April 18, 2010

Courtesy of Washington

WALNUT, Calif. - Husky senior Katie Follett has added another school-record to her long list of achievements, as she blistered the Hilmer Lodge Stadium track to win the top flight of the 1,500-meters at the Mt. SAC Relays in a time of 4:10.66. Follett's time is the second-fastest in the world this year and nets her the NCAA lead.

A seven-time All-American and the NCAA runner-up in the mile indoors, Follett has been on a roll for weeks now, yet she still was more than four seconds shy of Courtney Inman's 1,500-meter school-record of 4:10.93 from 2003. Follett's previous career-best was a 4:15.04 that she ran at Stanford to open this outdoor season. According to the IAAF, only Kenya's Ann Karindi Mwangi has run a faster 1,500-meters this year at 4:09.41.

Tonight's race shaped up as a Northwest battle between Follett and multiple NCAA Division-II Champion Jessica Pixler of Seattle Pacific. Pixler had gotten the best of Follett in the mile run indoors, but tonight Follett did a better job of sticking on Pixler's shoulder, and she moved past Pixler down the homestretch for the win. The SPU star finished in 4:11.06.

"I'm so happy right now," said Follett. "Coach Metcalf and I have been talking for so long about running this time. My workouts have been so good, and I have had good races but I was kind of discouraged about the times. Workouts don't always translate to good races. You need to have people pushing you, and a good rhythm and pace. That all came together tonight. Earlier in the week I was going to run 800, but with Jessica Pixler in the 1,500 we thought more about the opportunity to run against her. I know she is really strong and really fit, and working together we could get a fast time." (More Follett quotes below)

Follett already held the Washington school-record in the mile, which she lowered earlier this indoor season to 4:34.98. Her time tonight also surpassed legendary Huskies Regina Joyce (4:12.84) and 2006 NCAA Champion Amy Lia (4:14.63) in addition to Inman.

In one of the last premier events of the night session, junior Colton Tully-Doyle turned in the second-fastest 5,000-meter run in Washington history, as he was one of fourteen men to break 14-minutes in his section of the 5k. Tully-Doyle set the indoor school record just a few weeks back, but had run the 1,5000-meters in his first two outdoor appearances.

This evening, Tully-Doyle churned around the track in 13:52.40, faster than all Huskies in history save for school record-holder David Bazzi, who ran 13:40.61 in 2001. Prior to this season, Tully-Doyle's personal-best at the distance was 14:26.27, more than a 30-second improvement in just one year. His time will no certainly send him on to Austin for the NCAA preliminary rounds this May.

Close behind Tully-Doyle was senior Jake Schmitt, who was just off his personal-best in the 5k with a time of 14:04.20. That time, also well under the old Regional mark, ought to get Schmitt into the prelims.

In the women's 5,000-meter invitational, senior Anita Campbell carve about 30-seconds off her time from just one week prior, as she ran 16:17.85, a big step forward as the defending Pac-10 10,000-meter champ gets herself back up to speed for the longer distance.

In the second-fastest women's 1,500-meter heat, senior Kailey Campbell took fourth out of 18 competitors with a time of 4:22.34 in a much more deliberate race.. Freshman Justine Johnson had a big PR in the open heats of the 1,500-meters, as she ran 4:31.34.

Under the stars, sophomore Kayla Evans showed again what a difference a year can make, as she ran 16:43.01 in the 5,000-meters. Just for comparison's sake, last year Evans' best 5k time was 18:28.06, but that was before a hard summer of training and an excellent fall in cross country.

Sophomore Ryan Soberanis had a PR as well in the men's 1,500-meters as he crossed in 3:48.61. Fellow sophomore Ryan Styrk also had a five-second personal-best of 3:52.17.

The highlight of the field events was senior Ryan Vu, who went up and over 17-feet in the pole vault for the first time this season. Vu cleared 17-0 ¾ to be precise, making the bar on his second attempt. Results from the women's vault were still forthcoming.

Saturday's action will be highlighted by junior Scott Roth in the top flight of the men's pole vault.

Additional Quotes From Katie Follett:

On how the race played out: "We got there tonight and it was perfect conditions. There was no wind and it was a perfect temperature. We went out at a good pace, and the second lap was pretty fast. My biggest problem (against Pixler) has been committing to that second lap and running fast. We came through 800-meters and saw the split at 2:13 or 2:14 and I thought, `Okay, Katie, don't screw this up!' (laughs) Coming down that homestretch sometimes it's hard to switch into that final gear, and sometimes it feels easy and you're body is not resisting, and today was one of those."

On her rivalry with Pixler: "After the race we looked at each other and were like, `Did we really have to come to California to do this?' She could have just come and met me at the Dempsey (laughs). But until tonight I never really got the opportunity to talk to her that much. We didn't really get a chance during the indoor season. But tonight I ran a cool-down with her after the race. We found out we really had a lot in common, she's a really strong Christian, and we talked about doing (Athletes In Action) this summer. We've been racing so long so it was good to say, `I finally met you and know you a little better.' I feel like I've been able to do that more this season."