SPRINGFIELD, Ore. – The No. 1-ranked Husky women’s cross country team turned in a dominant performance this afternoon at the Springfield Country Club, running away with the NCAA West Regional Championship title, led by sophomore Kendra Schaaf who crossed the line first for the sixth win of her career.
The women clinched an automatic bid into the National Championships next Monday, November 23, in Terre Haute, Indiana where they will seek to defend their NCAA Championship. Washington’s 17th-ranked men’s team also had a sterling run, placing fourth behind three Top-10 teams to likely put themselves in position to earn their second-straight at-large bid to Nationals.
It was the 11th-straight victory for the UW women and their second-straight Regional victory. After defeating 5th-ranked Oregon by just seven points two weeks ago at the Pac-10 Championships, Washington put its entire top-five in the Top-10 to score a scant 25 points which was well ahead of second-place and meet host Oregon’s 66 points. 14th-ranked Stanford was third with 94 and No. 16 Arizona State was fourth with 119.
The men tallied 120 points to take fourth, matching their best team finish since 1994. Senior Colton Tully-Doyle led the Dawgs with an 18th-place finish, just one year after taking 100th at this same race. The top-ranked Stanford men won the 10-kilometer run with 27 points, easily outpacing 7th-ranked Portland which was second with 84 points and No. 3 Oregon was third with 109, just 11 points ahead of UW. The Huskies finished well ahead of 13th-ranked Arizona State which tied with Cal Poly for fifth with 155.
Schaaf becomes Washington’s first individual Regional Champion since Regina Joyce in 1980. The sophomore All-American rested at this meet last year so this was her first Regional run. Her time of 20-minutes and 41-seconds was 11 seconds ahead of Oregon’s Jordan Hasay who was second.
Junior All-American Mel Lawrence was third overall for the Dawgs in 20:58. One of the performances of the day went to junior Kailey Campbell of Ballard High, who was fourth overall in 21:00. Today was her first race ever in UW’s top-three. Two-time All-American senior Katie Follett was seventh in 21:02, and sophomore All-American Christine Babcock placed 10th in 21:12 to round out the scoring.
Washington’s entire top-five ran up front throughout, keeping a conservative pace early with Schaaf leading the way. Schaaf’s race strategy was more conservative than her past two efforts, as she stayed with the field early and then made her move on the final 2-kilometer lap.
“We were just planning to pack run and take it easy through the first three quarters of the race since we have Nationals in a week,” said the Craven, Saskatchewan native. “I think that as a team we’re getting better. The more we run together, the better we get and more competitive are. At Nationals, we just have to work together.”
This is the fourth Regional title for the Husky women all-time, as they won last year and in 1989 and 1992.
“At Pac-10s our women were out of sorts a little bit,” said Head Coach Greg Metcalf. “Today we were much more controlled and purposeful in how we prepared. We put the restrictor plate on Kendra Schaaf today and she executed the plan to perfection. Kailey Campbell had without a doubt the best cross country race of her career, we might have to give her the game ball today. Overall this was our most complete effort.”
Backing up Tully-Doyle for the Husky men was senior Kelly Spady who had his best Regional run with a 20th-place finish in 31:14 for the 10k course. Redshirt freshman Joey Bywater had a fantastic final kick to move up to 23rd in 31:21. Senior Jake Schmitt took a spill down the final stretch of the muddy course but still placed 30th. Sophomore Cameron Quackenbush then completed UW’s scoring with a 34th-place finish in 34:37. UW’s top-four were just 14 seconds apart.
“We think our men did everything they needed to do today to advance. The men ran very patient, with our three seniors sticking with the lead group and not letting go,” said Metcalf. “Joey Bywater, to place 23rd in his first 10k run as just a redshirt freshman is phenomenal and he must have passed 10 guys in the final 200-meters. Cameron Quackenbush had his best run of the year as well. We’ve always been a 10k team and I think our men will gain even more confidence from this.”