Pac-10 Perfection! Huskies Take First Six Spots To Win Conference Championship
Oct. 31, 2008
SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - The Washington women's cross country team are the Pac-10 Champions, and a champion unlike any before them, as they swept the top six spots to record a perfect score at the Springfield Country Club today. The performance was simply stunning, and unprecedented in Pac-10 history on either the women's or men's side. The Husky men had a big day as well, placing third, their best showing since 2003.
Freshman Kendra Schaaf is the new Pac-10 Champion, and led a Husky parade across the finish line, followed in order by sophomore Mel Lawrence, freshman Christine Babcock, senior Anita Campbell, junior Katie Follett, and senior Amanda Miller. Another jersey finally crossed the finish line in seventh-place, as Oregon's Lindsey Scherf led the No. 2 ranked Ducks to a distant second-place finish.
It was fitting that the meet fell on Halloween, as the top-ranked Huskies surely put a scare into every other team in the nation, with just over three weeks until the NCAA Championships on November 24. The conference meet was expected to be a heated battle between the top-ranked Huskies and second-ranked Ducks, who had the home course advantage, but UW began to pull away midway through the race and turned it into a rout.
Washington finished with a perfect 15 points, followed by Oregon with 55, 18th-ranked Stanford with 99, 15th-ranked Arizona State with 105, and Washington State in fifth-place with 188 points. The Cardinal had won 12-straight Pac-10 Championships prior to today.
'Coming in here we've run well all year long. Sundodger, Auburn, Pre-Nationals, it's the same thing every day,' said 12th-year head coach Greg Metcalf. 'The team has been incredibly diligent and workmanlike in everything they've done. We talk to five or six women about winning a race, so we thought there was a chance this could happen. But we have more work to do. Our goal is to get better every week. We're better now than we were two weeks ago, and we have to be better three weeks from now.'
This is just the second Pac-10 Championship for the Husky women, the previous title coming in 1989. Schaaf (Regina, Saskatchewan) is Washington's first individual champion since Regina Joyce won the inaugural title in 1982. Schaaf led from start to finish, widening her lead throughout, until she finished in a course record 19-minutes and 24-seconds over the 6,000-meter course. That shattered the Pac-10 record for 6,000-meters, previously at 19:40, and was a whopping 33 seconds faster than the previous course record, set just last year.
'I just went to the front and from there I just wanted to run what felt good,' said Schaaf after the race. 'We're stronger when we're all there running together, and everybody just built so that was the basic plan. I'm surprised with the 15 points; that was awesome. But now we have to keep moving forward and not just focus on this race. We're happy with what we did but now we have to keep training for Nationals.'
Amazingly, Washington's second through fourth finishers were also under the old course record. Lawrence (Reno, Nev.), who placed 13th at this meet as a freshman, was second in 19:53. One second behind Lawrence came the freshman Babcock (Irvine, Calif.) in 19:54. Campbell turned in her best career Pac-10 run in her final go-round, finishing fourth in 19:57.
Completing the sweep was Follett (Fort Collins, Colo.) who ran 20:05 for 5th-place. Senior Amanda Miller's (Wenatchee, Wash.) sixth-place finish did not even count towards UW's team score, despite the fact that it would have been the top score for every other team. Also impressing was sophomore Lauren Saylor (Clovis, Calif.) in 12th-place, which will earn her a second team All-Pac-10 honor.
The previous record low score for any team in Pac-10 Championship history was 19 by the 2002 Stanford men's team. The previous women's record was 22 points by the 2006 Stanford women. Both of those teams went on to win the NCAA Championship.
'It's pretty amazing for us,' said Campbell, a senior All-American. 'We're shocked but at the same time we had conversations last night with Coach Metcalf, and he kind of likes to joke around and say we can possibly score 15 points, and then something like this happens. So he instilled in us that we need to dream big and expect big things. It's so exciting, and we just can't wait for the next three weeks. I'm confident saying that we're not the best that we can be. We want the big prize at the end.'
The women's dominance was understandably the story of the day, but the 24th-ranked men's team was impressive as well. Top-ranked Oregon won with 28 points, followed by second-ranked Stanford with 47. Washington and California came into the meet sharing the No. 24 national ranking, and left tied as well, as both scored 104 points for third place. The Huskies owned the tiebreaker though with their No. 6 runner beating Cal's No. 6. Just behind UW and Cal was 13th-ranked UCLA in fifth-place with 106.
Senior Jeremy Mineau was his usual gritty self in leading the team with a 10th-place finish. The Menlo Park, California native missed last year's Pac-10 meet while recuperating from a pair of stress fractures, but turned in his best run of the season today, covering the 8,000-meter course in 23:47. Junior Kelly Spady made his season debut an impressive one, as he placed 15th in 23:58. Junior Jake Schmitt was right behind Spady in 16th-place in 24:05. Juniors Jordan Swarthout and Colton Tully-Doyle also crossed together in 33rd and 34th-place, respectively, to close UW's scoring.
'Being third is kind of like a win for our guys. They've gotten better every week and that's as well as we've run all year,' said Metcalf. 'For Jeremy Mineau to be out of the sport for two solid years, and running only 30 miles a week, to be 10th at the Pac-10 meet shows how much talent he has. Kelly Spady was great today in his first race of the season, and Jake ran well up front as well. I still think there's more in there and we need to get a little better at the Regional meet, but this was a great momentum builder. I'm very pleased with our guys today.'
Next up will be the NCAA West Regional meet on November 15 in Palo Alto, Calif., which will have major implications for the men's team and their pursuit of an NCAA bid. The top-ranked women are a virtual lock but will still look to continue their momentum.
Washington Cross Country
10/31/08 - Springfield, Ore.
Springfield Country Club
Women's Race (6,000-meters)
Team Results: 1. Washington 15 (first perfect score in Pac-10 history); 2. Oregon 55; 3. Stanford 99; 4. Arizona State 105; 5. Washington State 188; 6. Oregon State 192; 7. Arizona 199; 8. California 209; 9. USC 212; 10. UCLA 271.
Individual Champion: Kendra Schaaf, Washington, 19:24 (Pac-10 and course record)
Husky Finishers: 1. Kendra Schaaf 19:24; 2. Mel Lawrence 19:53; 3. Christine Babcock 19:54; 4. Anita Campbell 19:57; 5. Katie Follett 20:05; 6. Amanda Miller 20:10; 12. Lauren Saylor 20:31; 23. Kenna Patrick 20:51; 26. Michelle Turner 21:01; -- Kailey Campbell DNF.
Men's Race (8,000-meters)
Team Results: 1. Oregon 28; 2. Stanford 47; 3. Washington 104 (wins tiebreak); 3. California 104; 5. UCLA 106; 6. Washington State 169; 7. Arizona 180; 8. Arizona State 198.
Individual Champion: Galen Rupp, Oregon, 22:55
Husky Finishers: 10. Jeremy Mineau 23:47; 15. Kelly Spady 23:58; 16. Jake Schmitt 24:05; 33. Jordan Swarthout 24:44; 34. Colton Tully-Doyle 24:46; 43. Jon Harding 24:58; 44. Chris Ahl 24:58; 54. Alec Bromka 25:20; 69. Caleb Knox 25:48; -- Cameron Quackenbush DNF.