Flood Wins NCAA 1,500m Title; Goethals 2nd In 5k
June 9, 2012
DES MOINES, Iowa - One of the best days in the history of Washington track and field was written by a pair of gritty distance runners today at the NCAA Track & Field Championships at Drake Stadium. Sometimes in athletics the script just writes itself. Such was the case for sophomore Katie Flood, who claimed the NCAA Championship at 1,500-meters today in her hometown of Des Moines on a track where she dominated as a prep. Approximately an hour later, fellow sophomore Megan Goethals was a fraction of a second away from her own national title, as she placed second in the 5,000-meters by .03 seconds.
The phenomenal individual performances from Flood and Goethals, combined with the fourth-place pole vault finish on Wednesday from Logan Miller, put the Washington women eighth in the final team standings, the best finish ever in team history. The 23 point total was the third-highest in school history, behind a 26 point total in 1988 and 24 points in 1983.
Drake Stadium, where Flood dominated as a prep, was officially on "Flood Watch" today. Flood attended Dowling Catholic High School, just a few miles away from the stadium, and piled up six Iowa state track titles and six Drake Relays junior titles on the same track she stepped onto today.
Last year as a collegiate freshman, Flood made it back home to Iowa but was out in the semifinals. One year later, she captures the first outdoor NCAA title for a Washington woman since 2006, running 4:13.79 to hold off a supremely talented field. Amy Lia was Washington's last outdoor champ, also winning the 1,500-meter title in 2006. Regina Joyce is UW's only other national champ in a running event, as she won the 3,000-meters in 1981.
It's now the second NCAA championship for Flood, as she anchored Washington's distance medley relay to the program's first ever indoor championship this past March. She becomes the first Husky woman with multiple NCAA titles, let alone two in one year.
"It's kind of surreal, I don't think it's sunk in yet, but I'm just so grateful and so grateful to be here and be able to win on my home track," said Flood. "The last seven hundred (meters) was pretty quick, and we've been training and preparing for a race like that, so I felt pretty good."
The blue track was as hot as it's been all week when the gun went off at around 11:25 local time. Coming around at the end of the first lap, Flood looked a little concerned as she was stuck on the inside and eventually moved back to last place in order to get around to the outside. She then moved up on the backstretch and got back up into the top-five with two laps to go.
As the bell rang for the final lap, Flood was running in lane two in fourth-place. Amanda Winslow of Florida State made an early push up front and opened up a lead of at least five meters. Flood moved up to second and started to give serious chase with a little over 200-meters left. The chase pack, led by Flood, caught Winslow and Flood took the lead.
With 100 meters to go, it was Flood's race to win, if she possessed the stamina to hold the pace to the line, but staring down the homestretch that she had won on so many times before, with the crowd on its feet, Flood was not going to be caught. She crossed first to a huge ovation and doubled over with a huge smile to catch her breath and soak in the accomplishment. Heading off the track, Flood gave some high-fives to the crowd, stopped to sign an autograph, and then met and hugged her father, Steve.
Asked if she thought this was possible, Flood replied "I've wanted it for a while. In my head I knew it was possible, I just tried to keep all the nerves out of the way and just run and have fun. This would have to be the best race I've ever won here. So much work has gone into it. So many people to thank for what happened today."
About an hour after Flood's victory, Goethals toed the line in the 5,000-meters to wrap up the week for the Huskies. Last year, Goethals took sixth in the finals, and following a victory at West Prelims two weeks ago, she was focused on improving on that finish. The Rochester, Mich. native and former National High School Athlete of the Year settled into the front of the pack right from the gun, and she would continue to reside around the top-five of the 24-woman field throughout.
The pace was fairly pedestrian given the hot conditions, but it started to string out with five laps left. With two laps to go, a group of about ten runners had separated themselves, with Goethals remaining patient, and fighting her urge to make a break for it. On the final lap, Colorado's Jessica Tebo (formerly Jessica Pixler from SPU) had taken command, and Goethals gave chase with Dartmouth's Abbey D'Agostino. Those three had broken away by 10 meters from the rest of the field.
Over the last 200-meters, with all three in a full sprint, Goethals and D'Agostino caught and passed Tebo, and the Dartmouth sophomore went into the lead. But Goethals had one mad dash left, and came up on the inside down the homestretch, cutting the deficit with every step. She appeared to pull slightly ahead right towards the finish, but D'Agostino also gave a final push and when the times came up, she had got the win in 16:11.34 to Goethals' time of 16:11.37. Tebo was third, three seconds back.
"I knew the last two laps were going to be an all-out sprint, just because we were going so slow," said Goethals. "The last lap I felt like I had a little something left, and Jessica and Abbey had broken away. I just told myself to try and stay right on their backs with two-hundred (meters) to go. With a hundred I honestly thought I was going to get her. My legs tied up, I tried to push as hard as I could and lean at the end. I thought I had her then I looked at the board and saw `oh, .03!' It would have been great since Katie had won the 1,500 but I can't be disappointed. I was sixth last year so this was a big improvement. I'm lucky enough to have Katie to train with and a lot of times I'm behind her, so I've gotten good at trying to hold on," Goethals said with a laugh.
The second-place finish is the best ever by a Husky at 5,000-meters, and will earn Goethals her second First Team All-America honor, to go with an All-American honor from cross country this past fall and three Second Team All-America honors indoors.
Flood's win was the fifth NCAA title won by Head Coach Greg Metcalf's distance runners in his time at Washington. The previous best team finish for the women during Metcalf's 10 seasons as head coach was 15th in 2005.
"Because I'm getting old and my memory is leaving me, today is my favorite day," said Metcalf. "For Katie Flood to come to Des Moines, Iowa and win the NCAA title in front of her high school coach, family, friends, it couldn't happen to a better young woman. The crowd was awesome. When we left Eugene, Oregon (at Pac-12s) we talked about what a difference it would be in Des Moines. Down the homestretch, that many people yelling at you, it made a difference today."
"Then to turn around and watch Megan Goethals, I think Megan is one of the toughest young women on the planet. She just never, never gives up; she fights the entire time. We all thought she won but she lost by three hundredths of a second. There wasn't a form chart in America that had her finishing second. So, our three women, with Logan Miller and our two gals today to score 23 points and finish in the Top-10, today was a great day."
Washington Track & Field
Day Four of Four
All-Time Washington NCAA Women's Track & Field Champions
Final Women's Team Standings