Throughout the debut of Washington's new outdoor track Saturday, a dual meet with Washington State, no one seemed to miss the old days at Husky Stadium.
Throughout the debut of Washington’s new outdoor track Saturday, a dual meet with Washington State, no one seemed to miss the old days at Husky Stadium.
“We used to throw on this old, old runway, and the stands created kind of a wind tunnel,” recalled UW javelin thrower Joe Zimmerman, who won Saturday’s men’s competition. “It was just horrible for this event. This is way better.”
Despite a brisk southern wind that blew chilly sidewinds across eight new purple lanes during Saturday’s meet — which resulted in wins for the UW men, 91-72, and Washington State women, 86-77 — WSU coach Rick Sloan was also happy to be competing in a new place.
“Even though we had strange wind conditions today, Husky Stadium always had bad wind patterns,” Sloan said. “In a decathlon there years ago, our decathlete ran the entire 400 meters into a headwind.
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“You think, ‘How does that happen?’ But that’s Husky Stadium. But this is a track and field stadium. It’s better for the sport.”
Did UW coach Greg Metcalf have any nostalgic moments for Husky Stadium?
“Not for one second,” he said. “I mean, I loved Husky Stadium, but it was cavernous. The environment here was a much more intimate setting, and you could feel what was going on. It adds to the energy that’s being put out on the track.”
• Washington senior James Alaka, two-time Pac-12 Conference 200-meter champion, won both sprints — the 100 meters in 10.62 seconds, the 200 in 21.48. “I didn’t run particularly well, but I was going to do whatever it took to get a W and make sure we got points,” he said.
He laughed and added: “It’s not fast, but I do own the track record right now. More than anything else, it’s just nice to have a place we can call our own. It’s wonderful to know that this is our track, our house.”
• Sophomore Danny Shelton, an Auburn High School graduate and starting defensive lineman for the UW football team, won the shot put with last-minute flair.
Shelton’s first toss (of six) stood as the top distance until WSU’s John Fullington, a Cougar offensive lineman, topped him in round six. Shelton responded with a personal-best 53 feet, 1 ½ inches, edging Fullington by 2-plus feet.
“I felt it was personal,” Shelton said. “I had to come out and just punch it.”
• UW freshman Jax Thoirs, a 6-foot-5 native of Glasgow, Scotland, won the pole vault at 17-7 ¼ (5.37 meters). That is a new national record for Scotland, topping the old mark of 5.35.
Why UW? “(UW coach) Pat Licari is a well-known coach, and I knew about him even in Scotland,” Thoirs said. “I knew this would be a great opportunity to be coached by him.”
On his national record: “I’m really happy, and there’s a lot more to come. I think I can jump 18 feet this year.”
• The Washington women’s 3,000-meter squad, loaded with cross-country talent, took the first 10 places against just one Washington State runner, led by Megan Goethals (10:00.63). “We wanted them to cross the finish line 10 abreast,” Metcalf joked.