Top-Ranked Huskies Prepare For Pre-National Test

Oct. 15, 2008

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ON THE COURSE: The biggest challenge to date awaits the Washington men's and women's cross country teams as they converge on Terre Haute, Indiana along with dozens of highly-ranked and highly-regarded opponents for the Pre-National Meet this Saturday, Oct. 18. The No. 1 ranked Husky women's team will be looking to fend off several Top-10 schools and confirm their top seed, while the men's team could make a statement in a deep field that features 12 of the top 30 teams according to the latest USTFCCCA Rankings.

The meet is run over the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course, the same course that will host the NCAA Championships just over one month later, on Nov. 24. Indiana State hosts the meet and earliest results will be posted to

With over 80 teams entering the meet, the field is split into two races, and seeded evenly based on the USTFCCCA rankings and taking some considerations as to separating conference teams. Thus, Pre-Nationals features a White Race and Blue Race for both the men and the women. The Husky women are in the Blue Race, while the men are in the White Race.

Washington's women, who hold the No. 1 ranking for the second-straight week, will be tested by 11 teams ranked in the Top-30, led by No. 4 Minnesota, No. 6 Stanford, No. 9 Michigan State. Also running with the Dawgs will be Villanova (No. 13), Florida (15), Wisconsin (16), North Carolina State (18), Providence (21), Rice (24), BYU (26), and New Mexico (27). This will be the first of what will likely be four-straight meetings between UW and Stanford, the three-time defending NCAA Champions. The Huskies and Cardinal will meet next at the Pac-10 Championships, followed by NCAA West Regionals, and potentially the NCAA Championships back in Terre Haute.

Leading the Huskies is freshman Kendra Schaaf, winner of her first two college races by a combined 41 seconds. She will face a field loaded with NCAA All-Americans and will get to gauge where she ranks with the nation's best at this early stage in her career. Freshman Christine Babcock and sophomore Mel Lawrence, the second and third-place finishers at the recent Tiger Invite, will also look for breakout showings against an elite field.

The Husky men's team is one of 40 schools competing in the Blue Race, with 12 of those teams appearing in the Top-30. Currently receiving votes but residing outside the Top-30, Washington has an opportunity to gain respect as well as wins over potential NCAA Championship teams that factor into NCAA at-large bids. The Blue Race features third-ranked Colorado and seventh-ranked Iona, as well as three ranked Pac-10 teams in No. 10 Stanford, No. 23 UCLA, and No. 25 California, therefore a strong showing at Pre-Nats could give the Huskies a boost going into the conference meet at the end of the month.

Last year, Anita Campbell finished 12th in 20:33 to lead the Huskies to a program-best 4th-place finish in the White Race. Katie Follett was 36th overall, Lawrence was 45th, and Lauren Saylor placed 129th. The men were 16th, led by Jon Harding who was 52nd in 24:12. Harding is the only Husky from last year's Pre-Nationals group making the trip again this season, but the return of senior Jeremy Mineau and addition of transfer Jake Schmitt has made the men's group much more formidable.

11:00 am Women's 6000m Blue Race (UW entered)
11:35 am Women's 6000m White Race
12:10 pm Men's 8000m Blue Race
12:50 pm Men's 8000m White Race (UW entered)

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!: Those Huskies not traveling to Terre Haute will be out in West Seattle running on UW's home course, but as a visiting team. Washington will send several runners to compete in the Cascade Conference Preview Meet hosted by Northwest University at Lincoln Park, the site of the Huskies' annual Sundodger Invitational. The meet begins at 10:30 a.m. with the women's 5000-meter run, followed by the men's 8000-meter race at 11:15 a.m.

HUSKIES MAINTAIN TOP SPOT NATIONALLY: The Husky women's team maintained its historic number one ranking for the second-straight week, with little shake up to the USTFCCCA Cross Country Rankings this week following an off-week for most teams. Washington received nine first place votes, with second-place Oregon garnering the remaining three. The Huskies amassed 357 points, just ahead of Oregon's 350. Last week marked Washington's first No. 1 ranking in program history, as the team leap-frogged the Ducks following its win at the Tiger Invitational. The Huskies began the season ranked third. Upon reaching the top spot in the rankings, 12th-year head coach Greg Metcalf stated, 'Achieving the number one ranking is a great statement on where our program has come and it's a testament to the progress our student-athletes have made, but certainly it is not the ultimate goal. Right now the ranking doesn't mean that much. Ultimately all that matters is what happens on November 24th in Terre Haute, Indiana (at the NCAA Championships).' In this week's poll, the Pac-10 Conference boasts four of the top-eight women's teams, with No. 6 Stanford and No. 8 Arizona State following UW and UO. Women's cross country becomes the seventh intercollegiate sport at the University of Washington to achieve a No. 1 ranking. The previous six were men's crew, women's crew, football, men's soccer, softball, and volleyball. In the men's rankings, the Huskies are receiving votes but sit outside the Top-30 at 37th. The men are 7th in the West Region rankings. Oregon continues to lead the men's poll.

EXPECTED TO RUN: Following is a list of those Huskies expected to travel and compete in Saturday's Pre-National Meet in Terre Haute. Only seven entrants are allowed per team. Lineups may change.

Name Year Hometown (High School)
Christine Babcock Fr. Irvine, Calif. (Woodbridge)
Anita Campbell Sr. Vancouver, B.C. (Aldergrove)
Kailey Campbell So. Seattle, Wash. (Ballard)
Katie Follett Jr. Fort Collins, Colo. (Fort Collins)
Mel Lawrence So. Reno, Nev. (Reno)
Lauren Saylor So. Clovis, Calif. (Buchanan)
Kendra Schaaf Fr. Craven, Saskatchewan (Lumsden)

Name Year Hometown (High School)
Chris Ahl Jr. Seattle, Wash. (Bishop Blanchet)
Alec Bromka Jr. Portland, Ore. (Caitlin Gable)
Jon Harding Sr. Issaquah, Wash. (Issaquah)
Jeremy Mineau Sr. Menlo Park, Calif. (Menlo Atherton)
Jake Schmitt Jr. Kentfield, Calif. (Redwood/California)
Jordan Swarthout Jr. Olympia, Wash. (Capital)
Colton Tully-Doyle Jr. San Diego, Calif. (Rancho Bernardo/UCSB)

HUSKIES TAKE TIGER INVITE BY THE TAIL: Another race, another win for UW freshman Kendra Schaaf, who flew to the win at the Tiger Invitational, hosted by Auburn University on Oct. 4. Schaaf led a UW parade across the finish line as the then-second-ranked Husky women had seven of the top nine finishers to win by a wide margin. The Washington men's team was led by senior Jeremy Mineau, who finished fifth overall. The Huskies placed second to 21st-ranked Auburn, also getting Top-10 finishes from Jon Harding and Jake Schmitt. But it was Schaaf who stole the show once again, two weeks after her record-breaking Sundodger victory. The Saskatchewan native covered the 5,000-meter course in just 15-minutes and 46-seconds. That time would have been the second-fastest in Washington history had it been run on the track. Following Schaaf was another exceptional freshman, Christine Babcock of Irvine, Calif., who was making her collegiate debut. Babcock was the second-place finisher in 16:02. Sophomore Mel Lawrence was third in 16:04 before the UW onslaught was momentarily disrupted by the top finishers for Auburn and Iowa. The next four finishers were clad in purple, led by junior All-American Katie Follett, who was sixth in her season debut. Seventh-place went to sophomore Lauren Saylor, and seniors Amanda Miller and All-American Anita Campbell took eighth and ninth, respectively. Kailey Campbell, Kenna Patrick, and Michelle Turner all placed in the Top-25 as well, out of a field of more than 200. The Husky women were first with a near-perfect 19 points (15 being perfection), followed by Oregon State with 98 points, and 27th-ranked Iowa with 99. Georgia was fourth with 138, and Purdue finished fifth with 158. The men's team was buoyed by Harding's first race of the season, as well as the continued successful comeback from Mineau, who redshirted the 2007 season. Mineau covered the 8,000-meter course in 23:10 for fifth, followed by Harding who took eighth in 23:20. Junior Jake Schmitt was right behind Harding, taking ninth-place in 23:22. The Huskies finished second overall with 49 points, trailing only the 31 put up by Auburn. Iowa finished third with 72 points, Clemson was fourth with 155, and Georgia Tech finished fifth in 156.

SCHAAF WINS FIRST RACE IN RECORD FASHION: Freshman phenom Kendra Schaaf wowed the fans at Lincoln Park in West Seattle as she won the Sundodger Invitational in her collegiate debut and became the first woman to break 20-minutes at the course in the process. Schaaf led the third-ranked Husky women to a dominant victory and the Husky men took the team title as well led by Jake Schmitt's third-place effort. Schaaf set the stage for an illustrious career by covering the 6,000-meter course in 19-minutes and-58 seconds, breaking the meet and course record by 12 seconds despite wet and cold conditions. Husky sophomore Mel Lawrence was runner-up, finishing in 20:23 in her first competition of any kind since last year's NCAA Championships. That time was 35 seconds faster than her Sundodger finish one year ago. Sophomore Lauren Saylor was fourth overall in a considerable personal best of 20:41. Another sophomore, Kailey Campbell, took sixth overall, and the Huskies placed seven runners in the top-13, leading to an easy first place finish with 21 total points. UC Davis was second with 67 points, followed by Oregon State with 75, and Washington State with 121. The Husky men defended their team title as well, scoring 41 points to outpace Alaska Anchorage which scored 54, and Eastern Washington with 68. Eastern Washington's Paul Limpf also made history with his win in 23:33, which broke the course record of current Husky senior Jon Harding, set just last year. Schmitt, who last spring qualified for NCAA's on the track in the 10K, led the Huskies in his first official UW cross country outing. Schmitt's time of 23:48 was the seventh-fastest in meet history. Saturday saw the return of senior Jeremy Mineau, who led the Huskies at the NCAA Championships in 2005 and 2006 before redshirting last season. Mineau finished fifth overall in 24:08 in his first race of any kind since the spring of 2007. Next across for the Huskies was junior Chris Ahl, and redshirt freshman Cameron Quackenbush, who placed 12th and 13th, respectively, in 24:30. Five additional Huskies placed in the top-25 including true freshman Joey Bywater who ran unattached and finished 23rd in his first college race.

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 embark on their first cross country seasons after strong track showings. 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.

UW's outstanding freshman class should make an immediate impact this season as well. 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.

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.

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.

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