Men's And Women's Cross Country Earn NCAA Bids
Nov. 16, 2008
INDIANAPOLIS - For the first time since 2003, both the Washington men's and women's cross country teams are headed to the NCAA Championships. The top-ranked Husky women guaranteed themselves a berth by winning the West Regional Championships yesterday, but the men had to wait to be awarded an at-large bid today.
The men's team placed fifth in the West Region, thought to be the deepest in the country. That was borne out today as the NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Track and Field Committee granted at-large bids to five West Region teams, including the Huskies. Thirteen at-large bids were handed out today, adding to the 18 teams that finished in the top-two at Saturday's Regional meets, bringing the total for each race to 31 teams.
The NCAA Championships will be held just eight days from now on Monday, November 24 in Terre Haute, Indiana on the LaVern Gibson Championships Course. Indiana State University hosts the event.
The women's team is enjoying an historic season that has seen them earn the program's first ever No. 1 ranking. The Huskies are undefeated on the season, having won the Sundodger Invite, the Tiger Invitational in Auburn, Ala., the Pre-National Meet in Terre Haute, the Pac-10 Championships in Springfield, Ore., and now the West Regionals in Palo Alto, Calif.
Washington's Pac-10 victory was its first since 1989 and was headlined by a UW sweep of the top six spots, a first in conference history. Yesterday at Regionals, the women swept the third through seventh spots to win despite resting Pac-10 Champion Kendra Schaaf. It was their first Regional title since 1992.
The Husky men began the season unranked, but progressed steadily throughout the season behind the return of senior Jeremy Mineau from a 2007 redshirt season. Junior Kelly Spady helped push the Huskies to another level when he made his season debut at Pac-10's, as he was UW's second finisher at Pac-10's and Regionals.
Heading into Regionals ranked 23rd, the men placed fifth, ahead of 19th-ranked Cal Poly and 26th-ranked UCLA, both of which had earned enough regular season wins to earn at-large bids and "push" the Huskies into NCAA's.
This will be the fourth NCAA trip in the last six years for the men's team (2003, '04, '06, '08) following a nine-year drought. In 2006, the men placed 12th at the national meet, led by Mineau in 53rd place. Fellow senior Jon Harding was also part of that team, finishing seventh among Huskies.
The women's team laid the groundwork for their breakthrough season this year with last year's eighth-place finish at NCAA's, the best in school history at the time. Leading the way last year was Katie Follett and Anita Campbell, who finished 19th and 20th, respectively, in identical times and earned All-America honors. This will be Campbell's fourth and final trip to Terre Haute, as she competed as an individual her first two seasons. The Husky women have qualified for NCAA's as a team now for 10 of the past 12 seasons.
The only other season in head coach Greg Metcalf's previous 11 years where both the men's and women's programs made NCAA's was in 2003. That year, the women were 19th at the meet and the men finished 21st. Washington is one of just 14 schools to qualify both teams for the NCAA Championships.