Huskies Capture Wisconsin Invite Against Elite Field
Oct. 14, 2011
MADISON, Wisc. - Not many outside spectators were considering the 24th-ranked Husky women's cross country team among the contenders in one of the largest and strongest fields of the year today, but when the dust settled at the Adidas Wisconsin Invitational, it was the Huskies that landed on top, overcoming 17 of the Top-30 teams in the nation, including seven Top-10 teams and the first- and second-ranked teams in the country.
The win is one of the biggest for Washington since its 2008 NCAA Championship victory, along with the 2009 Pac-10 title and NCAA West Regional titles in 2009 and 2010. The Dawgs will instantly be back in the 2011 NCAA title picture now after defeating the 44-team field at the Thomas Zimmer Championship Course.
"Our goal coming in was just to run tough today," said Head Coach Greg Metcalf. "I think we did that. We really didn't have a perfect day but we were very solid. We wanted to work on some of the things that we didn't do well at the Griak meet, and I saw some improvements. It's a good midseason win for us but we've got some veterans that know there's plenty more to come."
Washington won with 199 points over the 6,000-meter course. Unranked Vanderbilt was also a surprise, placing second with 211 points. 14th-ranked Arizona was third (230), then two-time defending NCAA Champion Villanova, the nation's top-ranked team, was fourth with 232. Sixth-ranked Stanford rounded out the top-five with 256 points. Second-ranked Providence, No. 7 New Mexico, No. 8 Syracuse, No. 9 Iowa State, No. 10 California, and No. 12 Oregon were also among the highly-ranked squads the Huskies outpaced.
Sophomore Katie Flood made her 2011 season debut today and made a massive impact, as she ran to a seventh-place finish in 20-minutes and 14-seconds. Seven of the top nine finishers were seniors, including defending NCAA Champion Sheila Reid who won for Villanova. Flood was the youngest runner in the Top-10. The All-Pac-10 First Teamer and track All-American missed the first races on UW's schedule while recovering from an illness, but in her first race back she "ran incredibly poised and calm," said Coach Metcalf.
Washington then got key Top-25 finishes (in a field of 300 runners) from sophomore Justine Johnson and junior Lindsay Flanagan, who crossed within seconds of each other in 23rd and 25th places, respectively. Johnson was back in the fifties halfway through the race, but over the last thousand meters, Metcalf said she was "eating people alive."
Senior Christine Babcock finished in 50th-place as UW's number four finisher, and sophomore Megan Goethals capped the scoring with a 94th-place finish, just ahead of freshman Eleanor Fulton who was 98th overall. Redshirt freshman Chelsea Orr also made her official cross debut, finishing 207th as she works her way back from an ankle injury.
It was a tougher day for the Husky men's squad, despite another solid run from junior Joey Bywater. The Lake Stevens, Wash. native was 46th overall in a time of 24:28 over the 8,000-meters to lead Washington for the second race in a row. Sophomore Gareth Gilna also showed a lot of progress since his season debut three weeks ago, as he finished 88th as UW's number two runner.
But there was a sizeable gap until true freshman Aaron Nelson came across as the third Husky finisher in 170th-place. He was followed by junior Rob Webster Jr. in his season debut in 186th, and another true freshman, Meron Simon, in 204th to cap the scoring with 694 points, placing the Huskies 31st out of the 39 team field.
Senior Max O'Donoghue-McDonald hasn't been able to be himself the past two races, bothered by a knee, and today he was the sixth finisher for the Huskies in 211th-place. Getting him back feeling good plus continued progress from veterans Webster and Michael Miller gives the men a ton of room to grow over the next month.
"The men just need to be healthy and firing on all cylinders. Right now that is not the case but they still expected more out of themselves today," Metcalf said. "Joey had a good effort and Gareth has come along well, but we'll have to get some things figured out be able to live up to the potential I see in this group."
Huskies Get Individual Wins In Oregon: A second group of Huskies headed down to Clackamas Community College today to run in the Mike Hodges Invite. Much like the Emerald City Open two weeks back, the Huskies took charge in both races. In the women's 5,000-meter run, freshman Erin Johnson dominated the 84-woman field, winning by 18 seconds, crossing in 17-minutes, 48-seconds. Junior Allison Linnell also finished seventh. Senior Cameron Quackenbush had been under the weather and did not travel to Wisconsin, but he showed he should still be a factor moving forward, as he won the 4-mile men's race in 20:27. A trio of true freshmen Dawgs running unattached finished third through fifth, with Kyle Rae finishing just a couple seconds ahead of Emerald City Open winner Nick Schippers and Chris Wozniak. | Mike Hodges Invite Results