Thursday, October 29, 2009

Washington heads to Long Beach to defend Pac-10 crown; nationally ranked Dawgs & Cougs set to run...

The University of Washington, led by coach Greg Metcalf (left/photo courtesy Jason Drake, University of Washington) and Washington State University head to Long Beach, California and the Sky Links Golf Course for Friday's Pacific-10 Conference cross country championships, hosted by the University of Southern California, with the men running 8 kilometers, and the women running 6k.

The men's race leads off the afternoon at 3 pm, with the women following an hour later.

The Huskies, ranked #1 in the latest USTFCCCA poll, and the defending NCAA national champs, head to Long Beach as defending champions, and while it may be difficult to pull off last year's perfect 15 score, the Dawgs return reigning Pac-10 champ Kendra Schaaf, along with runner up Mel Lawrence, third placer Christine Babcock, and fifth placer Katie Follett.

Also running from last year's championship team are juniors Kenna Patrick, Lauren Saylor, and Kailey Campbell.

The Huskies' stiffest challenge is expected to come from the University of Oregon, which returns junior Alex Kosinski and senior Nicole Blood, and adds freshman sensation Jordan Hasay, the Olympic Trials finalist at 1500 meters and two-time USA junior cross country champion.

Washington State will be led by Lisa Egami, who finished 31st at Pac-10s last year, along with fellow seniors Marisa Sandoval and Chelsea VanDeBrake.

The men's race is expected to be a battle between Stanford, led by Bellingham's Jake Riley and 2009 US junior team member Chris Derrick, and Oregon, led by another member of the 2009 US junior team, Luke Puskedra.

The Huskies, ranked #13 in the current USTFCCCA poll, may be in a battle with Arizona State for the third spot, and will look for leadership from seniors Jake Schmitt, Kelly Spady and Colton Tully-Doyle, along with redshirt sophomore Max O'Donoghue-McDonald and redshirt freshman Joey Bywater.

Coach Pete Julian's Washington State squad, who is ranked at #26--the first time the Cougs have been ranked nationally since 2003--will be led by seniors Sam Ahlbeck, Mark Moeller and Dominic Smargiassi, and sophomore Jono Lafler.

As a preview to Friday's Pac-10 championship meet, you can listen to the podcast featuring Bellingham's Jake Riley and the Huskies' Mel Lawrence here.

You can read the Pac-10 press release here, and Washington State's release here.
Washington's release, along with a video interview with Katie Follett and Greg Metcalf can be accessed here.

NOTE: The Pac-10, Washington, and Washington State's sports information office contributed to this report.

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