Sunday, November 22, 2009

Huskies inspect NCAA championship course...

TERRE HAUTE, Indiana--Relaxed was the tone as the Washington Husky cross country teams (from left, Allison Linnell, Mel Lawrence, Katie Follett & Lauren Saylor/photo by Paul Merca) made their final preparations for Monday's NCAA Cross Country Championships at the Lavern Gibson Championship Course in Terre Haute.

The number one ranked Husky women's team, who emerged victorious at last month's Pre-Nationals on this course, and have an 11-meet winning streak dating back to last year, cruised easily through the course, checking the footing for Monday's race.

The Washington men's team, ranked #15 in the current USTFCCCA polls, are going into Monday's national championship race with the hope of a top-10 finish, a feat last accomplished by a Washington squad in 1993.

Seniors Jake Schmitt, Kelly Spady, and Colton Tully-Doyle have led Washington in nearly every race this season.

Washington head coach Greg Metcalf, speaking to a host of reporters at the pre-meet press conference, described the course as being fast, thanks to the ideal weather conditions that have prevailed over the last few days.

Metcalf joined the head coaches from No. 2 Villanova, No. 3 Princeton, and No. 4 Florida, then Follett took the stage along with Colorado's Jenny Barringer, Florida State's Susan Kuijken, Illinois' Angela Bizzarri, and Villanova's Sheila Reid.

"Our sport is all about timing and momentum," said Metcalf to the assembled media. "We're healthy, fit, and excited to go run Monday."

Metcalf was asked what was different about this year's trip compared to last season when UW was looking for its first title. He thought the team would be better prepared to handle the pressures.

"The goal is just to get to that date with a shot. We can control nothing of what anyone does except what we do. We're taking it one meet at a time, one week at a time, and continue to build as the season progresses," Metcalf said. "The expectations and pressures our women put on themselves haven't changed whatsoever. I think our group is a little more calm, cool, and collected than a year ago; a little more battle-tested and ready."

Follett was also asked to discuss the changes from one year to the next.

"That we bring back so much of the same team I think does help us carry over the momentum from last year, but it is a different year, it's going to be a different race," she said. "Obviously we have some very talented teams that we're going to be racing against tomorrow, so I think all of us are just focusing on going out there, racing as hard as we can, and not getting caught up in expectations or pressures."

The weather conditions for Monday's race are expected to be sunny with temperatures in the low to mid-50s for the start of the men's race shortly after noon, local time.

The meet will be televised on VERSUS beginning at 9:00 am, Seattle time, and streamed online via ncaa.com. Seattle area fans are also invited to a viewing party at the Ram Restaurant, located in the University Village shopping center, just north of the UW campus, beginning at 9 am.

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