No. 1 Washington Holds on for Second-Straight Pac-10 Women's Cross Country Championship
Oct. 30, 2009
LONG BEACH, Calif. - In an exciting race that came down to the wire, the No. 1-ranked Huskies held on to win the Pac-10 Women's Cross Country Championship for the second-straight year, despite having top runner Kendra Schaaf, who led for majority of the race, fall back into the pack with 1,000 meters left, leaving open the individual championship for Oregon's Nicole Blood, who took full advantage of the opportunity, crossing the finish line first with a time of 19:41.71.
Blood, a senior from Saratoga Springs, N.Y., ran the race just 17 seconds shy of the Pac-10 record.
'I have had a rocky couple of years and I am proud of this team, and I thank them for keeping my confidence up,' said Blood. 'This win will really carry me a long way as we move towards NCAA's. The course was very fast and with the big crowd, I really felt inspired.'
Behind Blood was Washington's Schaaf, who won the Championship last season. Schaaf placed second with a time of 19:46.17. Freshman phenom Jordan Hasay of Oregon rounded out the top three with a time of 19:48.97.
The Huskies swept the fourth and fifth positions, with junior Mel Lawrence (19:49.02) and sophomore Christine Babcock (19:58.82), respectively. Finishing sixth was California's Deborah Maier (20.00.10), in seventh was Arizona State's Kari Hardt (20.07.72). Battling illness, Katie Follett (20.08.04) of Washington was eighth, Oregon's Alex Kosinski (20.09.86) finished ninth and rounding out the top 10 was Alexandra Gits (20:13.16) of Stanford.
The team championship was competitive, coming down to the finish line, where No. 1 Washington and No. 8 Oregon battled for positions down the stretch. The Huskies were able to hold off the surging Ducks, finishing with 35 points to earn their second-straight Pac-10 Championship crown. Oregon finished in a close second with 42 points. Arizona State took third (110) and No. 12-ranked Stanford came in fourth (111). California finished fifth (128), Arizona was sixth (130), UCLA took seventh (207), Oregon State finished in eighth (239), USC in ninth (250) and Washington State (251) wrapped the field up in 10th.
Schaaf set the pace from the gun, which has become a trademark of hers, stretching out a big lead on the field and holding it for much of the race. A pack formed behind Schaaf, which included her teammates Lawrence and Babcock. Hasay and Blood of Oregon joined that pack. With one loop to go on the course, Blood and Hasay pushed past Lawrence and Babcock, and Blood began to reel in Schaaf with 1,000 meters left and eventually taking over the lead. Schaaf dropped back into the pack after being passed by Blood but recovered to regain the second position, crossing the finish line about five seconds after the winner. Hasay would finish third and Oregon had a chance to upset the Huskies. However, Lawrence and Babcock would take scoring positions four and five.
'The race was definitely high drama,' said Washington Head Coach Greg Metcalfe. 'In the last 60 seconds, the runners really rallied. Follett caught three in the last 200 meters. Kendra [Schaaf] really battled back to get second place. For Mel [Lawrence], it was her first race in a month and she performed well. This was a challenge we really needed as a team. This test provides a valuable lesson for the squad going forward into NCAAs. Needless to say we are excited to win two Pac-10 Championships in a row.'
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