Husky Cross Country Captures Sundodger Titles
Sept. 19, 2009
SEATTLE - The season-opening Sundodger Invitational was all that the Husky cross country teams could have hoped for, with the possible exception of sunny skies, as Washington captured both team and individual titles out at Lincoln Park in West Seattle. Sophomore Kendra Schaaf repeated as the women's invitational winner, and senior Kelly Spady got the first 8k win of his college career to lead the men.
The No. 1-ranked Husky women cruised to an easy victory, placing their five scoring runners in the top-seven overall. They totaled 21 points, and were followed by Oregon State with 70, Western Washington with 83, and Idaho with 93. The 24th-ranked men's squad posted 32 points in its win, with Western taking second with 82 points, Eastern Washington third with 93, and Alaska Anchorage fourth with 97.
Schaaf, the 2008 Pac-10 Athlete of the Year, redshirted the 2009 track season, so despite a strong summer of racing this was her first time in the Husky uniform since Washington won its first-ever NCAA Cross Country Championship last November 24. The sophomore duplicated her freshman year win in nearly every way, going straight to the front and winning by a wide margin on a wet and muddy course. The main difference was this year Schaaf was nine seconds faster, breaking her own course record she set last year by covering the 6,000-meters in 19-minutes, 49-seconds.
Another Husky All-American, junior Mel Lawrence, placed second for the second-straight season behind Schaaf, clocking 20:06 which is 17 seconds faster than last year. Seattle Pacific's D-II champ Jessica Pixler was third, a full 20 seconds behind Lawrence.
Next up for the Husky women was Lauren Saylor in fifth-place, then redshirt freshman Allison Linnell with perhaps the day's most pleasant surprise, as she grabbed seventh in 21:06. Last year Linnell was 40th in 22:14 but some hard work has clearly paid off for the New Jersey native. Junior Kenna Patrick placed eighth in 21:15, and true freshman Lindsay Flanagan was 10th in 21:18, giving the Huskies six in the top-10.
"First day you're not 100-percent sure what you're going to get," said head coach Greg Metcalf. "With the women we got what we kind of expected. Kendra, that's a great start to her season again. Today was a more calm, cool effort than a year ago and she ran faster. Mel Lawrence is way better than she was a year ago. She was on her game today. Then Lauren, Kenna, Allison, and Lindsay were out doing their thing and they ran together and were patient. So we have some newfound depth there. It was a great place to start."
In the men's race, Spady and Micah Chelimo of Alaska Anchorage led throughout, with Spady pulling away over the final 2,000-meters to win in 23:54. Chelimo was second in 24:03. Husky senior Colton Tully-Doyle was very impressive taking third in 24:08, though he ran unattached today. Redshirt freshman Joey Bywater was sixth in his second Sundodger but first with the UW jersey on. At 24:16, Bywater was 30 seconds faster than his 2008 time.
James Cameron from Lake Forest, Calif. was the top UW freshman, placing eighth in 24:23 while competing unattached. Sophomores Cameron Quackenbush and Max O'Donoghue-McDonald crossed ninth and tenth, respectively, in 24:26 and 24:31. O'Donoghue-McDonald is fighting back from a redshirt year lost to injury. His last cross country race was the 2007 West Regional meet.
Sophomore David McCary had his best Sundodger yet, placing 13th in 24:39 to round out UW's scoring. McCary has gone from 84th at the Sundodger as a true freshman, to 49th as a redshirt freshman, and now all the way up to 13th today. Junior Jordan Swarthout (15th), senior Chris Ahl (19th), and true freshman Bryan Tibaduiza (20th) also placed in the top-20 for the Dawgs.
"Our men have a few question marks but I think today some of those questions were answered," Metcalf said. "Kelly Spady coming out here and getting his first 8k victory to run 23:50 I think is a great run out here. He was completely controlled. Max O'Donoghue-McDonald and Joey Bywater had a great start to the season. Colton ran unattached but we'll definitely put a uniform on him. David McCary ran better than he ever had before. So top to bottom our men showed some depth and with what we've done in training I think that was a really good start to our year and we're excited to go test it for real in a couple weeks."
No. 1 and No. 24 Washington will have the next week off before embarking on the first road challenge of the year. The Huskies will be in South Bend, Indiana for the Notre Dame Invitational on Oct. 2, one day before the Husky football team battles the Fighting Irish as well.