No. 2 Husky Women And Men Off To Auburn

Oct. 1, 2008

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ON THE COURSE: The cross country season gains momentum this weekend as the Husky men and womn travel to Auburn, Alabama to comepte in the Tiger Invitational held at the Indian Pines Golf Course. The second-ranked Husky women will be faced with an early-season showdown with third-ranked Florida State, who the Huskies leapfrogged in this week's rankings. Also among the fray on the women's side will be No. 27 Iowa, Georgia, Purdue, Clemson, LSU, and the host Auburn Tigers. The Husky men face a similar group of competitors with No. 21 Auburn heading the pack. The meet will be a homecoming of sorts for Husky head coach Greg Metcalf, who attended graduate school at Auburn and headed the Auburn cross country program from 1996-97 before returning to Washington.

Washington is coming off team titles for both the men and women at the Sundodger Invitational back on Sept. 20. Several key Huskies who did not run in the season-opener are expected to make their debuts this Saturday, including All-American junior Katie Follett, senior Amanda Miller, and freshman Christine Babcock. 2007 Team MVP Jon Harding should also make his season debut for the men.

In addition, the Huskies will be sending teams to compete in the Emerald City Open hosted by Seattle U. at Lower Woodland Park in Seattle. The meet takes the place of the Willamette Invite, previously on the schedule.

TIGER INVITE SCHEDULE (EASTERN)
8:45 am Women's 5000m Blue Race
9:30 am Women's 5000m Orange Race (UW entered)
10:15 am Men's 8000m Orange Race (UW entere)
11:00 am Men's 8000m Blue Race

HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: The Husky women's team climbed up one more rung in the latest rankings provided by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). Washington moved up to No. 2 in the nation, switching spots with No. 3 Florida State from the preseason poll. UW and FSU will match up this Saturday. The Huskies trail only top-ranked Oregon which earned 11 of 12 first place votes, with Washington earning the final vote. Rounding out the Top-5 is Minnesota at No. 4, and Stanford at No. 5. Arizona State comes in at No. 7, giving the Pac-10 four of the top seven teams. The Washington men are outside the Top-30 but did pick up one vote this week, placing them 38th overall. Three Pac-10 men's teams are ranked, led by No. 1 Oregon. In the latest West Regional rankings, the Husky women are second behind the Ducks, while the men are ranked 8th.

SCHAAF WINS FIRST RACE IN RECORD FASHION: Freshman phenom Kendra Schaaf wowed the fans at Lincoln Park in West Seattle 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. 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 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. 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. Schmitt's time of 23:48 was the seventh-fastest in meet history. 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.

NEWCOMERS YOUNG AND SLIGHTLY OLDER: The Huskies welcome not only a bevy of gifted freshmen to the squad, but also several transfer student-athletes who will make their UW debuts and figure to make immediate impressions. Heading the new veterans is junior Jake Schmitt (California) who was UW's top unattached runner in 2007, and then starred on the track in the winter and spring, culminating with an NCAA Outdoor Championships appearance in the 10,000-meters. Sophomores Kenna Patrick (UPS) and Bailey Schutte (UCLA) will also embark on their first cross country seasons after strong track showings. Both ran at the Pac-10 Championships on the track this past spring, and Schutte was a Pac-10 XC competitor with the Bruins as a freshman. Another new addition to the women's unit is Michelle Turner, who wrapped a phenomenal collegiate track career in the spring and has decided to use her final year of eligibility to focus on cross country for the first time in her career. Turner, an All-American in the mile run and West Regional 1500m Champion, could be a major X-factor and brings tons of big meet experience.

UW's outstanding freshman class should make an immediate impact this season as well. The women boast two of the elite recruits in the nation in Christine Babcock (Irvine, Calif.) and Kendra Schaaf (Lumsden, Saskatchewan). Babcock broke national high school records in the 1500m and 1600m that had stood for over 20 years, won her third-straight California 1600m state title, and competed at the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 1500-meters. Schaaf was the Canadian junior national cross country champion, and placed 20th at the Junior World Cross Country Championships. They lead a talented group that includes 2007 Washington state XC runner-up Kayla Evans (Tacoma, Wash.), Oregon state 3000m champ Adrienne McGuirk (Lake Oswego, Ore.), and prep All-American Allison Linnell (Colts Neck, N.J.). The men welcome four freshmen, including local prep stars Joey Bywater (Lake Stevens, Wash.) and Rob Webster Jr. (Puyallup, Wash.). Bywater was the state runner-up in cross country in 2006 and Webster finished second as well in 2007.

THE SCHEDULE: Washington's 2008 schedule closely resembles its slate from one year ago, with the team rounding into shape through the first three meets in order to peak when the postseason begins in November. The main difference this year is that Washington will be making its first foray to the University of Auburn in Alabama, where the Huskies will run in the Tiger Invitational on Oct. 4. The Pac-10 Championships are held Oct. 31 in Springfield, Ore. followed two weeks later by NCAA West Regionals in Palo Alto, Calif. on Nov. 15. Everything builds to the NCAA Championships, held Nov. 24 in its recent home of Terre Haute, Indiana. The Huskies will also have a second home meet, of sorts, as Northwest University hosts the Cascade Conference Preview at Lincoln Park on the same day as Pre-Nationals (Oct. 18).

LOOKING BACK AT TRACK: The Husky harriers made major contributions to antoher record-breaking track season for Washington last winter and spring. Katie Follett, Amanda Miller, and Michelle Turner were three of the nation's elite mid-distance runners on the women's side, starting with the NCAA Indoor Championships, where all three made the final of the mile run, and all earned All-America honors with Miller leading the way in fifth-place. Outdoors, Follett became UW's first Pac-10 Champion in a running event since 2001, as she outkicked Oregon's Nicole Blood and Stanford's Lauren Centrowitz to win the 1500-meters. Shortly thereafter, Turner won the West Region 1500m title in a time of 4:14.94, a nine-second personal best. At NCAA's, it was Miller's turn to lead the group again, as she made the 1500m final and earned her fourth career All-America award. The trio then competed at the U.S. Olympic Trials to end their seasons, with Follett and Turner advancing to the semifinals. Other noteworthy performances on the women's side came from Lauren Saylor, who made NCAA Regionals in the 5000-meters and scored for UW at Pac-10's in the 10K. Mo Huber also made Regionals in the steeple, and Kailey Campbell reached the final of the 1500m at Pac-10's. Andrea Brown also had a strong indoor season, running an NCAA Provisional mile time and competing on UW's DMR at NCAA Indoors. The men were highlighted by Jake Schmitt, running attached for the first time as a Husky after redshirting the cross country season. Schmitt ran under 29-minutes in the 10000-meters, just the third Husky ever to do so, and finished 21st in the 10K at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. He also scored in both the 3K and 5K at the MPSF Championships. Austin Abbott turned in another phenomenal season outdoors in the 800-meters, hitting his stride right as postseason rolled around to finish 4th at Pac-10's and West Regionals, and then 7th at the NCAA Championships to earn his fifth All-America honor.

2007 SEASON REVIEW: Last season the Husky women's team rose to the ranks of the nation's elite with an all-time best eighth-place NCAA finish despite featuring just one senior in their top-seven. Anita Campbell and Katie Follett led the Huskies during the year and at nationals, finishing side-by-side at NCAA's in 20th- and 19th-place, respectively, and each earning All-America awards. It marked the first time in history that UW had two All-Americans in the same season. The Huskies tied for third with Arizona State in the loaded Pac-10, placing four runners in the top-15 including Campbell, Follett, freshman Mel Lawrence, and junior Amanda Miller. Other milestones included the team's record-breaking fourth-place finish at Pre-Nationals, and Campbell's fourth-place individual finish at West Regionals, the best by a Husky in 12 years. On the men's side, the Huskies missed the NCAA's for the first time since 2004 due mostly to youth and injuries to top runners like Jeremy Mineau and Jon Harding. Mineau redshirted and Harding had a breakthrough season slowed in the end. Still, Harding was one of the season's great stories, starting with his record-setting Sundodger win in a course record 23:36. He also led the Huskies with a 20th-place Pac-10 finish. Max O'Donoghue-McDonald had an exceptional freshman season, running in the top-five at every meet. Sophomore Kelly Spady was perhaps UW's most consistent runner, and led the team at West Regionals. Coming on strong at season's end was junior Caleb Knox, who placed in UW's top five at the two postseason meets after only cracking the top-seven once before in his career. One sign of things to come was the success of Jake Schmitt who ran unattached in order to redshirt after transferring from California. Plugging Schmitt and Mineau into the top of this year's lineup should do wonders for the Husky men.

MEET THE COACHES: Former Husky All-American Greg Metcalf is in his seventh year as Washington's head coach of track and field and cross-country, and his 12th year overall at the University. Metcalf's work with the men's and women's cross country teams have developed each into national contenders in recent years, capped off by historic finishes for each team over the past two seasons. The women's cross country squad has now reached the NCAA Championships in nine of Metcalf's 11 seasons, including six top-20 finishes. The UW men, meanwhile, have competed for national titles three times in the past five years, including a 12th-place national finish in 2006. In all, Metcalf's distance runners have earned three NCAA track titles, eight Pac-10 titles, 38 All-America awards, 109 NCAA Championships bids and 21 school records in his 11 years with the program. 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 now in her seventh year at Washington, and third-year assistant Jimmy Bean, an All-Midwest Region performer at Division-III Greenville (Ill.) University.

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