Q & A With Katie Follett

Nov. 16, 2007

After a strong start to her freshman season in 2006, Katie Follett slowed down the stretch, and the Husky women's cross country team fell short of the NCAA's. This year it has been a different Husky squad, and a much different and vastly improved Katie Follett. The sophomore has consistently been UW's No. 2 runner all season, helping the Huskies earn a top-10 ranking for the first time since 2000, and qualify for the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2004. The Fort Collins, Colo. native made huge leaps at the Pac-10 Championships and NCAA West Regionals from her freshman year, going from 79th to 9th at the Pac-10's, and 82nd to 7th at Regionals, earning second team All-Pac-10 and All-West Region honors. Follett took time before practice on a damp Seattle afternoon to talk with GoHuskies.com about Monday's NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind. and what the eighth-ranked Huskies can achieve.

GoHuskies.com: Does it bother you running in weather like this or are you used to it by now?
Katie Follett:
'Not really. It bothers me when it's gray for a long time, but runningin it is all right.'

GH: What's the weather supposed to be like in Indiana this weekend?
'I think it's supposed to be cold. Like, right to the bone. We'repretty much planning on bringing every single article of clothing weown, and we'll just walk up to the course as big marshmallows on themorning of the race.'

GH: Well, what is the mood like on the team now knowing you've reached the goal you've had since the end of last season?
'Obviously we're all really excited to go to Nationals. This ispersonally the first time I will have ever been to a national meet andjust to be able to compete at that high of a level, and run with thebest girls in the nation is a feeling that nothing can compare with.It's something you work towards all season, all your hard workouts,all the little things that you do throughout the season to makeyourself better, all accumulates in this one event. It's just going tobe a really exciting time.'

GH: What did Coach Metcalf say to the team at the start of the season about what it could achieve?
'Coach Metcalf really had a lot of belief in our team all year. Hewanted us to have the attitude at practice that we are a top-10 team andwe can perform at that level. He's really given us the tools that weneeded to get there and the belief. He's been there for us since thebeginning of the season telling us this is what we can do, so we'vejust been working towards that goal and everything has just cometogether.'

GH: What is the course like in Terre Haute? How does it compare with most courses?
'The course is actually made for cross country, so it's built for alot of girls and a lot of bodies. It's mostly grass footing, sodepending on what the weather's like that's going to factor in. Incross country you always have to be ready for anything, ready forsoggy ground, hard ground, long grass, short grass. There's going tobe a couple little rolling hills in it. It's a really good course, andwhen we went there for Pre-Nats the girls for the most part performedreally well.'

GH: Does the fact that the team ran so well on the course at Pre-Nationals help the confidence level?
'I think that having had such a good performance at Pre-Nats is a goodconfidence builder for the team because we know what we can do and weknow we can stack up against the best teams in the country. So whenwe're there on the line we're going to know we've been here, we ranreally well, and we can do it again. Of course at Nationals, nothingis handed to you. Every spot counts, every person on our team is goingto have to work really hard, but we know that we can do it.'

GH: In the last couple years, the team missed out on NCAA's because they didn't get enough regular season wins, but this year the team has been strong from start to finish.
'The team has been really consistent this year. We came in and startedoff really well with the win at Sundodger, then we had a really goodday at Dellinger, and every race since then we've been building alittle bit more confidence. Everyone has been working together. Wehaven't had any injuries, and not losing anyone has really helped us alot.'

GH: This season has been a major breakout year for you. You went from 79th to 9th at the Pac-10's, and 82nd to 7th at Regionals. One year ago did you have any idea you'd be running so well this season?
'Every year of running is an opportunity to learn about yourself andabout your body and about competing. Last year was a huge learningcurve for me, coming right from high school and being thrown into allthese big-time races at a big-time university, running more than I'dever ran, and running with girls that are so talented, so last year Iwas just learning a lot. I was learning a lot about racing, about mybody. At the end of the season I was pretty anemic, and I was learninghow I could do things to prevent that this year, like taking liquidiron. Also, my body just gets used to the longer season and the harderwork and becomes more adapted to what we're doing. I just feel reallyblessed this year to be running so well and to have such an awesometeam, and that all of us are getting the opportunity to go toNationals and compete, like I said earlier, with the best runners inthe nation.'

GH: Can you pinpoint anything that led to you taking such a big step? What was your summer training like?
'I was able to put in a lot more miles this summer than I have inprevious summers. Last summer I was coming off an injury out of highschool, so I was building up my mileage really slowly. Also I wasgoing to a higher mileage than I'd ever been at before so I was alittle bit more cautious. That's one thing our coaches are really goodat, is building each year. So this summer I was able to run a lot moremiles than I had been, and continuing to do the little things likepaying attention to nutrition and sleep and becoming more and moreconfident in all the work. Also just being really confident in thereasons why you run in the first place, and your motivations for whyyou're out here doing this.'

GH: What are some of those motivations for you?
'I love being surrounded by this team of girls who are all working sohard. I also feel really like my running is a gift from God that I canuse. He gave me this thing I can enjoy and that I can pour out as anoffering for him. It's just a really great opportunity.'

GH: What have been the team's biggest strengths this season?
'Just being able to progress and stay injury-free and become more fit.We are a young team, but we have people like Anita Campbell, who hasso much racing experience and has a lot to tell us. And I'm comingback, this is my second year. Trisha (Rasmussen), this is her last year, and Dani (Schuster)is another older girl who has made an impact. Then we have a couple ofgirls, Mel (Lawrence) and Lauren (Saylor), who are younger and learning a lot. But we alsothis year have girls with more experience and that's helpful.Especially going into Nationals, having Anita who's been there andknows how it works. She's always been involved in a lot of big races.Anita is a really good leader for our team this year. Since she's beenthere, she helps us before every race, reminding us that nothing'sgoing to be handed to us, that we're going to have to work for it, andwe are good enough to go out there and compete with the big girls.Just having Anita to train with has been huge for me, because I runwith her and she's consistently telling me, 'Hey, Katie you can bewith me and you can be with these big girls, they're not any differentthan us. They're doing all the same things we are.' Just having oneperson on the team like that who can instill that belief is sohelpful. I'm really glad for a person like Anita on our team.'

GH: The all-time best finish for the program is 9th, is that something that's in the minds of the team?
'Right now, all the girls have a lot of confidence in every singlegirl and what we're capable of doing, and how close we are. Going in,we're ranked No. 8, but we all know if we go out there and put out aneffort, that amazing things can happen and are going to happen.'

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