"We can never know about the days to come
But we think about them anyway, yay
And I wonder if I'm really with you now
Or just chasin' after some finer day
Is makin' me late
Is keepin' me waitin'
--Carly Simon, "Anticipation"
TERRE HAUTE, Indiana--This sums up my personal feelings as I awake to head to the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in a few hours to cover the NCAA Cross Country Championships for Northwest Runner, and for CBS College Sports, where I will be assisting the production team with statistical information for the live telecast at 9 am pacific/noon eastern (Comcast 412 in Seattle) and online at ncaa.com.
As posted many times this season on this blog, the run to the championship for the University of Washington women's cross country team has been nothing short of fantastic. There's a sense of pride as an alum and a former runner on the team to see these young women do so well.
And let's not forget that the Huskies also have a men's team qualified for these national championships along with some of the stories from this year's team, including the comeback of senior Jeremy Mineau, who has endured injuries over the past two years, and is running a 10-k race on only 30 to 35 miles a week of training at this level!
At Sunday's pre-race press conference, junior Katie Follett (left/photo by Paul Merca) oozed a very quiet confidence as she patiently sat on the dais with Florida State's Susan Kuijken and two-time defending champion Sally Kipyego of Texas Tech.
“I guess you can say that it’s a target or you could say that there might be a little outside pressure on us but I don’t think that any of us are going to be feeling that when we step up to the line,” Follett said. “We’re going to think about the races that we’ve run already this year and gaining confidence from that.”
Her coach, Greg Metcalf (above/photo by Paul Merca) also felt confident about the Huskies' chances today, adding that he will let prize frosh Kendra Schaaf go with Kuijken and Kipyego, and not hold her back.
“I will 100 percent Kendra Schaaf go do her own thing tomorrow,” Metcalf said when asked if she’d be asked to hold back to secure team goals. “She will take a risk, she’s tough as nails. I’ve told her before, Sally’s a terrific distance runner. When Sally gets out of bed, she puts her shorts on just like Kendra does. Kendra is fit, she’s ferocious. Top 5 is a realistic goal, and if somebody has an off day then anything can happen and probably will.”
From a Washington state perspective, there are other stories that we'll try to follow, and write about in depth, including former UW graduate assistant coach and Tumwater High product Dave Smith, now the head coach at Oklahoma State, who is coaching the country's number two ranked men's team, and has the best shot at upending #1 ranked Oregon.
Some individuals we'll follow include Portland's David Kinsella, formerly from Inglemoor High; Paul Limpf from Eastern Washington; and North Carolina's Brie Felnagle, the former state champ from Bellarmine Prep.
Here's a link to Jayda Evans' preview story in the Seattle Times, and also a story by Derek Bell in the Seattle P-I...
One last thing before we head out to the course--if you folks in Seattle can do it, please stop by the Ram Restaurant and Brewery and join the UW Athletic Department starting at 8:30 am for its viewing party of the NCAA Cross Country Championships!
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