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Charlotte Muschamp triumphs for WSU at Pac-12 track and field championships

Runners make a splash in the men’s 3000-meter steeplechase during the 2014 Pac-12 Track and Field Championships in Pullman. (Tyler Tjomsland)
Runners make a splash in the men’s 3000-meter steeplechase during the 2014 Pac-12 Track and Field Championships in Pullman. (Tyler Tjomsland)

PULLMAN – For the better part of a week, Charlotte Muschamp thought that her family had forgotten she was jumping this weekend in the Pac-12 Track and Field Championships.

It was not a big deal; getting any news of Muschamp’s track and field exploits at Washington State to her hometown of Edendale is something of a marathon.

Nestled in New Zealand’s southern tip, practically closer to Antarctica than Australia, Edendale is home to just 570 Kiwis, the sort of small town that lists a male and female population.

But her father, Justin, the town veterinarian, woke up at 3 a.m. on Sunday morning to call Charlotte, who lives in a time zone 19 hours behind his, and wish her good luck.

The call reached Muschamp at 8 a.m. Saturday morning in Pullman and was the first thing that went right for her yesterday. The second came when the sophomore jumped 1.82 meters (5 feet, 111/2 inches) to win the women’s high jump championship, the only first-place finish for WSU on the first day of the two-day meet.

The mark was a personal best, coming in front of 1,127 fans – which she refers to as her “American family” – on a sunny afternoon at WSU’s Mooberry Track and Field Complex.

“I’m a very patient person so I guess today it kind of fueled me because I’m sick of being patient,” Muschamp said.

That she was able to jump at all was an achievement. After a successful indoor season, Muschamp’s outdoor season has, in her words, “proved Murphy’s Law. Anything that can go wrong, has.”

Rolling an ankle caused Muschamp to favor her hamstring until she eventually strained it. After that she had a bout with strep throat.

Overcoming those ailments was a battle, as was getting back in shape and regaining confidence in herself and her preparation.

“It was just one thing after another that really interrupted her preparation. We’ve somewhat recently just been able to get back to full training,” said assistant coach Matt McGee. “Missing that much time, we needed to train pretty seriously, and when we’re doing that she’s going to be pretty tired. In training and things, she wasn’t quite jumping the jumps she would like to.”

Muschamp credits the time off with giving her perspective on the mental aspect of horizontally jumping over a bar that is taller than her.

Her first-place finish provided critical points to the WSU women’s team, which finished the first day in seventh place with 19 points. She will compete today in the triple jump.

The Oregon women lead by a healthy margin heading into Sunday’s with 64 points, 31.5 more points than second-place UCLA. Because so many of the track events have their finals today, the majority of those points were scored in field events.

Colorado’s Shalaya Kipp is the NCAA leader in the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, and didn’t disappoint, winning easily with a time of 10 minutes 4.19 seconds. It was the fastest time ever recorded at Mooberry by nearly 50 seconds, but still well below her NCAA-leading time of 9:39.12.

The Cougars could add points today with a strong performance in the 1,500 from Ruby Roberts, who faltered down the stretch of her heat on Saturday but advanced thanks to posting one of the faster times in the preliminaries.

Roberts’ time of 4:25.98 was significantly slower than her season best of 4:18.57 and illustrates the conundrum faced by athletes who must run twice in two days. She raced in the third and final heat, which was much faster than the prior two because the racers knew what times they had to beat to advance.

“Preliminaries are all about skating to the finals but sometimes you have to push a little harder than you’re planning on and they can just go any way,” Roberts explained. “Preliminary races are always so tactical. If you get stuck in a mob like I was, you’re fighting a little bit.”

“I’m sure I’ll be fine for tomorrow,” she continued.” I fought a little more than I like to, to get a spot in the beginning. But I’ll be fine.

The Cougar men finished the day in eighth place with 18 points, including six from javelin thrower Kyle Stevens’ third-place finish. His throw of 68.50 meters (224 feet, 9 inches) is the 10th-best mark in school history.

Jacob Sealby finished second in his 400-meter heat with a time of 46.91 and will try to add to the Cougars’ score today. While his twin failed to advance in the same heat, Lucas Sealby will race today as part of the 4x400-meter relay.

Oregon is the clear leader on the men’s side as well with 70.25 points. Washington is second at 40.25.

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