Saturday, October 17, 2009

Washington women wins Pre-Nationals; Husky men 5th, Cougars 7th

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Yet another dominant performance was authored by the No. 1-ranked Washington women's cross country team today, as they churned to a big win at the Pre-National Meet at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course, the site of this year's NCAA Championships.

The 14th-ranked Husky men's team also had one of its best Pre-National finishes in years, taking fifth behind four top-10 teams.

The defending NCAA Champion women ran their winning streak to nine-straight races, and captured the Pre-National title for the second year in a row. Three Husky All-Americans placed in the top-five of the women's white race, led by the second-place finish of sophomore Kendra Schaaf, and Washington easily handled three top-10 teams and 10 teams ranked in the top-30.

The UW posted 59 points, outpacing 9th-ranked Florida, which was second with 89 points. No. 5 Princeton was third with 126, No. 15 Syracuse took fourth with 191, No. 18 Illinois was fifth with 206, and eighth-ranked Minnesota came in sixth with 214.

Schaaf led for much of the 6,000-meter race, but was caught by Illinois' Angela Bizzarri, the NCAA 5,000-meter champion, near the finish. Schaaf completed the course in 20-minutes, 29-seconds, just two seconds behind Bizzarri. Two-time All-American Katie Follett took fourth in 20:37, a split-second ahead of sophomore Christine Babcock who was fifth.

Washington seemed like it could potentially be vulnerable today as the team ran without All-American junior Mel Lawrence, fifth at this meet a year ago, and All-Pac-10 junior Lauren Saylor. But UW's depth filled the gaps nicely, especially junior Kailey Campbell (above/file photo by Paul Merca), who had the best day of her cross country career with a 15th-place finish in 21:03. Campbell was 51st at this race a year ago, and cut 15 seconds off last year's time despite slower conditions today.

Redshirt freshman Allison Linnell rounded out UW's scoring with a 33rd-place finish in her first run through the championship course. Freshman Lindsay Flanagan was sixth for UW in 69th-place, and junior Kenna Patrick rounded out the crew, finishing 99th out of the 247-woman field.

"Our women's team got better today," said head coach Greg Metcalf. "Kendra, Katie, and Christine continue to run fantastic, but Kailey ran the best race of her career today. She was aggressive and composed; we needed her to do it today and she went out and got it done, and I'm incredibly proud of her. And Allison as a redshirt to be 33rd at Pre-Nats is very impressive. To go out today without Mel and Lauren and still score 59 points, I think our women had a really good weekend and can get geared up for the important weeks to come."

Courtesy of media partner Flotrack is an interview with Christine Babcock & Katie Follett:

Track and Field Videos on Flotrack



The Washington State Cougar women scored 674 points in the 6,000m race with senior Lisa Egami (Coquitlam, B.C.) leading WSU with a 55th place finish with a time of 21:40.8. Other Cougar scorers included senior Chelsea VanDeBrake, 117th (22:20.8), sophomore Emily Farrar, 137th (22:30.7), senior Marisa Sandoval, 179th (23:03.5), and junior Amanda Andrews, 186th (23:07.2). Cougar women competing but not scoring were freshman Caroline Austin, 223rd (23:48.7) and junior Ashlee Wall, 226th (23:58.1). Freshman Alyssa Andrews was not able to compete due to injury.

"On the women's side, it was a bit of a tougher day but I did see some things that I am quite pleased about," Julian said. "The women were moving well throughout the race. They started out a little bit back which is not what we had planned but they are things that we can fix and I am fully confident that the women will get better. Lisa Egami had a solid race. I think she could do a little better but she ran pretty well. The women were fully confident as were the men and we are only going to get faster."

The men's team held serve effectively, defeating four ranked teams in No. 19 Butler, No. 21 North Carolina State, No. 27 Tulsa, and No. 29 Cal Poly. Washington's 183 points was good for fifth in the Blue Race behind 7th-ranked Oregon, which got the win with 79 points, followed by No. 3 Alabama (114), No. 2 Northern Arizona (115), and No. 9 William & Mary (128).

Senior Jake Schmitt stepped up to lead the Dawgs today, placing 22nd in a time of 24:16 over the 8,000-meter course. Fellow senior Colton Tully-Doyle was 25th in 24:19, a huge improvement over his 68th-place finish in this same meet one year ago. Senior Kelly Spady took 32nd in 24:27. Redshirt freshman Joey Bywater was 46th in his first run in Terre Haute, and sophomore Cameron Quackenbush rounded out the scorers with a 58th-place finish. Max O'Donoghue-McDonald was 75th and Rob Webster was 86th in his first road trip with the top group.

The Washington State men's team scored 274 points and was one of two teams without national ranking that finished ahead of four top 30-ranked teams. Oregon won the 35-team men's Blue race with 79 points and had the top individual in Luke Puskedra who posted a time of 23 minutes, 40.2 seconds.

"The men certainly had a breakthrough day," WSU coach Pete Julian said. "They competed extremely well against some of the very best teams in the country. I would expect it was valuable for our goal to make it to nationals. We had a couple of standouts in Jono Lafler and Dan Geib. Anytime you finish in the top 50 in a race of this magnitude is special so that was exciting to see and it was certainly a big jump for those two. In the end, the entire men's team ran incredibly strong and ran with a different intensity."

The Washington State men's team scored 274 points and was one of two teams without national ranking that finished ahead of four top 30-ranked teams. Oregon won the 35-team men's Blue race with 79 points and had the top individual in Luke Puskedra who posted a time of 23 minutes, 40.2 seconds.

"The men certainly had a breakthrough day," WSU coach Pete Julian said. "They competed extremely well against some of the very best teams in the country. I would expect it was valuable for our goal to make it to nationals. We had a couple of standouts in Jono Lafler and Dan Geib. Anytime you finish in the top 50 in a race of this magnitude is special so that was exciting to see and it was certainly a big jump for those two. In the end, the entire men's team ran incredibly strong and ran with a different intensity."

The Cougars were led by sophomore Jono Lafler (Maple Valley) who placed 40th in the 8,000 meter race with a time of 24:36.5. The rest of the Cougar scorers included junior Dan Geib, 45th (24:39.7), senior Sam Ahlbeck, 49th (24:42.0), senior Mark Moeller, 60th (24:47.8), and freshman Andrew Kimpel, 80th (24:57.4). WSU men competing out of the scoring were senior Dominic Smargiassi, 119th (25:25.5) and sophomore Peter Miller, 157th (25:51.7).

"I thought we did amazing," Lafler said. "We had a 22-seconds spread which was a shock to all of us. We did really well compared to what we should have done. I got out a little better than everyone else and settled on a perfect spot."

Washington was just 11th at Pre-Nationals one year ago yet wound up 18th five weeks later at the NCAA Championships.

"Our men, to get fifth when we didn't have an A-plus day, I was pleased," said Metcalf. "It was a solid effort, we beat a number of good teams in a loaded field. Oregon ran really well, Alabama and Northern Arizona are two of the best teams in the country. Jake, Colton, and Kelly were very aggressive and that's the first time we've had two in the top-25 in a while. All in all we passed the mid-point of our season in great shape and will head to Pac-10s with a lot of confidence."

NOTE: The University of Washington and Washington State University sports information office contributed to this report.

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