Sunday, November 21, 2010

Washington women tour Terre Haute cross country course for Monday's NCAA Championships...

TERRE HAUTE, Indiana--Took a walk around the LaVern Gibson Cross Country Course, site of Monday's NCAA Cross Country Championships just to get a feel for what the runners will face.

The race course seemed firm, but could be interesting if the rains appear Sunday night.

Forecast for Monday's race includes a 50% chance of precipitation with a projected high of 68 degrees, and windy conditions of up to 20 miles per hour.

The University of Washington women's cross country team (from left, assistant coach Lauren Denfeld, Kailey Campbell, Katie Flood, Justine Johnson, Mackenzie Carter, Lindsay Flanagan & Mel Lawrence/photo by Paul Merca) took to the course shortly after noon, local time, looking very relaxed with little of the pressure of repeating as national champions, a position they were in at this time last year.

One thing that's come out of today's course tour is the fact that next year's NCAA cross country chanpionships will not be held in Portland, Oregon at Portland Meadows Race Track.

The word from several well-placed sources within the national cross country community attending this meet was that the University of Oregon was supposed to host the meet in 2011, but wanted it on a Saturday instead of the traditional Monday morning.

With that option out, the NCAA is working on a venue for next year's meet.  The 2012 meet will be held in Louisville, Kentucky.

Several of the women wore fake mustaches during their course run, playing along with media partner Flotrack's "Stashies for Nashies" promotion to hype the website's NCAA coverage.

Afterwards, UW coach Greg Metcalf talked to Flotrack about the pink mustaches.

One of the reasons for Washington's late run of success after a disappointing Pre-Nationals here in Terre Haute last month has been the return of junior Christine Babcock from a confounding injury.

Babcock, from Irvine, Calif., gave UW one its best freshman running seasons ever in the fall of 2008, after qualifying for the US Olympic Trials in the 1500 her senior year. She became an All-American as the top freshman finisher and seventh overall at the NCAA championships (20:02). Her scintillating run led the Huskies to the team national title.

She continued that excellence in the spring of 2009 with one of the Huskies' best freshman track seasons ever. In the NCAA preliminaries she set her personal record in the 1,500 meters, 4:16. She finished 11th nationally in the 1,500.

Babcock appeared on her way to another national splash in cross country last fall when her right foot started swelling more with each race. She would run through the pain, endure a week of swelling, then race again. She still earned second consecutive selections as All-Pac-10 and All-America, but fell off to a 34th-place finish at the NCAAs.

To read the full story, please click here.

Don't forget that will provide live online coverage of the NCAA cross country championships, with the women's 6k race starting at 9 am, Seattle time.

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