Friday, October 30, 2009

It wasn't pretty, but Dawgs repeat as Pac-10 champs...

LONG BEACH, Calif. - It may not have been perfect as it was in 2008, but in the end the No. 1-ranked Washington women's cross country team was crowned Pac-10 Conference champions for the second year in a row.

Several Husky runners had their share of adversity today, but after being dead-even with the 8th-ranked Oregon Ducks with 400-meters to go, Washington poured it on down the homestretch and scored the win, accumulating 35 points to Oregon's 42. The Huskies have now won back-to-back titles for the first time in program history, and ran their undefeated streak to 10 races.

Sophomore Kendra Schaaf (left/photo courtesy Randy Miyazaki/trackandfieldphoto.com), the defending Pac-10 individual champion, went out fast and led for much of the race in the same style that resulted in a meet record last year. Schaaf, though, began fighting a slight knee twinge and on the final loop of the 6,000-meter course she was overtaken and dropped back to fifth. But the 2008 Pac-10 Athlete of the Year dug down over the final stretch and surged back up to finish second in 19-minutes, 46-seconds.

Oregon senior Nicole Blood, a former USA junior cross country champ, won her first Pac-10 title in 19:41, as she put on a burst of speed with 1000 meters to go to overtake Schaaf.

Earning top-five finishes for the second-straight year was junior Mel Lawrence and sophomore Christine Babcock. Lawrence took fourth in 19:49 with Babcock a few seconds back in 19:58. Senior Katie Follett, battling illness, gutted out an eighth-place finish that was a factor to the Husky win.

The key to the win may have been junior Kailey Campbell's 16th-place finish to cap UW's scoring. Campbell, who dropped out of last year's Pac-10 race in Springfield, reinjured an ankle midway through the race and at one point actually stopped running for several seconds, but she refused to call it quits and passed a number of runners down the stretch, including sprinting past Oregon's No. 5 runner at the finish. Redshirt freshman Allison Linnell also had an excellent Pac-10 debut, placing 19th, and junior Lauren Saylor took 25th to complete UW's top-seven.

"The women's race was high drama today," said head coach Greg Metcalf. "The last thousand meters was kind of like the fourth quarter in a college basketball game and we couldn't call timeout. In the last 60 seconds of the meet our girls rallied. Katie off the sick bed caught three people in the last 200-meters. Kendra was very selfless and she battled back to get second-place. Mel it's her first race after being out a month and she ran great and Christine was very solid as well."


The Washington State women's team scored 251 points to finish a disappointing tenth place behind senior Lisa Egami (Coquitlam, B.C.) who finished 24th with a time of 20:40.4. The rest of the Cougar scorers included senior Chelsea VanDeBrake, 47th (21:30.0), junior Amanda Andrews, 65th (21:59.3), sophomore Emily Farrar, 70th (22:14.2), and junior Ashlee Wall, 76th (22:34.7). WSU women competing but not scoring included freshman Caroline Austin, 80th (22:56.1) and senior Marisa Sandoval, 83rd (23:24.8).


The Husky men were led to a fourth-place finish by senior Kelly Spady, who had a career-high 10th-place finish, covering the 8,000-meter course in 23:25. Fellow senior Colton Tully-Doyle also had his best-ever Pac-10 run, placing 23rd in 23:50. Washington's third, fourth, and fifth runners all crossed together with senior Jake Schmitt, junior Jordan Swarthout, and redshirt freshman Joey Bywater placing 29th through 31st.

"We train through the Pac-10 meet and for us the goal is Regionals and beyond but I thought Kelly Spady was awesome today with the best Pac-10 performance of his career finishing 10th in an awesome field. Jordan Swarthout kind of saved our butts today running fourth for us. So we'll circle the wagons and go be better in two weeks."

The Washington State men's squad finished sixth, scoring 163 points and were led by senior Mark Moeller (Spokane) who finished 17th in the 8,000m race in a time of 23 minutes, 39 seconds. Other Cougar scorers included senior Sam Ahlbeck, 26th (24:00.8), sophomore Justin Englund, 38th (24:27.6), freshman Andrew Kimpel, 47th (24:42.3), and junior Dan Geib, 49th (24:44.9). WSU men competing out of the scoring were sophomore Jono Lafler, 57th (25:00.0), sophomore Peter Miller, 59th (25:04.5), and senior Dominic Smargiassi, 63rd (25:32.3).

Mark Moeller's 17th place finish is the highest for a Cougar in the men's Pac-10 Championships since Danny Wolf placed ninth in 2004.

Stanford's Chris Derrick, a member of the USA junior team this spring in Amman, Jordan, was the individual winner with a time of 22:35.0 while leading the nation's number-1 ranked squad to a victory in the eight team race with 28 points.

"It was a really disappointing day. About as disappointing as it could have been as far as execution and the way we raced," Cougar coach Pete Julian said. "The team is pretty down right now and we know we are a lot better (than today's finish). We will run much, much better in two weeks time. We are going to put this race behind us and move forward. I'm confident that the team will respond and run incredibly well in two weeks. The women are tremendously disappointed. This is not indicative of what the team is doing. We are extremely disappointed with the outcomes of both men's and women's races. We weren't ready to run today."

Bellingham's Jake Riley finished sixth in 23:13, and was Stanford's fourth runner across the line, while Auburn's Jordan McNamara finished eighth in 23:22, helping #2 ranked Oregon earn a second place team finish.

Needless to say, there will be some reshuffling in the following week's USTFCCCA cross country polls with the performances of both the UW & WSU men's squads.

Complete women's results can be accessed here, while complete men's results can be accessed here.

NOTE--The sports information offices of the Pacific-10 Conference, the University of Washington, and Washington State University contributed to this report.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Eastern, Gonzaga & Seattle University compete in conference championship meets...

While the state's two big NCAA Division I schools are in Long Beach, California for Friday's Pacific 10 title meet, the other three NCAA D-I institutions also have conference title meets to contest.

The Eastern Washington University men's and women's cross country teams will compete Saturday (Oct. 31) at the Big Sky Conference Cross Country Championships in Greeley, Colo., at the Boomerang Golf Course.

The Eagle men will compete at 10 a.m. on the 8,000-meter course with the women following at 11 a.m. in the 5,000-meter run.

Last year at the conference championships, the men's team finished a best-ever third place with Northern Arizona and Weber State finishing one-two, respectively. The women were seventh after having a best-ever finish of fourth in 2007.

"We are really looking forward to the conference championships," said head cross country coach Chris Zeller. "Our Conference is tough though. It is going to come down to who can run the most consistent. We can't worry about how other teams race. We can only go out and run the race we know how to do."

Eagles top runners include junior Alex Smyth and sophomore Kyle King. Smyth finished sixth last season at the conference championships with a time of 23:47.6 and in 2007 he was 13th. Smyth skipped Eastern's final two regular season meets to nurse a strained muscle. In 2008, King was 15th with a time of 24:34.1.

"Our women's team is young, but beginning to figure things out," said Zeller. "The spread of our finishers at Idaho was as small as it's been all year. We have a few who are battling some nagging injuries, but should be good to go in Greeley."

Gonzaga, led by sophomore Chris Boyle from Blanchet HS in Seattle, and senior Brett Withers from Woodinville, heads to Belmont, California for Saturday's West Coast Conference title meet, where they are heavy underdogs to unseat 30-time conference champ University of Portland, who is currently ranked #8 in the USTFCCCA polls.

On the women's side, the Zags are led by redshirt junior Corrina O'Brien from Spokane's Gonzaga Prep, who placed second two weeks ago at the Inland Northwest Cross Country Challenge in Moscow, Idaho.

Portland is heavily loaded with talent from the Puget Sound area, led by senior Tommy Betterbed from Gig Harbor HS. However, according to Portland's release, the Pilots plan to hold out most of their top runners from the WCC meet and focus on the NCAA West regionals two weeks later in Springfield, Oregon.

Seattle University, in its first full season as a NCAA Division I school, travels to historic Van Cortlandt Park in The Bronx, New York for the Great West Conference Championships on Saturday, beginning at 9:30 am local time.

The GWCC meet consists of newly minted NCAA D-I schools, who are not eligible for NCAA championship meet competition until they obtain full status from the NCAA.

The team will be led by sophomore Matthew McClement from Bellingham on the men's side, and senior Greta Stickley (#227/photo courtesy Seattle University) from Poulsbo on the women's side, with freshman Lauren Hammerle (#223) from Seattle's Ballard HS behind Stickley.

The trio were the top runners for the Redhawks in last week's Beaver Classic in Corvallis, Oregon.

NOTE: The sports information offices at Gonzaga, Eastern Washington, and Seattle University contributed to this report.

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.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Versus to carry NCAA cross country championships...

INDIANAPOLIS--- The 2009 NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championships will be broadcast live on VERSUS, marking the third consecutive year the championships will be seen on live television, and the first with VERSUS. A live web stream of the championships will also be available on NCAA.com.

The championships will be held at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center and hosted by Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Ind., on Monday, Nov. 23. The men’s race will start at approximately noon Eastern, with the women’s race to follow. The 2009 championships will be hosted by Indiana State University for the sixth-straight year.

“We are pleased that the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championships will be broadcast live for the third consecutive year,” said Greg Shaheen, NCAA senior vice president for basketball and business strategies. “Through coordinated efforts with our network partner CBS, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Productions and VERSUS, we are excited that these two premiere NCAA fall championships will be televised in high definition. VERSUS brings great exposure and distribution to this event as it marks the first live NCAA championship that will air on the network.”

“The entire cross community has enjoyed watching the event live on television and the internet, and everyone will be pleased they have the ability to do that again this year on VERSUS,” said David Beauchem, chair of the Division I Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championship Committee and head cross country and women’s track and field coach at Bradley University. “It is important that we continue to obtain the best exposure for the sport of cross country.”

VERSUS is a nationally renowned sports network that is distributed to over 75 million U.S. households.

The University of Oregon is the two-time defending men’s team champion, while the University of Washington will defend its title on the women’s side.

NOTE: The NCAA contributed to this report.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Track & Field News co-founder Cordner Nelson passes away...

The track and field world lost a pioneer of the sport on October 26th with the passing of Track & Field News co-founder Cordner Nelson at the age of 91 after a long battle against cancer.

Nelson, along with his brother Bert, started Track & Field News in 1948, and his reporting and editing helped earn the magazine the soubriquet, "The Bible of the Sport", according to his biography listed on the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame page, an honor that he earned in 1988.

He covered every Olympics from 1952 to 2000, along with countless Olympic Trials, US national championships, and NCAA championship meets.

Nelson, along with numerous contributors over the years, helped establish the annual world and national ranking procedures that are widely accepted as the most authentic method of sorting out the best track & field athletes in a given time period.

Beyond the rankings and the stories published in his magazine, he also found the passion to research the training techniques used by the world's best athletes and coaches, which led to the founding of "Track Technique" in 1960, a quarterly publication which today is still relevant among serious students of the sport.

A book that he wrote in the 1960s was a key contributor to my involvement in the sport.

Nelson wrote The Jim Ryun Story (jacket cover above), a biography of the great American middle distance runner from Kansas who captivated the country by being the first high schooler to break four minutes in the mile, and set world records in the 1500 and mile.

Like many high schoolers who ran distances in the 1970s, I checked out the book from the Franklin High School library (if that book is still in the FHS library, I wouldn't be surprised if the card inside still has my name on it) and read and re-read that book nights before a big race as a source of inspiration.

The picture that Nelson painted of Ryun as he ran his workouts and races, and the way he got Ryun to open up, made the reader feel that if one were willing to endure the pain and monotony of training, trust the coaches' judgment, and suck it up, you could achieve anything.

In the pre-DyeStat, LetsRun, RunnerSpace, Flotrack world of track & field, if you wanted to know who the fastest high school kids in the country were, you looked to Track & Field News.

In my day, you knew about guys like Thom Hunt from San Diego, Alberto Salazar from Wayland, Massachusetts, Billy McChesney from South Eugene, Rudy Chapa and Carey Pinkowski from Hammond, Indiana, because the magazine, under Nelson's watch, chronicled what they were doing.

While the internet, with its penchant for delivering news instantaneously, has cut into the print media substantially, I feel that publications like Track & Field News have set the standards in the way blogs and web sites that cover this sport conducts itself. The media may be different, but the journalistic principles remain the same.

Here's a link to an interview written by Jon Hendershott & Sieg Lindstrom of Track & Field News in 1998 celebrating the magazine's 50th anniversary.

Thanks for all you've done for the sport, and for inspiring numerous athletes, coaches, and journalists of the sport, Cordner!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pixler nabs fourth straight GNAC harrier title; Vikings win GNAC men's team title...

YAKIMA--Seattle Pacific senior Jessica Pixler (left/2007 file photo by Paul Merca) finished a four-year career sweep of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference meet on Saturday, leading from start to finish and cruising to a 10-second victory at Apple Ridge Run. Pixler finished the 6-kilometer course in 21 minutes, 3 seconds to defeat Western Washington all-American Sarah Porter by a ten-second margin.

But while Pixler stayed in front, Alaska Anchorage became the first team since Central Washington in 2004 to knock the Falcons out of the top spot. The Seawolves, ranked second in the West Region and fifth in the nation, went 3-4-5-6-7 behind Pixler and Porter for the day’s low total of 25 points.

SPU, ranked No. 3 in the West and No. 7 in the nation, was second with 48. Western Washington, No. 4 in the West and No. 8 nationally, was third with 64. All three teams will share the course again when they gather in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park on Nov. 7 for the NCAA Division II West Regionals.

Pixler was in front even before the race hit the 200-meter mark, and gradually opened the margin on Porter, who also was second last year.

“I think I went out a little too fast, and this is definitely a slow course,” Pixler said. (Indeed, her three other 6K races this year have been well under 21 minutes.) “I went through the mile in 5:17, which was blazing fast, and I felt it a little bit later in the race.”

"That's as close as she's (Porter) been to Pixler and that's exciting to see," said Western Washington coach Pee Wee Halsell.

Falcon senior Jane Larson (Fall City, Wash./Cedar Park Christian HS) took eighth place in 22:20. The other three Seattle Pacific scorers also were in the top 15: sophomore Natty Plunkett (Bellevue, Wash./Newport HS) was 11th in 22:48; senior Lisa Anderberg (Mukilteo, Wash./Kamiak HS) took 13th in 22:57; and senior Kate Harline (Orem, Utah) was 15th in 22:57.

Also finishing among the top 10 for the Vikings to earn all-league honors was Lauren Breihof (So., Vancouver/Mountain View), who placed ninth in 22:37.

Western's Courtney Olsen (Sr., Bellingham/Squalicum), bothered by a bad back, was 12th (22:52); Emily Wallen (Fr., Olympia/Capital) 20th (23:48), and Sierra Brisky (So., Acme/Mount Baker), 21st (23:51) rounded out Western's scorers.

Western easily won its third title in four years as they captured their fourth GNAC championship overall.

The Vikings were led by Bennett Grimes (Jr., Pocatello, ID/Century) and Jordan Welling (Jr., Burlington/Burlington-Edison), who were second (25:05) and third (25:08), respectively.

Grimes finished 15 seconds behind the individual champion, Alaska Anchorage's Marko Cheseto, who became the first two-time men's titlist by completing the 8-kilometer course in 24:50.

Western, ranked No.7 in this week's United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association/NCAA Division II Top 25 Poll, had a winning score of 33 points, 37 ahead of runner-up Alaska Anchorage (70), the defending champion.

"It was a very gutsy race and a really good quality race," said Halsell. "It was good to see our No.5 (runner) moving up closer with less than a minute between them (top five) and our No.6 is not that far back.

"That top seven group is tough and that is what we want to see."

Grimes and Welling were two of four Vikings to earn all-conference recognition by placing among the top 10. Western's Anthony Tomsich (Sr., Fairbanks, AK/West Valley) was sixth (25:14) and Blake Medhaug (Jr., Bothell) ninth (25:32).

It was the third all-league honor for Grimes, Medhaug and Welling.

Completing Western's seven scoring runners were Eric Brill (So., Kent/Kentwood), 13th (25:59), Greg Kubitz (Sr., Kelso), 15th (26:12) and Yonas Berhe (So., Seattle/Roosevelt), 18th (26:28).

SPU's Chad Meis crossed the finish line 11th on Saturday morning as its top finisher. Meis (Renton, Wash./Seattle Christian HS) went through the 8-kilometer course in 25 minutes, 47 seconds.

Last year, Meis (Renton, Wash./Seattle Christian HS) ran 26:06 to place 15th. But even with his significant improvement on Saturday, a top-10 spot proved elusive.

“I was sitting on 10th the whole way,” he said. “I should have had a good race. That’s the most I’ve tapered for the meet.”

While Meis will get a chance to run at the NCAA West Regional meet on Nov. 7 in San Francisco, the Falcons fell short of making it as a team. Needing a top-four finish, SPU checked in fifth with 138 points.

Complete results from the GNAC Championships can be accessed here
.

The Vikings and Falcons have a week off before competing in the NCAA II West Regional on Saturday, Nov. 7, which will be held at Golden Gate State Park in San Francisco, Calif. The top three men's teams and the top four women's teams at the regional meet along with the top two individuals not on a qualifying team or anyone else in the top five qualify for the national meet Nov. 21 at Evansville, Ind.

NOTE--The sports information offices of the GNAC, Seattle Pacific and Western Washington contributed to this report.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

GNAC Cross Country Championships slated for Saturday in Yakima...

The Seattle Pacific Falcon women's cross country will be going for their fifth straight conference crown, and the men will seek a top-four team finish that will guarantee them a trip to the NCAA Division II West Regionals when they step to the starting line for the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) championships at Apple Ridge Run outside of Yakima on Saturday morning.

The 6-kilometer women’s race begins at 10 a.m., followed by the 8K men’s race at 11.

A three-team battle is looming in the women’s race. SPU, Alaska Anchorage and Western Washington all having a legitimate shot at it. Last fall, Anchorage came within four points of the Falcons with a strong surge during the last mile. But SPU prevailed, 48-52.

Seattle Pacific's Jessica Pixler, who is the two-time defending national champion, will be seeking an unprecedented fourth straight GNAC women's individual title. Ashley Vincent of Western Washington (2001-02) is the only other conference athlete to win as many as two conference cross country titles.

One runner who has been hot as of late is Western Washington's Sarah Porter, who won the Viking Invitational two weeks ago, and placed in the top five at the Sundodger Invitational last month hosted by the University of Washington.

The SPU men fell one spot short making it to regionals in 2008 and are out to do something about that on Saturday. It very likely will come down to four teams -- SPU, Northwest Nazarene, Western Oregon and Saint Martin’s -- all in the chase behind Western Washington and defending champion Alaska Anchorage, led by defending individual champion Marko Cheseto.

Western Washington, however, might have an edge in the team race as it returns three All-Americans in Jordan Welling, Bennett Grimes and Blake Medhaug. Welling placed 29th in last year's national meet, while Medhaug was 36th (after placing 35th at the region meet). Grimes placed 41st in the national meet.

All three are two-time all-conference performers. Welling placed fifth, Grimes was ninth and Medhaug was 10th in the 2008 GNAC meet. Welling (WWU Invitational) and Grimes (CWU Apple Ridge) have wins this fall.

NOTE: The GNAC, Seattle Pacific, and Western Washington University's sports information offices contributed to this report.

UNPLUGGED WITH: Sammy Wanjiru...

SAN FRANCISCO--2008 Olympic marathon champion Sammy Wanjiru (left/photo by Paul Merca) from Kenya spoke to members of the international media on October 17, 2009 at the Nike Spring 2010 Global Media Summit in San Francisco, less than a week after winning the Chicago Marathon.

Wanjiru ran the fastest time on American soil, finishing in 2 hours, 5 minutes, 41 seconds, and collected a big bonus check of $100,000 in addition to the $75,000 first prize.

Wanjiru hopes to run the Berlin Marathon in 2010 and take a shot at Haile Gebreselassie's world record.

Wanjiru, who lives and trains most of the year in Japan, was the first Kenyan to win the Olympic marathon title last year in Beijing, running an Olympic record 2:06:32 on a hot day.



paulmerca.blogspot.com will post other highlights shortly from the Nike Spring 2010 Global Media Summit in San Francisco.

NOTE: Special thanks to the Nike Media Relations staff of Jacie Prieto, Morgan Shaw, Heidi Burgett and Megan Saalfeld for their help during the summit.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Both Washington cross country teams ranked in current USTFCCCA poll; Cougar men ranked in top 30

To the surprise of absolutely no one, the University of Washington women's cross country team remains the number one ranked team in the country after their victory at the Pre-Nationals meet over the weekend.

Its men's team moved up one spot in the USTFCCCA polls released Tuesday to number 13 after its solid performance last week.

Washington State (above/photo courtesy WSU Sports Information) is tied with Duke for 26th in this week's U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Rankings, the first time a Cougar team has been ranked in the national poll in six years.

"We're pleased to be nationally ranked," WSU cross country coach Pete Julian said. "This indicates that our program is heading in the right direction. It is important for us to get a ranking and it's always nice to know we are getting recognized. I'm really happy for the athletes but there is still a lot of hard work to do before we make it to the NCAA Championships."

The Cougar men's seventh place finish at the Indiana State University Pre-Nationals Invitational over the weekend propelled them into the top 30 this week. The WSU men were one of two unranked teams to finish ahead of four top 30-ranked teams at the highly touted event.

The last time the WSU men's cross country team earned national recognition was during the 2003 season when the team was ranked 27th in the national poll.

The complete women's and men's rankings can be accessed by clicking the link.

NOTE: The USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Nike Spring 2010 Global Running Summit (part 1)

SAN FRANCISCO--In conjunction with the Nike Women's Marathon, Nike hosted a group of journalists from around the world to introduce product from its spring 2010 running line.

The main story of the summit was the introduction of an improved Nike LunarGlide running shoe, along with two other shoes utilizing the LunarLite foam material--the Lunar Elite, and the Lunar Swift for both men and women.

Nike's Phil McCartney is the speaker featured in this video.

In the days to come, we'll have other videos on this site, and an interview with 2008 Olympic marathon gold medal winner Sammy Wanjiru of Kenya.



NOTE: Special thanks to Jacie Prieto, Megan Saalfeld, and Morgan Shaw of Nike media relations for their assistance.

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.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pre-Nationals in Terre Haute await Cougars and Huskies...

The cross country season takes another step up in intensity for both the University of Washington and Washington State University with the Pre-National Meet this Saturday, held on the same Lavern Gibson course that will host the NCAA Championships next month in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Already considered the final regular season race, Pre-Nationals attracts the largest and highest-quality field outside of the national championships, and is the final tune-up before conference championships take center stage in two weeks.

With over 70 Division-I teams on both the men's and women's side traveling to Terre Haute, the fields get split into two races each and the teams are evenly distributed based on rankings.

The top-ranked Washington women, the defending Pre-National Champions, along with cross state rival Washington State, are in the White Race set for 12:55 p.m. Eastern time while the 14th-ranked men will run in the Blue Race at 11:00 a.m. Eastern, along with the Cougars.

The UW women's top challenges will come from 5th-ranked Princeton, No. 8 Minnesota, and No. 9 Florida. The Huskies cruised to wins over both Princeton and Florida just two weeks ago at the Notre Dame Invitational, but Washington won't quite be at full strength this week as junior All-American Mel Lawrence and junior All-Pac-10 Lauren Saylor will be resting up this weekend, thus putting UW's depth to the test.

Sophomores Kendra Schaaf and Christine Babcock were third and fourth, respectively, at this meet last year and should each be considered among the favorites for the individual title, along with senior Katie Follett who was eighth last year and second to Schaaf at Notre Dame last time out. Juniors Kailey Campbell and Kenna Patrick, and redshirt freshman Allison Linnell and freshman Lindsay Flanagan round out UW's seven competitors.

Washington State counters with seniors Lisa Egami, who finished 48th at the Pre-Nationals last year, Marisa Sandoval and Chelsea VanDeBrake, juniors Amanda Andrews and Ashlee Wall, sophomore Emily Farrar as well as freshman Caroline Austin.

The Husky men meanwhile also bring a great deal of momentum into this weekend as they captured the Notre Dame Invitational title for themselves two weeks ago, defeating a large group of ranked opponents. They will be hard-pressed to win their third-straight meet this season, as the No. 14 men go up against four Top-10 teams in the Blue Race, but Washington will certainly be a factor come Saturday and look to continue their upward trajectory through the rankings. Lining up along with UW will be No. 2 Northern Arizona, No. 3 Alabama, No. 7 Oregon, No. 9 William & Mary, and four additional top-30 teams.

Washington should certainly be capable of improving on its 11th-place finish from a year ago. Seniors Kelly Spady (above/file photo by Paul Merca), Colton Tully-Doyle, and Jake Schmitt give the Huskies a reliable presence at the top of the lineup. They were UW's top-three at NCAA's last year in Terre Haute when the men placed 18th. Sophomore Max O'Donoghue-McDonald and redshirt freshman Joey Bywater rounded out the top-five at Notre Dame as UW put all five of its scorers within a 21-second gap. Also competing on Saturday will be sophomore Cameron Quackenbush and redshirt freshman Rob Webster, Jr., both running on the NCAA Championship course for the first time.

The Cougar men will be represented by seven runners including seniors Sam Ahlbeck, Mark Moeller, and Dominic Smargiassi, junior Dan Geib, sophomores Jono Lafler, Peter Miller, as well as true freshman Andrew Kimpel, who is coming off an impressive 19th place finish at the Roy Griak Invitational.

Here's a complete listing of the teams Washington & Washington State will see Saturday:

Men Blue (35 Teams) Air Force, No. 3 Alabama, Arizona, Auburn, Brown, No. 19 Butler, Cal-Berkeley, No. 29 Cal-Poly, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Harvard, Illinois State, Indiana State, Iowa, IUPUI, Kansas, Loyola (MD), Marquette, Miami (OH), Michigan State, Montana, Montana State, No. 21 NC State, No. 2 Northern Arizona, No. 7 Oregon, Toledo, No. 27 Tulsa, UNC-Charlotte, Utah State, UTEP, No. 14 Washington, Washington State, Western Kentucky, No. 9 William & Mary

Women White
(37 Teams) Akron, Alabama, No. 17 Arizona State, No. 12 Baylor, Brown, Cal-Berkeley, Cincinnati, Colorado State, Columbia, Eastern Michigan, No. 9 Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, No. 18 Illinois, Illinois State, Jacksonville, Kansas, Loyola (MD), No. 8 Minnesota, Montana, No. 21 New Mexico, No. 27 Northern Arizona, North Carolina, No. 20 Notre Dame, Ohio State, No. 5 Princeton, No. 15 Syracuse, Texas, UC-Santa Barbara, UNC-Charlotte, Utah State, Wake Forest, No. 1 Washington, Washington State, Western Michigan, Wichita State, William & Mary


For more information and results, visit www.gosycamores.com.

INLAND NORTHWEST CROSS COUNTRY CLASSIC

Washington State will also run a squad at Saturday's Inland Northwest Cross Country Classic in Moscow, Idaho, where they will face Idaho, along with Gonzaga and Eastern Washington.

The men's race will begin at 4:30 p.m. following the women at 4:00 p.m. Eastern and Gonzaga last raced Oct. 3 when they competed at the Montana Invitational.

"Our athletes are chomping at the bit to race again," said Eastern Washington head cross country coach Chris Zeller. "We will again be without Alex Smyth, who is nursing a strained muscle. He's backing off this week so that it can heal and then he can prepare for the conference Championships."

At Montana, the Eagles finished fourth, while the Bulldogs of Gonzaga were fifth.

Gonzaga's women's squad continues to make strides, coming off a second place team finish at the Montana Invitational, led by Corrina O'Brien and Kayla Lloyd as the Zags finished second with 52 points. Eastern finished fifth in the five-team race at Montana.

NOTE: The sports information offices of Eastern Washington, Gonzaga, University of Washington and Washington State University contributed to this report.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Porter & Welling win Western Washington Invitational harrier titles...

BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Western Washington University's Sarah Porter (left/photo courtesy Western Washington University) successfully defended her women's title and Jordan Welling took the men's crown at the 36th Annual Viking Invitational on Saturday at Lake Padden Park.

Welling, who placed second last year and was Western's top finisher for the second straight meet this season, led a 1-2-3 finish for the Viking men who placed first in both the overall and collegiate standings with 23 points. A distant second in the eight-team field was Club Northwest with 63 points. British Columbia was third with 84 points.

Welling toured the 10-kilometer course in 31:41. Bennett Grimes was second in 31:50 and Anthony Tomsich, who was the individual winner in 2007, finished third in 31:49.

The top seven Western men finished within a span of 1:25.

"We had great efforts from both teams," said Western coach Pee Wee Halsell, whose women are ranked No.7 and men No.8 in their respective United States Cross Country Coaches Association/NCAA Division II Top 25 Polls.

"Those time spreads for the top seven runners on both sides show the strength and depth of both teams."

Porter was the women's champion for the second straight year, finishing the 6-kilometer distance in 21:09, four seconds off the course record and 48 seconds ahead of the runner-up.
The Western women finished second with 39 points, just seven behind overall winner Club Northwest (32). British Columbia was third (88) in the six-team field.

Running without front runners Jessica Pixler and Jane Larson, who raced the day before in San Francisco, the SPU Falcons finished fourth with 90 points, led by Natty Plunkett's eighth place finish in 22:29.

In the men's race, Nate Sleight was SPU's top finisher in 27th, as the Falcons finished seventh.

This was the last major race for Western and SPU as they prep for the upcoming GNAC Championships, which are set for Saturday, Oct. 24, at Apple Ridge Run just outside of Yakima.

NOTE--The sports information offices of Western Washington and Seattle Pacific contributed to this report.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Pixler & Larson go 1-2 at San Francisco State Invitational...

Seattle Pacific University seniors Jessica Pixler and Jane Larson (left/photo courtesy Seattle Pacific) ran to a 1-2 finish at the San Francisco State Invitational in Golden Gate Park on Friday, which will host next month’s NCAA Division II West Regional championships.

Pixler (Sammamish, Wash./Eastlake HS) covered the 6-kilometer course in 20 minutes, 36 seconds. Larson (Fall City, Wash./Cedar Park Christian HS) came across the line in 21:37.


They weren’t the only Falcons flying up front. SPU senior Chad Meis (Renton, Wash./Seattle Christian HS) cracked the top 10 in the 8K men’s race, crossing the line ninth in 25:48.

For Pixler, it was her third straight pre-regional victory. Two years ago in Boise, she won the Bob Firman Invitational, then went on to claim the regional crown. Last year, she went on a record-setting run at the Triton Cross Country Classic in La Jolla, Calif., then came back four weeks later and won regionals in yet another record time.

“Jessica was in control from start to finish, and Jane felt really good, and didn’t feel like she even had to dig that deep,” SPU coach Erika Daligcon said. “And we had a solid week of training -- there was no backing down.”

Pixler, a Falcon senior, is the three-time defending regional champion and also has won the past two Division II national titles. Larson moved up three spots from her fifth-place finish in last year’s pre-regional, the Triton Cross Country Classic in La Jolla, Calif.

“It was really exciting to watch them running out there,” Daligcon said. “They were enjoying the course.”

Meis followed up his strong run at last weekend’s Charles Bowles Invite in Salem, Ore., with Friday’s performance in San Francisco. Junior teammate Jordan Lance (Mill Creek, Wash./Jackson HS) checked in 63rd in 27:39.

Meis was coming off of his first career run below the 25-minute mark, as he clocked a 24:54.89 at the Bowles.

“That was solid today, especially considering these guys raced last weekend and raced pretty hard,” Daligcon said. “Even gauging off the times of (Alaska Anchorage’s Marko) Cheseto (who won in 24:52), the times that Chad and Jordan ran were solid.”

Results from Friday's San Francisco State Invitational can be accessed through the SPU Falcons team page.

Courtesy of media partner Flotrack.org, here's a post race interview with Pixler.

Track and Field Videos on Flotrack



NOTE: The sports information office at Seattle Pacific contributed to this report.

Four Falcons to run in San Francisco, while rest of team set for showdown with Western in Bellingham...

Bellingham and San Francisco will be the focus this weekend as the Seattle Pacific and Western Washington cross country teams will compete at those venues.

Seattle Pacific's reigning NCAA D2 cross country champ Jessica Pixler (left/photo courtesy SPU Sports Information) will get a preview of this year’s regional course, and the rest of the region will get a look at her, speedy senior teammate Jane Larson, and SPU men’s team front runners Chad Meis and Jordan Lance when the four of them compete in the San Francisco State Invite at Golden Gate Park on Friday.

The meet affords runners an opportunity to get a feel for the course that will be used again on Nov. 7 for the NCAA Division II West Region championships. Pixler and Larson will run in the 6-kilometer women’s race at 4 p.m. SPU senior Meis and junior Lance will go in the 8K men’s race at 4:45.

While that Falcon foursome will be getting one final race under their shoes prior to the Great Northwest Athletic Conference championships (set for Oct. 24 in Yakima), the rest of the SPU runners will be doing likewise on Saturday at the Western Washington Invitational at Bellingham’s Lake Padden Park. The women will run their 6K race at 10:30 a.m., followed by the men’s 10K at 11:15 a.m.

"It will be good to get back in a cycle again and have a good race," said WWU Invitational host and Western coach Pee Wee Halsell. "It will help us get ready for the championship part of our season where our focus is."

The Viking women, ranked No.7 in the latest United States Cross Country Coaches Association/NCAA Division II Top 25 Poll, are led by All-American Sarah Porter, who is looking to defend her individual title.

Porter has placed first in five of her last six regular-season meets and finished among the top 10 in all 11 regular-season events during her three-year career.

The Western men, rated No.8 nationally, are seeking a fifth straight team title.

The Vikings are paced by three All-Americans - Bennett Grimes, Blake Medhaug, and Jordan Welling.

NOTE: The sports information offices of Western Washington and Seattle Pacific contributed to this report.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Kyle Nielsen finishes sixth at Francophone Games...

BEIRUT, Lebanon--University of Washington javelin thrower Kyle Nielsen, a member of the Canadian national team, finished sixth in the finals at the Francophone Games competition Monday.

Nielsen, who finished sixth for the Huskies at the NCAA Championships back in June, threw a best of 71.01 meters (232-11) on his final attempt.

The competition was won by Ehab Abdel Rahman of Egypt with a toss of 77.33m (253-8).

In an email sent to paulmerca.blogspot.com, the Canadian said, "my first throw (which he fouled) was my best, but I was just over the line. I needed more throws to get into the groove, but it was so hot I wanted to conserve my energy for the competition. so balancing the two was the biggest battle of the meet."

Nonetheless, he felt that it was a good end to the 2009 season, considering that he had been competing since March. He said that it's a tribute to the coaching he's received at the UW to have enough stamina and a great base level to compete at meets this late.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Huskies win Emerald City Open...

SEATTLE - It was a familiar story at the Emerald City Open for the Husky cross country teams Saturday morning, as Rob Webster Jr. and Mo Huber (left/2007 file photo by Paul Merca) duplicated their individual titles from one year ago and Washington packed several runners at the front of both the men's and women's events.

While the top UW runners were still in Indiana after sweeping the Notre Dame Invitational titles on Friday, the rest of the team put the overall depth of the program on full display by running away from a collection of local colleges and clubs at Lower Woodland Park.

The women's 6,000-meters was up first and Washington swept the top three spots and eight of the first nine. Huber, a junior, ran to a seven-second win in 23-minutes, 3-seconds.

Second-place went to freshman Justine Johnson, competing unattached, who finished in 23:10. Redshirt freshman Kayla Evans placed third in 23:19.

Fifth- and sixth-places went to freshmen Breanna Huschka and Grace Green, respectively. Junior Bailey Schutte was seventh, followed by Lindsey Kirschman in eighth and freshman Allison Ponce in ninth. Courtney Lightfoot and Nicole Aurigemma also took 11th- and 12th-places, before a group of four Seattle U. runners came across.

Freshman Krysta Carrick from Seattle Pacific covered the 6-kilometer course in 25 minutes, 56 seconds on Saturday morning, finishing 18th overall, as the Falcons ran their younger runners at the meet.

Rachel Yorkston (Bellingham, Wash.) was the top finished for Seattle University, finishing in 13th place in 24:45. She led a progression of Redhawk runners that crossed the finish line, as Brittney Hovdenes (Rapid City, S.D.) crossed the line in 14th place in 24:52, followed by Lauren Hammerle (Seattle, Wash.) in 15th place in 25:20 and Greta Stickney (Poulsbo, Wash.) in 16th place with a time of 25:41.

Another group of SeattleU runners came across the finish line, led by Julia Miller (Normandy Park, Wash.) in 19th place with a time of 26:12. She finished just ahead of Sarah Bolce (Sacramento, Calif.), who ran the course in 26:20 for a 20th place finish. Ginny Butt (Eugene, Ore.) earned a 21st place finish with a time of 26:28, and Allison Prather (Carpinteria, Calif.) posted a time of 26:39 for a 22nd place finish. Nicole Waters (Phoenix, Ariz.) came on in 29th place with a time of 27:50, and Ashley Dalton (Bellingham, Wash.) finished in 30th place in 28:23.

"The women's team ran very strong today," Redhawk head coach Trisha Steidl said. "I know they were determined to run well on their home course and they were successful. It was great to see their competitive fires shining bright."

In the men's 8k, Webster led from the start and pulled away for the win in 25:59, running 18-seconds faster than his 2008 win. Husky frosh Gareth Gilna took runner-up honors in 26:33, followed by redshirt freshman Greg Drosky who ran 26:43. Sophomore Faisal Abdullahi was eighth, followed by freshman Taylor Carlson, running unattached.

Hans Heitzinger (Scottsdale, Ariz.) was the first SeattleU runner to complete the eight-kilometer course, finishing tenth overall with a time of 27:31. Kelton Sears (Maple Valley, Wash.) was close behind in 11th place in 27:40, one second ahead of teammate Erik Barkhaus (Whitefish Bay, Wis.), who finished in 12th place in 27:41.

Michael Van Nuland (Newcastle, Wash.) led the second wave of Redhawk runners, posting a time of 27:59 for a 15th place finish. Matthew McClement (Bellingham, Wash.) was right behind in 16th place with a time of 28:01, followed by Nicholas Alvarado (San Francisco, Calif.) in 17th place in 28:05 and Adam Kollgaard (Kent, Wash.) in 18th place with a time of 28:12.

The Seattle University cross country teams will next compete at the Mike Hodges Invitational, hosted by Clackamas Community College in Oregon City, Ore., on Friday, Oct. 16, beginning at 3:30 p.m.

NOTE: The sports information offices at the University of Washington and Seattle University contributed to this report.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Just when you thought the track season was officially over...

BEIRUT, Lebanon--University of Washington javelin throwers Kyle Nielsen and Brooke Pighin are representing Canada in the Francophone Games.

Pighin set a personal best in placing fourth on Thursday October 1st, with a toss of 51.87 meters (170-2), set in round 5.

Here's the complete results of the women's javelin finals.

Fellow Husky Nielsen (left/photo courtesy University of Washington sports information) is qualified for the finals, which get underway Monday at 4:30 pm local time (2:30 am in Seattle). The start list for the finals is here.

Here's the link to the meet's official web site (in French).

Friday, October 2, 2009

Dawgs sweep Notre Dame Invitational...

NOTRE DAME, Indiana--The top ranked University of Washington Huskies continued right where they left off in 2008--at the top of the leaderboard, as the Huskies took the first four places in winning the team title at the Notre Dame Invitational cross country meet, scoring 33 points.

Sophomore Kendra Schaaf won her second consecutive race this season, stopping the clocks at 16:31 for the 5 kilometer distance.

Senior Katie Follett followed in 16:33, with junior Mel Lawrence third in 16:36, and sophomore Christine Babcock fourth in 16:39.

Junior Lauren Saylor rounded out the Husky scorers in 23rd, with a time of 17:12.

"Kendra and Christine got out pretty well while Katie and Mel were nice and patient," said head coach Greg Metcalf. "At two miles they were still running in packs, but then it started to spread out. Kendra got out in front and Christine, Mel and Katie ran together. They were able to run pretty easy to the finish line, and didn't have to go to the well today, so it was a solid effort."

Washington also won the men's team title (above/photo courtesy twitter.com/UWTrack) at the ND Invite in a close battle with the Providence Friars, with the Dawgs prevailing 113-119.

Kelly Spady, the winner of the Sundodger Invite two weeks ago, led the Huskies with his ninth place finish over the 8-kilometer course, running 24:05.

Fellow senior Colton Tully-Doyle was 13th in 24:09, then it was senior Jake Schmitt and redshirt freshman Joey Bywater crossing the line together in 28th and 29th at 24:22. Redshirt sophomore Max O'Donoghue-McDonald closed out the Husky scorers in 34th, four seconds behind Schmitt and Bywater.

"It was a large field with a lot of jostling early," said Metcalf. "Two-hundred-meters in Jordan (Swarthout) and David (McCary) got knocked to the ground and were both in last place and had to make up a lot of ground. Colton was in the mix from beginning and Jake and Kelly and worked their way up. Joey Bywater really saved us today. He was 40th with a thousand meters to go and wound up 29th. Max also took another big step today."

"The goal for the guys really was to come win a cross country race today. We talked about what it would take and then went out and did it," he said. "This group has been excited all fall every day. They saw a lot of the synergy and momentum of our women's team, had that to think about over the summer and now they're showing a similar great energy right now. There's much more potential though and plenty to fix."

The complete results of the Notre Dame Invitational can be accessed here.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

High stakes on the line as Chicago, Tokyo, Rio & Madrid bid for 2016 Olympics...

For you night owls out there in the United States that follow the Olympic sports movement, the next few hours are the most critical, as the four cities bidding to host the 2016 Olympic Games in this order--Chicago, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, and Madrid--make their case to the members of the International Olympic Committee.

Each of the four cities will have about 45 minutes to speak to the IOC, then a 15-minute question and answer session.

The US candidate, Chicago, will be up first, speaking at 11:45 pm Thursday night US west coast time, followed by Tokyo, Rio, and Madrid.

Each of the four cities will have prominent government leaders speaking on their behalf, including President Barack Obama on behalf of Chicago, his adopted home town.

Reigning Olympic decathlon champion Bryan Clay (who we interviewed back in June) is also scheduled to speak to members of the International Olympic Committee on Chicago's behalf.

By the time most of you on the west coast are up Friday morning, the members of the IOC will have cast their votes, and we'll have a winner (to be announced around 7 am, pacific time).

According to insidethegames.biz, it is a close call between Chicago and Rio, with the Windy City holding a narrow edge. Should Rio win, the Olympics will travel to South America for the first time in its history.

The USA last hosted the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996. Spain last hosted the Olympics in Barcelona in 1992, while Tokyo hosted the Games in 1964.

You can follow the presentations online at universalsports.com.

UPDATE (8:26 am)--Chicago eliminated. Didn't see that one coming!

UPDATE 2: (8:35 am)--The International Olympic Committee will announce in about an hour the host city for the 2016 Olympics; Tokyo was eliminated in round two. It's between Madrid & Rio. It's the lure of South America versus the pull of one Juan Antonio Samaranch. Just wondering if he's cashing in his IOUs on the IOC members. Should Madrid win, wonder how having the Olympics twice in a row will look?

UPDATE 3 (9:55 am)--Rio gets the nod!

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