Women's Cross-Country Sets the Bar Higher in 2003

Sept. 4, 2003

Following is the second of the three-part series previewing the 2003 Washington cross-country season, leading up to Saturday's season-opening Emerald City Invitational at Woodland Park.

Wednesday: Men's captains Todd Arnold and Ben Koss preview the 2003 Husky men.
Thursday: Women's captains Lindsey Egerdahl and Camille Connelly preview the 2003 Husky women.
Friday: A closer look at the newcomers second-year head coach Greg Metcalf says could form the most talented incoming class in UW history.

What is the best thing about running for Greg Metcalf?
'He's really encouraging. He sets really high goals for you as an athlete, which you then take ownership of and strive to achieve. I'm running significantly faster now than I ever did in high school, and I think a lot of that has to do with coach having set goals for me that were higher than those I would have set for myself. Knowing that he believed in me to achieve such goals gave me the confidence to go out and do so.'
Connelly: 'He's helped me to stay enthusiastic about my running. He truly loves the sport. His up-beat personality makes me want to train and run my best.'
Egerdahl: 'He won't allow you to limit yourself.'
Connelly: 'He's so dedicated that he makes you want to be successful not just for yourself, but to make him happy, too.'

What will be your most important role as a captain this year?
'We lost some tough girls last year, real 'no-nonsense' types who gave everything they had in every race. That toughness is going to be something we'll have to find a way to retain if we are to accomplish our goals.'
Egerdahl: 'Given that we don't have any seniors this year, the biggest risk our team faces is a lack of leadership, which is where Camille and I, and the rest of the juniors, will have to step up. Camille is awesome, because she is our organizer and behind-the-scenes motivator. Thus, I think it's upon my shoulders to be the more vocal leader.'
Connelly:: 'I want to help build a fun and supportive relationship between everyone on the team, by listening to the girls on the team and working with them to help make their experience positive. In so doing, I want to create a supportive environment that is conducive to us giving our best effort every time we toe the line. I firmly believe that if we each race with our hearts, we can place well in the postseason and qualify for nationals.'
Egerdahl: 'We lost three of our seven girls from last year, and that's a huge gap to make up. Now, we have some girls on our team who are talented enough to step in and be as strong - if not stronger - than some of the girls we lost. In order for them to do that, though, someone needs to set an example for them and show them what it will take for them to get there. Leading by example will be a primary challenge for myself in particular, and the entire junior class as a whole.'

Are there girls on the team right now who you think are capable of filling those gaps?
'Absolutely. We're all really excited about our freshmen, but we also have a lot of returners who have seen what it takes, and know that this is their time to rise, their time to take responsibility for what this team will achieve this season. All of our returners are prepared this year to raise the bar and get after it.'
Connelly: 'We had a really strong top-10 last year. All of our returning ladies have shown the potential to make a big splash this season, especially Lindsey. She continued to climb the all-time University of Washington middle-distance charts during the spring track season, but her potential in the longer-distance events is untapped.'
Egerdahl: 'Chessa Adsit-Morris has totally dedicated herself to success. We sat in Greg Metcalf's office at the end of the track season and she said, 'I'm going to finish in the top-10 at the Pac-10 Championships.' She's gung-ho about being a leader. Laura Halverson, too, has so much enthusiasm that she creates a positive energy that keeps the team fun and focused. Jamie Gibbs and Laura Hodgson are the strong, quiet types. They work really hard and just get it done. They will definitely be leaders, by doing all of the little things that everyone will have to do if we're going to reach our goals.'
Connelly: 'Also, Angela Wishaar and Kathryn Touran have both gained a lot of fitness from where they were at this point last year. Angela, especially, had an awesome track season and has gotten a lot stronger, while Kathryn had a successful track campaign, and has the potential to run real fast for us this fall.'

Are there any newcomers who you expect will have an impact right away?
'All of our incoming freshmen are very talented and accomplished runners. I firmly believe that any one of them could be a part of our top-seven this year. Historically, we've had at least one freshman run in our top-seven every year, and more in our top-10.'
Egerdahl: 'If you want to be specific, I think you have to mention Ingvill Makestad. There's no doubt that she'll be a powerful force on our team, and we're all excited to have her. Brianna McLeod, too, was our very first recruit this year, and set the bar for the types of girls we wanted to bring in. She could have a big impact this year. She's accomplished some amazing things already in her career, so I'm excited to have her and to train with her. Marie Foushee is an all-around solid runner. She fits well on our team, in that she has fun, but gets it done when the time comes to go to work. I'm counting on both of those girls to step up and help us out this season.'

What is the secret that has allowed the UW women's team to reach the NCAAs for six-straight years?
'There's a strong sense of ownership and commitment on our women's team. Every time we race, we know that the other girls are all counting on us to do our job well.'
Egerdahl: 'Our seniors the previous few years have always given us the mindset that we're not going to do anything halfway - we're going to give our all in every race. Whatever the situation, UW finds a way to get it done. We don't allow ourselves to consider the possibility of not being successful. Having been to the NCAAs six-straight years, we're all determined not to see that streak broken on our watch. It takes everyone working together, and everyone believing in our goals, to achieve that kind of success.'
Connelly: 'Running at the NCAAs is always the goal, and the past six seasons have shown us how competitive the race for bids can be. Through all the ups and downs, though, this team has always found a way to get it done. The girls we have this season are talented and motivated. Getting to the NCAAs is not an easy task, and like anything worth doing it will take a lot of work, but I know we're up for it.'

Does the streak of NCAA Championships appearances put extra pressure on this team?
'No. I think that if we hadn't made it several years in a row, there'd be more pressure to finally get it done. Having done it before, though, we're confident we'll do it again. That confidence makes a big difference, especially in the postseason when a lot of teams can let the pressure rattle them. Even further, we're determined this year to not just get to nationals, but to race well there. In the past, we've been known for peaking at regionals and posting just average finishes at nationals. This year, we're determined to maintain our intensity all the way through the finish line in Waterloo.'
Connelly: 'We know that we've been through this before, and that we can do it again. More so, though, we're just committed to being successful.'

Which teams are going to be the biggest obstacles to achieving your goals?
'We took third at the Pac-10 meet last year and then dropped to fourth at the regional. UCLA was the team that passed us at the regional meet, so they're going to be a team we'll have to beat. Arizona State took second at the Pac-10s, and are super-talented. We have the talent to compete with them, though, and I'd love nothing more than to see our girls ahead of both of those squads in the postseason.'

What's the biggest misconception about distance runners?
'That we're all nerdy. We have a lot of intelligent people on our team, don't get me wrong, but that's only because this is a sport that embraces perfection, and those who strive towards perfection. Also, there's the perception that we all really love to run all the time. Now, there are probably some of us who get a thrill out of 10-, 12-mile runs, but the fact is that it's training for us - just because you're good at it doesn't make it any less difficult. The feeling when you're done working out, though, is awesome, knowing that you pushed your body harder than you previously thought you could.'
Connelly: 'I like the fitness benefit, and the competition. Running provides a very concrete means of setting goals and achieving them, and I like that, too.'

What is the best thing about the University of Washington?
'The UW provides an outstanding combination of academics and athletics. The location, too, is amazing. You notice it especially when you fly back from road trips - it's just so great to come home to the mountains and water and trees.'
Egerdahl: 'Our coach is definitely a big selling point. When you first meet him, you think he can't possibly be this cheery and upbeat and enthusiastic all of the time, but he really is. He's the real thing. I came to the University of Washington to be the best athlete I could. When you come to Washington, you find out in a hurry just what you're made of, and whether you have what it takes to compete at an elite level. I, for one, welcomed that challenge.'
Connelly: 'Coach Metcalf, definitely, is a big plus. He's great to work with and inspires you to get the most out of yourself. Also, the team atmosphere is just amazing. It's really like a family.'
Egerdahl: '[Assistant coach] Kelly MacDonald has done tremendous things for this team, and added a whole new level of fun and encouragement. As a result, our girls' team is stronger than it's ever been. The athletic department, too, is an awesome family network in and of itself, and that makes upper campus a lot smaller.'

What does Washington cross-country mean to you?
'The UW cross-country program has allowed me the opportunity to run competitively in a structured program, while pursuing a higher education at an exceptional university. Being a part of this program is truly special, and a real honor.'
Egerdahl: 'This is my family. Boys and girls - both teams are united and understand each other in ways that only people who are sharing a unique experience can. I've been here two years, and it's continuing to form who I am and the person I want to be.'

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