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Roundup: WSU track invitational brings out all-comers

Sun., April 24, 2011

PULLMAN – Washington State’s lone home track meet of the year, the Cougar Invitational, is what it is – meaning invitations do go out.

And then some athletes invite themselves.

Which is how Alex Hoffman-Ellis, in a helmet and pads at last weekend’s Cougar football scrimmage in Spokane, wound up in a ninja-esque pose on the javelin runway Saturday, trying to muscle the spear out into relevance.

“I heard it was an invitational,” he said with a shrug and a smile. “Just a jog down memory lane.”

The WSU defensive leader was a four-sport athlete in high school; at Moorpark Junior College he picked up the javelin for the first time and eventually threw it 197 feet. On two days’ practice Saturday he reached just 175-11 “so I don’t think I can really help the team,” he admitted. Though maybe a new pair of javelin boots would help.

“My retro Adidas,” he laughed. “They’re hand-me-downs from my coach in JC and they’re about a size and a half too small. I have to make sure I cut my toenails every time I wear them.”

The memory-laners and ex-collegians still pursuing the dream were a big part of Saturday’s affair – but, of course, so were the undergrads.

All three meet records that fell came from the college ranks. WSU’s Marissa Tschida opened the day by tacking nearly 11 feet on the women’s javelin record with a 172-4 heave. And the University of Idaho quartet of Karlene Hurrel, Keli Hall, Lauren Schaffer and Liga Velvere closed it by clocking 3 minutes, 45.10 seconds in the 4x400 relay to lop 2 seconds off existing standard.

In between was a run of 2:08.85 in the 800 by Cougars sophomore Courtney Zalud of Spokane, a second less than the 11-year-old record and her first time under a nettlesome barrier.

“Every race, it’s always 2:10 point something,” she said. “I’d never broken it.”

There were two other near-misses of records by the postgrad crowd. WSU grad Drew Ulrick, still one of the nation’s top discus throwers, had Ian Waltz’s 192-11 mark from 2000 in his sights – and passed it on his first attempt, only to have his heel edge over the lip of the ring. After that, he got as close as 192-6. And Idaho alum Christie Gordon zipped an impressive 13.63 in the 100-meter hurdles, but missed the meet mark by just .05.

The big old-timers meeting came in the men’s javelin, where Community Colleges of Spokane coach Ryan Weidman’s 213-6 edged ex-Cougs Curt Borland and Jon Jeffreys.

“I had a case of beer on that one,” Borland said. “Well, I’m going to buy him Busch Light whether he knows it or not.”

Oregon Relays: Erica Chaney won the shot put and Eastern Washington’s women’s sprinters had a strong day in Eugene.

Chaney’s throw of 50-3 1/2 put her more than 3 feet ahead of the field as the Eagles’ only overall winner. In the women’s 100, Krystal Deyo (12.02), Brianna Okoro (12.16) and Whitney Leavitt (12.20) all had seasonal bests, and ran on the 4x100 relay team that took second in 46.72 behind Oregon’s meet-record 43.82.

Highlighting the men’s competition was the javelin. The top four finishers all bested 225 feet – including Lewis and Clark grad Joe Zimmerman of Washington in second (231-7) and EWU’s Aaron Mettler (225-3).

Two other former Greater Spokane League athletes had season bests – UW’s Brad Whitley (Central Valley) with a 1:51.39 800 and Oregon’s Jordan Roskelley (Mt. Spokane) with a 13-1 3/4 pole vault.

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