Saturday, September 15, 2012

Christine Babcock and Joey Bywater win Sundodger Invitational as Huskies roll...

SEATTLE--On a sunny Saturday morning at West Seattle's Lincoln Park, University of Washington alum Christine Babcock (left/photo by Paul Merca), and Husky senior Joey Bywater ran to victory in the annual Sundodger Invitational hosted by the University of Washington.

Babcock, a member of the Huskies' 2008 national championship squad as a highly touted freshman from Southern California, was at or near the front early, and stretched out her lead over the three lap, 6k Lincoln Park loop, as she took an 18-second victory over Idaho's Hannah Kiser, 20:28 to 20:46.

Though out of cross country eligibility for the Huskies, Babcock does have remaining eligibility for track and field with the UDub.

Defending champion Allix Potratz-Lee finished third in 20:50, while Fresno State's Lyndsie Etherton was fourth in 20:59, and Maria Bernard of the University of British Columbia rounded out the top five in 21:01.

Chelsea Orr was the leading runner for the University of Washington, finishing seventh in 21:10, just one second behind Eleanor Fulton, the UW sophomore who was competing unattached.

Kayla Evans in ninth (21:18), freshman Maddie Meyers in 11th (21:32), Anna Dailey in 14th (21:47), and Joelle Amaral (22:15) in 19th rounded out the scoring for the USTFCCCA #1 ranked Huskies, as they took the team title with a score of 45 points, with Fresno State second at 56 points, and Idaho in third with 76 points.

Eastern Washington was seventh with 204 points, led by Berenice Peraloza in 39th at 23:11.

Washington ran without several of their top returning athletes including Pac-12 champ Katie Flood, and NCAA All-American Megan Goethals.

As for the victor, UW head coach Greg Metcalf said, "(Babcock) needed a track season to get her legs back. Last track season wasn't perfect but it got her moving again. So she's had a great summer, she's as fit as she's been in three years. This is by design, that's the only race she'll run this fall, and now we'll build and get ready for track season. I'm excited about how she looked today."

In the men's invitational 8k, a large group of Huskies took command early in the race, with Idaho's Barry Britt, last year's runner-up the only one willing to run up front with the Dawgs.

As the race progressed, the Huskies' Joey Bywater (above/photo by Paul Merca) began asserting his will on the field, with NAIA All-American Seth Bridges, who recently completed eligibility from Northwest University in Kirkland, and Washington State alum Justin Englund giving chase.

Bywater took the victory in 23:49, nine seconds up on Bridges, with Englund third at 24:04.

Britt hung on for fourth at 24:06, with the Huskies' Aaron Nelson fifth in 24:12.

After Fresno State's Olivier Bernard crossed the line in sixth at 24:15, the Huskies strung five straight runners across the line, led by seventh place finisher Tyler King (24:15), Rob Webster Jr (24:17), and Gareth Gilna (24:19).

The Huskies were easy winners of the men's team title with 22 points, followed by Fresno State at 61, and Idaho at 73 points.

"Aside from missing James Cameron, that is our men's group right there," said Metcalf. "I think they're tired from training and camp so they were a little flat today, but all in all I thought today was successful. I liked the way they operated. They were aggressive, and I'm excited about what's in store for them. That was the best I've seen Joey look in a cross country race; he looked completely in control."

In the day's opening race, Lewis & Clark's Emily Thomas took a 13 second win over Marlene Farrell in the open women's 6k, 21:50 to 22:03, with Western Washington's Katelyn Steen third at 22:09.

Lewis & Clark squeezed out a five-point victory over surprising Everett Community College 62-67, with Seattle Pacific third at 88 points.

Other Washington schools included Western Washington in 6th at 203; Central Washington in 8th at 219; Whitworth 9th at 242; and Northwest University 11th at 290.

In the men's open 8k, Western Washington's Chip Jackson reeled in early leader Jesse Baggenstos of Northwest Nazarene on the final lap to win 24:55 to 24:58.

Blair Johnston of Trinity Western was third at 25:08, with US Olympic Trials steeplechase qualifier John Ricardi fourth in 25:09.

The University of British Columbia won with 48 points, followed by Seattle Pacific at 108, and Everett CC third with 128.

Other Washington schools included SeattleU 4th at 155; Western Washington 5th at 166; Whitworth 6th at 212; Puget Sound 7th at 219; Central Washington 13th at 375; St Martin's 16th at 410; Pacific Lutheran 17th at 429; Green River CC 20th at 545; and, Highline CC 22nd at 680.

In the high school 5k races, Glacier Peak's Amy-Eloise Neale, the 2012 Gatorade state track & field athlete of the year, took the girls' title in 16:32, while Seattle Prep's defending state 3A 3200m champ Joe Hardy won in 14:58.

Complete results of the Sundodger Invitational, along with the UW recap are available here.

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