Friday, August 30, 2013

NCAA XC Top 31 Countdown: Women's #4- Washington

Editor's note: For the next month, The Wood Report will be counting down projected team finishes in this year's NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, IN.

#4 Washington
Head Coach: Greg Metcalf (12th Season)
2012 National Finish- 9th

Key Returners from 2012
  • Megan Goethals (Sr., 9:08 Open 3k, 15:33 5k, 32:52 10k, 48th NCAA XC '12)
  • Justine Johnson (Sr., 4:22 1500m, 9:31 Open 3k)
  • Liberty Miller (Sr., 9:34 Open 3k, 16:33 5k, 35:07 10k, 10:08 3k Steeple)
  • Katie Flood (Sr., 4:11 1500m, 8:55 Open 3k)
  • Eleanor Fulton (Jr., 2:08 800m, 4:20 1500m)
  • Baylee Mires (So., 2:05 800m, 4:23 1500m)
  • Chelsea Orr (Jr, 4:19 1500m, 9:23 Open 3k, 16:37 5k) 

Impact Recruits/Transfers
  • Kaylee Flanagan (Fr., 4:57 1600m, 10:25 3200m, 2 X FL Finalist, 18th NXN '11)
  • Katie Knight (Fr., 4:45 1600m, 10:11 3200m, 16:25 5k, 3rd NXN '11, 3rd NXN '12)
  • Kelly Lawson (Fr., 4:48 1600m, 10:40 3200m, 2 X NXN Qualifier)
  • Amy Eloise-Neale (Fr., 4:43 1600m, 10:21 3200m, 3 X NXN Qualifer)

Season Preview

Coach Greg Metcalf might just have the best recruiting class he's ever had in his time in Seattle-- and that's saying something. With the talented recruits that Metcalf has brought in alone, Washington would have a chance to make the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute. What is so scary about UW this season is the quality of girls that are returning as well. Legitimately, the Huskies are once again one of the best programs in the NCAA. 

When it comes to Washington, it all starts with Megan Goethals and Katie Flood. After a brutal Olympic Trials experience for Flood last summer, Goethals took over as the no. 1 runner and leader of the squad. Although her NCAAs finish in Louisville last season was less than desirable, Goethals is still one of the best distance runners in the NCAA and she proved so this most recent outdoor track season. Goethals finished 4th in the 10k and 5th in the 5k in Eugene this past spring, solidifying her place in the NCAA top-tier. As long as she has just better than average day in Terre Haute, she will be All-American if not top-5 or 10. 

Katie Flood struggled a bit last year as she was coming off of the Olympic Trials and a very long season on the track. Now that she has had some time to recover and find the fire again, so-to-speak, she should be back to lead the Huskies up front with Goethals. Flood is among one of the most talented 1500m runners in the NCAA. In 2011. Flood was 7th individually and the no. 1 runner for the Huskies. If she is back to that form, Washington has quite possibly the best 1-2 punch in the NCAA. 

Eleanor Fulton is coming off of a redshirt year, but was a quality top seven runner for Washington in 2011. As a freshman (2011), Fulton placed 130th at NCAAs. With her back in the mix, she really adds to the Husky pack and depth. 

Justine Johnson and Liberty Miller have been amazingly consistent performers for Washington the past three years and will be fighting to be in the top seven with the world-beating recruiting class. Nevertheless, these two are proven xc runners over the past three seasons and have experience that will help guide the young, but talented athletes on this squad. 

The two biggest recruits for Washington are local talent Katie Knight and Amy Eloise-Neale. Both of these girls have been some of the best runners in the country as preps and will immediately make impacts as freshman in the Huskies' top seven. Eloise-Neale had a very productive summer, running the 3k Steeplechase in the European Junior Championships and has some quality experience that most of the girls on the Washington team do not have. She also has the best overall PRs for 1600m and 3200m in the class and could be the no. 3 runner on the team from the very onset. 

Katie Knight is just as quality in almost every way as Eloise-Neale is. Knight has been 3rd at Nike Cross Nationals back-to-back years. That kind of consistency is a good sign of what she should be able to do at the next level and that she still has some upside. 

Kaylee Flanagan and Kelly Lawson are also no slouches on the cross country course. Flanagan is a two-time Foot Locker finalist and placed 18th at NXN in 2011. Kelly Lawson is a two-time NXN qualifier and has a very good 1600m PR of 4:48. 

If Flood is back to her old form and Goethals continues her consistency in big races (exception of NCAAs 2012) and Washington can find success in their veterans and freshman class, the Huskies will be back on the podium in 2013. If they can stay healthy throughout the brutal Pac-12 and West Regional races and keep their athletes fresh, Washington could see another repeat of 2011 if not a National Championship.  

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