Husky Harriers Head to Willamette for Final Pre-National Tuneup

Sept. 29, 2004

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On the Course: With just two weeks remaining before the elite Pre-National Meet in Terre Haute, Ind., Washington's cross country teams head to Salem, Ore., on Saturday for a final tuneup against Northwest opponents at the Willamette Invitational. While the 26th-ranked UW men are expected to rest many of their top competitors at Willamette, the Husky women will run a full squad at the meet, providing runners a final chance to prove themselves worthy of toeing the line at the team's first test against the nation's best on Oct. 16. Racing at Salem's Bush Park begins with the UW men in the 8,000-meter open race at 10:00 a.m., with the Husky women scheduled to run at 11:30 a.m. Admission is free for all spectators.

Willamette Invitational Meet Schedule (All Times Pacific)
Men's Open 8,000m: 10:00 a.m.
Men's College 8,000m: 10:45 a.m.
Women's Open 5,000m: 11:30 a.m.
Women's Open 5,000m: 12:00 p.m.

Meet Results: Results will be posted immediately following the conclusion of the final event, at approximately 1:00 p.m. Pacific time, to the official site of Willamette University athletics, http://run-down.com/bearcats/wu.php. In addition, a full recap of UW action at the meet, including results and quotes, will be posted to www.gohuskies.com Saturday afternoon.

Last Time Out: Washington's cross country teams put full squads on the line for the first time in 2004 on Sept. 18 at the Sundodger Invitational, hosted annually by the UW at West Seattle's Lincoln Park. Though rainy conditions turned the dirt portions of the course to mud, a talented field including Pac-10 rivals Washington State and Oregon State, and regional challengers Idaho and Portland, among others, had no trouble putting up fast times. Former Husky Sabrina Monro, competing for Club Northwest, won her third Sundodger crown in the past four years in a 6,000-meter record time of 20:10. While Monro was celebrating her third Sundodger title, UW junior Mark Mandi came across the line first for his first-career cross country win of any kind, becoming in the process the first Husky men's winner of the event since 1993. Mandi's win led UW to its second-straight Sundodger team title, while the Husky women placed second after being edged out by Idaho.

Rankings Report: After having both teams ranked in the preseason top-25 for the first time in three seasons, two weeks off have allowed other programs to leapfrog the Huskies in the national rankings. Ranked 16th in the preseason and 22nd after the Sundodger meet, Washington's women dropped to 33rd in Tuesday's FinishLynx Women's Cross Country Rankings, their 15 points well short of the 184 they earned just two weeks ago. Defending national champion Stanford remained atop the poll for the third-straight week, amassing 10 of 13 first-place votes and a 386-point total. Brigham Young and Providence, second and third at last year's NCAA Championships, remained flip-flopped behind the Cardinal, with Providence grabbing two first-place votes and 379 points, and the Cougars' one vote and 366 points. Washington's men, meanwhile, slipped one spot to 26th in the MONDO Men's Cross Country Rankings, bumped by Pac-10 rival Arizona State's ascension from 30th to 14th. Reigning NCAA runner-up Wisconsin swept all 14 first-place votes for a 'perfect' 420-point total and a No. 1 national ranking, ahead of defending NCAA champion Stanford (404) and third-ranked Iona (386). Both Husky squads earned top-21 finishes at the 2003 NCAA Championships to earn simultaneous top-25 rankings for the first time since October of 2001.

Peak Performer: After failing to run in Washington's top seven at any race in her first three seasons, senior Angela Wishaar was the first Husky across the line at the Sept. 18 Sundodger Invitational, ahead of all four of the UW's returning top-seven runners who were competing in the race. Wishaar's time of 21:28 was barely a minute off the record pace of former Husky Sabrina Monro, and was a personal best for 6K by nearly three minutes. The Shoreline High School graduate has been coming on strong over the past two seasons, and was the 11th-place finisher in the 1,500 meters at the 2004 Pac-10 Championships. The Huskies will no doubt look to Wishaar to help fill the holes left by injuries to Amy Lia and Alison Tubbs, both of whom were expected to be key contributors this fall.

Captains: Senior Lindsey Egerdahl, who led the Huskies to 19th at the NCAA meet last season, returns as co-captain in 2004, joined by first-time captain and fellow senior Laura Halverson. For the men, juniors Mark Mandi and Andy Fader -- the most veteran returnees from the team's 21st-place NCAA Championships squad of a year ago -- will attempt to build upon their NCAA experiences to lead a young Husky squad. Both juniors will be serving their first-career terms as captains in 2004.

Streaking The Field: When Washington's women were named to the NCAA Championships field last November, the nation's seventh-longest streak of consecutive NCAA bids was preserved. During the streak, the UW women have earned an automatic bid just one time -- in 1999 -- having been named a provisional qualifier on each of the other occasions. Three times over those seven years the Huskies have finished among the top-14 teams in the country, including an all-time best ninth-place finish in 1998. Interestingly, Washington has been led at the NCAA meet by a different runner in each of the streak's seven seasons. Senior co-captain Lindsey Egerdahl, the team's leader at the NCAAs last season, has a chance to end that streak-within-a-streak in 2004, and in the process become the first Husky since Tara Carlson in 1994-95 to lead the UW at nationals in two -straight years. Following is a list of the 10 longest active streaks of NCAA Championships appearances by women's teams:

Team, Streak, Year Began
1. Georgetown, 16 years, 1988
2. Brigham Young, 15 years, 1989
2. Providence, 15 years, 1989
4. Colorado, 12 years, 1992
5. Stanford, 11 years, 1993
6. North Carolina State, 9 years, 1995
7. Washington, 7 years, 1997
North Carolina, 6 years, 1998
8. Villanova, 6 years, 1998
8. Arizona State, 6 years, 1998

From Big Macs to Big Time: Washington's Mark Mandi has come a long way from his days flipping burgers at McDonald's in Everett. Just three years after barely cracking the top-50 at the state cross country championships his senior year, Mandi ran 67th at the 2003 NCAA Championships, leading the Huskies to a 21st-place finish. Mandi, who admits to once idolizing the high school cross country runners who patronized the Everett McDonald's where he worked as a prep, enrolled at Washington as a student before earning the chance to walk on to the Husky squad in the fall of 2001. After redshirting his first season at Washington, Mandi ran in the Huskies' top-seven in every race the following fall, and was among the team's top-five runners at every meet in 2003. Also a force at 10,000 meters on the track, Mandi boasts the seventh-fastest 10,000-meter PR in school history, and was the 10th-place finisher in the event at the 2004 Pac-10 Championships.

Rare Double: Washington's cross country teams achieved a rare feat last season, placing both teams into the field of 31 for the NCAA Championships for just the third time in school history. The feat had not been accomplished since the 1989 NCAA Championships in Annapolis, Md., at which Al Hjort led the Husky men to a fourth-place team finish, the best ever by a Washington men's or women's cross country or track and field team. The only other season in which both Washington's men's and women's programs have qualified for national cross country competition was in 1977, prior to women's cross country's inclusion into the NCAA in 1981. Washington's women placed 12th that season at the AIAW National Championships, while the Husky men took 13th at the NCAA meet in Spokane, Wash.

Leading From the Front: With no seniors on the UW's women's squad in 2003, head coach Greg Metcalf challenged junior Lindsey Egerdahl to be the team's leader. The Auburn, Wash., native did not back down, leading the Huskies to 19th at the NCAA meet while finishing tops on the squad with an 85th-place individual effort. Metcalf has placed the reins in Egerdahl's hands again in 2004, and for good reason. Since arriving at Washington in 2001, the Auburn High School alum has soared up the UW rankings, with a best mark of 4:22.38 for 1,500 meters that is the Huskies' seventh-fastest all-time. After being left out of all varsity races in 2001, Egerdahl ran third at the 2002 Sundodger Invitational and never looked back, placing 14th overall at the 2002 Pac-10 Championships and 20th at the NCAA West Regional, before taking second on the squad at the NCAA meet. Last year, Egerdahl went to the front when it counted, leading all UW finishers at the Notre Dame, Pre-National and NCAA meets. When she returns to the track in the spring, Egerdahl will be seeking to break into the upper echelon of the region's 1,500-meter competitors, after consecutive seventh-place Pac-10, and sixth-place Regional finishes in each of the past two seasons.

Injury Impact: If the Huskies are to take both teams back to the NCAA meet in 2003, it's going to be without some runners expected to fill key roles. Already this season, four UW men with top-seven aspirations -- including two of the team's four NCAA returnees -- have been sidelined indefinitely, while the Husky women have been forced to do without two of their anticipated top-seven runners. Most significant for the men are injuries to sophomores Carl Moe and Mike Sayenko, both key contributors to the team's high NCAA finish in 2003. Sayenko, who was struck by a car in July, is tentatively scheduled to return in time for postseason competition, while Moe's return from a spring leg injury remains undetermined. Two who could have filled their roles, freshman prep All-American Tom Wyatt and redshirt freshman Adam Shimer, have also been sidelined, with neither expected to compete for the remainder of the season. The Husky women have been equally affected, with super soph Amy Lia, the team's No. 3 runner in 2003, yet to return from an injury which kept her off the track last spring, and sophomore Alison Tubbs out indefinitely for the second time in three years.

2004 Season Preview: Three UW men's runners from the seven which earned a 21st-place finish at the 2003 NCAA Championships return in 2004, though only one -- junior captain Mark Mandi -- will be available to head coach Greg Metcalf to start the season. Fellow co-captain Andy Fader will be called upon to fill a spot in the top-five, with sophomore Travis Boyd also expected to contribute. They will challenged by a talented freshman group, led by 2003 California state runner-up Jeremy Mineau and Caleb Knox, the nation's ninth-ranked prep indoors at 3,000 meters. The Husky women, meanwhile, return all but two of their top-seven from a year ago, including senior co-captain Lindsey Egerdahl. Egerdahl and fellow captain Laura Halverson will lead a squad that includes 11 different women who ran in UW's top-seven at least once in 2003, including stellar sophomores Dallon Williams, Brianna McLeod, Marie Foushee and Kira Harrison, and seniors Angela Wishaar and Jamie Gibbs. A relatively light schedule which includes just one Midwest trip -- to the Pre-National Meet on Oct. 16 -- should give head coach Greg Metcalf a good chance to mix up his lineups before selecting a group of 16 to take to the Pac-10 Championships in Berkeley, Calif., on Oct. 30.

Meet the Coaches: Former Husky All-American Greg Metcalf is in his third year as Washington's head coach of track and field and cross-country, and his eighth year overall at the University. In seven seasons at Washington, Metcalf has guided the women's cross-country team to seven-straight NCAA appearances, and led the UW men to their first NCAA appearance since 1993. Metcalf has coached nine All-Americans, five Pac-10 champions, 65 NCAA qualifiers and 13 school-record setters. A 1993 graduate of Washington, Metcalf was a two-time All-American for the Huskies in the steeplechase. Metcalf is joined on the coaching staff by former All-Americans David Bazzi, the UW's school-record holder at both 5,000 and 10,000 meters, and Kelly (MacDonald) Strong, a five-time All-American and three-time Pac-10 Champion at Arizona State.

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