Huskies Join Hunt for NCAA Bids in Tuscon

Nov. 7, 2001

This Week in Husky Cross Country
Nov. 10:
NCAA West Regional Championships, Randolph Golf Course, Tuscon, Ariz. Men's 10,000-meter race, 9:30 a.m. MST/8:30 a.m. PST, Women's 6,000-meter race, 10:30 a.m MST/9:30 a.m. PST.

On the Course: Berths for next week's NCAA Championships will be on the line for both squads at this week's NCAA West Regional meet in Tuscon, Ariz. The top two teams in each race will earn automatic bids to the national meet, Nov. 19, at Furman University in Greenville, S.C. At-large bids will be handed out to the next three-to-five teams, depending on win-loss record. The Husky women's squad enters the Regional meet as the West's fifth-ranked team, trailing No. 1 Stanford, No. 8 Arizona, No. 11 Arizona State and No. 17 UCLA. The Husky men are the seventh-ranked squad in the region, and will need strong performances from seniors Jason Fayant, Mike Hill and Morgan Thompson to propel the team into position for an NCAA berth.

Pac-10 Recap: Both Husky squads earned fifth-place finishes at the Oct. 27 conference meet, as Stanford swept both the team and individual titles. Senior Jason Fayant was fourth, the top Pac-10 finish by a Husky men's runner since 1988. On the women's side, senior Sabrina Monro dropped out at the two-mile mark with a foot injury, leaving it up to freshman Lisa Gibbs to carry the torch for the women's squad. Gibbs placed sixth, but the loss of a probable top-five finish from Monro dropped the Huskies from third to fifth overall.

Something to prove:Washington's women's squad slipped to 24th in this week's FinishLynx Cross-Country rankings, following a fifth-place finish at the Pac-10 meet on Oct. 27. A strong performance at this week's NCAA West Regional meet would move them back towards their season-high No. 13 ranking. Stanford remained No. 1 with 11 of 13 votes, while No. 2 BYU and No. 3 Georgetown split the remaining votes.

Steady as they go: The Husky men, meanwhile, dropped just four places to 28th in the MONDO Men's Cross-Country Rankings after a fifth-place finish at the conference meet. Colorado remained at the top with 13 of 16 first-place votes, while Stanford (2) and Arkansas each earned a top nod. The Huskies are the seventh-ranked team in the West Region.

Coming 'Round the Mountain: Husky senior Sabrina Monro will return to the course this week at the Regional Meet despite a foot injury that forced her to drop out of the Pac-10 Championships at the two-mile mark. Prior to the injury, Monro had not lost a race since placing second at the 2000 NCAA Championships, while running for the University of Montana. Monro's 23-second victory at the Roy Griak meet in September was impressive, and her victory at the elite Pre-National meet set the tone for the NCAA Championships on Nov. 19. Monro shattered the Sundodger Invitational record by 48 seconds in September, winning the race by nearly a minute over teammate Lisa Gibbs. A native of Montana City, Mont., this is her last season of cross-country, but she has two years remaining in track.

Old Dawg, New Tricks: After struggling to a 138th-place finish at the Roy Griak Invitational, senior Jason Fayant returned to form at the Pre-National meet, netting a 15th-place overall finish in 25:02, then torched the field at the Pac-10 meet for a fourth-place finish that was Washington's best by a men's runner in 13 years. Fayant ran a season-best 24:17 over the 8,000-meter Pac-10 course, just two seconds off of his PR. Fayant will be counted on heavily at this week's regional meet, where a top five-finish could earn Washington its first NCAA Championships berth since 1993. Fayant led the Huskies at the regional meet two years ago with a 27th-place finish.

Twin Billing: The success of Washington's women's program in 2001 is remarkable considering that more than half of the 13 runners who competed for the Huskies in 2000 are no longer on the roster. The Huskies have remained at the top due in large part to a stellar class of freshmen, five of whom were among the seven runners to help Washington to a fifth-place finish in the Silver Race at the Pre-National meet. Chief among those has been Lisa Gibbs, a native of Arvada, Colo. Gibbs, the 2001 Simplot Indoor Games champion, has failed to place out of the top-10 in any race this season, including a sixth-place finish at the Pac-10 Championships. Earlier this year, she shattered her 5,000-meter personal best by over a minute at the Sundodger Invite with a time of 16:58, the fourth-fastest time in meet history. Gibbs and her twin sister Jamie Gibbs, who PR'd by 30 seconds in a 17th-place Pac-10 finish, have turned a rebuilding year into another championship run for the Huskies, who have reached the NCAA meet in five of the last seven years.

Meet the Coaches: Husky cross-country and track and field head coach Orin Richburg was elected by fellow coaches and U.S.A. Track and Field administrators to head the U.S. National Team at the 2001 World Championships, the most prestigious honor for a track-and-field coach in a non-Olympic year. In his 17th year at UW, Richburg is responsible for molding the Husky track squad into one of the nation's elite dual-meet teams. Fellow cross-country coach Greg Metcalf, in his fifth year at UW, has led the Husky women's squad to five-conseutive NCAA Championships, including a ninth-place finish in 1998. Metcalf is a former UW All-American in the steeplechase.

-UW-

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