Friday, October 31, 2008

Dawgs win Pac-10 cross country title...

SPRINGFIELD, Oregon--In a most scintillating fashion, the University of Washington women’s cross country team made history in garnering the first perfect score of 15 points in Pacific-10 Conference history, and winning the first conference championship since 1989 at the Springfield Country Club.

On a cool but cloudy day perfect for distance running, Kendra Schaaf (left/photo by Paul Merca), the heralded Canadian freshman, led the Husky charge, taking command of the race from the gun, winning in a course record time of 19:25 over 6000 meters, obliterating Teresa McWalters’ winning mark from the 2007 NCAA West Regional championship time of 19:58.

Sophomore Mel Lawrence was in a pack of fellow Huskies in the chase group and worked her way to a second place finish, crossing the line in 19:53.

Olympic Trials qualifier Christine Babcock, who set the national high school record in the 1600 meter run this spring, placed third after leading the chase pack for most of the race, in a time of 19:54.

Senior Anita Campbell, who was the team leader for the Huskies through most of the 2007 season, finished fourth in a time of 19:58.

Junior Katie Follett finished in fifth, running 20:05, and senior Amanda Miller, who did not run two weeks ago when the Huskies dominated the Pre-Nationals in Terre Haute, finished sixth in 20:11.


The top six finishers in the Pac-10 Championships from left, Kendra Schaaf, Mel Lawrence, Christine Babcock, Anita Campbell, Katie Follett & Amanda Miller/photo by Paul Merca


Following Miller was sophomore Lauren Saylor in 12th in 20:32, while sophomore Kenna Patrick placed 23rd in 20:52, while senior Michelle Turner rounded out the Husky harriers in 26th in 21:01.

Former Eastern Washington standout Mattie Bridgemon, a graduate student at the University of Oregon was 15th in 20:41.

For the Cougars of Washington State, Sara Trane, the two-time Pac-10 steeplechase champ, was the top finisher in 20:44. Lisa Egami was 31st in 21:09, followed by Michelly Foley in 42nd at 21:26. Amanda Andrews in 59th (21:51), and Chelsea VanDeBrake was 60th in 21:52 to round out their scorers.

Former Ballard High School standout Kailey Campbell failed to finish, as the Husky experienced breathing problems during the second lap of the race.

After the Huskies, the #2 ranked Oregon Ducks finished second with 55 points, followed by Stanford with 99. Washington State finished fifth with 188 points.

“I didn’t have too much of a plan, I was going by feel, then seeing what happened” said the victorious Schaaf.

In describing the team’s strategy of running together, Schaaf said, “We’re stronger when we’re running together,”

“I’m not really surprised that we ran as well as we did; however, I am surprised that we put up 15 points on the field.”

When asked what can the Huskies do to top the perfect performance, Schaaf said, “We’re happy with what we did. Now we have to keep training and stay focused.”

Describing the perfect accomplishment by the women’s team at this meet, Washington head coach Greg Metcalf said, “This was unprecedented. All year long, we’ve run well—the Sundodger meet, the Auburn meet, and the Pre-Nationals. Today was just another example of what they’ve done every day at practice.”

When asked what’s been the secret behind Washington’s rapid ascension to the top, Metcalf heaped praise upon assistant coach Kelly Strong, who was responsible for recruiting the core of this team, not only in getting the right athlete, but one who blends in with the personality of the team.

“I’ve used the word ‘synergy’ to describe this team all year long. It started a year ago, when we finished eighth at the NCAA meet, running an average race. Last summer, we had girls running at the Olympic Trials here, and our entire team gained momentum from that experience.”

Asked about the number one ranking, Metcalf said, “It really doesn’t mean anything. The cool part about our sport is that in November, 31 teams line up and it’s decided then,
Our goal is to get better every week. We’re better than we were two weeks ago.”

In the men’s race, US Olympian Galen Rupp from Oregon was never challenged, as Rupp also broke the course record over 8000 meters, running 22:56. Freshman Luke Puskedra of the Ducks was a distant second in 23:33, while freshman Chris Derrick was third in 23:39.

The Ducks retained their Pac-10 title with a score of 28 points, followed by Stanford at 47, then a tie for third between Washington and California, with 104 points. Washington State was sixth with 169 points.

Washington’s Jeremy Mineau was the top Husky finisher in tenth, as the senior ran 23:48.

Kelly Spady was 15th in 23:58, followed by Jake Schmitt in 16th at 24:05. Jordan Swartout was 33rd in 24:45, and Colton Tully-Doyle rounded out the Husky scorers in 24:46.

For Washington State, the Cougs were led by Drew Polley in 18th (24:15), followed by Mark Moeller in 26th (24:32). Sam Ahlbeck was 39th in 24:53, followed by Dominic Smargiassi in 41st at 24:56. Justin Englund rounded out the scorers in 57th (25:25).

Among significant runners with Washington ties, former Eastern Washington runner Curtis Suver finished 12th for Oregon in 23:49.

NOTE: Courtesy of runnerspace.com, here's the highlight video of the women's race.

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