Huskies Look To Take Next Step At Roy Griak
In Loving Memory of Richard Wilson, Grandfather of Lindsay Flanagan
ROY GRIAK INVITATIONAL
ON THE COURSE: The Husky cross country squads have a big early season opportunity at their feet as they head to the prestigious Roy Griak Invitational, hosted this Saturday by the University of Minnesota near Minneapolis. One of the top meets in the first half of the season, both Washington teams will get a chance to run against multiple top-30 teams.
The meet, entering its 26th season, is held at the Les Bolstad Golf Course. A total of eleven races will be held beginning at 7 a.m. Pacific time. The Griak Invitational Men's Gold Race will feature the Huskies and go off at 10:20 a.m. Pacific, followed by the Invitational Women's Gold Race at 11:10 a.m. A strong showing in each race will give the Huskies a number of early points that could be critical down the line for NCAA qualification.
Washington is facing a one-week turnaround rare in recent seasons, after it began the year with a pair of wins at the Sundodger Invitational in West Seattle just this past Saturday. A number of Huskies, especially on the women's side, were held out of the Sundodger and will make their season debuts this weekend. UW still showed a lot of strength at Lincoln Park, however, as senior Max O'Donoghue-McDonald earned his second straight Sundodger title and freshman Eleanor Fulton led the women in her first collegiate race, placing third overall.
Competition will be especially fierce on the women's side, where eight ranked teams, including the 11th-ranked Huskies, will toe the line. Ranked opposition includes No. 8 Iowa State, No. 10 Arizona, No. 18 Penn State, No. 21 North Carolina State, No. 23 BYU, No. 26 Michigan State, and No. 30 Minnesota. Along with Arizona, the Huskies will also see Pac-12 rivals Arizona State and California. Arizona took the title a year ago.
The men's race also has a large and very competitive field, led by 10th-ranked Portland, 11th-ranked North Carolina State, and No. 24 Minnesota. Arizona, Arizona State, and Cal will give UW an early indication of how they stack up against some Pac-12 rivals, and the Big 12 and Big Ten will be well represented with the likes of Iowa, Iowa State, Penn State, Kansas, Kansas State, and Michigan State.
The women will have a young but experienced group on Saturday, led by senior Christine Babcock and junior Lindsay Flanagan as the only two upperclassmen. Sophomores Justine Johnson and Megan Goethals will run for the first time this season, and fellow sophomores Phoebe Merritt and Liberty Miller will look to build off top-five Sundodger finishes. Redshirt freshman Megan Morgan and true frosh Fulton, Joelle Amaral, and Erin Johnson will all make their first road trips as well.
O'Donoghue-McDonald leads the men along with fellow senior Cameron Quackenbush. Junior Joey Bywater got his season off well with a fifth-place Sundodger finish. Sophomores Taylor Carlson and Michael Miller Jr. will be ready to run, and Gareth Gilna makes his fall debut as well. Then a trio of freshmen will put on the jersey for the first time on Saturday, as Meron Simon, Aaron Nelson, and Dylan Morin make their official debuts after running unattached last week.
EXPECTED TO RUN: Following is a list of Huskies expected to make the trip to Saturday's Roy Griak Invitational. The top five finishers score points for the team with the sixth and seventh finishers able to displace top-five finishers from competing teams.
HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: The Husky women's team began the season ranked 11th nationally and third in the West Region by the USTFCCCA and nothing changed after the first race of the season. The men are receiving votes in the poll, enough to place them 35th overall heading into the Roy Griak. The men were fifth in the preseason West Region poll. Georgetown was the preseason favorite on the women's side, while two-time defending NCAA champ Villanova is only fifth. The men's poll is led by Oklahoma State, last year's champion. New Pac-12 addition Colorado is the highest conference team on the women's side at No. 4, while third-ranked Stanford and fifth-ranked Oregon are near the top for the men.
SEASON STARTS WITH SUNDODGER SUCCESS: A West Seattle native that ran in Lincoln Park with his middle school team, senior Max O'Donoghue-McDonald became the first Husky ever to win back-to-back Sundodger Invitationals, as he led the men to the victory at UW's annual home meet. The 11th-ranked Husky women were also victorious, both teams finding victory for the fifth year in a row. O'Donoghue-McDonald got the win in 24-minutes, 8-seconds over the 8 kilometer course. Washington scored 28 points to hold off a good challenge from Idaho, which scored 34 for second-place. Junior Joey Bywater was the second Husky across in fifth-place, clocking 24:21. Right behind was senior Cameron Quackenbush in sixth, and sophomore Taylor Carlson in eighth-place. Sophomore Michael Miller finished the scoring in 16th-place, though UW also had three true freshmen running unattached in the top-15. Meron Simon was 11th, Dyland Morin 13th, and Aaron Nelson 14th, all within five seconds of each other. The Husky women were led by a freshman, Eleanor Fulton of Lone Tree, Colorado. Fulton took third in 21:02 as the Husky women went on to score 28 points as well. Behind Fulton in fourth-place was sophomore Phoebe Merritt in 21:16, and sophomore Liberty Miller was fifth in 21:19. Redshirt freshman Megan Morgan was ninth in 21:28, and another true freshman, Erin Johnson, was the fifth Husky scorer crossing in 12th-place in 21:43. Running unattached, freshman Joelle Amaral was just a second behind Johnson in 13th.
UP NEXT: An extremely large and talented field is expected to await the Huskies in their next race, as they head back to the Midwest for the Adidas Wisconsin Invitational in Madiscon, Wisconsin on October 14.
MEET THE COACHES: Former Husky All-American Greg Metcalf is in his tenth year as Washington's head coach of track and field and cross-country, and his 15th year overall at the University. Metcalf's work with the men's and women's cross country teams have developed each into national powers in recent years, capped off by the women's team claiming its first ever NCAA Championship in 2008, when Metcalf was named Pac-10 and National Coach of the Year. The 2008 women won every race in dominant fashion and boasted five All-Americans. The Huskies followed in 2009 with a second Pac-10 title and a third-place trophy at the NCAA meet, and the 2010 squad won a record third-straight West Regional title. The UW women have reached NCAAs in 12 of Metcalf's 14 years with nine Top-20 finishes. The UW men, meanwhile, have competed for national titles five times in the past eight years, including a 12th-place finish in 2006 and back-to-back 18th-place efforts in 2008 and 2009. Metcalf's distance runners have combined for three individual NCAA track titles, 12 Pac-10 titles, 65 All-America awards, 152 NCAA Championship bids and 29 school records in 14 years with the program. Metcalf has led a renaissance in the track program as a whole, as UW was one of just six programs that placed both its men and women in the 2009-10 USTFCCCA Program of the Year Top-10 Rankings, with the men finishing fifth overall and the women 15th. A 1993 UW graduate, Metcalf was an All-American in the steeplechase and ran at the Olympic Trials. Metcalf is joined on the coaching staff by third-year assistant Jason Drake, a Colorado alum that spent seven years as an assistant at his alma mater, taking part in two NCAA team titles, before moving on to become the head cross country coach at Washington State for seven years. Entering her second season is assistant coach Lauren Denfeld, an Oregon State alum who moved on to coach the Beavers after graduating in 2008. Denfeld helped revitalize the OSU women's track and cross country program from its reinstatement in 2004, set the school record in the steeplechase, and was a multiple Pac-10 All-Academic First Team selection.