NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Washington’s top-ranked women’s cross country team continued to steamroll, and was the 22nd-ranked men made a major statement of their own, as both Husky teams claimed the titles today at the Notre Dame Invitational. The Husky women went one through four, led by sophomore Kendra Schaaf, who won her second race of the season and fifth of her young career.
The Huskies ran on the Notre Dame Golf Course just west of Notre Dame Stadium, where the Washington football team tomorrow will look to break into open space similar to what the No. 1-ranked found today at the end of their 5,000-meter run. Schaaf crossed the line first in 16-minutes, 31-seconds, and was followed across the line by three more UW All-Americans; senior Katie Follett taking second in 16:33, junior Mel Lawrence third in 16:36, and sophomore Christine Babcock fourth in 16:39. Junior Lauren Saylor’s 23rd-place finish completed Washington’s scoring with 33 points.
The Husky women left nine Top-30 teams in their wake. No. 6 Princeton was second with 68 points, followed by No. 15 Florida (104), No. 22 Penn State (152), and No. 13 Arizona State (170). An expected battle with No. 3 Florida State did not materialize, as FSU placed seventh without its top returner competing.
“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.”
While the women were certainly the prohibitive favorites coming in, Washington’s men’s team had three higher-ranked teams to contend with out of eight total Top-30 programs. The Huskies ran to the title thanks to their impressive depth while having just a 21-second gap between their first and fifth finishers. Senior Kelly Spady, who won the season-opening Sundodger, continued his great early season with a ninth-place finish to lead the Dawgs. Spady ran 24:05 over the 8,000-meters.
Close behind was senior Colton Tully-Doyle, taking 13th in 24:09. Senior Jake Schmitt and redshirt freshman Joey Bywater then crossed side-by-side in 24:22 to take 28th- and 29th-places, respectively. Sophomore Max O’Donoghue-McDonald capped the scoring with a 34th-place finish in 24:26. O’Donoghue-McDonald’s 34th-place finish was by far the best of any No. 5 runner on the day. Second-place Providence’s fifth-man came in 49th.
When the scores were added up, the men came out ahead of 15th-ranked Providence, 113-119. 24th-ranked New Mexico was and No. 20 Butler tied for third with 151 points. Arizona State took fifth (158), No. 26 Florida State was sixth (187), and 11th-ranked Tulsa took seventh (232). Wins over so many ranked teams could go a long way to helping the Huskies reach the NCAA Championships come November 23.
“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 thosuand meteres to go and wound up 29th. Max also took another big step today.”
Metcalf was especially pleased to see an attitude that has been evident every day in practice carry over to a major race.
“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.”