Oct. 25, 2012
By Kirby Young
SEATTLE - There isn't much that Maddie Meyers didn't win in high school. The freshman runner won the state title for every event she competed in, totaling 15 titles and setting numerous records.
Her talent was displayed at competitions all over the country and even earned her a spot in the World Youth Championships in France, running the steeplechase, in which she holds the American junior record.
Two years ago, Meyers won the prestigious Jim Ryun Dream Mile, finishing better than some of the top runners in the country, including two future teammates. One of those teammates, Katie Flood, smashed UW mile record last year at 4:28.
Meyers was a Seattle Sports Star of the Year nominee last year, after completely dominating the 1A level. Today, Meyers is just part of the Husky pack, and she's learning everything she can while following in the footsteps of the NCAA title-winning Flood and the rest of the Dawgs.
"The road map for how this is supposed to work is right here on this team and Maddie gets to follow it," Head Coach Greg Metcalf said following practice on Tuesday. "I think it is great for her.
Freshmen in the women's sport can frequently make big impacts in their rookie years, look no further than Pac-12 Newcomers of the Year Christine Babcock in 2008 and Flood in 2010. But with six of the seven women returning from last year's NCAA runner-up squad, Meyers came in knowing she wouldn't be expected to be a savior.
"They'll tell me all the things they did freshman year and maybe what I should do differently than what they did," Meyers said. "It's good to hear all their stories and learn from them about the whole college experience."
This seemingly ideal situation was certainly not a given.
Born and raised in Seattle, Meyers attended Northwest School in West Seattle, a small, private 1-A institution. She had her choice of cross country programs to choose from including Oregon and Georgetown. Washington was not very high on that list.
"I think she has had a perfect fall so far," Metcalf said. "She is a superstar, but she has walked in humble and patient."
"Before my visit I thought, `Oh, Washington. I'm never going to end up there, its just so close,'" Meyers explained about her tough decision. "I loved the coaches and I loved the team. So I decided to take a visit.
Then, when I was here it just felt like it would be a perfect home. Everything clicked."
The Huskies are sure glad she changed her mind as she has made an immediate impact on the team. The true freshman made her UW debut September 15th at the Sundodger Invitation, placing 11th in the 6,000-meter event with a time of 21:31. Meyers has been one of the top-seven Huskies in every race so far this season, and will be the lone Husky true frosh, male or female, traveling to Santa Clarita, Calif. for Saturday's Pac-12 Championships.
"I think she has had a perfect fall so far. She has handled everything," Metcalf said. "She is a superstar, but she has walked in humble and patient. She has done a really nice job so far."
With a veteran squad leading the way, Metcalf added, "I look at racing for her as just gravy. It's just something extra to add to the team."
Meyers and the Husky team are coming off a fourth-place finish at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational. The race contained the largest field in the NCAA this season. There were 336 women competing.
To put that in another way, that is the same number of students that go to Northwest School.
"I probably didn't see the ground for the first mile. There were just so many girls. Coming in the finish was insane," Meyers said. "Where I was at, you would pass one girl and there would be four going right past you. It's a little crazy, but it was fun."
The Huskies will take their No. 6 ranking to the Pac-12 Championships where the field will be much smaller than Wisconsin but just as tough, as the Pac-12 has four of the top six teams in the country.
"I'm excited," Meyers said, "because we get to race with the whole team. We'll have ten girls there and we haven't had that yet."
Meyers will be one of those competitors, marking her first championship competition as a college athlete. Just another step for what is a promising young career.