Oct. 25, 2007
Husky junior Anita Campbell now has some company. After being the lone UW representative at the 2005 NCAA Championships as a freshman, Campbell made it back in 2006 along with Amy Lia. This season, the Vancouver, B.C. native looks to take a whole host of Huskies with her to NCAA's in Terre Haute, Ind. on Nov. 19. The ninth-ranked Huskies are on track for their first team NCAA appearance since 2004, and Campbell is a major reason why. Campbell, a first team All-West Region and second team All-Pac-10 honoree in 2006, has led the Huskies at two of three meets this season, including a win at the Sundodger Invite and a 12th-place finish at the prestigious Pre-National Meet. This weekend, Campbell leads the Huskies to Corvallis, Ore., the site of the 2007 Pac-10 Championships where she placed ninth one year ago. Campbell took a few minutes to chat with GoHuskies.com about the season thus far, the upcoming Pac-10 Championships, and the possibility of taking some back-up to NCAA's.
GoHuskies.com: The team has made a steady rise in the rankings this year, and is coming off a great finish at Pre-Nationals. What are your thoughts on the team's performance thus far?
Anita Campbell: "I'm really proud of everyone. A lot of people have stepped up that needed to step up. They're staying confident and doing their own thing, and realizing that with that the team will have success. They've learned from the past couple years and it's showing, and Pre-Nationals was the perfect example. We're progressively getting better throughout the season, which is good. We came into the season just learning our lessons and making small mistakes, but I think Pre-Nats was the first time we showed we are actually here to do something this season. It was a really positive race that everyone needed, and I think Pac-10s is going to be like that for us as well. It's a much smaller race, but we get to really focus on specific people and specific teams, and they're all really good teams, so it's the perfect time to just focus on our race strategy and beating people across the line. At Nationals there's a lot more bodies and you can't think as much."
GH: You mentioned some people stepping up this season. Who specifically has really impressed you?
AC: "Everyone in the top-seven. Katie Follett, she was our first girl at the (Bill Dellinger Invite), she had a really great race there. She just learned a lot from her freshman year. She was the most noticeable one for me, someone that just really did a lot of work and came in really strong and is doing all the little things right now. Mel Lawrence is doing a great job as a freshman, she's just relaxed about everything and staying strong, which is hard as a freshman. There's our upper-classmen, Dani (Schuster), Amanda (Miller) and Trish (Rasmussen), they're always solid in there, and we just really need them right now. Those fourth and fifth girls are really stepping up and doing the job. And then we have another freshman, Lauren Saylor, and she's just sticking her nose in it all the time and running strong and being a good teammate to everyone. So the top seven is doing a really good job and everyone else is supporting us."
GH: Despite the great finish at Pre-Nationals, Coach Metcalf seemed confident that this team can do even better. Was that the same feeling among the team?
AC: "I know personally I can do a lot better. It was a good race, but I know there's a lot left in me, and I know everyone else feels like that too. That's just the way (Coach Metcalf) is training us and situating our practices right now, so he plans it accordingly. Katie was a little tired that day but still got 36th, and Amanda was right with her. Amanda's really noticeably getting stronger every race, so that's really positive to see."
GH: You have competed as an individual at NCAA's the last two years, by yourself as a freshman and with Amy Lia last season. This year, it appears that the whole team is on track to qualify for NCAA's. How nice would it be for you to have company?
AC: "It will be great. I don't know what that feels like yet. It's hard going every year and seeing other teams that get to experience it all together. Last year I did have Amy, but the entire time we just talked about how it seems twice as hard without a bunch of people there to support you. It's going to be great and we definitely have a great chance of doing it, so it's going to be a good time."
GH: You picked up your first collegiate cross country win earlier this season at the Sundodger. What was that experience like?
AC: "It's always the race where you just get your racing jitters out of the way. You don't feel perfect, but actually I felt really good and I just went out there relaxed. I've matured a lot over the past few years in the running scene so I just took it for what it was as a racing experience, knowing that more important races were going to come later. It was positive knowing I could win and run a fast time."
GH: Coach Metcalf has called you one of the best frontrunners ever to run at Washington. Is that your general strategy, to go out fast to the front of the pack?
AC: "That's what keeps running fun for me. Putting myself in the mix from the beginning and just seeing if I can handle it, because I like to push myself. I need to practice controlled aggression a lot more. Sometimes I get a little too ahead of myself, and I need to think a bit more about what I'm doing, so that's one thing that I really need to practice in the next three races--hopefully three races (laughs). But that's just what I like to do, it keeps running fun for me. It's always fun to push girls and see what they're made of."
GH: Has running at NCAA's your first two years thrust you into a leadership role and do you view yourself as such?
AC: "Naturally if you go to those meets you gain experience. Unfortunately our team hasn't had the chance the last couple years. I'll definitely take that role to a certain extent. I believe that everyone has to be individuals on a team as well, so I believe a leader is only necessary to a certain point, but I'll definitely guide people as they need to be guided and offer advice. In certain situations I have done that this season, and I do enjoy that."
GH: You've also had a lot of success on the track in your UW career. What separates the two sports in your mind?
AC: "I've learned to love track. I wasn't a big fan of it a few years back. But it's fun, it's more about yourself and not so much the team. I love indoor season, having the Dempsey here and teams coming to visit us so we don't have to travel a lot. There are some big meets we hold here and it's always exciting and it gets you ready for outdoors too. Times are more specific, you get to do some faster stuff, and you don't blend into the crowd as much as you do with cross country. It's nice that the two even themselves out though, it makes you appreciate each one individually."
GH: As a native of Vancouver, B.C., you're continuing a bit of a British Columbian legacy at UW. You were prep teammates with former Husky great Courtney Inman, and before that Margaret Butler had a standout career from 1996-99. Is there something in particular that brings Canadians to Seattle?
AC: "Coach Metcalf was pretty much the main reason. A lot of people respect what he's done with his athletes, and how he's let them progress through their five years in college. That was just the main thing for me, I wanted the opportunity to work on my own but at the same time having someone push me, and keep me healthy, and allow me to do what I wanted to do in my college career. I think that Courtney Inman gave me that advice, and told me that he definitely helped her do that in her last couple college years. I'm pretty close to home too, which is nice. I get family to come down and watch a lot of my meets. I love Seattle, too. I definitely enjoy the whole running environment down here, it's incredible. It's a great place, pretty much. I can't say enough about it."
GH: Where are your favorite running spots around Seattle?
AC: "I love to run around Green Lake. It's a great little running environment down there. Everyone's going at their own pace, but there are actually some people that can push me down there on my off days. It's good though, it's busy down there. On nice days, it's wonderful, on rainy days there's not too many people so you can be out by yourself."
GH: Do you listen to anything while you run?
AC: "I'm not a big music listener. I kind of just go out and entertain myself. Just go with the flow."
GH: Well, looking ahead to the Pac-10 meet this weekend, is there anything in particular that the team is shooting for?
AC: "I'm taking this race as a stepping stone, and all the other girls are as well. Ultimately, we want to improve on what we did at Pre-Nats. We have a tough conference. We have Stanford, ASU, and Oregon has improved a lot as well. But, you know, I think it's important to keep giving ourselves a lot of credit, because we are very good this year. We do have a lot more potential and I just need to make sure that everyone keeps believing in themselves. That's the main thing in running, you just have to know that you can do it. I've run with those girls, and I mean, I make mistakes but I need to know that everyone else is going to be there behind me and that they believe they can beat any of those girls too. So that's the main thing, we just need to work on putting ourselves in the mix and showing everybody that we've come to run."
Check back in with GoHuskies.com on Saturday, Oct. 27 to see how Campbell and the rest of the No. 9 Huskies fared at the toughest conference meet in the country.