History Awaits UW Cross Country at NCAA West Regional
Nov. 12, 2003
On the Course: Washington's cross country squads look to end one streak and continue another Saturday at the NCAA West Regional Cross Country Championships at Blue Lake Park in Gresham, Ore. Washington's 20th-ranked men's squad - which placed third at the Pac-10 meet on Nov. 1; its best conference finish since 1994 - seeks to end a nine-year NCAA Championships drought, while the UW women hope to extend a string of six-consecutive trips to the national meet, scheduled this year for Nov. 24 in Waterloo, Iowa. Racing begins with the men's 10,000-meter event at 11:00 a.m., followed by the women's 6,000-meter race at 12:15 p.m. Challenging the UW women will be No.1 Stanford, No. 11 Arizona State, No. 15 UCLA and No. 23 UC Santa Barbara, while the men's field includes six of the nation's top-27 teams in No. 1 Stanford, No. 12 Oregon, No. 15 Cal Poly-SLO, No. 20 Washington, No. 25 Arizona State, and No. 27 Arizona, as well as recently-ranked Portland and Washington State.
NCAA West Regional Championships Meet Schedule (All Times Pacific)
Expected to Run: Following is a list of those UW runners likely to make the trip to Portland, Ore., for Saturday's NCAA West Regional Championships:
Name, Yr., Hometown (High School)
Name, Yr., Hometown (High School)
Meet Results: Results of the 2003 NCAA West Regional Championships will be posted at www.portlandpilots.com immediately following the races. A full recap of Husky action will be posted to www.gohuskies.com no later than 4 p.m. PDT.
NCAA Championships Selection Process: Thirty-one teams will qualify for the 2003 NCAA Cross Country Championships, including 18 automatic and 13 provisional qualififers. Automatic bids are awarded to the top-two finishing teams in each of the nine NCAA Regional Championships, while provisional bids, awarded Nov. 17, are based largely upon past performances at regional, conference and NCAA competitions. Additionally, 38 individuals from non-qualifying teams will be invited to the NCAA meet based upon their finishes at this year's regional competitions, thus filling out the field of 255 athletes that will toe the line in Waterloo, Iowa on Nov. 24.
History Lesson: When the Husky women head to Portland this Saturday for the NCAA West Regional Meet, more will be on the line than the automatic berths at this year's NCAA Championships that will go to the top-two finishing teams. UW's women will be looking to extend a streak of six-straight trips to the national meet, a string dating back to 1997. Interestingly, in only one of those years did Washington earn an automatic bid, having been selected as one of 13 at-large teams in each of the other five seasons. The lone exception? The Huskies placed second to earn an automatic berth at the 1999 NCAA West Regional, held on the same Blue Lake Park Course in Gresham, Ore., that will host this year's race. Also of note is the fact that the Huskies have been led at the regional meet by a different runner in each of the streak's six seasons, a string that will extend to seven given the departure of Courtney Inman, 2002's seventh-place finisher.
NCAA Regional History: The 1999 West Regional meet at Blue Lake Park was certainly a highlight for the Washington women, but it is not the most memorable regional competition in Husky history. The 1989 UW women descended upon Fresno, Calif., with a determination to take the team back to the NCAA Championships, after having placed seventh at the regional meet in each of the previous two seasons. Led by Jennifer Gillette, who placed 10th, the Huskies captured their first-ever NCAA West Regional crown, setting off a string of 14 consecutive seasons in which Washington has placed among the top-five teams, including the Huskies' second regional win, in 1992. Washington does have one other regional crown to its credit, having captured the NCWSA Region XII title in 1980, one year prior to joining the NCAA. Sophomore Regina Joyce won the individual title, setting up an outstanding year in which she would eventually earn the national collegiate championship at 3,000 meters. In 27 years of regional competition (NCWSA and NCAA), Washington has placed a female runner among the top-10 finishers on 15 occasions, including three of the past four seasons. The Huskies' men, meanwhile, earned six runner-up finishes in the seven-year span from 1988-93, but have yet to capture a West Regional crown. In fact, the men's team will be seeking its first top-five regional finish since 1996, during which time Washington has only once placed a men's runner in the top-10.
Last Year at the NCAA West Regional: Junior Ben Koss led all UW men with a 23rd-place finish at last year's NCAA West Regional meet in Palo Alto, Calif., to spark the Huskies to a sixth-place team finish, equaling their best since 1998. Fellow 2003 returnees Eric Garner (28th), Todd Arnold (41st) and Mark Mandi (43rd) also ran in the team's top-seven, which featured no seniors, and three runners competing in a 10,000-meter cross-country race for the first time. The Husky women were equally succesful at the meet, placing fourth for the second-consecutive season to set themselves up for a provisional invitation to the NCAA Championship meet. The Husky squad that ran at last year's regional meet featured just two runners who will return to the meet in 2003, including sophomores Lindsey Egerdahl (20th) and Jamie Gibbs (32nd).
Rankings Report: Washington's men soared in the MONDO Men's Cross Country rankings for the second-consecutive week, jumping seven spots to 20th in the current rankings, released Nov. 4. The No. 20 national ranking, sparked by a third-place finish at the Pac-10 Championships, is the team's highest in more than three years. The Huskies' 167 points more than tripled their total of a week before, and trailed only No. 1 Stanford, No. 12 Oregon and No. 15 Cal Poly-SLO among West Region squads. The defending-national champion Cardinal earned 15 of a possible 16 first-place votes on the men's side, while the Stanford women earned 10 of 13 first-place votes in the FinishLynx Women's Cross Country Rankings to take the top spot with 387 points. Washington earned four points in the rankings to tie Virginia Tech for 37th, after being unranked for the first time this season in last week's poll. Four West Region teams ranked ahead of UW, including Stanford, No. 11 ASU, No. 15 UCLA and No. 23 UC Santa Barbara.
Captains: Seniors Todd Arnold and Ben Koss, and juniors Camille Connelly and Lindsey Egerdahl will serve as captains in 2003. The honor is the second in a row for Arnold, and the first for Koss, Connelly and Egerdahl.
Garnering Acclaim: When hunting for breaking news, it can be easy to overlook those for whom success is routine. Eric Garner has been so succesful over the past two seasons - having led Washington's men at every regular-season 8,000-meter competition since the start of the 2002 season - that his impressive results are too often taken for granted. All the senior has done over the past two years is to ensure that his name will come up in any future discussion of Washington's legendary distance-running tradition. A graduate of Kelso (Wash.) High School, Garner burst onto the scene in 2002 with a school-record 3:58.93 mile at Dempsey Indoor, the first four-minute ever by a Husky on Washington soil. Garner took 13th in the mile that season at the NCAA Indoor Championships, and returned in 2003 to become the UW's most prolific postseason qualifier, boasting NCAA Regional marks at 800-, 1,500-, and 5,000 meters. Garner placed third in the 1,500 meters at the 2003 Pac-10 Championships, and earned an NCAA berth with a fourth-place finish in the event at the Regional. Garner led all UW runners last year with a 19th-place finish at the Pac-10 Cross Country Championships, and ran second only to 10,000-meter specialist Ben Koss at the 2002 NCAA West Regional meet. With one full track season remaining, Garner already owns all-time UW indoor marks in the mile and distance medley relay , ranks second in school history in the indoor 3,000 meters, and is sixth all-time at 1,500 meters.
Leading From the Front: With no seniors on Washington's women's cross country squad in 2002, head coach Greg Metcalf challenged junior Lindsey Egerdahl to be the team's competitive leader. The Auburn, Wash., native has not backed down, leading all UW finishers at the prestigious Notre Dame Invitational and the Pre-National Meet. Metcalf had good reason to suspect that Egerdahl was the right choice. Since arriving at Washington in 2001, Egerdahl has soared up the UW rankings, with a best mark of 4:23.87 for 1,500 meters that is the ninth-fastest ever by a Husky woman. After being left out of all varsity races in 2001 and running sixth on the squad at the 2002 season-opening Emerald City Invitational, Egerdahl ran third at the 2002 Sundodger Invitational and never looked back, placing among the top-three UW finishers at every remaining varsity competition. The sophomore was key to the team's run to a sixth-straight NCAA Championships appearance, running 14th overall at the 2002 Pac-10 Championships and 20th at the NCAA West Regional, before taking second on the squad at the NCAA meet. When she returns to the track in the spring, Egerdahl will be seeking to improve upon a seventh-place finish in the 1,500 meters at the Pac-10 Championships, and sixth-place finish in the event at the NCAA Regional.
Scandinavian Invasion: If you happened to be at the Norweigian Track and Field Championships this summer, you may recognize some of the new faces on the Husky roster this season. Washington boasts the odd coincidence of having both of Norway's reigning 800-meter champions competing in purple and gold this fall, including women's champ Ingvill Makestad and men's champ Stig Ellingson. Makestad, a junior, followed up her 800-meter national title this summer with a fourth-place finish in the 1,500 meters at the Under-23 European Championships in Poland, clocking a career-best time of 4:13.58. That time, if duplicated, would be the third-best in UW history, behind only Courtney Inman and Regina Joyce. Both Makestad and Ellingson, a native of Oslo, have competed for several years on the European amateur circuit, and will have two years of collegiate eligibility remaining. Makestad placed 16th in her UW debut earlier this month at the prestigious Pre-National Meet - the first cross country race of her 21 years - before leading the squad with a ninth-place finish at the Pac-10 Championships. Ellingson, meanwhile, is redshirting the cross country season.
Seniors (Or Lack Thereof): When talking about the keys to Washington's men's and women's cross-country seasons, it all comes down to seniors. The Husky men return five seniors from a team that has at times suffered from a lack of leadership over the last decade, and has not reached the NCAA Championships since 1994. For the women, who have ridden strong senior leaders to the NCAAs in each of the past six seasons, the question will be whether a strong corps of juniors can make up for the lack of a single senior on the roster. The group of returning seniors for the UW men is impressive: Eric Garner led all UW finishers at four of five meets last season, while Ben Koss was the leader at the team's lone 10K competition. John Russell and Dustin Duke combined for Emerald City Invitational wins in 2000 and 2001, respectively, while Russell and Todd Arnold are each coming off of NCAA appearances on the track. On the women's team, departing seniors Kate Bradshaw, Courtney Inman and Kate Spigel leave behind a void of leadership that juniors Chessa Adsit-Morris, Camille Connelly, Lindsey Egerdahl, Jamie Gibbs, Laura Halverson, and Kathryn Touran have been asked to fill.
Swiss Miss: While most Huskies wrapped up their cross country seasons last fall, sophomore Laura Hodgson carried hers over into the spring, first at the U.S. Junior National Championships in February, and later at the World Junior Championships in March. Joined by then-frosh Travis Boyd, Jon Hickey and Mike Sayenko at the U.S. meet in Houston, Texas, Hodgson covered the muddy 6,000-meter course in 24:10, second only to Duke's Clara Horowitz. The top-six finish earned Hodgson a trip to Lausanne, Switzerland, in March, where she led the U.S. team to a fourth-place finish at the World Junior Championships. Hodgson's 58th-place individual finish was the highest by a Husky at the junior worlds since Neil Panchen placed 26th for Great Britain in 1988, and is UW's second-best overall. A native of Spokane, Hodgson last season became the first UW freshman ever to win her debut race at Washington with a victory in the Emerald City Invitational, and excelled on the track with a top-10 all-time UW indoor mark at 5000m, and a 15th-place finish in the 10,000 meters at the Pac-10 Championships.
Freshmen Gems: Perhaps it's fitting that Washington debuted its freshman class at the Sept. 6 Emerald City Invitational, because the newcomers certainly proved themselves jewels. With a victory in her UW debut, Brianna McLeod became just the third true freshman ever to win a race at Washington, while redshirt freshman Travis Boyd ran away with the men's event. Prior to McLeod, the only Huskies ever to win a race in their first season at Washington were 2002 Emerald City champ Laura Hodgson and 1981 NCAA Champion Regina Joyce, who won the 1980 NCWSA Region IX Championship. A native of Jenks, Okla., McLeod earned prep All-America honors as a senior in both track and cross country, ranking as high as sixth in the nation at 3200m. Boyd, a Mukilteo (Wash.) High School grad, redshirted the 2002 cross country season at UW but was terrific on the track, clocking the 10th-fastest indoor 5000m time in UW history. The two were joined in the top-10 at the Emerald City by true freshmen Kira Harrison (8th) and Brad Liber (5th), and redshirt freshman Matt Franck (10th). Just three weeks later, freshman Amy Lia led all UW finishers with a seventh-place performance at the Sundodger Invitational, while first-year runner Carl Moe ran seventh on the men's squad. Eight freshmen are currently among Washington's top-seven, including McLeod, Harrison, Lia, Marie Foushee and Dallon Williams on the women's side, and Boyd, Moe and redshirt freshman Mike Sayenko for the men.
Meet the Coaches: Former Husky All-American Greg Metcalf is in his second year as Washington's head coach of track and field and cross-country, and his seventh year overall at the University. In six seasons at Washington, Metcalf has guided the women's cross-country team to six-straight NCAA appearances, including a UW-best ninth-place finish in 1998. Metcalf has coached eight All-Americans, five Pac-10 champions, 63 NCAA qualifiers and 10 school-record setters. A 1993 graduate of Washington, Metcalf was a two-time All-American for the Huskies in the steeplechase. Metcalf is joined on the coaching staff by former All-Americans David Bazzi, Washington's school-record holder at both 5,000 and 10,000 meters, and Kelly MacDonald, a five-time All-American and three-time Pac-10 Champion at Arizona State University.