Saturday, November 14, 2009

Washington emerges with the victory at NCAA West Regionals...

SPRINGFIELD, Oregon--Another day, another W.

While not quite the dominating performance by the Washington Husky women's cross country team that it demonstrated on this same course one year ago, the Huskies proved that for now, they are the team to beat in nine days with their convincing win at the NCAA West Regional championships Saturday at the Springfield Country Club.

Washington prevailed over Oregon 25-66. Stanford was third at 94 points, and Arizona State was fourth at 119 points. Most experts are projecting Stanford and ASU as the two at-large teams that will advance from this region to the national championships.

Rebounding from two straight losses at the Pre-Nationals and the Pac-10 Championships, sophomore Kendra Schaaf (above/photo by Paul Merca) took the victory over the six-kilometer course, running 20:42 after being content to stay in the pack for the first two laps.

Despite a course that UW coach Greg Metcalf described as a bit on the soft side, forcing many of his runners to go to longer spikes, Schaaf was not fazed by the conditions.

"Coming from Canada, I've run in much worse conditions. This course had the right amount of squishiness."

In discussing the race strategy, the champion stated that she and the rest of their teammates planned to run easily for the first 3/4ths of the race, knowing that the nation's number one team has a formidable task ahead in nine days.

When asked about whether or not this year's version of the Washington cross country team is better, she said that this team is indeed an improvement over the 2008 version that won the national title.

Behind Schaaf were junior Mel Lawrence in third at 20:59, followed by a breakthrough performance by Ballard High School grad Kailey Campbell in fourth at 21:01.

Senior Katie Follett was seventh at 21:03. followed by sophomore Christine Babcock in tenth at 21:13.

Washington State senior Lisa Egami earned an individual berth to next week's NCAA championship meet with an 11th place finish at 21:19.

The Cougars finished the meet in fifteenth with a score of 410 points.

In the men's 10k race, the Cardinal of Stanford proved to be as dominating as the Husky women, going 1-2-3, led by sophomore Chris Derrick, who ran 30:39.

Gig Harbor's Miles Unterreiner finished 13th for the Cardinal at 31:03. Bellingham native Jake Riley sat out the regionals for the Cardinal.

Gig Harbor's Tommy Betterbed, who attends the University of Portland made a significant breakthrough with his fifth place finish in 30:43, to lead the Pilots to a second place finish with a team score of 84 points, ahead of host Oregon with 109.

The Washington Huskies finished fourth with a team score of 120, ahead of Cal Poly and Arizona State at 155. Oregon, Washington, Cal Poly and ASU should advance to nationals as at-large selections.

Colton Tully-Doyle led the Huskies with his 18th place finish at 31:13. Fellow senior Kelly Spady was 20th at 31:15, followed by redshirt frosh Joey Bywater at 31:22. Jake Schmitt in 30th at 31:27, and Cameron Quakenbush in 34th at 31:38 rounded out the Husky scorers.

The Cougars of Washington State did not have the type of race that coach Pete Julian projected them to have in his pre-meet comments to the media.

Washington State finished tenth with a team score of 268, and were led by Justin Englund in 41st at 31:54.

Running with a group of underclassmen and without the services of their top runner Alex Smyth, Eastern Washington coach Chris Zeller took his team to Springfield to get the experience necessary to compete at this level in the future.

Kyle King was the top finisher for the Eagles in 120th place at 33:39.

Gonzaga's top finisher was Chris Boyle from Blanchet HS in 101st at 33:13.

Video interviews featuring UW's Greg Metcalf and Kendra Schaaf will be posted later, along with Portland's Tommy Betterbed from Gig Harbor.

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