Huskies Step To Starting Line For Sundodger Invite
Sept. 16, 2008
ON THE COURSE: The Washington men's and women's cross country teams open the 2008 season this Saturday in West Seattle as they host the Sundodger Invitational at Lincoln Park. The Sundodger is UW's only official home meet and one of the few chances to catch the Dawgs in action live in Seattle. Both the men and women will be looking to defend their team titles against mainly northwest colleges and club competition, including teams from Washington State, Oregon State, Idaho, Gonzaga, and Seattle Pacific. The meet begins with men's and women's Open races, starting with the women at 9 a.m. The Huskies will be entered in the Invitational races against the other Division-I competition, with the women slated for 10:25 and the men for 11 a.m.
9:00 am Women's 6000m Open Race
9:40 am Men's 8000m Open Race
10:25 am Women's 6000m Invitational Race
11:00 am Men's 8000m Invitational Race
HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: The first national rankings were released today by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) and the Husky women broke new ground with an all-time best No. 3 ranking. The Huskies trail only top-ranked Oregon and No. 2 Florida State, and received one of the 12 first place votes. Directly behind Washington are three-time defending champion Stanford at No. 4 and Arizona State at No. 5, giving the Pac-10 four of the top-five preseason teams. The Washington men begin the season unranked, and are slotted ninth among the West Region teams.
NEWCOMERS YOUNG AND SLIGHTLY OLDER: The Huskies welcome not only a bevy of gifted freshmen to the squad, but also several transfer student-athletes who will make their UW debuts and figure to make immediate impressions. Heading the new veterans is junior Jake Schmitt (California) who was UW's top unattached runner in 2007, and then starred on the track in the winter and spring, culminating with an NCAA Outdoor Championships appearance in the 10,000-meters. Sophomores Kenna Patrick (UPS) and Bailey Schutte (UCLA) will also make their first cross country runs after strong track seasons. Both ran at the Pac-10 Championships on the track this past spring, and Schutte was a Pac-10 XC competitor with the Bruins as a freshman. Another new addition to the women's unit is Michelle Turner, who wrapped a phenomenal collegiate track career in the spring and has decided to use her final year of eligibility to focus on cross country for the first time in her career. Turner, an All-American in the mile run and West Regional 1500m Champion, could be a major X-factor and brings tons of big meet experience.
Making their collegiate debuts will be several members of UW's outstanding freshman class. The women boast two of the elite recruits in the nation in Christine Babcock (Irvine, Calif.) and Kendra Schaaf (Lumsden, Saskatchewan). Babcock broke national high school records in the 1500m and 1600m that had stood for over 20 years, won her third-straight California 1600m state title, and competed at the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 1500-meters. Schaaf was the Canadian junior national cross country champion, and placed 20th at the Junior World Cross Country Championships. They lead a talented group that includes 2007 Washington state XC runner-up Kayla Evans (Tacoma, Wash.), Oregon state 3000m champ Adrienne McGuirk (Lake Oswego, Ore.), and prep All-American Allison Linnell (Colts Neck, N.J.). The men welcome four freshmen, including local prep stars Joey Bywater (Lake Stevens, Wash.) and Rob Webster Jr. (Puyallup, Wash.). Bywater was the state runner-up in cross country in 2006 and Webster finished second as well in 2007.
THE SCHEDULE: Washington's 2008 schedule closely resembles its slate from one year ago, with the team rounding into shape through the first three meets in order to peak when the postseason begins in November. The main difference this year is that Washington will be making its first foray to the University of Auburn in Alabama, where the Huskies will run in the Tiger Invitational on Oct. 4. The Pac-10 Championships are held Oct. 31 in Springfield, Ore. followed two weeks later by NCAA West Regionals in Palo Alto, Calif. on Nov. 15. Everything builds to the NCAA Championships, held Nov. 24 in its recent home of Terre Haute, Indiana. The Huskies will also have a second home meet, of sorts, as Northwest University hosts the Cascade Conference Preview at Lincoln Park on the same day as Pre-Nationals (Oct. 18).
LOOKING BACK AT TRACK: The Husky harriers made major contributions to antoher record-breaking track season for Washington last winter and spring. Katie Follett, Amanda Miller, and Michelle Turner were three of the nation's elite mid-distance runners on the women's side, starting with the NCAA Indoor Championships, where all three made the final of the mile run, and all earned All-America honors with Miller leading the way in fifth-place. Outdoors, Follett became UW's first Pac-10 Champion in a running event since 2001, as she outkicked Oregon's Nicole Blood and Stanford's Lauren Centrowitz to win the 1500-meters. Shortly thereafter, Turner won the West Region 1500m title in a time of 4:14.94, a nine-second personal best. At NCAA's, it was Miller's turn to lead the group again, as she made the 1500m final and earned her fourth career All-America award. The trio then competed at the U.S. Olympic Trials to end their seasons, with Follett and Turner advancing to the semifinals. Other noteworthy performances on the women's side came from Lauren Saylor, who made NCAA Regionals in the 5000-meters and scored for UW at Pac-10's in the 10K. Mo Huber also made Regionals in the steeple, and Kailey Campbell reached the final of the 1500m at Pac-10's. Andrea Brown also had a strong indoor season, running an NCAA Provisional mile time and competing on UW's DMR at NCAA Indoors. The men were highlighted by Jake Schmitt, running attached for the first time as a Husky after redshirting the cross country season. Schmitt ran under 29-minutes in the 10000-meters, just the third Husky ever to do so, and finished 21st in the 10K at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. He also scored in both the 3K and 5K at the MPSF Championships. Austin Abbott turned in another phenomenal season outdoors in the 800-meters, hitting his stride right as postseason rolled around to finish 4th at Pac-10's and West Regionals, and then 7th at the NCAA Championships to earn his fifth All-America honor.
2007 SEASON REVIEW: Last season the Husky women's team rose to the ranks of the nation's elite with an all-time best eighth-place NCAA finish despite featuring just one senior in their top-seven. Anita Campbell and Katie Follett led the Huskies during the year and at nationals, finishing side-by-side at NCAA's in 20th- and 19th-place, respectively, and each earning All-America awards. It marked the first time in history that UW had two All-Americans in the same season. The Huskies tied for third with Arizona State in the loaded Pac-10, placing four runners in the top-15 including Campbell, Follett, freshman Mel Lawrence, and junior Amanda Miller. Other milestones included the team's record-breaking fourth-place finish at Pre-Nationals, and Campbell's fourth-place individual finish at West Regionals, the best by a Husky in 12 years. On the men's side, the Huskies missed the NCAA's for the first time since 2004 due mostly to youth and injuries to top runners like Jeremy Mineau and Jon Harding. Mineau redshirted and Harding had a breakthrough season slowed in the end. Still, Harding was one of the season's great stories, starting with his record-setting Sundodger win in a course record 23:36. He also led the Huskies with a 20th-place Pac-10 finish. Max O'Donoghue-McDonald had an exceptional freshman season, running in the top-five at every meet. Sophomore Kelly Spady was perhaps UW's most consistent runner, and led the team at West Regionals. Coming on strong at season's end was junior Caleb Knox, who placed in UW's top five at the two postseason meets after only cracking the top-seven once before in his career. One sign of things to come was the success of Jake Schmitt who ran unattached in order to redshirt after transferring from California. Plugging Schmitt and Mineau into the top of this year's lineup should do wonders for the Husky men.
2007 SUNDODGER RECAP: The Huskies opened the 2007 season in dominating last year at Lincoln Park. Both men's and women's teams captured the team titles over a field that included the likes of Washington State, UC Davis, Eastern Washington, Idaho, Santa Clara, and San Francisco. Both the men and women placed four runners in the top-10. Jon Harding and Anita Campbell claimed the individual titles for the Huskies, both doing so in record time. Campbell's 20:20 run over the 6,000m course was the fastest ever run by a Husky, while Harding's 23:36 time over 8,000m was a Husky record, a Sundodger record, and a Lincoln Park course record all wrapped up in one. Harding pulled it off despite losing a shoe midway through the race, forcing him to stop and retrieve his wayward footwear. Following Harding was Jake Schmitt, running unattached, in 4th place, and Kelly Spady in 5th. Max O'Donoghue-McDonald was 6th overall and Carl Moe placed 8th. The women swept the top three spots, with Katie Follett and Mel Lawrence finishing second and third, respectively, behind Campbell.
MEET THE COACHES: Former Husky All-American Greg Metcalf is in his seventh year as Washington's head coach of track and field and cross-country, and his 12th year overall at the University. Metcalf's work with the men's and women's cross country teams have developed each into national contenders in recent years, capped off by historic finishes for each team over the past two seasons. The women's cross country squad has now reached the NCAA Championships in nine of Metcalf's 11 seasons, including six top-20 finishes. The UW men, meanwhile, have competed for national titles three times in the past five years, including a 12th-place national finish in 2006. In all, Metcalf's distance runners have earned three NCAA track titles, eight Pac-10 titles, 38 All-America awards, 109 NCAA Championships bids and 21 school records in his 11 years with the program. A 1993 UW graduate, Metcalf was a two-time All-American in the steeplechase. Metcalf is joined on the coaching staff by five-time All-American Kelly (MacDonald) Strong, a three-time Pac-10 champion at Arizona State now in her seventh year at Washington, and third-year assistant Jimmy Bean, an All-Midwest Region performer at Division-III Greenville (Ill.) University.