Cougar Notebook: Mojo down Willamette way

IF THE CRIMSON MOJO that was working in the Willamete Valley on Sunday has legs, then Paul Wulff will be smiling when his Cougs head to Eugene this fall. WSU's 21st-ranked men's track team matched its best showing at the Pac-10 meet in 11 years on Sunday, and the baseball team rallied to win at No. 25 Oregon State to virtually guarantee a trip to the NCAA regionals for the first time in 19 years.

It was a day filled with inspiring performances, but perhaps none more so than the one turned in by high jumper Trent Arrivey. The junior from Woodinville won the high jump for the Cougars, who finished fourth overall. But more importantly, he won the high jump for teammate Shawn Swartz.

"I dedicate this title to my good friend and training partner Shawn Swartz, who was just diagnosed with leukemia and couldn't be here this weekend," Arrivey said after winning in Eugene. "We're all thinking about him."

Arrivey, who is tied for the NCAA lead with a season best of 7 feet, 4 ½ inches, settled for 7-2 ¼ at Hayward Field. Chances are he never looked better in the eyes of his ailing buddy, a freshman from Coquitlam, British Columbia.

Arrivey joined 400-meter intermediate hurdlers Jeshua Anderson and Lorraine King on top of the awards stand.

Anderson, the defending NCAA champion, repeated as Pac-10 champion by lowering his NCAA-leading time to 48.9 seconds. The sophomore from Woodland Hills, Calf., is a starting wide receiver on the Cougar football team.

"I've been doing strength workouts for football, and they have been showing in my track performance," Anderson said.

King, a senior from Fontana, Calif., became the first Cougar woman to win a Pac-10 intermediate hurdles title. Her personal record (PR) time of 57.51 ranks second in team history.

"Finally!" she said. "I knew I could do this … I PR'd by almost a whole second."

Over in Corvallis, Jay Ponciano continued his amazing comeback story by driving in the winning run in the ninth inning of a 7-6 thriller.

"I wanted to be in that spot," Ponciano said of the victory.

"Jay's got serious confidence," coach Donnie Marbut said.

Ponciano, a short, squat catcher -- think Yogi Berra with a lot more hair on his head -- has been crushing the ball since rising from third string to starter in his first college season. He sat out two years with foot problems that doctors told him would prevent him from playing again.

"It's been a long journey back," Ponciano said.

They won't soon forget Ponciano in Corvallis, but they might need help spelling his name. The scoreboard read PONICANO each time the Vancouver, Wash., native came to the plate.

"That's kind of brutal," Ponciano said with a smile. "I hope they spell it right next time."

The atmosphere at Oregon State's Coleman Field on Sunday was tremendous -- nearly 3,000 loud, enthusiastic fans turned out on a gorgeous afternoon -- and the Cougars hope to duplicate that type of crowd this weekend against Washington.

The Cougars and Huskies wrap up the regular season Friday through Sunday at Bailey-Brayton Field. A strong finish by the Huskies might push the Huskies into regionals; a poor finish by the Cougs might leave the Cougars biting their nails until NCAA officials announce the regional pairings next Monday.

"We can't let U-Dub come into our place and squeak a couple out," Ponciano said.

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