Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Polls take center stage...

NEW ORLEANS – The latest national cross country poll in Division I by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) has, by no surprise, seen some shifts in its upper- to mid-ranks. The previous weekend provided some of the best looks of the teams to watch come November and championship season.

The University of Washington women’s team, which had high expectations thanks to a stellar recruiting class, started the 2010 season at #3, then dropped to #13 after the Notre Dame Invitational, is now at #20 after a ninth place finish in the Blue section of last week’s Pre-Nationals race in Terre Haute.

If there is one bright spot for the Huskies, as they prepare to host the Pacific-10 Cross Country Championships next week at Jefferson Park Golf Course in Seattle, is that there is a strong possibility that they will have both veterans Christine Babcock (left/photo by Paul Merca) and Lauren Saylor ready to run.

Babcock, who is coming off a foot injury suffered during the track season, won the Mike Hodges Invitational at Clackamas CC on October 15th, running 17:16 over the 5000-meter course, while Saylor ran 18:36.

Top frosh recruit Megan Goethels did not make the trip to Indiana for the Huskies, senior Kailey Campbell was forced to drop out, and Mel Lawrence and Katie Flood placed in the top 25, giving folks hope that the Huskies, will have all their weapons as they enter the crucial championship phase of the season.

Entering the championship phase, Oregon at #2, Arizona at #6, and Stanford at #9 are the three Pac-10 teams ahead of the Huskies in the national polls.

Washington’s men’s team is not ranked in the current poll, as Stanford is ranked #1, with Oregon #3, and California #22.

The USTFCCCA poll is available here.

On the pro circuit, Vancouver’s Kara Patterson and Washington State alum Bernard Lagat are two of the nine finalists for the USA Track & Field Jesse Owens Award, which is given to the country’s top male and female pro track & field athlete of the year.

The award is voted on by members of the media, with fan voting accounting for 10% of the total (disclosure: Paul Merca has a vote as a member of the Track & Field Writers of America).

Finalists include Christian Cantwell, Tyson Gay, Lagat, David Oliver & Chris Solinsky; Allyson Felix, Molly Huddle, Chaunte Lowe, and Patterson.

To vote, please click here. Note that voting ends Thursday October 21st at 11:59 pm, eastern time.

NOTE:  The USTFCCCA & USA Track & Field contributed to this story.

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