Toeing the Line ... with head coach Greg Metcalf

Sept. 16, 2003

The 2003 season is an important one for Washington's cross-country teams. With five returning seniors and an outstanding crop of newcomers, the Husky men appear primed to reach the NCAA Championships for the first time in over a decade. The Husky women, meanwhile, face the opposite situation, returning no seniors while attempting to preserve a string of six-straight NCAA Championships appearances. Wins by both squads at the season-opening Emerald City Invitational set the tone for what could be a terrific season of Husky cross-country, particularly if freshmen Travis Boyd and Brianna McLeod can maintain the level of success that sparked each to individual titles at the season-opener. correspondent Mason Kelley sat down with second-year head coach Greg Metcalf to discuss the upcoming season. Your team recently went away for a week to Port Townsend to train for the 2003 season. How'd it go?
Greg Metcalf: 'It was awesome, a lot of fun. We have gone up to the same place the last five years, Fort Flagler State Park on the Olympic Peninsula. When we go there we stay in the old army barracks. It is kind of rustic - no telephones, no T.V. We cook our own meals; it is a lot of fun. At the end of the week our kids are a little tired, but it is a good bonding experience.'

GH: How does the retreat help your team?
Metcalf: 'Coming back after a week, our kids are definitely better for the experience. Especially since we have a young group on the women's side. We don't have any seniors and they have tremendous amounts of energy. They are a little tired, but it was an awesome week.'

GH: How did the first meet go?
Metcalf: 'We had the Emerald City Invitational at Woodland Park on Sept. 6. We didn't run any of our top-10 returning guys, and on the women's side we didn't run any of our top-five returners. Freshman Brianna McLeod, though, won her first college cross-country race, and Travis Boyd, a redshirt freshman walk-on kid, won his first cross-country race as well. We won both meets and it is a nice place to start. It gives our kids a chance to get the year kicked-off well. I always challenge the kids that even though we are holding kids out of competition in that early race, the goal doesn't change. We walked away with some pleasant surprises. Some kids did their homework this summer and I am very excited about what the year has in store for us.'

GH: Is there anyone that has stepped up that should really shine this season?
Metcalf: 'After our first race, Travis Boyd. We redshirted him last season and he will be a factor. This year he will be running in our top-seven. Andrew Robinson was second in the race and he ran a minute-and-a-half faster than he did a year ago. He has been making some big improvements on the track. Those two, specifically, from our first meet, and then throw the rest of the team in there and we'll see. Training camp went pretty well; the guys that are supposed to be fit are pretty fit. On the women's side we have really good group of freshmen. Brianna McLeod won the race, and Kira Harrison, a freshman from Meridian High School up near Bellingham ran in our top-five in the first cross-country race of her career, at any level. Dallon Williams, a freshman from Turlock, Calif., went out and ran fantastic, as did Laura Halverson, who we redshirted last spring. It is good to see her healthy again. I have been very, very pleased with our group to this point.'

GH: How is the young athletes on your women's side adjusting to collegiate cross-country?
Metcalf: 'Our freshman group is really talented. Brianna McLeod, from Oklahoma, is as good as anyone coming out of high school, and Dallon Williams, from California, was sixth in the state of California in her state cross-country meet. I watch her run and her potential, her upswing, is fantastic. We have a good group of young gals. Marie Foushee was a state champ in Washington, and Amy Lia is a very talented young lady, as is Kira Harrison. That's a talented group of young ladies. It will be fun to watch those ladies when it really gets down to it.'

GH: Who is providing the leadership for those young girls?
Metcalf: 'We don't have any seniors, but our leaders on our team, our team captains and our older kids did a really good job of taking care of them. I think it has helped with their transition and with our team. Every year, things change. I like the makeup of our team right now. If the first two weeks are any indicator of what is going to happen this year, it will be an exciting year.'

GH: What is your outlook for the Sundodger Invitational at Lincoln Park in West Seattle on Sept. 27?
Metcalf: 'I look at the Sundodger as a point where it is our first real test. Our goal is to go win a cross-country meet. We have run there a number of years on the exact-same course, so we can compare with what we have done previously. We had the Pac-10 Championships there a couple of years ago, so we can see how our team stacks up to the best teams in our conference. Our whole track team will be there. It is place where we get to see all of our kids at the same place at the same time. It is the real starting point for the whole school year for our kids.'

GH: Where do you see the team finishing the season?
Metcalf: 'That is a tough question. On the men's side, especially, only two guys from the top-30 in last year's Pac-10 meet graduated. Last year the conference was really tough. This year will be a very competitive year in the Pac-10. On the men's side last year we were fourth. Arizona is going to be vastly improved from where they were a year ago. On a great day we have goals of being in the top-two or three, but we could very easily be fifth or sixth. That is why we have eight weeks until the Pac-10 Championships. In the end, the goal for both teams is to qualify for the NCAA Championships, but just getting out of the West region, which is true in all of our sports, should make things very competitive. If we get a chance to go to the NCAA Championships, then we have chance at being a top-20 team.'The women's side of this is that we have been to the NCAA Championships six years in a row. This group has different players every year, but they find a way to get it done. They know how to get to the show and be competitive. On paper, we've been hit hard by graduation, in talent, leadership and personality. For this group to come in and be where it is now, I am really excited.'

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