Huskies Seek Redemption at NCAA Meet
Nov. 14, 2006
On the Course: Washington's men's cross country squad carries more than just a No. 22 national ranking into next week's NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Ind. The Huskies also enter the meet with a chip on their shoulder, remnants of what team members described as a 'disappointing' 27th-place finish at the national meet a year ago. Riding high after a fourth-place performance at the Nov. 11 NCAA West Regional meet, the Huskies will look to significantly better their national-meet effort on Monday when the nation's top-31 teams and additional outstanding individuals toe the line at Indiana State's LaVerne Gibson Course for what will be the decisive meet of the 2006 NCAA cross country campaign. Washington's men, which earned at an-large invitation to the meet for the second-straight year, and third time since 2003, will be joined by Husky women Anita Campbell and Amy Lia, each of whom earned at-large bids after top-10 NCAA Regional finishes.
NCAA Cross Country Championships (All times Pacific)
Women's 6,000m Race: 9:00 a.m.
Men's 10,000m Race: 10:15 a.m.
How They Got Here: The top-two teams at each of nine regionals nationwide earned automatic NCAA Championships berths. An additional 13 men's and women's teams were added to the field via an at-large selection process, with additional at-large invitations extended to the top-four individuals at each regional who were not on qualifying teams.
Expected to Run: Following is a tentative list of those Huskies who will make the trip to Terre Haute for Monday's NCAA Championships. Of note is that Washington's lineup remains unchanged from the team that placed fourth at last weekend's NCAA West Regional meet, and includes four of the team's top-seven finishers from the NCAA Championships a year ago. Also worth noting is that the Washington women competing Monday will do so as individuals only, and will not score as a team:
Name, Yr., Hometown (High School)
Travis Boyd, Sr., Mukilteo, Wash. (Kamiak)
Jon Harding, So., Issaquah, Wash. (Issaquah)
Jeremy Mineau, Jr., Menlo Park, Calif. (Menlo-Atherton)
Carl Moe, Jr., Auburn, Wash. (Auburn-Riverside)
Matt Owen, Sr., Yakima, Wash. (East Valley)
Kevin Peters, Sr., Longview, Wash. (Mark Morris)
Mike Sayenko, Sr., Bellevue, Wash. (Sammamish)
Adam Shimer, Jr., Edmonds, Wash. (Meadowdale)
Meet Results: Results from Monday's NCAA Championships will be posted to GoHuskies.com as soon as they are available. Furthermore, a full recap from the meet, including historical notes and quotes will be posted to GoHuskies.com approximately one hour after the meet's conclusion. For the first posting of results from the NCAA Championships, visit www.NCAASports.com.
Huskies in the Rankings: Washington's fourth-place finish at last weeken's NCAA West Regional meet vaulted the Huskies up 13 spots in this week's U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches' Association (USTFCCCA) rankings, which will stand as the final rankings for the 2006 season.Both Wisconsin's men and Stanford's women retained iron grips on the respective No. 1 spots with wins at their regional meets,with each team earning first-place mentions on all but one ballot. The Huskies' No. 22 ranking -- fourth among West Region teams -- is its highest of the year, and its best since the 2004 season. Washington's women, meanwhile, ranked as high as 10th earlier this season, fell just below the top-30 with 12 votes, equaling Northern Iowa for 32nd place overall.
Whoa, West Region! Washington's men knew that the West Regional -- featuring six top-30 and three top-10 teams -- was going to be the nation's toughest regional. What they didn't know is that it would prove to be the deepest regional field in NCAA history. An NCAA-record nine teams qualified for the 2006 NCAA Championships out of the West Region, including automatic qualifiers Oregon and Stanford, and seven at-large selections. That's remarkable considering that of the 13 at-large selections spread across the nine regions nationwide, more than half went to West Region teams. Perhaps that's why Washington's fourth-place finish -- and near-upset of ninth-ranked Portland -- was so well respected by poll voters, who moved the Huskies up 13 spots to 22nd in this week's USTFCCCA poll.
Peak Performer: Washington's fourth-place West Regional finish was certainly a team effort, but was also the result of career-best performances by Mike Sayenko and Adam Shimer. While Sayenko's is a household name among UW fans, fourth-year junior Shimer is a relative newcomer to the varsity scene, having run just twice with the varsity outside of Seattle prior to last week's Regional meet. Just as he did in his other two varsity meets, though -- a No. 4 UW finish at the 2005 Pac-10 meet and a No. 5 team finish at Pac-10s in 2006 -- Shimer responded with an outstanding race, his 50th-place effort UW's fifth-best overall and his time of 31:26 bettering even his track and field PR at 10,000 meters.
UW at the NCAAs: Washington's men will be making their 10th NCAA Championships appearance all-time, but their third since 2003. The Huskies' consecutive at-large bids earned in 2005 and 2006 marks the team's first back-to-back NCAA meet appearances since the 1990 and 1991 campaigns, the last of a five-year string of NCAA Championships appearances. Washington earned a team-record fourth-place finish at the 1989 NCAA Championships in Annapolis, Md., while the all-time best individual NCAA performance came from Simon Baines, who placed 10th overall in 1993. Last year, the Huskies placed 27th in the NCAA field, with then-freshman Jeremy Mineau leading the team in 93rd-place overall. Washington's women, meanwhile have sent at least one competitor to 10-straight NCAA Championships, and 16 of the last 18 overall. Then-freshman Anita Campbell was the Huskies' lone competitor in 2005, placing 94th. Three Husky women have earned top-10 NCAA Championships finishes all-time, including an all-time UW-best second-place finish by Regina Joyce in 1982.
NCAA Experience Abounds: Washington will have plenty of experience on its side at the NCAA Championships. Six of the 10 Huskies making the trip to Terre Haute have previous experience at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, including one who will be making his third-career NCAA meet appearance. Sophomore Jeremy Mineau (93rd, 2005) and seniors Travis Boyd (150th, 2005); Kevin Peters (189th, 2005) and Mike Sayenko (174th, 2005; 168th, 2003) were all among UW's top-seven finishers at last year's national meet, while Sayenko was the Huskies' No. 5 runner in a 21st-place team effort in 2003. Junior Carl Moe (145th, 2003) was also a member of that 2003 team, while sophomore Anita Campbell (94th, 2005) and junior Amy Lia (108th, 2003) are both NCAA meet veterans as well.
Eye on All-Americans: In addition to battling for team honors, Washington's men -- and in particular, UW's two female competitors -- will also be vying for individual All-America honors, given to the top-25 finishers in each race, plus one additional American for every foreign-born athlete in the top-25. Washington boasts 15 All-Americans in its 30-year history of NCAA competition, including -- most recently for each respective gender -- freshman Lisa Gibbs in 2001, and senior Christian Belz in 1998. While none have earned All-America honors on the cross country course, Washington's rosters for next week's race do include a pair of track and field All-Americans -- junior Amy Lia is the reigning NCAA 1,500-meter champion and a two-time track and field All-American, while junior Carl Moe won All-America honors last winter with UW's distance medley relay team.
Keeping the Streaks Alive: Washington's women kept alive a number of impressive streaks at the 2006 Pac-10 Championships. The Huskies' third-place team finish was its 18th-straight top-five Pac-10 Championships effort, including 12 finishes of third or better. Furthermore, Amy Lia (6th) and Anita Campbell (9th) kept alive a streak of 13 straight seasons in which a UW woman has placed among the top-10 finishers. While that alone would be impressive, it is even more amazing to consider that over the last 10 years of the Huskies' individual top-10 streak Washington has been led at the meet by 10 different runners. Not since Deeja Youngquist led UW at consecutive Pac-10 meets in 1996 and 1997 has any Washington women's runner led UW at Pac-10s more than once in her career.
Regional Streaks, Too: Washington's streaky nature doesn't stop with the Pac-10 Championships -- the Huskies also extended some long-running streaks at last week's regional meet. Washington's women have finished among the top-five teams at the regional for 18-consecutive seasons, including 10 top-three finishes. In addition, a UW woman has finished 11th or better eight times in the last nine years, and in 14 of the last 16 years overall. Washington's men, meanwhile, boast three fourth-place regional finishes in the last four years -- each of which ultimately earned at-large NCAA berths --and have placed a runner in the top-10 for two years running.
2005 NCAA Championships Redux: Riding high after a tie for fourth with Portland at the Nov. 12 NCAA West Regional, Washington struggled at the NCAAs, failing to put a runner across the line for more than 90 seconds after Wisconsin's Simon Bairu broke the tape in 29 minutes, 16 seconds to capture his second-consecutive NCAA title. When a Husky did finally come across the line, it was sophomore Jeremy Mineau and not senior Mark Mandi, who had led the Huskies at each of their previous four meets. The two were separated at the finish by just five seconds, but saw 16 runners pack in between Mineau's 93rd-place time of 30:56, and Mandi's 109th-place time of 31:01. Junior Travis Boyd, 150th in 31:26, was UW's third finisher, while junior Mike Sayenko (174th, 31:41) and senior Andy Fader (181st, 31:44) rounded out the top-five. Freshman Anita Campbell, meanwhile, was outstanding in her NCAA Championships debut. The British Columbia native's 94th-place finish was the best at the NCAA meet by a Husky freshman since 2001, while her time of 21:06 was a 37-second improvement over her time on the same course at the 2005 Pre-National Meet. Campbell was the 13th-highest-finishing freshman in the 2005 NCAA Championships field, while her 94th-place effort was 23rd among athletes competing as individuals.
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.