Spring is once again in the air and there is a flurry of Spring sports activity going on over at Montlake. Not much news about football this past week, but that will soon change since Spring practice is about to get under way.
The Husky football team has a lot of new faces on the coaching staff, and hopefully that will help the defense rebound from the most dismal season in modern football history. On the offensive side of the ball most can't wait to see if Jake Locker is an improved passer. The game will obviously slow down for him this year, and while he will be throwing to a WR crew with little experience the talent level at that position is making a quantum leap. Keep an eye on newcomers Chris Polk, Anthony Boyles, and Devin Aguilar.
At RB with Rankin gone, the inside track on the starting tailback spot would logically fall to sophomore Brandon Johnson, who was Rankin's backup last year and is the most experienced tailback on the roster. Johnson showed a convincing flash of what he's capable of when he ran for 121 yards on 23 carries last season vs. California. The only other tailback on the team is fourth-year junior J.R. Hasty, who carried the ball six times last season. Two other tailbacks who redshirted the 2007 season will be given every chance to fight for playing time -- Willie Griffin and Brandon Yakaboski. For Hasty it is definitely do or die time, and it will take an eye opening performance this Fall to get him out of Ty's doghouse.
We all want to see improvement at TE. Gottleib should continue to improve as a blocker, but Izbicki should begin to challenge for the starting job after a year in the weight room. He just has more natural tools than the other guys. Johnnie Kirton will be studying in South Africa, so he will be missing Spring drills. We all of course are waiting for Kavario Middleton to arrive this fall.
The offensive line should continue to improve. By this Fall the Huskies should be close to where they need to be as far as depth, and experience go. They will be a little green behind the starting tackles as Fancher, and Armelin are only redshirts, so you hope that Habben, and Ossai can keep healthy. On the inside Garcia, Tolar, Bulyca, White-Frisbee, Shugert, Sedillo, and Rosborough match up well with great Husky lines of the past. Keep an eye on Shugert, he is a future star, and the future isn't that far away. garcia should be the best center on the coast.
The bad news on the defensive side of the ball is the Huskies have to rebuild the defensive line. The good news of course is they are rebuilding perhaps the worst performing defensive line in the history of the school. Daniel Teo Nesheim is the only sure starter, all the other spots are up for grabs. The big question is whether Washington will go with a three man, or four man line? New DC Ed Donatell doesn't know for sure yet, but hints it will depend on the situation. He should have a better idea of what is going on after he evaluates the talent this Spring.
The LB's should be solid, and they represent one of the most experienced areas of the team. The question with these guys is health. They were walking wounded last year and it hindered their performance. Keep an eye on their health this Spring, I think that will be the key to their success.
The DB's lose some talent, but have a lot of new talent coming in the Spring and Fall. Wells will sit out the Spring rehabbing his knee, but will be back this Fall. Harris, and Forrester provide solid depth, and experience. That being said the improvement at the position will come if the young guys like Aiyewa, and Williams push the veterans to the side this Spring.
At CB Davenport will be the starter on one side with a free for all fight for the other side. Quinton Richardson is moving over from Safety, and if he breaks into the lineup the experiment could be a big deal because he can be an extra force shutting down the run. Going into Spring Murchison, McDowell, and Mosley have the most experience, and all three will get long looks.
Crew season opened up this season with the annual Class Day Regatta on the Montlake Cut.
Expect quite a bit of improvement now that Bob Ernst has taken back over the reigns of the women's program. Before taking over the men's program he was the elite women's rowing coach in the country. Make no mistake that his impact will still be felt on both squads since he still is the director of the entire rowing program.
The junior class won the women's featured race and the freshmen boat ended up on top of a closely contested men's race, Saturday, as the Washington rowing team opened its 2008 racing season with the 107th-annual Class Day Regatta on the Montlake Cut.
The featured men's race included many lead changes between the juniors, sophomores and freshmen, but it was ultimately the freshmen boat that took the lead in the third 500 meters and held on to capture the George M. Varnell trophy. The freshmen crew won the race in 6:04.74, edging the sophomores (6:08.08) and seniors (6:09.65). The juniors finished in 6:12.25.
It marked the second time in three years the freshmen have won the men's race, as they also took home the Varnell trophy in 2006 - a season that saw those same freshmen win the IRA Championship. Prior to that 2006 triumph, a freshman crew had not won the UW men's Class Day race since 1947.
The Husky baseball squad has started off the season as one of the hottest teams in the country reeling off eleven straight wins, but that came to a dramatic stop this weekend as powerhouse Oregon State swept the Pac Ten opening doubleheader in Corvallis.
Chris Hopkins' 10th-inning single drove in John Wallace with the winning run as Oregon State swept a doubleheader from the Washington baseball team with a 2-1 win in the nightcap Saturday at Goss Stadium. In the first game of the doubleheader, Oregon State handed the UW an 8-1 loss to break the Huskies' 11-game winning streak. Washington finished the day 16-8 overall and 0-2 in the Pac-10. OSU improved to 13-7 and 2-0.
Aleah Macon struck out 10 Oregon State batters to lead No. 23 Washington to a 1-0 win in the Huskies Pac-10 Conference opener on Saturday afternoon at Husky Softball Stadium.
Macon held the Beavers to three hits and finished with her sixth double-digit strikeout performance of the season to improve to 11-4. It was her fourth shutout and 11th complete-game of the season. Washington (22-9-1, 1-0 Pac-10) scored its only run in the third inning on an RBI-single by Morgan Stuart. With two outs, Jace Williams hit a ground rule double to left field and then came home to score when Stuart blooped a single into right field over the head of OSU first baseman DeAnn Young.
The Washington women's gymnastics team battled back from a rocky start on balance beam, turning in some of their best performances on floor and uneven bars to place sixth at the Pac-10 Championships which the Huskies hosted at Bank of America Arena.
Washington men's golf shot a final round score of 9-over 297 to finish in sixth place at the 20th annual Oregon Duck Invitational held at the Emerald Valley Golf Club in Creswell, Oregon. Washington women's golf shot a final-round score of 20-over 308 to place fourth at the Oregon Duck Invitational at the Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Ore., Tuesday.
Track and Field
Eight Washington athletes were selected to the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships today by the NCAA Division I Track and Field Committee. Three Husky men and five women will travel to Fayetteville, Arkansas for the championships this Friday-Saturday, Mar. 14-15.
The Washington track and field team picked an unfortunate day to make their outdoor season debut, but persevered through the soggy, cold conditions to complete the UW Outdoor Preview, one of just two meets at Husky Stadium this year. Given the strong winds and steady mix of rain and snow, fast times were hard to come by in the meet which featured a collection of local small colleges and club teams. Still, many Huskies got off to solid starts under the stadium lights. Washington's men are ranked ninth to open the outdoor season after placing 10th at the NCAA Indoor Championships two weeks ago. Several of the top Husky distance runners competed in the 1500-meters, with sophomore Kelly Spady just beating out junior Jake Schmitt for the win in a time of 3:55.84. Freshman Charlie Williams and redshirt freshman Riley Booker were third and fourth, respectively
The Husky women welcomed back senior Amy Lia to active duty, as she competed in the 800-meters, placing fifth in 2:22.66 in what was clearly a tune-up for the 2006 NCAA 1500-meter champion. Lia missed the majority of the 2007 season with injury and also was unable to run during cross country season. Lia ran second for much of the race but held back when Oregon State's Sylvia Veal made a kick to pull away and win. Sophomore Mo Huber ran a strong 1500-meters, placing second to OSU's Noelle Harer in 4:41.04, and freshman Kenna Patrick was third out of 29 runner in the 3000-meters, running 10:13.28. Junior multi-event specialist Liz Fuller won the 100m hurdles in a strong head wind, and Allison Lombardo cleared 5-2 ¼ to win the high jump.
The 20th-ranked Husky men's tennis team was dealt a 6-1 defeat by No. 4 USC today at the Nordstrom Tennis Center, dropping the Huskies to 12-6 and 0-2 in Pac-10 play. Senior Andy Kuharszky upset 54th-ranked Gary Sacks for Washington's only point this afternoon.
The 35th-ranked Washington women's tennis team closed out its non-conference schedule with a 7-0 loss to 29th-ranked Michigan today at the Varsity Tennis Center. The Huskies (10-8, 0-5 Pac-10) were playing their third road match in four days.