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Ankton excited to run in front of family, friends

Washington won’t be bringing its entire track team to the Brutus Hamilton Invitational in Berkeley, Calif., this weekend. But that doesn’t mean it’s any less important, especially to redshirt senior Falesha Ankton. Originally from the Bay Area, Ankton relishes the chance to return home.

“I’m really excited,” Ankton said. “I haven’t run at Cal since freshman year. It’s the closest Pac-10 school to my house. I’m sure I’ll have a lot of energy, because my family will be able to come watch me run.”

Although she’s far from home, Ankton has made a name for herself in Seattle. Under the tutelage of coach Raul Sheen, Ankton has blossomed into an All-American hurdler. Now, in her fifth year, Ankton can stake her claim as one of the top hurdlers in the country.

“She’s become a tremendous leader on and off the track,” Sheen said. “Even more so than what she brings to us athletically. She’s from the Bay Area, so it’s nice for her to go home. She’s really a great kid. She’s a fifth-year senior who’s already graduated, so she came back because she had some unfinished business to take care of — and to help the Huskies, which is fantastic.”

This weekend, Ankton will run the 100-meter hurdles against some top-notch competition. She’ll be competing against other All-Americans as well as professional hurdlers. Ankton relishes the chance to go up against such quality competition.

“It’s going to be a really good field,” Ankton said. “I haven’t run against anyone this fast in a while; I need to get used to running against fast people again. I’m just hoping to go out there and compete. I’d like to improve my ranking for regionals and [the] Pac-10 [championships], but really, my goal for this weekend is to just go out and compete.”

Sheen thinks Ankton is capable of more than just that. Knowing that this was Ankton’s chance to run in front of family and friends, Sheen has been pointing toward this race.

“This was kind of a highlight meet, for sure,” Sheen said. “We’re leaving a lot of people home, and a lot of people are resting up. However, because it’s in the Bay Area and the field is pretty stacked, we’ve been getting her ready for this one.”

Ankton has been putting up good times close to her personal record and could be ready for a big move. Although NCAAs are more than a month out, now is when the top racers start separating themselves from the pack.

“She’s catapulted herself to a good start outdoors,” Sheen said. “She set a personal record indoors and made it to the USA championships. In the grand scheme of things, we’re looking for her to go out and run a great race; what that means is kind of a hard thing to define. Really going out and competing is what we’re looking for. She’s in the invite section, so the field will be stacked.”

Ankton will race in the 100-meter high-hurdles invite section tomorrow. The meet takes place today and tomorrow and starts both days at 10 a.m.

Reach reporter Jacob Thorpe at sports@dailyuw.com.

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