No. 1 Cross Country Readies For West Regional

Nov. 13, 2008

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ON THE COURSE: Both the Washington men's and women's cross country teams will head to Palo Alto this Saturday to compete in the NCAA West Regional Championships. The stakes are vastly different for the two teams, with the 23rd-ranked men's team needing a strong showing in order to qualify for the NCAA Championships, while the No. 1-ranked women's team is a virtual lock for the championship meet in Terre Haute, Ind.

The Regional meet will be held at the Stanford Golf Course with the women's 6,000-meter race starting at 11 a.m. and the men's 10,000-meter race going off at 12 p.m. For the men, Regionals marks the increase in distances from 8,000-meters to the 10K.

The West is one of nine regions across the country that will have their championships this Saturday, with the top two teams from each region earning automatic entry into the NCAA Championships on November 24. Thirteen teams will then be granted at-large bids, bringing the NCAA field to 31 total teams.

This will be the first race for the undefeated Husky women since their historic Pac-10 Championships win that still has the cross country world buzzing. Washington went against second-ranked Oregon for the first time this year on the Ducks home course, and swept the top six spots to win its first Pac-10 title since 1989 and record the first perfect score in conference history. Washington's win snapped a streak of 12-straight Pac-10 titles for the Stanford Cardinal. Freshman Kendra Schaaf took the individual title in a course record time, becoming the first individual Pac-10 champ at UW since Regina Joyce in 1982.

The Huskies and Ducks will be right back in the thick of things again this Saturday. Oregon remained No. 2 in the USTFCCCA rankings, with No. 11 Stanford and No. 16 Arizona State also heading to Palo Alto, making the Regional meet somewhat of a second Pac-10's.

The men are also coming off their best showing yet this year, as they tied for third at Pac-10's with California. Jeremy Mineau's 10th-place finish led the team, and the Huskies were bolstered by junior Kelly Spady's first race of the year as he finished 15th overall. Spady led the Huskies at last year's Regional meet. The West Region on the men's side is perhaps the deepest in the nation with the most top-end talent as well. No. 1-ranked and Pac-10 Champion Oregon leads the way, followed by No. 3 Stanford and No. 4 Portland. Cal Poly is ranked 19th, California comes in at No. 20, Washington at No. 23, and UCLA at No. 26. Depending on how things break with the at-large point system, the West Region could potentially send seven teams to NCAA's but much is up in the air.

NCAA WEST REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS SCHEDULE
11:00 am Women's 6,000-meters
12:00 pm Men's 10,000-meters

NCAA SELECTION PROCESS: The top-two teams at each of nine regionals nationwide on Saturday will earn automatic berths to the 2008 NCAA Championships, Nov. 24 in Terre Haute, Ind. An additional 13 men's and women's teams will be added to the field via an at-large selection process. Selections are based on regular season wins, or 'points', accumulated against teams already in the NCAA field. In addition, the top four individuals at each regional not on qualifying teams will be added at-large to NCAA meet. The final NCAA Championships field, including all at-large teams and individuals, will be announced at NCAA.com at 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 16.

HUSKIES REMAIN UNANIMOUS NO. 1: No new polls this week means the Husky women's team heads into Regionals still with a commanding grip on the No. 1 spot. Washington has been a unanimous No. 1 since its Pre-National victory on Oct. 18, totaling 360 points. Speaking to the level of respect the women have gained, the Oregon Ducks remained at No. 2 in the rankings following the Pac-10 Championships, despite UW placing its top six finishers ahead of Oregon's first finisher. 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. 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 maintains its season-high No. 23 ranking. 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. The Oregon men continue to be the nation's No. 1 team, with fellow West Reigon teams Stanford at No. 3 and Portland at No. 4. Cal Poly, California, and UCLA are also ranked teams out of the West Region.

MAKING THE TRIP: Following is a list of those Huskies expected to travel to Saturday's NCAA West Regional Championships in Palo Alto, Calif. Each team can race seven team members so not every runner traveling will compete.

Name Year Hometown (High School) Best Regional Finish
Christine Babcock Fr. Irvine, Calif. (Woodbridge) First meet
Anita Campbell Sr. Vancouver, B.C. (Aldergrove) 4th (2007)
Katie Follett Jr. Fort Collins, Colo. (Fort Collins) 7th (2007)
Mel Lawrence So. Reno, Nev. (Reno) 32nd (2007)
Amanda Miller Sr. Wenatchee, Wash. (Eastmont) 17th (2007)
Kenna Patrick So. Federal Way, Wash. (Thomas Jefferson) First meet
Lauren Saylor So. Clovis, Calif. (Buchanan) 61st (2007)
Kendra Schaaf Fr. Craven, Saskatchewan (Lumsden) First meet
Michelle Turner Sr. Orem, Utah (Timpanogos) First meet

Name Year Hometown (High School) Best Regional Finish
Chris Ahl Jr. Seattle, Wash. (Bishop Blanchet) First meet
Alec Bromka Jr. Portland, Ore. (Caitlin Gable) First meet
Jon Harding Sr. Issaquah, Wash. (Issaquah) 35th (2006)
Jeremy Mineau Sr. Menlo Park, Calif. (Menlo Atherton) 5th (2006)
Jake Schmitt Jr. Kentfield, Calif. (Redwood/California) 70th (2005 w/Cal)
Kelly Spady Jr. Mukilteo, Wash. (Kamiak) 31st (2007)
Jordan Swarthout Jr. Olympia, Wash. (Capital) First meet
Colton Tully-Doyle Jr. San Diego, Calif. (Rancho Bernardo/UCSB) 123rd (2007)

HUSKIES WIN PAC-10 TITLE WITH PERFECT SCORE: The Washington women's cross country team won the Pac-10 Championship on Oct. 31 in a stunningly dominant performance, as they swept the top six spots to record a perfect score at the Springfield Country Club. The performance was unprecedented in Pac-10 history on either the women's or men's side. 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. In what was expected to be a heated battle between the nation's top two teams, the Huskies 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 entering the meet. The win is just the second Pac-10 Championship for the Husky women, the previous title coming in 1989. Schaaf 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. Amazingly, Washington's second through fourth finishers were also under the old course record. 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. 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. 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, 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.

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.

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 REGIONALS: Last season, the Husky women's team used a fourth-place Regional finish as a springboard to an eighth-place finish at NCAA's just nine days later. Anita Campbell led the team for the third-straight year with a fourth-place performance, which was the best by a Husky since 1995. Also earning All-West Region honors were Katie Follett, who placed seventh, and Amanda Miller, who was 17th. Mel Lawrence and Lauren Saylor placed 32nd and 61st, respectively, in their first Regional meets. They should be in for big improvements this Saturday. The Stanford women took home their ninth-straight Regional title on their way to winning the NCAA crown. The 2007 season ended at the Regional meet for the men, as they placed 10th overall led by Kelly Spady's 31st-place finish. The Oregon men claimed the Regional crown led by individual champion Galen Rupp. Historically, the Husky women have two Regional crowns to their credit, in 1989 and 1992. They have finished in the top-five every year since 1989. Husky legend Regina Joyce is the only Husky male or female to win a Regional crown, doing so in 1980. The Husky men have never won Regionals, but have finished second six times, including five-straight seconds from 1987-1991. UW's best individual performance on the men's side was Simon Baines, who ran second in 1993.

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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