UW Cross Country Runners Seek World Championships Berths Sunday

Feb. 7, 2005

SEATTLE - Husky sophomore Mike Sayenko will be one of four Washington men's distance runners seeking World Cross Country Championships berths Sunday at the 2005 USA Cross Country Championships in Vancouver, Wash. UW women's assistant Kelly Strong, the fifth-place finisher in the steeplechase at last year's U.S. Olympic Trials, will also compete at the meet, held on the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

The top six finishers in this weekend's open and junior races are eligible to compete for the United States at next month's IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Saint Garnier, France. Competition for UW begins Saturday with Strong in the women's 8,000-meter open race, with the Husky men's quartet to compete Sunday.

A 2002 graduate of Sammamish High School in Bellevue, Sayenko is scheduled to compete at 12:45 p.m. Sunday in the men's open race, which at a distance of 12,000 meters will mark the longest race of the sophomore's UW career. A key figure in the Huskies' run to the 2003 NCAA Cross Country Championships, Sayenko missed all but one meet last fall after breaking his leg when struck by a car in July.

The sophomore will be joined Sunday by a trio of talented freshmen, each of whom will enter the junior men's 8,000-meter race, scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. Northwest native Jon Harding (Issaquah, Wash./Issaquah) will be making his collegiate cross country debut after redshirting the fall season, while Yakima's James Wilson (East Valley HS) will return to the course for the first time since running ninth on the squad at the 2004 Pac-10 Championships.

Highlighting the freshman trio is Jeremy Mineau (Menlo Park, Calif./Menlo-Atherton), winner of the Huskies' Top Newcomer award last fall. The nation's 12th-ranked prep at 3,200 meters in 2004, Mineau was Washington's No. 3 finisher at the 2004 Pac-10 Championships in October, with a 27th-place effort that was second-best among conference frosh.

Strong also will compete this weekend, both in Saturday's 8,000-meter women's open race, and in Sunday's 4,000-meter women's open competition. The Tualitin, Ore., native is in her third season coaching women's distance runners at Washington, following an outstanding collegiate career at Arizona State.

Washington boasts an impressive record at the sport's highest level, having sent at least one current or former Husky runner to the World Championships in four of the past five years. Two-time Olympian Christian Belz, a '99 UW alum, and 2000 Husky grad Margaret Butler led a record three Huskies to the world meet in 2003, including then-UW freshman Laura Hodgson, who placed 58th in the junior women's race.

For event schedules, results and a detailed participant list for the 2005 USA Cross Country Championships, visit www.usatf.org.

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