Huskies Look To Take Next Step At Notre Dame
Sept. 29, 2010
NOTRE DAME INVITATIONAL
ON THE COURSE: A big early season test lies ahead for the Washington men's and women's cross country teams, as the Huskies make the first of what they hope will be three trips to the Hoosier State this season, heading for South Bend and the Notre Dame Invitational. An elite field has been assembled for this year's meet, which takes place this Friday, Oct. 1, at the Notre Dame Golf Course.
Both the Husky men and women won the Notre Dame Invitational in 2009, the women sweeping the top four places, and the men winning in what was a surprise to some, though not to the Huskies themselves. This year, both the men's and women's fields feature a number of early-season contenders, and will provide a great measuring stick for both UW teams.
Much of the focus nationally will fall on the women's race, where the third-ranked Husky women's team will be pitted against top-ranked Villanova, the defending NCAA Champs, as well as No. 2 Florida State, and Pac-10 rival and fifth-ranked Oregon. Seven additional teams ranked in the top-30 are also set to line up in the women's race, making this a postseason-caliber field, though the distance will be 5,000-meters instead of the typical 6,000 run at NCAAs.
The men's race is not quite as top heavy, but does feature eight top-30 teams, led by No. 3 Oregon and No. 5 Alabama, as well as ranked Pac-10 squads from Arizona State (18th) and UCLA (30th). The Husky men currently fall into the "receiving votes" category, and based on their point total they would rank 34th overall. This will be a golden opportunity for the men to make an early statement and gain some valuable wins over potential NCAA qualifiers, which factors into the NCAA at-large selection process down the road.
Both Husky groups are coming off of victories at the Sundodger Invitational, in addition to wins back in early September over Washington State in a new dual meet. Junior Max O'Donoghue-McDonald and sophomore Lindsay Flanagan each won the individual titles at the Sundodger back on Sept. 18, and will look to build on those performances this week.
A number of Huskies will be traveling for the first time with the top group of runners. For the women, redshirt freshman Grace Green (Troy, Mich.) and Justine Johnson (Victoria, B.C.) will pack their bags for the first time, as will true freshmen Mackenzie Carter (Fayetteville, N.Y.), Megan Goethals (Rochester, Mich.), and Liberty Miller (Simi Valley, Calif.). Two-time All-American Mel Lawrence (Reno, Nev.) will make the trip and could potentially make her season debut. Lawrence was third at Notre Dame in 2009.
Three more redshirt freshman on the men's side will be lacing up the spikes for their first cross country road trip. Taylor Carlson (San Antonio, Texas), Gareth Gilna (Los Alamos, N.M.), and Michael Miller (Anchorage, Alaska) have all shown great progress in a year's time and now get to step up the competition level. Gilna has had a very strong first two races this season, including a13th-place showing at the Sundodger as UW's No. 5 runner. Sophomore Joey Bywater is UW's top returning finisher from this meet a year ago, as he placed 29th. O'Donoghue-McDonald was close behind in 34th-place.
EMERALD CITY OPEN: A second group of Huskies will be in action this weekend as well, as Seattle U. hosts the annual Emerald City Open at upper Woodland Park this Saturday. A number of Huskies heading to Notre Dame with the top group this weekend were running at the Emerald City meet a year ago, so it's a great glimpse for the future of the squad. The women's 6,000-meter race will go off at 10:30 a.m., and the men's 8,000-meter run is set for 11:15 a.m.
HUSKIES IN THE RANKINGS: The Husky women's cross country team is once again expected to be among the nation's elite this season, earning a No. 3 preseason national ranking as the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association unveiled its first 2010 rankings. The women have maintained the No. 3 ranking and No. 1 spot in the West Region through the first few weeks. The UW men's team received votes in the preseason poll but did not make the Top-30 despite finishing 18th at NCAAs last year. After winning the Sundodger, the Husky men picked up a few more votes, and now sit just outside the Top-30 at No. 34. The women began the 2010 season where they finished 2009, as the Huskies placed third at the NCAA Championships a year ago after winning the title in 2008. Washington began the 2008 season ranked third in the preseason before winning the title, and were the preseason No. 1 team in 2009. The defending NCAA Champions from Villanova remain No. 1 on the women's side, followed by Florida State which placed second just ahead of UW last year. Stanford remains in the No. 1 spot on the men's side, one spot ahead of defending champion Oklahoma State.
EXPECTED TO RUN: Following is a list of Huskies expected to travel to South Bend for the Notre Dame 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 TO HOST PAC-10 CHAMPIONSHIPS: Even with the Sundodger in the rearview mirror, there is still a chance to watch the top Huskies in their own backyard this season. For the first time since 2000, Washington is set to host the Pac-10 Cross Country Championships on October 30 at Seattle's Jefferson Golf Course. The women's race is scheduled for 10 a.m. Pacific time with the men following at 11 a.m. The Husky women will be gunning for a third-straight Pac-10 title. Check GoHuskies.com for more info.
FLANAGAN, O'DONOGHUE-MCDONALD LEAD THE WAY AT SUNDODGER: In the home opener for the Huskies, sophomore Lindsay Flanagan and junior Max O'Donoghue-McDonald captured the individual titles and led the Dawgs to easy team victories at the Sundodger Invitational, held at Lincoln Park in West Seattle. The women were up first, and Flanagan broke away from the lead pack on the last lap to finish the 6km course in 20:34, the eighth-fastest time in course history. Following up Flanagan was freshman Megan Goethals, who took fourth in 20:54 in her 6k debut. Senior Kailey Campbell took sixth, leading another trio of Huskies, as freshman Liberty Miller crossed seventh and sophomore Allison Linnell was eighth to cap the Husky scoring at 22 points. Six more Huskies placed in the Top-25, with big PRs of 20 seconds or more from Kayla Evans, Justine Johnson, and Alison Ponce. The men were up next, and O'Donoghue-McDonald and junior Cameron Quackenbush went straight to the front and stayed there throughout. O'Donoghue-McDonald outkicked course record-holder Paul Limpf and Chris Reed of Western Oregon down the stretch to get the win in 24:03. Quackenbush finished fifth in 24:10 and sophomore Joey Bywater was 10 seconds behind in ninth. UW's lone senior, Jordan Swarthout, placed 12th, followed by redshirt freshman Gareth Gilna in 13th to finish the scoring. Three more Huskies crossed as a pack with top-20 finishes, led by sophomore James Cameron, who was 17th, redshirt freshman Taylor Carlson in 18th, and junior David McCary in 19th-place. Carlson saw the biggest improvement, going from 49th-place last year, and slicing nearly 90-seconds off his time from a year ago.
NEXT UP - PRE-NATIONALS: The Huskies will head right back to Indiana, this time veering towards Terre Haute, and the LaVern Gibson Championship Course, for the annual Pre-National Meet, which features the largest fields of any race each season. The race allows teams to get aquainted with the same course used for this year's NCAA Championships, and is the final tune-up before conference championship week. The Husky women have won two-straight Pre-National titles, and will look for a third on October 16.
MEET THE COACHES: Former Husky All-American Greg Metcalf is in his ninth year as Washington's head coach of track and field and cross-country, and his 14th 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, adding four more All-Americans. The 2009 podium finish marked UW's 11th NCAA appearance in Metcalf's 13 years and was the eighth Top-20 finish. The UW men, meanwhile, have competed for national titles five times in the past seven 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, 59 All-America awards, 146 NCAA Championship bids and 28 school records in 13 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 a two-time All-American in the steeplechase. Metcalf is joined on the coaching staff by second-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. Joining the staff for 2009 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 and made West Regionals in the steeplechase, and was a multiple Pac-10 All-Academic First Team selection.