Solid Day For Dawgs In Minnesota
Sept. 24, 2011
FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. - Juniors Joey Bywater and Lindsay Flanagan each turned in Top-25 finishes today to lead the Washington cross country teams, as the Huskies ran at the Roy Griak Invitational outside Minneapolis for the first time since 2001. The Husky women outpaced a trio of ranked opponents to finish sixth overall, while the men finished 14th out of 24 teams, with true freshmen Aaron Nelson and Meron Simon scoring points at the Les Bolstad Golf Course.
The 11th-ranked women were in great shape early on, but had some travails late in the race that dropped them out of contention. Still, they scored an even 200 points to place sixth and beat out the likes of 18th-ranked Penn State, No. 21 North Carolina State, and No. 23 BYU. Cal and Iowa State had 128 points to tie for the win. The Husky men wound up with 309 points as North Carolina State won with 96.
"It could have been a great day for our women but in the end we'll take it as a learning experience and just get better," said Head Coach Greg Metcalf. "We got great runs from Lindsay Flanagan and Justine Johnson in their debuts. Christine (Babcock) looked fantastic but she took a fall. The way she looked I think she easily could have finished in the top-10. Eleanor Fulton was with Christine with 800-meters to go, but she just reached empty there on the tank. It was just an average day for Megan Goethals, she just needs to get one under her belt and she will run much better."
The story for the women was junior Lindsay Flanagan, whose grandfather passed away just last week. Flanagan decided with her family that she would compete this weekend, though that meant missing a memorial service for her grandfather, who always gave great support to Flanagan's running career. Flanagan honored him in her own way, by leading the Huskies today with a 14th-place finish in 21:04 over the six kilometer course. It's just the second time that Flanagan has been the top UW finisher and first since last season's Sundodger.
Following Flanagan was sophomore Justine Johnson, who made her season debut with a 26th-place effort in a time of 21:20. Senior Christine Babcock took 35th in 21:29, but was running in the top-15 before taking a fall and losing thirty places. Sophomore Megan Goethals was also in the top-15 early before dropping back to finish 56th in a time of 21:50. Sophomore Liberty Miller rounded out the scoring in 69th place, clocking 22:02.
Sophomore Phoebe Merritt ran well up front early but struggled late and finished 84th overall. Redshirt freshman Megan Morgan's race was just the opposite, as she was back in 133rd position after the first kilometer but moved up consistently to place 87th as the seventh Husky across. Freshmen Erin Johnson and Joelle Amaral came in 152nd and 170th overall, and Eleanor Fulton held on for 195th place despite her late struggles.
"It was a good day for Joey and Max (O'Donoghue-McDonald), who was bothered by a knee issue, so with that to deal with he ran very solid," said Metcalf. "Aaron Nelson and Meron Simon were really steady for us and showed that they belonged. But we just need Gareth Gilna and Michael Miller to be healthy and our team changes a lot."
Washington's men have traditionally peaked very well at the 10,000-meter distance late in the year, and Metcalf remains focused on where the men will go. "It's obviously early in the year and we train and develop for late in the season, so we have some work to do to be better and I believe we will get there."
Bywater gained fourteen spots over the final 3k to wind up 24th in a time of 24:40 over the 8,000-kilometer course. Senior Max O'Donoghue-McDonald was right behind, placing 34th in a time of 24:47.
Nelson and Simon, running attached for the first time in their careers, came through today for the Dawgs when a couple other returners had off-days. Nelson, a Walla Walla native, was as far back as 121st through 3k, but charged past dozens of runners over the next few miles to wind up 67th in 25:18. Simon, out of Federal Way, also moved up well throughout and placed 87th as UW's fourth finisher. Senior Cameron Quackenbush then capped the scoring in 101st place out of a field of 220.
The sixth Husky across was sophomore Taylor Carlson, placing 118th, and another true freshman Dylan Morin, made his first top-seven with a 139th-place effort. Sophomore Gareth Gilna had a tough first outing as he fell back to 147th after starting in the top-50. Fellow sophomore Michael Miller was unable to finish today.
Washington now has a few weeks to hunker down and train before they head back to the Midwest, visiting Madison, Wisconsin for the Adidas Wisconsin Invitational on October 14.