Husky Cross Country Squads Chosen For Nationals
Nov. 15, 2009
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - For the second consecutive season, the Washington men's and women's cross country teams will both be headed to the NCAA Championships as the fields were announced today by the NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Track and Field Committee.
The defending NCAA Champion and No. 1-ranked women's squad sewed up an automatic bid by winning the NCAA West Regional yesterday afternoon, but the 17th-ranked men had to wait to earn one of thirteen at-large bids after placing fourth behind three Top-10 teams at Regionals. The NCAA Cross Country Championships will be hosted by Indiana State in Terre Haute, Indiana and run at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course next Monday, November 23rd.
The men's race will begin at approximately 9:08 a.m. Pacific time, followed by the women's race at approximately 9:58 a.m. Both championship races will be broadcast live on Versus Network and streamed online via NCAA.com.
This is just the fifth time in more than 30 years of UW cross country that both the men's and women's teams will be competing at the NCAA Championships, but the second season in a row. Last year while the women finished first, the men earned an 18th-place finish and returned six of the seven runners from that NCAA run. Head Coach Greg Metcalf also led both his teams to NCAA bids in 2003, and Husky men's and women's teams each qualified in 1977 and 1989 as well.
Each field at Nationals is made up of 18 automatic qualifiers, two from each region, and 13 at-large bids based on a points system for regular season wins over eventual NCAA qualifying teams. The UW women earned the first spot from the West Region yesterday, and the men felt confident in an at-large bid thanks to a strong regular season that included a victory at the Notre Dame Invitational and a fifth-place finish at Pre-Nationals.
The women will be making their 11th NCAA appearance in the past 13 years and will be trying to achieve the first back-to-back NCAA titles for a Washington program since women's crew in 1997-98. The Huskies have won 11 races in a row dating back to last year, and feature four All-Americans in sophomores Kendra Schaaf and Christine Babcock, junior Mel Lawrence, and senior Katie Follett. The women have two separate wins this year over 3rd-ranked Florida, 4th-ranked Princeton, and 5th-ranked Oregon, but the biggest challenge to a title defense should come from No. 2 Villanova which is undefeated this season as well.
This will be the fifth NCAA team appearance in the last seven years for the men. Leading the Dawgs this year has been the senior trio of Jake Schmitt, Kelly Spady, and Colton Tully-Doyle. All three competed at NCAAs last year. The best finish for a men's cross country squad under Coach Metcalf was 12th in 2006, a spot this year's group will certainly be striving to surpass.