Huskies Travel To Oregon For Pac-10 Championships

Oct. 29, 2008

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ON THE COURSE: The No. 1 ranked Washington women's cross country team and the 24th-ranked men's team kick off the postseason with the Pac-10 Championships this Friday, Oct. 31, hosted by the University of Oregon at the Springfield Country Club. The UW conference meet is the first of three postseason stops that includes NCAA West Reigonals on Nov. 15, then the ultimate goal of the NCAA Championships on Nov. 24 in Terre Haute, Ind. The 6,000-meter women's race is scheduled for 2:25 p.m., while the 8,000-meter men's race will begin at 3:25 p.m.

The Husky women's team has cruised to overwhelming victories in all three of its races thus far, but figures to face its biggest challenge yet if the team is to win its first Pac-10 title since 1989. The host Oregon Ducks are the second-ranked team in the nation and were the preseason No. 1. This will be the first of presumably three-straight meetings between the Huskies and Ducks. Also contending for the top spot will be 15th-ranked Arizona State, which returns its top-six runners from the team that tied UW for third at last year's Pac-10 meet. And then there is Stanford, ranked 18th but impossible to overlook as the Cardinal women have won the past 12 Pac-10 team titles.

In their efforts to unseat the Cardinal and fend off the Ducks and Sun Devils, Washington will send four women who placed in the top-15 at last year's meet, plus its two freshmen phenoms who have passed every test thus far with flying colors. UW's top returners from a year ago include senior Anita Campbell (6th-place), junior Katie Follett (9th-place), sophomore Mel Lawrence (13th-place), and senior Amanda Miller (15th-place). Freshman Kendra Schaaf will be among the favorites for the individual crown. Schaaf won her first two races (Sundodger and Tiger Invites) by a combined 41-seconds, then placed 3rd at the Pre-National Meet, leading the Huskies to the team title. Christine Babcock was just one second behind Schaaf in 4th-place at Pre-Nationals, and will look to make her Pac-10 debut a memorable one.

Just like the women's race, the men's side also features the top-two teams in the current coaches' poll in No. 1 Oregon and No. 2 Stanford. Also figuring to be in the mix is 13th-ranked UCLA and California, which is tied with Washington at No. 24 in the rankings. The Ducks and Cardinal have won every conference title this decade, with Oregon winning the last two after Stanford had a run of six-straight prior to that.

Leading the Huskies are two men who are no strangers to the conference meet yet did not compete in 2007. Senior Jeremy Mineau redshirted the 2007 season but has looked like his old self this year and will be aiming to replicate his 7th-place finish from the 2006 Pac-10 Championships. Junior Jake Schmitt is coming off a 27th-place finish at Pre-Nationals, the best on the squad. Schmitt competed at the 2005 and 2006 Pac-10 meet, but under the banner of the Golden Bears. Schmitt transferred to UW following 2006 and was forced to redshirt last season. Also looking to lead the way will be senior Jon Harding in his final conference race. Harding was UW's top finisher a year ago in 20th-place. The team should also get a boost from junior Kelly Spady, who will be making his official debut with the top UW group after running unattached to start the season. Spady was 37th at Pac-10's a year ago.

PAC-10 CHAMPIONSHIPS SCHEDULE
2:25 pm Women's 6,000-meters
3:25 pm Men's 8,000-meters

PAC-10'S GO ALMOST LIVE: Friday's Pac-10 Championships will be broadcast on Comcast Sports Net Northwest starting at 3 p.m. The show will begin with the women's race on a slightly tape-delayed basis, but will then move to the men's race live at 3:25. Comcast Sports Net Northwest is cable channel 179 for Comcast customers in the Seattle area. For those who don't have the channel, or can't wait the extra 35 minutes, the Pac-10 will also offer a free live webstream of the championships on www.pac-10.org.

HUSKIES REMAIN UNANIMOUS NO. 1: The Husky women's team has now been ranked No. 1 for a full month, as little changed in the USTFCCCA Cross Country Rankings this week following an off-week for most teams. Washington continued to receive all 12 first place votes for the second week in a row following its Pre-National victory, totaling 360 points, with second-place Oregon owning 347 points. Washington achieved its first No. 1 ranking in program history in the October 7 poll, leap-frogging the Ducks following UW's win at the Tiger Invitational. The Huskies began the season ranked third. Upon reaching the top spot in the rankings, 12th-year head coach Greg Metcalf stated, 'Achieving the number one ranking is a great statement on where our program has come and it's a testament to the progress our student-athletes have made, but certainly it is not the ultimate goal. Right now the ranking doesn't mean that much. Ultimately all that matters is what happens on November 24th in Terre Haute, Indiana (at the NCAA Championships).' Women's cross country becomes the seventh intercollegiate sport at the University of Washington to achieve a No. 1 ranking. The previous six were men's crew, women's crew, football, men's soccer, softball, and volleyball. The Washington men's cross country squad also continued to gain respect from voters with its 11th-place finish at Pre-Nationals out of a field of 40 teams, and the men were rewarded last week with their first appearance in the Top-30 this season. Washington jumped up to a tie for 24th this week with Pac-10 rival California. The voters clearly view UW's West Region as the deepest in America, as the Husky men are one of seven West Region teams to populate the Top-30. No other region has more than five ranked teams. The Oregon men continue to be the nation's No. 1 team, but the Stanford men jumped eight spots to No. 2 after they won the team title at Pre-Nationals. Portland, UCLA, Cal Poly, and California are also ranked teams out of the West Region.

EXPECTED TO RUN: Following is a list of those Huskies expected to travel and compete in Friday's Pac-10 Championships in Springfield, Ore. Each team can race 10 team members. Lineups may change.

Name Year Hometown (High School) Best Pac-10 Finish
Christine Babcock Fr. Irvine, Calif. (Woodbridge) First meet
Anita Campbell Sr. Vancouver, B.C. (Aldergrove) 6th (2007)
Kailey Campbell So. Seattle, Wash. (Ballard) First meet
Katie Follett Jr. Fort Collins, Colo. (Fort Collins) 9th (2007)
Mel Lawrence So. Reno, Nev. (Reno) 13th (2007)
Amanda Miller Sr. Wenatchee, Wash. (Eastmont) 15th (2007)
Kenna Patrick So. Federal Way, Wash. (Thomas Jefferson) First meet
Lauren Saylor So. Clovis, Calif. (Buchanan) 41st (2007)
Kendra Schaaf Fr. Craven, Saskatchewan (Lumsden) First race
Michelle Turner Sr. Orem, Utah (Timpanogos) First meet

Name Year Hometown (High School) Best Pac-10 Finish
Chris Ahl Jr. Seattle, Wash. (Bishop Blanchet) 65th (2007)
Alec Bromka Jr. Portland, Ore. (Caitlin Gable) First meet
Jon Harding Sr. Issaquah, Wash. (Issaquah) 20th (2007)
Caleb Knox Sr. Mill Creek, Wash. (Jackson) 33rd (2007)
Jeremy Mineau Sr. Menlo Park, Calif. (Menlo Atherton) 7th (2007)
Cameron Quackenbush RFr. Spokane, Wash. (Ferris) First meet
Jake Schmitt Jr. Kentfield, Calif. (Redwood/California) 49th (2005 w/Cal)
Kelly Spady Jr. Mukilteo, Wash. (Kamiak) 37th (2007)
Jordan Swarthout Jr. Olympia, Wash. (Capital) First meet
Colton Tully-Doyle Jr. San Diego, Calif. (Rancho Bernardo/UCSB)
53rd (2007)

PEAK PERFORMER: In Washington's win at Pre-Nationals, much of the focus was on the top-five women, all of which finished in the Top-16. While she placed sixth among Huskies, sophomore Lauren Saylor's 27th-place finish would have put her as at least the fourth runner on every other team, and would have led many ranked schools. Saylor finished one spot ahead of the No. 1 finisher for 6th-ranked Stanford. Saylor's time of 20:57 was 1-minute and 8-seconds faster than the same race in 2007, when she finished 129th.

HUSKIES MAKE QUICK WORK OF TOP-10 TEAMS AT PRE-NATIONALS: A phenomenal team effort carried the No. 1 Washington women's cross country team to a dominating win at the Pre-National Meet on Oct. 18 in Terre Haute, as the Huskies placed four runners in the Top-10 despite taking on 11 ranked teams. The Huskies accumulated a scant 36 points, with second-place Villanova well back with 126 points. Minnesota, ranked fourth in the nation, was third with 198, followed by 9th-ranked Michigan State in fourth with 215, and No. 15 Florida in fifth with 233. For some perspective, one year ago the Stanford women won Pre-Nationals with 102 points on their way to a third-straight NCAA title. The Huskies placed all five of their scoring runners in the top-20, where many teams would be happy to have one finisher. A trio of Huskies finished together in third, fourth, and fifth places, led by freshman Kendra Schaaf who covered the 6,000-meter course in 20-minutes and 15 seconds. Fellow freshman Christine Babcock was just a split second behind in fourth place, and sophomore Mel Lawrence took fifth in 20:18. Washington's two returning All-Americans were the fourth and fifth finishers on the squad. Junior Katie Follett placed 8th in 20:20, and senior Anita Campbell was 16th overall in 20:38. In the men's White Race, Washington's group took 11th out of 40 teams, and just missed upsetting two of the highest ranked teams in the country. Two spots ahead of the Huskies was Colorado, the No. 3 team in the country, which finished with 235 points to UW's 306. 11th-ranked Iowa State was 10th, with 249. Washington did outperform one ranked opponent, No. 30 Michigan State, who placed 14th. Junior Jake Schmitt led the men's team with a 27th-place finish in 24:08 for 8,000-meters. He was followed by senior Jeremy Mineau who was 48th in 24:23. A strong third for Washington was junior Colton Tully-Doyle, who placed 68th in 24:39 for his best Husky finish. Senior Jon Harding was 78th in 24:43 and junior Chris Ahl was 85th in 24:48 to round out the scoring. The women's first-place finish surpassed the fourth-place showing from 2007 as the program's best ever. The Huskies were so impressive, their top-five women averaged 20:21, which equaled the time of the second-place finisher in the women's White Race. Anita Campbell, who was UW's fifth finisher, would have been the No.1 runner for 4th-ranked Minnesota and 6th-ranked Stanford.

HUSKIES TAKE TIGER INVITE BY THE TAIL: Another race, another win for UW freshman Kendra Schaaf, who flew to the win at the Tiger Invitational, hosted by Auburn University on Oct. 4. Schaaf led a UW parade across the finish line as the then-second-ranked Husky women had seven of the top nine finishers to win by a wide margin. The Washington men's team was led by senior Jeremy Mineau, who finished fifth overall. The Huskies placed second to 21st-ranked Auburn, also getting Top-10 finishes from Jon Harding and Jake Schmitt. But it was Schaaf who stole the show once again, two weeks after her record-breaking Sundodger victory. The Saskatchewan native covered the 5,000-meter course in just 15-minutes and 46-seconds. That time would have been the second-fastest in Washington history had it been run on the track. Following Schaaf was another exceptional freshman, Christine Babcock of Irvine, Calif., who was making her collegiate debut. Babcock was the second-place finisher in 16:02. Sophomore Mel Lawrence was third in 16:04 before the UW onslaught was momentarily disrupted by the top finishers for Auburn and Iowa. The next four finishers were clad in purple, led by junior All-American Katie Follett, who was sixth in her season debut. Seventh-place went to sophomore Lauren Saylor, and seniors Amanda Miller and All-American Anita Campbell took eighth and ninth, respectively. Kailey Campbell, Kenna Patrick, and Michelle Turner all placed in the Top-25 as well, out of a field of more than 200. The Husky women were first with a near-perfect 19 points (15 being perfection), followed by Oregon State with 98 points, and 27th-ranked Iowa with 99. Georgia was fourth with 138, and Purdue finished fifth with 158. The men's team was buoyed by Harding's first race of the season, as well as the continued successful comeback from Mineau, who redshirted the 2007 season. Mineau covered the 8,000-meter course in 23:10 for fifth, followed by Harding who took eighth in 23:20. Junior Jake Schmitt was right behind Harding, taking ninth-place in 23:22. The Huskies finished second overall with 49 points, trailing only the 31 put up by Auburn. Iowa finished third with 72 points, Clemson was fourth with 155, and Georgia Tech finished fifth in 156.

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.

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.

HUSKIES AT THE PAC-10: The Huskies have two Pac-10 team championships and one individual championship to their credit, as the Husky men captured the team title in 1993, the women came out on top in 1989, and Regina Joyce won the conference women's title in 1982 when it was known as the NorPac. Despite winning just one Pac-10 crown, the Washington women's team has placed in the top-five at the conference meet every year since 1988, a span of 19 races, and were fourth or better on 17 of those occasions. Individually, the women have also had a Top-10 finisher in the past 14 races, while the men have placed a runner in the Top-10 in four of the past five years. Remarkably, the women have been led by a different runner in each of the last 11 championships, with that lead Dawg placing in the top-10 on every occasion.

Last year the Husky women had two top-10 finishers on their way to a third-place tie with Arizona State and behind Stanford and Oregon. The Cardinal, Ducks, Sun Devils and Huskies went on to finish first, second, fourth, and eighth at the 2007 NCAA Championships. Anita Campbell led the Huskies with a sixth-place finish and Katie Follett placed ninth. Also back in action for the women this year is sophomore Mel Lawrence, who made the All-Pac-10 second team with a 13th-place finish last year. Senior Amanda Miller had a career-best 15th-place finish last year, and sophomore Lauren Saylor has made great strides this season and will look to improve on her 41st-place finish from a year ago.

On the men's side, the Huskies return their top-three finishers from a 6th-place showing at the 2007 Pac-10 meet. Jon Harding led the team with a 20th-place finish, followed by Caleb Knox who was a pleasant surprise in 33rd-place. Knox had run in UW's top-five only once before in his career before finishing second on the team at Pac-10's. Third for UW was Kelly Spady, who will be making his season debut with the top group on Friday. Senior Jeremy Mineau is back this season after a redshirt year in 2007. His last Pac-10 race came in 2006 when Mineau led the team with a 7th-place finish, earning first team All-Pac-10 honors. He also finished 27th as a freshman in 2004.

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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