Jon Carwin (Kirkland/Lake Washington) are top threats in the 1,500 and the steeplechase, and there's also strength in the 800 provided by brothers Jesse McNeil (Tacoma/Franklin Pierce), a junior, and Justin McNeil (Tacoma/Franklin Pierce), a sophomore.
Perhaps the deepest of the distance events is the 5,000, where besides Boteilho, senior Steve DeKoker (Maple Valley/Tahoma) was sixth in the GNAC, junior Kurt Hartmaier (Woodinville/Redmond) is coming off a strong cross country season, and senior Emil Newhouse (Snohomish) is back after a year's absence.
Jumps: Western has two excellent pole vaulters in junior Hunter Verner (Nashville, TN/Montgomery Bell Academy), who cleared 15-1 and finished fourth in the GNAC; and sophomore Scott Romney (Gig Harbor), who was second in the conference meet as he cleared a season-best 14-3 1/2. Joining them is freshman Adam Cleveland (Spokane/West Valley).
The other key returnee is junior Scott Durbin (Kenmore/Inglemoor), who had a best of 6-4 in the high jump. He'll be joined by freshman Zak Ernst (Bellingham/Squalicum), who has a best of 6-5 and was third in the Class 3A State Championships. Ernst could also be a factor in the long jump. Two other freshmen who figure to contribute in the long jump as well as the triple jump are Paul Danforth (Kent/Kennedy) and Andrew Moulton (Spokane/St. George's).
Throws: This was the strongest area for the Vikings last year, and despite heavy graduation losses, a good deal of talent remains.
Western had five of the top seven placers in the GNAC in the shot put and four of the top seven in the discus last season. Back from that group is junior Tom Farris (Bellevue/Issaquah), who was third in the discus and sixth in the shot; junior Brady Jones (Issaquah), who placed sixth in the discus and seventh in the shot; and sophomore Todd Gowing (Kirkland/Inglemoor), who was seventh in the discus and has the best mark of any returnee in the shot (45-9).
"It isn't a big group like last year," Halsell said. "But there's some real potential."
Sprints & hurdles: Junior Dania Swosinski (Tacoma/Wilson) was the GNAC champion in both the 200 and 400, narrowly missing the provisional national qualifying mark in the 400 with a best of 57.06. Junior Melissa Behrens (Redmond/Eastlake) was second in the GNAC in the 100 and fourth in the 200. They provide the core of a deep group that should have plenty of talent available in both the 4x100 and 4x400 relays.
Sophomore Laura Burch (McMinnville, OR) placed fourth in the conference in the 400 hurdles and also ran legs on both relays last year. Heptathletes LeAnne Evans (Steilacoom), a sophomore, and Nena Dodge (Bow/Burlington-Edison), a junior, contribute more depth, and a number of freshmen, including Dani Reid (Spokane/North Central), who ran a 15.02 100 hurdles in high school, may also figure in.
"It's a real solid area for us," Halsell said. "There's more depth this year, we have close to 20 people who might score points for us."
Middle & long distance: In addition to her exploits in the 3,000, where she had a best time of 10:02.32, Vincent, who was a unanimous pick as GNAC Freshman of the Year, reached the provisional national standard in the 1,500 and 5,000. She's likely to focus on the 5,000 this year, where she was second in the 2002 GNAC championships.
"She'll be a big factor for us again," Halsell said of Vincent. "She improved her cross country finishes last fall, and she'll be there consistently up front."
Vincent is far from the only weapon, however. Sophomore Mindy Noble (Spokane/Lewis & Clark) was eighth in the GNAC in the 800, where junior Jessica Opersteny (Seattle/Roosevelt) is also a threat. Both could also contribute in the 1,500. Junior Tina Stimson (Renton/Liberty) was sixth in the GNAC in the 1,500 and sophomore Amanda Hall (Coeur d'Alene, ID/Lake City) is back after redshirting last year.
There's also a large contingent of cross country runners who could contribute in the longer distances.
Jumps: Juarez is the school-record holder in the pole vault, having cleared 12-2 each of the last two seasons. She has made two national appearances and reached the provisional standard as a freshman.
"Danielle was very consistent last year," Halsell said. "She's showing even more maturity this year, doing a good job of training, and I think she'll just continue to go forward."
Western doesn't have quite the same level of depth in the other jumps. Junior Brianne Dolan (Edmonds/Edmonds-Woodway) is the top returnee in the long jump, freshmen Beth Griffin (Seattle/Kennedy) is the top threat in the triple jump, and freshman Amy Kruckeberg (Lake Stevens) has cleared 5-4 in the high jump, a mark which would put her in contention near the top of the GNAC.
Throws: Leading the way is junior Stacey Hopkins (Sammamish/Eastlake), who reached the provisional national standard in the javelin with a throw of 139-2.
While Hopkins is the top returnee, a number of newcomers also figure to contribute. Freshman Jessica Telleria (Boise, ID/Capital) has thrown 144-6 in the discus, a mark more than a foot beyond the provisional national standard and may also be a factor in the shot put. Sophomore Kim Radke (East Wenatchee/Eastmont), a transfer from University of Idaho, is a threat in the discus, the hammer and particularly in the shot put, where she's thrown better than 40 feet.
Providing depth behind Hopkins in the javelin are Anna Nielsen (Fr., Ferndale) and Michelle Johnson (Fr., Olympia/North Thurston). Adding depth in the shot put and discus are freshmen Stacey Washington (Bellingham/Ferndale) and Sarah Button (Bellingham/Squalicum), along with junior Kessa Volland (Bellingham/Squalicum) and her younger sister Allie (Bellingham/Squalicum), a freshman.
"We're a bit thin in the hammer, but overall our throwers could be right near the top of the conference," Halsell said. "It's a young group, but they're very talented."
Heptathlon: Evans scored 4,130 points and placed fourth in the GNAC last year. Dodge is another threat, and freshman Jackie McCall (Spokane/Medical Lake) may also contribute.
Western Washington Vikings Sidebar Links
|Email this article||Printer-friendly format|