The fifth-ranked Husky women’s team won with a meet record 19 points, with Oregon State following with 58 points, then Idaho with 87, Gonzaga with 110, Seattle U. with 120, Washington State with 146, and Eastern Washington with 219 points. The Husky men outdueled their cross-state rivals, winning with 30 points while Washington State scored 52, with Gonzaga third with 55, Idaho fourth with 95, and Seattle U. in fifth with 148 points.
Flood, an All-American and the 2011 Pac-12 cross country champion, had never competed in the Sundodger until today, and made her debut look like a routine morning job, as she was straight to the front, and broke away about halfway through the 6,000-meter race. Flood, who redshirted the outdoor track season this past spring, waltzed down the final straight sporting a big grin, crossing in 20-minutes, 25-seconds, and winning by a gap of 19 seconds. It’s the sixth-fastest time in meet history.
“Our women’s team has got a great energy and vibe right now and they were really good today,” said Head Coach Greg Metcalf. “So far this season they’ve handled themselves like pros, and it was a very calm, cool effort today. That’s what we expect of them. Katie Flood looked fantastic and it was great to see the freshman Katie Knight mixing it up in her first race. Maddie Meyers and Liberty Miller also had their best season-openers today.”
The Husky women had four of the top-five finishers, as freshman Katie Knight made her collegiate debut with a third-place finish in 20:47, right alongside senior Liberty Miller and sophomore Maddie Meyers who were fourth and fifth in nearly identical times. Junior Eleanor Fulton capped UW’s team scoring with a 10th-place finish in 21:15. Senior Justine Johnson was close behind in 12th, and freshman Kaylee Flanagan made the top-seven in her debut with a 13th-place finish. Sophomore Erin Johnson also had a strong showing in her first cross country race in two years, as she was 16th in 21:46.
Nelson added to the consecutive individual victory streak for the Husky men’s team, as he won the first collegiate cross country race of his career. It’s the fifth straight year that a Husky has posted the win in the men’s invite. The junior from Walla Walla was 14th in this race as a freshman, then fifth last season, and moved up to the winner’s circle today. The lead pack only began to break up in the latter third of the 8,000-meter race, with Nelson and teammate Tyler King going to the lead. Nelson made the decisive move late, and sprinted down the stretch to hold off Isaac Chavez of Chico State, winning in a time of 23:50, ninth-fastest in meet history.
King moved up from seventh a year ago to third this season in a time of 24:05. The next Husky across was freshman Sumner Goodwin, who competed unattached today but almost certainly earned his way into the travel lineup going forward by virtue of his fourth-place finish in 24:08. The third scorer for UW was sophomore Meron Simon, in his first race back from a redshirt year. Simon was seventh in 24:12.
Another freshman, Andrew Gardner of Spokane, came in 14th in his collegiate debut in 24:18, and junior Aaron Beattie capped the Husky scoring with a 19th-place finish in 24:28. Right in front of Beattie came two more newcomers competing unattached: freshman Colby Gilbert in 17th and sophomore transfer Izaic Yorks in 18th. Yet another newcomer, Jacob Smith, crossed in 24:31 for 21st-place, the sixth official Husky finisher.
“We had a lot of really strong efforts today on the men’s side,” said Metcalf. “Aaron Nelson, getting the win, hopefully that’s a sign of some great things to come for him. Our men’s group is very cohesive and fired up right now. The freshman group has instantly affected our team just walking onto our campus.”
One of the biggest improvements from last year to today came from redshirt freshman Blake Nelson. The Mill Creek native was 49th a year ago in 26:16, and jumped up to 23rd today in 24:33. Redshirt frosh Nick Harris also cut nearly a minute off his time from a year ago, as he was 30th overall in 24:43.
Right behind Harris came freshman A.J. Yarnall (31st) competing unattached, and sophomore Tim Cummings (33rd). Freshman Jamie Coughlin was 35th unattached.
Today was it for the Huskies in Seattle, as the rest of the season takes them on the road. The first stop will be down in Oregon for the Bill Dellinger Invitational on Oct. 5.