UW Men Earn NCAA Berth; Women's Streak Snapped
Nov. 13, 2005
SEATTLE - Washington's men's cross country team was among 13 teams to earn at-large berths Sunday to the NCAA Championships, Nov. 21 at the Wabash Family Sports Center in Terre Haute, Ind. The Husky women, meanwhile, will send only freshman Anita Campbell to the meet after being left out of the NCAA Championships field for the first time since 1996.
Washington's men were selected to their second NCAA Championships in the past three years on the strength of a tie for fourth at Saturday's NCAA West Regional. The Huskies return three runners from the team that placed 21st at the NCAA meet in 2003, then UW's first NCAA appearance since 1993.
Ninth-year head coach Greg Metcalf says that given the Huskies' recent NCAA Championships experience, the team should no longer be satisfied simply in qualifying for the meet.
'This year, our men started the season with the expectation that they'd be at nationals, and that's a little different than how they've set goals in the past,' Metcalf says. 'Reaching nationals used to be the goal; now it's simply another step towards accomplishing the larger goals they set in September.'
British Columbia native Campbell, meanwhile, qualified as one of the top-four regional finishers from a non-qualifying team, after an 11th-place effort Saturday. Campbell's run led Washington's women to third at the West Regional in what Metcalf called, 'their best race of the year.'
However, Metcalf says that a combination of chance and the peculiarities of the NCAA's selection process -- an objective system in which points are awarded based on season-long head-to-head results -- left UW's women on the outside looking in despite their lofty regional finish and a No. 26 national ranking.
The top-two teams at each of Saturday's nine regionals earned automatic NCAA Championships bids. The remaining teams were then awarded one point for each automatic qualifier they defeated head-to-head during the season, and teams were then added at-large to the NCAA Championships field based on their point total.
Metcalf said that had Washington's women been assigned to the Blue Race at October's Pre-National Meet, in which NCAA qualifiers Villanova and Georgetown each ran poorly, the team likely would have earned enough points to qualify for next week's meet. Instead, Washington was assigned to the White Race, in which the favorites ran well, leaving the Huskies unable to put any key opponents behind them.
'It's too bad, because I think is the best women's team we've had in a few years,' Metcalf said. 'I have no doubt that this team could have gone to nationals and finished in the top-15. But, that's the way the system works. Lord knows, we've been on the other side of the equation plenty of times.'
Sunday's selections mark the first time that the West Region will have no at-large women's representatives at the NCAA meet since 1996, when a third-place Washington team was similarly shut out. The Huskies reached the NCAA meet the following season and have done so in each of the eight years since, a streak that was the nation's sixth-longest before coming to an end Sunday.
'These young ladies have done everything we've asked of them along the way,' Metcalf said. 'I honestly don't think there's anything they could have done better. Unfortunately, given the quirks in the system, it wasn't enough. I'm incredibly proud of the job they've done all year, though, and I can't wait to bring them back next fall.'
For a complete list of teams selected to compete at the 2005 NCAA Cross Country Championships, visit www.NCAASports.com.