The Washington cross country team will begin its 2016 campaign with momentum from last year's successful season. The men’s team finished eighth in the 2015 NCAA championships and enter this year ranking No. 8 in the U.S. Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Association preseason poll.
The women enter the season ranked No. 11 after a 10th place finish in Louisville, Ky., at nationals.
The UW opens its season competing in the Seattle U Open at Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place, and both teams will have to make up for lost talent.
The men’s team be without alumnus Izaic Yorks, who had one of the best seasons in UW history during his senior year, and the women will be running without senior Maddie Meyers, whose eligibility in her final year at the UW allows her to only compete during the track and field season.
Junior Colby Gilbert will likely lead the men’s team, as he had the second best finish out of the seven athletes who ran at nationals. Gilbert took 32nd place and finished behind Yorks, who rounded out the top 30. Gilbert ran an impressive campaign last year and earned his first All-American honors having only competed in three races.
The men’s team won its first ever West Regional title, and Gilbert was awarded All-Region honors after a 12th place finish, the third Husky to cross the line behind alumnus Tyler King and junior Andrew Gardner.
Gardner also returns to the team this year, and will be joined by junior cross country veterans Fred Huxman and Johnathan Stevens, and redshirt sophomore Mahmoud Moussa.
The women’s team will be led by a handful of upperclassmen and sophomore standouts. In senior Kaylee Flanagan’s last year at the UW, she hopes to capitalize on the progress she has made over her three years on the team. Flanagan helped the UW to its 10th place finish at the NCAA championships by finishing in the top five in three of the final four races.
Juniors Katie Knight, Anna Maxwell, and Amy-Eloise Neale will return to the team after successful cross country and track and field seasons and will be joined by one of last season’s top freshmen, Charlotte Prouse, and Emily Hamlin, also in her second year with the team.
Reach Sports Editor Alexis Mansanarez at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @almansanarez