NCAA Cross Country Berths on the Line at West Regional

Nov. 10, 2004

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On the Course: Washington's 25th-ranked women's squad will put the nation's seventh-longest active streak of NCAA Championships appearances on the line Saturday when they join the UW men and the rest of the West Coast's top cross country squads in Fresno, Calif., for the 2004 NCAA West Regional Championships. Automatic NCAA Championships bids will be awarded to only the top-two teams in each race, and the top-four individuals from non-qualifying teams, so with four of the nation's top-30 squads competing in both the men's and women's fields, every spot on the Woodward Park course will be fought for tooth-and-nail. Racing begins with the women's 6K at 11 a.m. Pacific, followed by the men's 10K at noon.

NCAA West Regional Championships Meet Schedule (All Times Pacific)
Women's 6,000m Race: 11:30 a.m.
Men's 10,000m Race: 12:00 p.m.

2004 Regional Preview: Everyone on the Woodward Park course will be seeing red -- Cardinal red, that is. Stanford No. 1 women's squad and No. 2 men's squad enter this week's meet seeking their sixth- and 10th-straight Regional titles, respectively. The most likely contender to knock off the Cardinal is Arizona State, ranked seventh on the women's side and eighth on the men's. The Sun Devils will have to fight history, however, as neither ASU squad placed among the top-three teams at last year's Regional in Portland, Ore. One team with history on its' side is the UW women, who have placed among the top-three teams at five of last eight Regionals, earning NCAA Championships berths every year since 1997. Washington's men, fourth-place finishers a year ago, will be targeting green shirts on the course Saturday, as they focus for the second-straight year on knocking off No. 27 Oregon, whom the Huskies defeated by two points at the 2003 West Regional to earn an at-large NCAA berth.

Expected to Run: Following is a list of those UW runners making the trip to Fresno, Calif., for Saturday's NCAA West Regional Championships:

Name Yr. Hometown (High School)
Lindsey Egerdahl Sr. Auburn, Wash. (Auburn)
Jamie Gibbs Sr. Arvada, Colo. (Arvada West)
Laura Halverson Sr. Mica, Wash. (Freeman)
Kira Harrison So. Bellingham Wash. (Meridian)
Meghan Lawrence Sr. Bellingham, Wash. (Freeman)
Brianna McLeod So. Jenks, Okla. (Jenks)
Dallon Williams So. Turlock, Calif. (Turlock)
Angela Wishaar Sr. Shoreline, Wash. (Shorewood)

Name Yr. Hometown (High School)
Travis Boyd So. Mukilteo, Wash. (Kamiak)
Andy Fader Jr. Everett, Wash. (Cascade)
Jon Hickey So. Richland, Wash. (Hanford)
Brad Liber RFr. San Diego, Calif. (University City)
Mark Mandi Jr. Everett, Wash. (Mariner)
Jeremy Mineau Fr. Menlo Park, Calif. (Menlo-Atherton)
Matt Owen So. Yakima, Wash. (East Valley)
Mike Sayenko So. Bellevue, Wash. (Sammamish)

Meet Results: Complete results will be posted immediately following the meet to ProRaceGroup.com, with a full recap of UW action to be posted to GoHuskies.com shortly thereafter.

NCAA Championships Selection Process: Thirty-one teams will qualify for the 2004 NCAA Championships, including 18 automatic and 13 at-large qualifiers. Automatic bids are awarded to the top-two finishing teams in each of the nine NCAA Regional Championships, while at-large bids, awarded Nov. 14, are based upon performances at the Regional and other major meets throughout the season. Additionally, 36 individuals from non-qualifying teams will be invited to the NCAA meet based upon their finishes at this year's Regionals, thus completing the field of 255 that will run in Terre Haute, Ind., on Nov. 22.

2003 Regional Redux: Washington's cross country squads ran into the history books at last year's West Regional in Portland, Ore., with a third-place women's effort and fourth-place men's finish earning both UW squads NCAA at-large bids in the same season for the first time since 1989. The Husky women, led by fifth-place finisher Ingvill Makestad, upset a pair of top-25 teams with their impressive run, packing four runners into the top-26. The UW men, meanwhile, were carried by a trio of underclassmen -- sophomore Mark Mandi and freshmen Carl Moe and Mike Sayenko -- who each placed among the top-40 to join 21st-place finisher Eric Garner and senior John Russell in leading the team to a fourth-place effort, its best in Regional competition since 1994. Stanford swept team titles for the fifth-straight year, while the UCLA women, and Cal Poly men, grabbed second place finishes and the final NCAA automatic berths.

Peak Performer: The UW men entered the 2004 Pac-10 Championships at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park determined to make their mark nationally. For freshman Jeremy Mineau, however, the meet marked not only a major milestone but a return to his Bay Area home, where the Menlo Park native starred in the shadow of Stanford University at Menlo-Atherton High School. Mineau gave friends and family plenty to cheer about with a 27th-place finish, in 25:16, third-best among Huskies and just seven seconds behind Arizona rookie Mohamed Trafeh in the race for Pac-10 Freshman of the Year honors, awarded annually to the top-finishing frosh. Part of a nationally-renowned recruiting class at UW in 2004, Mineau will be the only true freshman on the course for Washington at Saturday's West Regional.

Rankings Report: The eerie similarities to the 2003 season for the Washington women continued last week with the release of the latest FinishLynx Women's Cross Country Rankings. After dropping out of the rankings on Oct. 19 -- just as they did the week prior to the 2003 Pac-10 Championships -- a strong Pac-10 run saw the Huskies re-enter the top-25 on Nov. 2, earning 60 points to claim 25th overall. Stanford remained No. 1 with a perfect 390 points and all 13 first-place votes, while 2003 NCAA runner-up Providence remained second, at 373. The UW men, meanwhile, ranked as high as No. 22 earlier in the season, enter the Regional meet 35th overall in the MONDO Men's Cross Country Rankings with nine points, fifth-best among West Region schools. Wisconsin remained No. 1 with 12 first-place votes and 417 points, followed by Stanford (400) and Colorado (399).

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
8. North Carolina 6 years 1998
8. Villanova 6 years 1998
8. Arizona State 6 years 1998

Rare Double: Washington's cross country teams will be looking this week to repeat a rare feat achieved last season, when they placed both teams into the field of 31 for the NCAA Championships for just the third time in UW history. The feat had not been accomplished since the 1989 NCAA Championships in Annapolis, Md., at which Al Hjort led the UW men to a fourth-place team finish, the best ever by a Husky 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.

Role Reversal: The faces of Washington's 2003 and 2004 women's squad may not have changed significantly, but the roles certainly have. Last year's team boasted five freshmen and nary a single senior, with juniors Lindsey Egerdahl and Kathryn Touran the only members of the team's NCAA contingent with at least one full year of experience. For the men, four seniors formed the core of a squad that reached its first NCAA Championships since 1993, while only one freshman, Auburn's Carl Moe, broke into the team's top seven. A year later, and it's the men who find themselves without a senior in the top-seven, and with two freshmen -- Menlo Park, Calif.'s Jeremy Mineau and San Diego native Brad Liber -- on the travel squad for the Regional meet, while the women will travel five seniors and no freshmen this weekend. The two teams can only hope the 2003/2004 similarities continue through the NCAA Championships -- both squads earned top-25 finishes at the 2003 NCAA meet, with the senior-laden men's squad placing 21st and the seniorless women earning 19th overall.

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. The junior then proved it was no fluke with a win at last month's Sundodger Invitational -- his first cross country win at any level, and the first win by a Husky men's runner at the meet since 1993. Mandi, who two weeks ago earned All-Pac-10 honors with a sixth-place conference finish that was the fifth-best in UW history, did not begin running cross country until his junior year at Mariner, and admits to idolizing the prep runners who patronized the Everett McDonald's where he once worked. Mandi enrolled at Washington as a student before earning the chance to walk on to the Husky squad in the fall of 2001 and, after redshirting his first season at Washington, ran in the Huskies' top-seven in every race the following fall. He was again among the team's top-five runners at every meet in 2003, and has led the team both times he has taken to the course so far in 2004. 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.

Who's That Girl?: That was the question on the lips of many Husky fans when senior Meghan Lawrence, previously unlisted on any UW roster, ran No. 1 for Washington at the season-opening Emerald City Invitational. A fifth-year senior at UW, Lawrence -- who had never before competed in cross country -- walked on to the squad just a week prior to the Emerald City meet, and earned official NCAA clearance mere hours before the race. Lawrence's team-best seventh-place finish at Emerald City and impressive work in training earned the Bellingham, Wash., native a seat on the plane to Pre-Nationals, where she ran 22:29 in the open race, faster than all but four of the Husky seven who earned a spot in the invitational competition. Two weeks later, Lawrence was the Huskies' No. 5 runner at the Pac-10 Championships, helping Washington to a third-place team finish. As a prep, Lawrence competed four years for Meridian High School's track and cross country teams, where she was a teammate of current Husky Kira Harrison. Lawrence continued running as a hobby after high school, participating in the Skagit Flats Marathon and the Seattle Marathon, before making the decision this summer to try collegiate cross country.

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 UW to 19th at the NCAA meet while finishing tops on the squad, in 85th place. Metcalf has placed the reins in Egerdahl's hands again in 2004, and for good reason. Since arriving at UW in 2001, the Auburn High School alum has soared up the all-time rankings, with a best mark of 4:22.38 for 1,500m that is the UW's seventh-fastest all-time. After being left out of all varsity races in 2001, Egerdahl ran third at the 2002 Sundodger Invite and never looked back, placing 14th overall at the 2002 Pac-10 meet and 20th at the NCAA Regional, before taking second on the squad at the NCAAs. 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 2004, it's going to be without some runners expected to fill key roles. Most significant for the men are injuries to sophomores Carl Moe and Mike Sayenko, both key contributors to the team's 21st-place NCAA finish in 2003. Sayenko, who was struck by a car in July, is expected to make his 2004 debut at this weekend's NCAA West Regional, while Moe is redshirting the fall with a spring track injury. Two expected to fill their roles, prep All-American Tom Wyatt and redshirt freshman Adam Shimer, have also been sidelined, with neither expected to compete in 2004. The women, who were to return six of their top seven from the 19th-place NCAA squad, have been equally affected by injuries, most notably those to sophomore Amy Lia, the team's No. 3 runner in 2003, and sophomore Alison Tubbs, who is out indefinitely for the second time in three years.

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.

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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