The University of Washington cross country teams played host for a dozen Division I teams Friday afternoon at the Jefferson Park Golf Course. And the Huskies did not disappoint the local crowd.
Although Oregon won both the men and women’s team titles, the UW runners performed well in the UW’s third competition of the season. The women narrowly edged No. 4 Stanford for second place, while the men finished in sixth.
“That was the first real competitive field,” said senior Tyler King, who finished third on the team and 33rd overall. “It is really good for us, especially the younger guys. We are loads better than we were two weeks ago, and the goal is that when we go to Wisconsin two weeks from now we will have more even firepower in our arsenal.”
Until the final two kilometers, the men’s race had remained close from top to bottom with no team separating itself from the pack. Then, junior Edward Cheserek, the two-time national champion from Oregon, stepped on the gas en route to a comfortable individual win.
This forced the rest of the runners to ramp up the intensity. But despite the UW slipping behind in points, head coach Greg Metcalf was pleased with the performance.
“In terms of the time splits, they have made so much progress,” Metcalf said. “Nothing was lost today in rankings. So seeing Izaic [Yorks] improve on his time at this course from one year ago, Tyler [King] perform well after running sick at the Sundodger, and both Fred [Huxham] and Andrew [Gardner] put in another solid race were the important takeaways.”
Going into their race, the No. 15 UW women were looking to measure themselves against two top-10 teams in No. 4 Stanford and No. 5 Oregon.
“The key was not getting intimidated by the bigger meets or the higher-ranked teams,” sophomore Katie Knight said. “Having confidence in the work we put in practice and staying relaxed paid off. We knew if we went out and did what we should, big things were going to happen for us.”
Senior Maddie Meyers led the team with her third-place finish, and, at times, held the overall lead. Freshman Charlotte Prouse also made the individual podium by coming in seventh. Third on the team was sophomore Anna Maxwell, who finished 12th.
But it was Knight and freshman Lindsey Bradley who both passed Stanford’s Julia Maxwell in the home stretch to give Washington a one-point victory over the Cardinal in the team standings.
“To finish so well, we needed everyone to run a really solid race rather than one girl to run an absolute perfect one,” Meyers said. “I don't think anyone knew that we beat Stanford until after we crossed the finish line. We owe it to Katie and Lindsey for sticking it out in those final seconds.”
With likely twice as many teams competing, the Huskies will be returning to the Jefferson Park Golf Course in a little over a month on Nov. 13 for the NCAA West Regional. Up next, the Huskies will head Madison, Wisc., to compete in the Wisconsin Invitational on Oct. 16.
“I couldn't ask for anything else,” Meyers said.“We have been a lot more patient in our training this season, making sure nothing hurts. Yes, it wasn't first place, but to be this competitive at this point in the season it is really satisfying.”
Reach writer Aaron Huang at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @aaron_c_huang