National Champions! UW Women Cap Undefeated Season With First National Title
Nov. 24, 2008
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - The Washington women's cross country capped off a season for the ages by winning the first NCAA Championship in program history today at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course in Terre Haute, Indiana. Washington put five runners in the Top-40, led by freshman stars Christine Babcock and Kendra Schaaf.
The Huskies overcame second-ranked Oregon for the third race in a row, posting 79 points while Oregon came in with 131 for second-place. Florida State took third with 163, West Virginia was fourth with 198, and Princeton took fifth with 220. The Husky men took 18th-place despite running without top senior Jeremy Mineau.
Today marked the culmination of a meteoric rise to the top for the women's distance program at Washington. The Huskies did not qualify as a team in 2005 and 2006, before shooting up to 8th at nationals one year ago. With the additions of freshmen Babcock and Schaaf, the maturation of sophomores Mel Lawrence and Lauren Saylor, and the continued veteran presence of junior Katie Follett and seniors Anita Campbell and Amanda Miller, Washington proved to be far and away the most talented and deepest team in the country, winning every race they entered by a wide margin.
The Huskies racked up an incredible five NCAA All-American honors, and just missed a sixth. Babcock (Irvine, Calif.) led the Huskies in 7th-place, finishing the 6,000-meter race in 20-minutes and 1.7-seconds. Schaaf, the Pac-10 Champion, was close behind in 12th overall in 20:17.3. Sophomore Mel Lawrence (Reno, Nev.) was 25th in 20:32.3 and junior Katie Follett (Fort Collins, Colo.) was right by her side in 26th-place in 20:32.5, earning her second-consecutive cross country All-American honor.
Senior Amanda Miller (Wenatchee, Wash.), already a four-time track All-American, got the fifth overall honor and first of her career in cross country in her final collegiate race. Miller placed 34th in 20:37.0, and now has All-American honors for cross country, the 800-meters, two in the mile run, and at 1500-meters, showing her incredible range.
'The race plan honestly, about 1500 meters in I thought we were a little back,' said 12th-year head coach Greg Metcalf. 'It actually didn't go according to plan. But, they did what they've done all year long. After the 3k, they moved and ran better after that. Our front team of Christine Babcock and Kendra Schaaf were in the lead pack right where they needed to be. They did a great job. And Mel and Katie closed well and lowered our team's score dramatically after halfway. Things didn't go 100% as planned, but I won't get greedy. It was good to win.'
Just missing the top-40 cutoff for All-America honors was sophomore Lauren Saylor (Clovis, Calif.), who was 41st overall and missed 40th-place by one tenth of a second. Saylor was the very last finisher at NCAA's one year ago as her body shut down near the finish, but ran her best race of the year today and exorcised any memories of a year ago.
Rounding out UW's top-seven was senior Anita Campbell (Vancouver, B.C.), who was making her fourth-straight NCAA Championship appearance. Campbell competed as an individual as a freshman and sophomore when the Huskies didn't qualify as a team, but just two short years later she ends her cross country career as a national champion. Campbell did not have her best day of the season, but still placed 51st overall in 20:50.4. Her finish would have been in the top-five for every other team in the meet.
'Honestly all year long this has been the expectation of our group,' said Metcalf. 'I talked to the President of the University of Washington, Mark Emmert, on the phone and he talked to our kids. That's pretty cool. Our Athletic Director, Scott Woodward, is here. It's great for the city of Seattle, it's great for the University of Washington, it's great for the young women on our team, it's great for our coaching staff. It's outstanding.'
The only question facing the team now seems to be just how many they can win. Washington snapped Stanford's streak of three-straight titles, and UW will certainly be a preseason favorite next year as well, with four runners in the top-41 having two or more years remaining.
'To come here as the favorite and get the win, it says a lot about where we come in the last four years, and the direction from here. We only graduate two seniors. We should be better next year, so all is good in Seattle right now.'
Conditions were cold and damp, and strong winds lowered the temperatures even more, but the overall feel was not too different from a typical cold winter day in Seattle. Follett was asked about the conditions post-race and said she felt right at home.
'It was pretty cold out there today, but we're used to training in the rain,' said Follett. 'We were actually pretty excited when we saw the weather this morning because we're used to it. We're the Huskies from Seattle.'
The day was also a success for Washington's men's team but their 18th-place finish was made somewhat bittersweet by the fact that they had to run without senior Jeremy Mineau, UW's top finisher at Pac-10's and Regionals. Mineau had a foot problem flare up over the past few days and was just unable to go. Still, the team wouldn't have been in Terre Haute without him and the rest of his teammates greatly picked up the slack, as the Huskies were ranked just 21st even with Mineau coming in.
Junior Jake Schmitt paced the Huskies in 58th-place, running the 10,000-meters in 30:32.6. Schmitt was followed by junior Kelly Spady (86th-place; 30:47.2), junior Jordan Swarthout (108th; 30:58.0), senior Jon Harding (142nd; 31:11.7), and junior Colton Tully-Doyle (154th; 31:19.0). Junior Chris Ahl was UW's sixth finisher in 234th, and junior Alec Bromka stepped in for the injured Mineau to place 236th.
Schmitt's finish capped an outstanding first season for the former transfer from California. His 58th-place run was the second-best finish for a Husky male since 1998.
This was the second Top-20 finish for the men's program in the past three seasons, after not cracking the Top-20 from 1994 all the way up until 2006.
NOTES: The Husky women's cross country squad joins football, men's and women's crew, and volleyball in the Washington National Champion pantheon ... Babcock and Schaaf were far and away the top freshmen in the nation today; the next-highest finishing frosh was Emily Infeld of Georgetown in 60th-place ... Babcock's 7th-place finish was the best by a Husky woman since Regina Joyce was 2nd in 1982; Schaaf's 12th-place was the fourth-best all-time behind Joyce, Babcock, and Tara Carlson's 8th-place finish in 1995 ... Mel Lawrence was the third-best finishing sophomore, and improved her standing by 92 places from a year ago and ran 1:10 faster ... Washington's team score was the lowest since Colorado won with 63 points in 2004. Since the field expanded to 31 teams in 1998, only four teams have gone under 80 points, including this year's Huskies ... Last year, Katie Follett and Anita Campbell became the first UW duo to earn All-America honors in the same season; the Huskies flew by that mark this year with their five award-winners, of which Follett was the only repeat.
Washington Cross Country
11/24/08 - Terre Haute, Ind.
LaVern Gibson Championship Course
Women's Race (6,000-meters)
Team Results (Top-20): 1. Washington 79; 2. Oregon 131; 3. Florida State 163; 4. West Virginia 198; 5. Princeton 220; 6. Villanova 248; 7. Texas Tech 272; 8. Stanford 299; 9. Georgetown 305; 10. Illinois 318; 11. Michigan State 336; 11. Minnesota 336; 13. Providence 340; 14. Arizona State 381; 15. Arkansas 404; 16. Michigan 416; 17. Florida 454; 18. New Mexico 475; 19. Baylor 484; 20. SMU 504.
Individual Champion: Sally Kipyego, Texas Tech, 19:28.1.
Husky Finishers: 7. Christine Babcock 20:01.7; 12. Kendra Schaaf 20:17.3; 25. Mel Lawrence 20:32.3; 26. Katie Follett 20:32.5; 34. Amanda Miller 20:37.0; 41. Lauren Saylor 20:43.7; 51. Anita Campbell 20:50.4.
Men's Race (10,000-meters)
Team Results (Top-20): 1. Oregon 93; 2. Iona 147; 3. Stanford 227; 4. Wisconsin 229; 5. Auburn 264; 6. Northern Arizona 281; 7. Portland 293; 8. Oklahoma State 305; 9. BYU 310; 10. Georgetown 319; 10. Alabama 391; 12. Colorado 372; 13. Tulsa 377; 14. Virginia 383; 15. Minnesota 385; 16. William & Mary 412; 17. Iowa State 435; 18. Washington 438; 19. Notre Dame 446; 20. Providence 465.
Individual Champion: Galen Rupp, Oregon, 29:03.2.
Husky Finishers: 58. Jake Schmitt 30:32.6; 86. Kelly Spady 30:47.2; 108. Jordan Swarthout 30:58.0; 142. Jon Harding 31:11.7; 154. Colton Tully-Doyle 31:19.0; 234. Chris Ahl 32:27.3; 236. Alec Bromka 32:31.6.