May 15, 2007
SEATTLE - Three of the nation's top prep distance runners have signed letters of intent to run for Washington beginning in the 2007-08 season, Huskies head coach Greg Metcalf announced Tuesday. Washington is expected to sign additional student-athletes for its 2007-08 freshman class before the signing period ends later this spring.
The talented threesome join early signees Max O'Donoghue-McDonald, Marie Lawrence and Lauren Saylor -- each among the nation's top-ranked preps as well -- to bolster a Washington distance program already riding at an all-time high, having seen its runners win three NCAA titles in the last two years, while earning numerous individual and team berths at the NCAA Cross Country and NCAA Track and Field Championships.
Included among the group to sign letters of intent this spring are two of the nation's top-10 middle-distance runners -- Ellensburg's Isak Bergman and Gig Harbor's Charlie Williams -- and one of America's top prep cross country runners, Cameron Quackenbush of Spokane's Ferris High School.
The nation's fifth-ranked prep half-miler in 2006, Bergman boasts a lifetime best of 1:50.68 in the 800 meters that would have placed among the top-five at last week's Pac-10 Championships, and ranks among the top-six preps among all classes in the state of Washington in the 400 meters (48.91), 800 meters (1:51.22 in 2007) and 1,600 meters (4:12.65). Bergman, who ultimately chose UW over Oregon and Washington State, won the 800 meters at the prestigious Golden West Games in California last summer, and was the seventh-place finisher in the event at the 2007 USATF Junior National Championships.
"Isak is a phenomenal young athlete," says fifth-year head coach Greg Metcalf, who has coached UW middle distance runners to three NCAA titles in the last two years. "In addition to that, he is a student of the sport, and really adds firepower to our men's program. From the quarter mile to the mile, Isak has excellent range and competes with a confidence and poise that will allow him to make an instant impact at the Pac-10 and NCAA Division-I level."
Metcalf predicts similar success for Williams, currently ranked among the nation's top-10 preps at 1,600 meters, and among the top-20 nationally at 800 meters. Williams' 2007 best of 4:10.80 in the 1,600 meters at the recent Narrows League Championships stands as the No. 2 mark in the state entering the district and state championships later this month, while his season-best of 1:53.43 at 800 meters is the top mark at the 4A level in the state of Washington this year.
"Charlie has a lot of talent and great work ethic," Metcalf says. "He flew a little under the radar this year because of the large number of great runners in the state, but as our coaching staff recruited him, we continued to see progress from him that gets us excited about his future as a Husky. He is an oustanding student and athlete, and will immediately make our team better both on and off the track."
Washington will also get an immediate boost from the addition of Ferris High School senior Quackenbush, the reigning 4A state cross country champion and the fifth-place finisher at the Nike Team Nationals. Quackenbush, who will be a factor at both the 1,600 meters and 3,200 meters at next month's state meet, will join a UW cross country team placed 12th at the 2006 NCAA Cross Country Championships, and will be returning four of its top-seven runners.
"Cameron can make an immediate impact in cross country for our men," Metcalf says. "Coming from the great Ferris tradition, we are certain he will arrive here next fall already possessing the basic tools necessary to succeed at this level. He is a great competitor, and an outstanding addition to our distance team."
In addition to being among the top distance runners in the nation, all three -- plus early-signee O'Donoghue-McDonald of Seattle Prep -- hail from Washington high schools, continuing the legacy of success Washington has had recruiting and developing the state's top prep runners.
Renton High School graduate Ryan Brown, largely unrecruited out of high school, recently won his second Pac-10 800-meter title and will bid for his third NCAA Championship next month, while fellow in-state recruits Austin Abbott (Chehalis), Amanda Miller (Wenatchee) and Carl Moe (Auburn) have all developed into All-Americans during their collegiate careers at UW.
"We're fortunate to live in a state that boasts a wealth of outstanding high school distance programs which prepare young runners for success at the collegiate level," Metcalf says. "As a former in-state prep athlete myself, I can say with certainty that when a state of Washington athlete pulls on that `Washington' uniform, there's a feeling that you're not only representing your University, but your entire state, and that's exciting."
"As one of the most visible programs on the West Coast, we've made it a mission to provide an environment where those talented young folks can develop not just as athletes, but as students and individuals as well. Their successes, both on the track and in life, only do more to further the reputation of the state of Washington and the University of Washington, and we're proud to have them as a part of our team."
For more information on Washington track and field, including news of future signings as they occur, visit www.GoHuskies.com.