Freshman Schaaf Breaks Course Record As UW Sweeps Sundodger
Sept. 20, 2008
SEATTLE - Freshman phenom Kendra Schaaf wowed the fans at Lincoln Park in West Seattle today as she won the Sundodger Invitational in her collegiate debut and became the first woman to break 20-minutes at the course in the process. Schaaf led the third-ranked Husky women to a dominant victory and the Husky men took the team title as well led by Jake Schmitt's third-place effort.
A native of Lumsden, Saskatchewan and the reigning Canadian Junior National Cross Country Champion, Schaaf set the stage for an illustrious career by covering the 6,000-meter course in 19-minutes and-58 seconds, breaking the meet and course record by 12 seconds despite wet and cold conditions. Husky sophomore Mel Lawrence was runner-up, finishing in 20:23 in her first competition of any kind since last year's NCAA Championships. That time was 35 seconds faster than her Sundodger finish one year ago.
Sophomore Lauren Saylor was fourth overall, one spot behind SPU's Jessica Pixler, in a considerable personal best of 20:41. Another sophomore, Kailey Campbell, took sixth overall, and the Huskies placed seven runners in the top-13, leading to an easy first place finish with 21 total points. UC Davis was second with 67 points, followed by Oregon State with 75, and Washington State with 121.
Schaaf becomes the fifth Husky woman to win the meet in its 15 year history and the first freshman. She broke former Husky Sabrina Monro's course record of 20:10, which had stood since 2004.
'It is definitely a confidence booster,' said Schaaf. 'It's good to come in and have a good race and get the year off on the right foot. The plan was to just run how I felt, and the coaches told me they expected I'd be up front. It's only my second 6K so I was getting used to that. The crowd really got behind me today, it was fun.'
Husky head coach Greg Metcalf could not have been more pleased with the effort of the women's team as a whole.
'I was very pleased with the first day. You never know exactly what's going to happen when you put the uniform on and the bib on for the first time but both of our teams went out and ran very solid and did what we expected them to do today.'
'We were talking about what we thought she was going to run and those guesses ranged from 19:37 to 20-flat. It wasn't a perfect day out, she wasn't wearing spikes today, but she was in control the whole time. She looked great, she wasn't breathing hard. I mean, for a freshman to go do that, there's been a long series of very good athletes that have run here and to go be the first person to break 20-minutes here, it's incredibly exciting for our group.'
'Our entire women's group top to bottom was outstanding today,' said Metcalf. 'There were massive PR's across the board, and too many great performances to mention them all, but Mel Lawrence, Lauren Saylor, and Kailey Campbell all made tremendous improvements but none of that was a surprise, it's a result of the diligent summers of training they've put in.'
The Husky men defended their team title as well, scoring 41 points to outpace Alaska Anchorage which scored 54, and Eastern Washington with 68. Eastern Washington's Paul Limpf also made history with his win in 23:33, which broke the course record of current Husky senior Jon Harding, set just last year.
Schmitt, who last spring qualified for NCAA's on the track in the 10K, led the Huskies in his first official UW cross country outing. He transferred to Washington from California and ran unattached last year during the fall. Schmitt's time of 23:48 was the seventh-fastest in meet history.
'I thought it was exactly what I wanted to feel like. Today's kind of a rust-buster, shake up the nerves, see where the team is, and it played into that exactly,' said Schmitt. 'We were running together through 4K, feeling good and controlled and feeding off each other. It's good to get a little pain the legs to experience that. It's something good that needs to happen.'
Saturday saw the return of senior Jeremy Mineau, who led the Huskies at the NCAA Championships in 2005 and 2006 before redshirting last season. Mineau finished fifth overall in 24:08 in his first race of any kind since the spring of 2007. Next across for the Huskies was junior Chris Ahl, and redshirt freshman Cameron Quackenbush, who placed 12th and 13th, respectively, in 24:30. Five additional Huskies placed in the top-25 including true freshman Joey Bywater who ran unattached and finished 23rd in his first college race.
'The goal was to be relatively conservative today and run a better second half of the race, and our guys for the most part did that,' said Metcalf. 'Jake ran very well for us. Jeremy's been out of commission for a while and for us to get him back racing again and looking strong was fantastic because that is just the tip of the iceberg for him. Then we have Cameron Quackenbush, Alec Bromka, and Jordan Swarthout as three newcomers to our top-seven and they each ran very solid today.'
The competition steps up a level now for Washington, who will have a week off before traveling to the University of Auburn for the Tiger Invitational on October 4.