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Track Alumni Dinner Unites Huskies Old And New - Washington Huskies

Track Alumni Dinner Unites Huskies Old And New

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With more than a hundred years of tradition and more than a hundred athletes on the roster year-by-year, there are certainly a huge number of Washington track and field alumni scattered around the world. Last Saturday, after the MPSF CIMG_2934.JPGhampionships wrapped up in the Dempsey, approximately one hundred members of the extended UW track family gathered for a reunion in the Conibear Shellhouse.


Among the alumni in attendance were 2006 NCAA 1,500m champion Amy  Lia, 1976 Pac-10 shot put champion Russ Vincent, 2000 Pac-10 shot put champion Ben Lindsey, 2000 decathlon All-American Jacob Predmore, 1982 800-meter All-American Rob Webster with his son, current Husky Rob Webster Jr., plus many more. Also making an appearance was the legendary coach of many of the alums, Ken Shannon, who coached the men's team from 1968-97.


Head Coach Greg Metcalf addressed the alumni, family and friends, and current UW All-Americans Katie Follett and Jeremy Taiwo both spoke about their experiences on the team.


Taiwo talked about how foot surgery in high school led to his development as a decathlete.


"I still wanted to score points for my team, so I thought I'd try shot put or discus, and I'd go out on crutches and then throw the discus, and I actually beat some people which was kind of sad," he said to a big laugh. "Senior year I thought maybe this injury was for a reason, so I tried a bit of the hurdles, and the javelin, and ... it took a while but a lot of things started clicking, and it's just the most fun thing I've ever done, I have fun every time I do a multi-event because there's ups and downs and you've just got to keep working to get that finished product."


The Renton, Wash. native and Newport grad was asked about why he settled on Washington, especially when his father Joseph was an All-American at Washington State.


IMG_2943.JPG"When I was on my recruiting trip here, I had a great time with the team, but just knowing that these (coaches) were here and fired up about track, and supporting their athletes, I've never felt that kind of love from anyone," said Taiwo. "I knew I wanted to compete for these guys because I know they want me to be the best and they're going to help me get there."


(Coach Ken Shannon holds court)


Follett then took the microphone from her coach and talked about her role in building the women's distance program into a national powerhouse.


"I knew that (Coach Metcalf) believed in me, and he thought I could be great. I wanted that kind of positive atmosphere," Follett said. "At that point there were a few really good girls who had just come onto the team, and it was a young team. I wanted to help that get going and help the program. I just feel really blessed by the atmosphere that's on the team. All the girls when they come to practice every day, they bring their hard hats, they're excited to be here and they want to work hard. I've never been on another team that has that attitude, and it's why we've been able to experience so much success as a team the past few years."


Metcalf then asked Follett to recount the feeling of being handed the NCAA Championship trophy for the first time after the Huskies took the 2008 cross country title in Indiana.


"I cried because every time I got to the state meet in high school, I thought that our team was going to win or that I was going to win and something terrible happened and I never won, ever. So when they handed me the trophy I just was like, 'We won? It actually came true?'


Follett also credited her dad with turning her into a runner, saying how he would let her run with him on the last mile of his runs, and he would always let her win, until the point came where she could actually beat him. She ended her talk saying that although she has all her prerequisites finished for physical therapy school, she will hold off a few years before applying to continue running, and that Metcalf would continue as her coach as she tries to compete at the next level.


"I'm going to try and keep running, because this is what I really love to do and I'm passionate about it. I just want to ride it through until the end and see where it can take me," said Follett.


The night was certainly a success, with old Dawgs hearing from the athletes they helped pave the way for, and the current Huskies seeing that UW track is a lifelong membership. Metcalf closed by urging those in attendance to try and round up more of their teammates to the next reunion, sooner rather than later.

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