MADISON, Wis. — Not many outside spectators were considering Washington among the contenders in one of the largest and strongest fields of the year, but when the dust settled at the Wisconsin Invitational, it was the Huskies that landed on top, overcoming 17 of the Top-30 teams in the nation, including seven Top-10 teams and the first-and second-ranked teams in the country.
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“Our goal coming in was just to run tough today,” said Head Coach Greg Metcalf. “I think we did that. We really didn’t have a perfect day but we were very solid. We wanted to work on some of the things that we didn’t do well at the Griak meet, and I saw some improvements. It’s a good midseason win for us but we’ve got some veterans that know there’s plenty more to come.”
Washington won with 199 points in the 6,000-meter course. Vanderbilt was also a surprise, placing second with 211 points. Arizona was third (230), then Villanova was fourth with 232. Stanford rounded out the top-five with 256 points. Providence, New Mexico, Syracuse, Iowa State, California, and Oregon were also among the highly-ranked squads the Huskies outpaced.
Sophomore Katie Flood made her 2011 season debut and made a massive impact, as she ran to a seventh-place finish in 20-minutes and 14-seconds. Seven of the top nine finishers were seniors, including Sheila Reid who won for Villanova. Flood was the youngest runner in the Top-10. Flood missed the first race on Washington’s schedule while recovering from an illness, but in her first race back she “ran incredibly poised and calm,” said Coach Metcalf.
Washington then got key Top-25 finishes (in a field of 300 runners) from sophomore Justine Johnson and junior Lindsay Flanagan, who crossed within seconds of each other in 23rd and 25th places, respectively. Johnson was back in the fifties halfway through the race, but over the last thousand meters, Metcalf said she was “eating people alive.”
Senior Christine Babcock finished in 50th-place as Washington’s number four finisher, and sophomore Megan Goethals capped the scoring with a 94th-place finish, just ahead of freshman Eleanor Fulton who was 98th overall. Redshirt freshman Chelsea Orr also made her official cross debut, finishing 207th as she works her way back from an ankle injury.