Huskies Run Into '06 At Sundodger Invite

Sept. 12, 2006

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On the Course: More than 800 athletes from 45 teams come to West Seattle's Lincoln Park on Saturday to help the University of Washington cross country teams open the 2006 season at the 15th-Annual Sundodger Invitational. Highlighting the field are the Michigan women, sixth-place finishers at the NCAA Championships a year ago, and combined teams from Idaho, Washington State, Gonzaga and Boise State, as well as a women's team from Oregon State. In addition to the All-America talent on the course, many of the Northwest's finest college and club programs will be represented in the day's four races, which begin at 9 a.m. with the women's 6,000-meter open race, followed by the men's 8,000-meter open at 9:40 a.m. The women's invitational race -- featuring Washington, Michigan and other Division-I teams -- begins at 10:25 a.m., with the men's invitational concluding the action at 11:00 a.m.

Sundodger Invitational Meet Schedule (All Times Pacific)
Community 6,000m Open: 7:30 a.m.
Women's 6,000m Open: 9:00 a.m.
Men's 8,000m Open: 9:40 a.m.
Women's 6,000m Invitational: 10:25 a.m.
Men's 8,000m Invitational: 11:00 a.m.

Meet Preview: For the first time in three years, a returning champion will defend her crown at Lincoln Park. Washington State's Haley Paul returns with the Cougars to defend the women's invitational title she won a year ago, her time of 20:50 equaling the second-fastest ever on the 6,000-meter course, which was extended from 5,000 meters in 2004. In fact, all but three of the top-10 runners from last year's women's invitational race return in 2006, including runner-up Dee Olson of Idaho and Huskies' Tori Tyler (4th), Brooke Lademan (6th) and Annaliese Chapa (9th). On the men's side, Boise State's Ty Axtman returns in 2006 after posting the seventh-fastest time in Sundodger history last fall, only to finish second to UCLA's Austin Ramos. With UCLA not in attendance, Axtman is the top returning finisher from 2005, though a deep and talented field should produce a number of challengers. Though only one of the individual champions return, the field will have to contend with both defending team champions, as Washington swept top honors in 2005 for fourth time in 14 years.

Five-Peat?: The Husky men's squad that toes the line at Lincoln Park on Saturday will have the chance to do something no team in meet history has ever accomplished -- win a fifth-straight Sundodger Invitational title. The Huskies won a record fourth-straight Sundodger Invitational crown in 2005, breaking the record of three-straight wins they had shared with the 1999-2001 UW women. Interestingly, Washington has been led by three different runners in its four Sundodger wins, just one of which -- 2005 fourth-place finisher Jon Harding -- returns for the title defense this weekend.

Driving Directions: Exit I-5 at the West Seattle Bridge (#163-A), and continue up the hill into West Seattle where the freeway becomes Fauntleroy Way SW. Proceed on Fauntleroy Way SW for approximately three miles, following signs to the Vashon Ferry Terminal. The park will come up on your right.

Meet Results: Results will be available for coaches only at the conclusion of all four races. Complete results will be faxed to participating schools, and 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 to them directly should contact assistant communications director Brian Beaky at the address on the following page.

Meet History: The Sundodger Invitational has become an annual fixture on the Northwest distance running schedule since its inception in 1982. The first major course changes were made in 2004, with the women's course being extended to 6,000 meters from its standard 5,000-meter length. Washington's teams have dominated the event, winning eight women's titles and six men's titles, including sweeps in 1994, 2000, 2003 and 2005. Huskies Tara Carlson and three-time champion 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. Monro set the 6,000-meter meet record of 20:11 in 2004, while Western Washington's Paul Kezes boasts the men's meet record of 23:42.

NCAA Champions Back to Work: Few teams in the country will boast the distinction Washington has this fall of having two reigning NCAA champions on its cross country roster. Both won middle-distance titles at the 2006 NCAA Track and Field Championships in June, with junior Ryan Brown winning the 800 meters in 1:46.29, and junior Amy Lia capturing the 1,500-meter crown in 4:14.63. While Brown is primarily a track competitor, having competed in just one cross country meet in his first three years (including a redshirt year) at Washington, Lia boasts a strong cross country pedigree, including All-West Region performances in 2003 and 2005, and a No. 3 placing among Huskies at the 2003 NCAA Cross Country Championships. Lia ran just twice in 2005 due to injury, but is expected to be at full strength for the 2006 fall campaign, where she bolsters an already-loaded lineup including 2005 Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year Tori Tyler and 2006 World Championships qualifier Anita Campbell.

Newcomers No Longer: The 2005 season was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Washington women, who returned just two of their top-seven runners from the previous year, and ran six freshmen in their top-seven for much of the season. Far from rebuild, however, that young unit went on a roll through the postseason, placing fourth at the Pac-10 Championships and third at the NCAA West Regional. First-year Husky Tori Tyler, eighth at Pac-10s and 15th at the Regional, was named the Pac-10's Newcomer of the Year, the first conference postseason honor ever awarded to a Husky runner. Fellow freshman Anita Campbell placed 94th at the NCAA meet as an individual, and competed at both the World Cross Country Championships (for her native Canada) and the NCAA Track Championships in the spring. That talented twosome was joined by fellow true freshmen Brooke Lademan and Annaliese Chapa, and redshirt freshmen Dani Schuster and Amanda Miller to form a talented top-six that should be a force in the region for the next three years.

A New Streak Begins: Prior to the 2005 season, Washington's women had competed at eight-consecutive NCAA Championships, a feat matched by just five other schools. Despite a third-place finish at the super-competitive West Regional Championships, however, the Huskies were left off the list of provisional teams invited to the 2005 meet, snapping the streak at eight. Interestingly, it was the first time since 1996 that the third-place team at the West Regional had failed to earn an NCAA Championships invitation. That unlucky team? The University of Washington. The Huskies matched their Regional finish a year later to reach the NCAAs in 1997 -- head coach Greg Metcalf's first year at the helm -- and reached every NCAA Championships for nearly a decade thereafter before the 2005 snub.

Meet the Coaches: Former Husky All-American Greg Metcalf is in his fifth year as Washington's head coach of track and field and cross-country, and his 10th year overall at the University. Metcalf has guided the women's cross-country team to eight NCAA appearances in nine years, and has led the UW men to the national meet in two of the last three seasons. Metcalf has coached two NCAA champions, 23 All-Americans, six Pac-10 champions, 83 NCAA qualifiers and 14 school-record setters. A 1993 UW graduate, Metcalf was a two-time All-American in the steeplechase. Metcalf is joined on the coaching staff by five-time All-American Kelly (MacDonald) Strong, a three-time Pac-10 champion at Arizona State, and first-year assistant Jimmy Bean, an All-Midwest Region performer at Division-III Greenville (Ill.) University.

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