Five Questions with Kelly Strong

Nov. 1, 2007

1. What does the No. 7 ranking mean to the team at this point?

The rankings at this point in the season mean more than at the beginning of the season. What this means now, is that we are getting closer. It shows that we have beat good teams, and also that we are closing in on the teams in front of us. Our women have gotten better every day at practice and with that, each of our races has been better than the previous one. We started out ranked 24th pre-season with our end goal being a top 10 team. From there we moved to 19th, then to 12th, then to 9th, and now to 7th. We don't pay attention to rankings too much but right now I think it gives them a little more incentive to finish each race hard. In our last meet, our women tied #5 ranked ASU, and were a mere 4 points from #2 ranked Oregon! The next couple of weeks will be very exciting for this group.

2. What have been the biggest factors to the team's success thus far?

The biggest factor in our success was returning Anita Campbell, Katie Follett, Amanda Miller, Trisha Rasmussen and Dani Schuster: These women returned from a team that was not invited to the National Championships last year. It was hard for them to not finish their season at Nationals, but these women used it as incentive to not make that happen again. They have had good solid training since last year and are poised to get the National Championships and do well on November 19th.

3. Who have been the most pleasant surprises among the women?

I wouldn't say there are 'surprises', because we anticipated what is happening...this was in the making, it just took time. We expected to do well and we certainly have more to accomplish. Katie Follett has emerged as one of the top runners in the conference, but we knew she had the potential. We added freshman, Mel Lawrence, but we knew she would impact right away. There are many other athletes on our team that have made significant progress in the past year, but that is the get better every year and to contribute to our team on race day. We have a very deep team, which made choosing ten athletes for the Pac 10 Championships difficult. There were several women watching from the sidelines that day, ones who definitely could have competed for us and done well. It is a good situation to be in and everyone is working hard and getting better.

4. What is the leadership dynamic like among the group?

We have several leaders on our group, but I would say that Anita Campbell and Trisha Rasmussen are our main leaders. Anita leads at the front of every competition and work out. She has also been to Nationals every year and has a great sense of what it takes to be successful. Trisha, a senior, is very consistent and has been in our top-7 every year. She leads in a different way, but definitely makes our group better just by her presence at practice and at meets.

5. How good can this team be on November 19?

We will see what happens, but we are certainly moving in the right direction. We are healthy and ready for the challenge that NCAA's brings. Our team is strong right now, has a lot of confidence and are very eager for the next step in their journey. Nothing has changed since our very first day of practice. These ladies came in with a tremendous amount of dedication and pride for themselves, each other, and their University. They are proud to wear the purple W out on the cross country course and that is what it is all about; representing UW to the best of their abilities. They are a very special group and I can't wait to see what is in store for them!

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