Huskies Welcome Northwest Foes for 2003 Cross Country Opener

Sept. 24, 2003

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On the Course: Having vanquished the field at the preseason Emerald City Invitational at Woodland Park, Washington's cross-country teams will officially open their Division-I season Saturday at West Seattle's Lincoln Park with the 12th-annual Sundodger Invitational. Full teams from Portland, Eastern Washington, Idaho, Gonzaga and Cal State Northridge will challenge the Huskies for the Sundodger title, as will the University of Oregon's women's team. Portland State, Seattle Pacific, Western Washington and a slew of NCAA Division-II and NAIA schools from throughout the Northwest highlight the fields for the two open races, which have in the past produced record-setting performances. Both women's races will be contested over 5,000 meters of mostly flat terrain, while the men will race on an 8,000-meter course. Admission and parking are free for all spectators. For directions and parking information, contact the UW sports information office at (206) 543-2230.

Meet Schedule
Women's Open Race - 9:00 a.m.
Men's Open Race: 9:30 a.m.
Women's Invitational Race - 10:15 a.m.
Men's Invitational Race - 10:45 a.m.

Meet History: Featuring hundreds of top collegiate athletes from the Northwest and beyond, the Sundodger Invitational has become an annual fixture on the Northwest distance running schedule since its inception in 1982. While the course has changed subtly over the years, the distances have remained 5,000 meters for women and 8,000 meters for men, both winding through some of the most beautiful terrain in the Seattle area, with many scenic vistas of Puget Sound and the Olympic Peninsula. Washington's teams have dominated the event, winning six women's titles and three men's titles, while combining for five individual crowns. Huskies Tara Carlson and Sabrina Monro are the only women to win the Sundodger title more than once, while Portland's Uli Steidl was a repeat winner on the men's side from 1994-95. While those accomplishments are impressive, no one has ever completed the circuit faster than Simon Fraser's Emilie Mondor, who won the 2002 women's open race in a course-record 16 minutes, 5 seconds, one second better than Monro's record of 16:06, set in 2001. Barely an hour later, Western Washington's Paul Kezes established the men's meet record of 23:42, 11 seconds faster than the previous mark set two years prior.

Meet Results: Results of all races will be available for coaches only following the conclusion of all four races. Complete results will be faxed to participating schools, and will be posted online at www.gohuskies.com, no later than 90 minutes following the conclusion of the final race. Coaches and SIDs wishing to have results e-mailed should contact media relations assistant Brian Beaky at the address on page three of this release.

Rankings Report: Despite having not yet competed with a full team, Washington's women climbed two spots to 30th in this week's FinishLynx Women's Cross Country Rankings, while the UW men fell seven spots into a tie for 44th in the MONDO Men's Cross Country Rankings. The Husky women totaled 30 points in the FinishLynx poll, voted on by coaches from around the country, while Brigham Young garnered all 13 first-place votes to notch a perfect score of 390. Washington was the fourth-highest rated team in the competitive West Region, behind No. 2 Stanford, No. 18 UCLA and No. 20 Arizona State, mirroring the order of finish by the four teams at last year's NCAA West Regional meet. The Husky men, meanwhile, received one vote from the panel of 16 coaches tasked with compiling the MONDO men's rankings, equaling Princeton for the No. 44 ranking. Washington's men's and women's teams debuted at 32nd and 37th, respectively, in preseason polls released earlier this month. For a complete list of this week's rankings, see the PDF version of this release.

Freshmen Gems: Perhaps it's fitting that Washington debuted its freshman class at the Sept. 6 Emerald City Invitational, because the newcomers certainly proved themselves jewels. With a victory in her UW debut, Brianna McLeod became just the third true freshman ever to win a race at Washington, while redshirt freshman Travis Boyd ran away with the men's event. Prior to McLeod, the only Huskies ever to win a race in their first season at Washington were 2002 Emerald City champ Laura Hodgson and 1981 NCAA Champion Regina Joyce, who won the 1980 NCWSA Region IX Championship. A native of Jenks, Okla., McLeod earned prep All-America honors as a senior in both track and cross country, ranking as high as sixth in the nation at 3200m. Boyd, a Mukilteo (Wash.) High School grad, redshirted the 2002 cross country season at UW but was terrific on the track, clocking the 10th-fastest indoor 5000m time in UW history. The two were joined in the top-10 at the Emerald City by true freshmen Kira Harrison (8th) and Brad Liber (5th), and redshirt freshman Matt Franck (10th), giving Husky fans much to look forward to in the years to come.

Peak Performer: While Brianna McLeod and Travis Boyd earned victories at the Emerald City Invitational, the third-place performances by Kathryn Touran and Andrew Robinson were nearly as impressive. Neither ran consistently in Washington's top-seven last season, but each had outstanding track and field seasons and are poised to be postseason contributors this fall.

Swiss Miss: While most Huskies wrapped up their cross country seasons last fall, sophomore Laura Hodgson carried hers over into the spring, first at the U.S. Junior National Championships in February, and later at the World Junior Championships in March. Joined by then-frosh Travis Boyd, Jon Hickey and Mike Sayenko at the U.S. meet in Houston, Texas, Hodgson covered the muddy 6,000-meter course in 24:10, second only to Duke's Clara Horowitz. The top-six finish earned Hodgson a trip to Lausanne, Switzerland in March, where she led the U.S. team to a fourth-place finish at the World Junior Championships. Hodgson's 58th-place individual finish was the highest by a Husky at the junior worlds since Neil Panchen placed 26th for Great Britain in 1988, and is UW's second-best overall. A native of Spokane, Hodgson last season became the first UW freshman ever to win her debut race at Washington with a victory in the Emerald City Invitational, and excelled on the track with a top-10 all-time UW indoor mark at 5000m, and a 15th-place finish in the 10,000 meters at the Pac-10 Championships.

Scandinavian Invasion: If you happened to be at the Norweigian Track and Field Championships this summer, you may recognize some of the new faces on the Husky roster this season. Washington boasts the odd coincidence of having both of Norway's reigning 800m champions competing in purple and gold this fall, including women's champ Ingvill Makestad and men's champ Stig Ellingson. Makestad, a junior, followed up her 800m national title with a fourth-place finish in the 1500m at the Under-23 European Championships in Poland, clocking a career-best time of 4:13.58. That time, if duplicated, would rank third all-time at Washington, behind only Courtney Inman and Regina Joyce. Both Makestad and Ellingson, a native of Oslo, have competed for several years on the European amateur circuit, and will have at least two years of collegiate eligibility remaining.

Seniors (Or Lack Thereof): When talking about the keys to Washington's men's and women's cross-country seasons, it all comes down to seniors. The Husky men return five seniors from a team that has at times suffered from a lack of leadership over the last decade, and has not reached the NCAA Championships since 1994. For the women, who have ridden strong senior leaders to the NCAAs in each of the past six seasons, the question will be whether a strong corps of juniors can make up for the lack of a single senior on the roster. The group of returning seniors for the UW men is impressive: Eric Garner led all UW finishers at four of five meets last season, while Ben Koss was the leader at the team's lone 10K competition. John Russell and Dustin Duke combined for Emerald City Invitational wins in 2000 and 2001, respectively, while Russell and Todd Arnold are each coming off of NCAA appearances on the track. On the women's team, departing seniors Kate Bradshaw, Courtney Inman and Kate Spigel leave behind a void of leadership that juniors Chessa Adsit-Morris, Camille Connelly, Lindsey Egerdahl, Jamie Gibbs, Laura Halverson, and Kathryn Touran will be asked to fill. How both teams handle their respective situations will undoubtedly go a long way in determining whether the UW women can continue their NCAA streak, and whether the men can start one of their own.

Captains: Seniors Todd Arnold and Ben Koss, and juniors Camille Connelly and Lindsey Egerdahl were selected as captains this season by the Husky coaches. The honor is the second for Arnold, who was a captain in 2002, and the first for Koss, Connelly and Egerdahl.

Meet the Coaches: Former Husky All-American Greg Metcalf enters his second year as Washington's head coach of track and field and cross-country, and his seventh year overall at the University. In five seasons as a UW assistant, Metcalf guided the women's cross-country team to five-straight NCAA appearances, including a UW-best ninth-place finish in 1998. Metcalf has coached eight All-Americans, five Pac-10 champions, 63 NCAA qualifiers and 10 school-record setters. A 1993 graduate of Washington, Metcalf was a two-time All-American for the Huskies in the steeplechase. Metcalf made sure that he wouldn't be the only Pac-10 great on the UW coaching staff, tabbing former Husky All-American David Bazzi and all-time seventh-ranked U.S. steepler Kelly MacDonald as his assistants. In just three years at Washington, Bazzi has seen his runners topple five school records and notch 27 performances among the school's top-10 all-time, while maintaing a grip on his own school records at 5,000m and 10,000m. MacDonald, meanwhile, arrived at Washington in 2002 on the heels of an outstanding career at Arizona State, where the Oregon native earned five All-America accolades and three Pac-10 titles.

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