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Golden Opportunities For Huskies Start Friday

Jan 28, 2021

UW Indoor Preview
Friday-Saturday, January 29-30
Dempsey Indoor

Event Schedule | Heat Sheets | Live Stream on Runnerspace ($) | Live Results

Silver State Collegiate Challenge
Monday, February 1
North Las Vegas, Nevada | Craig Ranch Regional Park

SEATTLE – Perhaps no sport had a more frustrating finish to the 2020 pandemic-shortened seasons than track and field. The indoor season had arrived at the NCAA Championships in New Mexico, with the athletes on hand and practicing at the facility. One day before the championship meet was set to begin, the sports world halted and that was that, leaving the 13 Husky qualifiers just hours short of national title dreams.
Waiting for the next chance has been a challenge, but the wait is finally over as this weekend the Dempsey will host the first of three indoor meets, and this coming Monday the Huskies will run their first cross country race since November of 2019.
Friday and Saturday the Huskies will compete in the UW Indoor Preview alongside Washington State and the BYU women's team. Friday's session (starting at 2 p.m.) will be primarily field events, with a men's 800-meters and a women's DMR to end the night. Saturday starts at 11 a.m. with all running events. Both days will be streamed on
Monday, the Huskies will open up cross country at the Silver State Collegiate Challenge in North Las Vegas at Craig Ranch Regional Park. The field is scheduled to include the likes of Air Force, Boise State, BYU, Gonzaga, New Mexico, Notre Dame, Portland, San Francisco, Stanford, Utah, and Weber State.
After such a long wait, every chance for the Huskies to compete is one to be embraced and savored, according to Maurica and Andy Powell, the Director and Head Coach of the UW program, respectively.
"I think we're super thankful for the opportunities," Andy Powell says. "Sometimes maybe we would plan to open up later, whereas now I think our attitude is any time there's any opportunity we want to take advantage of it. But I think our team did a team did a really good job of having a meaningful fall, which is paying off right now. I'm just thankful that we had a really consistent, good summer and fall and that's because our student-athletes, they decided to come back and they had to make good choices."

Head Coach Andy Powell with Parker Kennedy and Ollie Thorner at the Huskies' 2021 intrasquad meet earlier this month.

The women's team has not registered a positive Covid case; a testament, says Maurica Powell, of how much each athlete valued their teammates.
"It meant so much to these kids to stay training and to stay out of quarantine that they really sacrificed normal behaviors like hanging out with people outside of our team, they're just not doing it. It was a full commitment to each other and our program moving forward together," Maurica Powell says.
The coaches, staff and administration looked to honor that commitment by doing everything possible to make these Dempsey meets a reality. Also, Washington was the institution that stepped up to host the Pac-12 Cross Country Championships, which will be held on March 5 at Chambers Bay in the south Puget Sound.
"Our administrators just rolled up their sleeves and worked hard to try to host indoor meets and cross country meets," says Andy Powell. "It's a lot of planning and it just takes a lot of time. Luckily we had a feeling this was the way things were going to go in the fall, so we've been planning for a while."
Balancing two seasons at the same time is an unprecedented challenge and how schools choose to approach it will be interesting for fans of the sport to observe. But the Powells are prepared to give their distance runners the chance at both, as long as its in the best interest of each athlete.
"What's the best experience for the athlete?" is the ultimate question, says Andy Powell. "Our whole staff that's how we approach it. And when we figure that out for the distance runners then it's how do we plug them into the team to have a good cross country team and a good indoor track team."
The men may have less crossover between indoor track and cross country compared to the women, as the 10k distance at XC nationals makes it tough for a runner who may train for the mile or 3,000m indoors. The women, running a 6k at XC nationals, could potentially see more athletes racing both championships within mere days of each other.
Attempting to post individual indoor track qualifying times while putting together a cross country team that qualifies its way to nationals is "going to mean that we go down a couple different roads simultaneously and then we all circle back together in March," says Maurica Powell.
"We're essentially splitting our distance squad on a lot of these weekends. For example, Allie Schadler's going to run track this weekend, so someone else is going to have to step up in her absence at the cross country race, and I can think of about five people who can do it, so that will be fun watching kids step into new roles.
"With the distance kids for who we have to choose cross country or track, the driving force is what's in the best interest of the athlete. Because they've been so patient, and they've trained so hard for so long, whatever they want to run is what they're going to run. We're going to serve each student-athlete."

Multi-eventers Lyndsey Lopes (left) and Ida Eikeng (right) have waited a year longer now to finally make their official Husky debuts.

Heading into the 2020 NCAA Indoor Championships, the Husky women's team was ranked in the top-10 and had a chance at a record-breaking team finish. The women's cross country team was also preseason No. 8 nationally. Meanwhile, the men were ranked 18th in the cross country preseason poll, and Head Coach Andy Powell had hoped that the Dawgs would have a big showing at the 2020 Pac-12 Track Championships.
"We've kept a lot of our same seniors and then added a good recruiting class, so I think a lot of those goals of having a good group qualify for nationals and taking a run at doing something big at the Pac-12 meet is something we're all still geared towards," says Andy Powell on the men's squad.
Maurica Powell emphasizes the process. "Our track team hasn't competed since last February. For our throwers, jumpers, vaulters, sprinters, it's just about getting in a competitive situation again and remembering what it's like to focus on attitude and effort in a more stressful scenario."
If the Huskies attack the meets with the same focus they brought during their long offseason, they will finally get some results to show for it, says Maurica Powell.
"The goal is to be the best versions of ourselves at the championships."