Huskies Are National Runners-Up
Nov. 21, 2011
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - It was a battle from start to finish for the NCAA Women's Cross Country Championship, and the Washington Huskies were in the mix from the firing gun. When the dust settled just over twenty minutes later, UW was one of a few teams that huddled behind the finish area, waiting to hear the results at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course. Once the numbers were compiled, Washington learned that it was the NCAA runners-up, just missing a second national title as Georgetown got the win by a miniscule eight points.
The Hoyas were ranked fourth coming in but pulled out the victory with 162 total points. Washington was second with 170, earning a third top-three finish in the past four years, and the second-best finish in program history. The Huskies were first in 2008 and third in 2009, and bounced back in a big way this year from a 16th-place finish last year.
"The goal for our women was to go and have a shot," said Head Coach Greg Metcalf. "I think our women were composed; they were loose before the race and full of confidence."
The eight point margin between first and second marked the closest finish since 2003, and the eighth-closest margin in the 31 year history of the meet. The narrow deficit was tough for Metcalf to bear, but he knew the Huskies left it all out on the course. "Eight points, shoot," Metcalf said, "but we were in it and put forth a championship effort. I couldn't be more proud of our women today and for how they have carried themselves all season."
Two-time defending champ Villanova placed third with 181 points, and No. 1-ranked Florida State was fourth with 189. After the tightly bunched top-four, there was a gap to fifth-place, which went to Oregon with 281. Pac-12 Champ Colorado was 11th, Cal was 18th and Arizona was 19th.
Washington was led by a brilliant effort from sophomore Katie Flood, who placed seventh overall in a time of 19:47 over 6,000-meters. Sophomore Megan Goethals was 18th in 20:06. Both will earn their first career cross country All-America honors. Flood becomes the fifth Top-10 finisher in Husky history.
"Katie Flood, to finish seventh-place as a sophomore, that was a great run and she ran fast," said Metcalf. "Megan Goethals has made meteoric improvement from the Wisconsin meet until now and for her to earn her first cross country All-American award is great."
Senior Christine Babcock, one of the other four Top-10 finishers in school history, was third across the line for the Dawgs in the final cross country race of her career. She took 62nd in a time of 20:43. Babcock competed at NCAAs all four years of her career, earning two All-America honors and three times standing on the podium with her team.
Of his lone senior, Metcalf said, "It's a great way to end Christine Babcock's cross country career. She's been first, second, and third on the podium with our team. She has made our program. She's the unquestioned leader of our team, and the mother of our group. I love her to death, she's a great teammate and great leader and it's exciting that she's got two track seasons left."
Next came sophomore Justine Johnson, closing strong to finish a career-best 65th in 20:45. Junior Lindsay Flanagan capped the Husky scoring with a 92nd-place effort, running 20:57. Freshman Eleanor Fulton was 130th overall in her first NCAA meet, and sophomore Liberty Miller was 163rd out of 254 finishers, a big improvement over her freshman season as well.
The Huskies were ranked just 11th in the preseason polls and dropped as far as 24th after the second race of the year, but then UW vaulted back up the polls with a win at the Wisconsin Invitational, which had a larger field than NCAAs. The Huskies took second at Pac-12s and then won the NCAA West Regional for the fourth year in a row.
"At the beginning of the year I thought our group could be pretty good, but it's about staying healthy and staying focused and building to the end," said Metcalf. "They got better every week and preseason rankings mean nothing. They fire the gun with 31 teams on the line and you find out who the best teams are and that's what's great about our sport."
Washington Cross Country
Team Results (Top-20): 1. Georgetown 162; 2. Washington 170; 3. Villanova 181; 4. Florida State 189; 5. Oregon 281; 6. Vanderbilt 282; 7. Iowa State 290; 8. West Virginia 297; 9. New Mexico 322; 10. Stanford 332; 11. Colorado 335; 12. Boston College 347; 13. Penn State 368; 14. Arkansas 375; 15. Michigan 383; 16. Michigan State 386; 17. Syracuse 401; 18. California 433; 19. Arizona 447; 20. Virginia 466.