Neale Takes Another Title, Women On To NCAAs
The women finished second out of the 35 teams in the West, scoring 88 points to place behind seventh-ranked Stanford which won with 71 points. 16th-ranked San Francisco was third with 101, 11th-ranked Oregon was fourth with 107, and 10th-ranked Portland was fifth with 130 points. The Huskies were out aggressive and had the lead at the first two splits, but at the third split UW had fallen back to fourth-place, but they were able to come back up to second.
Once again, Neale showed patience early in the race, and then hit another gear late to pull away for the win. And unlike her dramatic Pac-12 Championship victory which came down to the final strides, when Neale made her move today, there was no one to go with her. Neale was 10th at the third split, but took the lead and ended up winning by more than 12 seconds, completing the 6k course in an extremely quick time of 19:27.8, with second-place crossing in 19:40.3.
Neale is the third Husky to win the women's Regional title, and the first ever to win Pac-12s and Regionals back-to-back. Kendra Schaaf was the last Husky to win Regionals back in 2009, and Regina Joyce also won in 1980.
Sophomore Charlotte Prouse got another top-10 finish today, as she was 10th in 19:51 as the second Dawg across the line. Katie Knight, Kaitlyn Neal, and Izzi Batt-Doyle then crossed within 10 seconds of each other to cap the Husky scoring. Knight was 24th in 20:11, Neal was 27th in 20:16, and Batt-Doyle was 29th in 20:20. Nikki Zielinski in 54th and Kaylee Flanagan in 73rd completed the Husky lineup.
"The women did what they needed to do today and that was just secure a top-two finish and move on to NCAAs," said Head Coach Greg Metcalf. "Amy-Eloise ran very smart once again and then just dropped the field late so that was another outstanding performance and she's running with a ton of confidence right now. Charlotte had another solid day for us, and Katie, Kaitlyn, and Izzi all did what we needed them to do to keep this thing going in the right direction."
The Huskies will earn their 10th consecutive NCAA Championships appearance and their 20th in the past 22 years.
The Washington men placed 10th today and that won't be enough to earn them a third straight NCAA appearance. But Huxham should represent the Dawgs as an individual, as he had the best run of his cross country career, finishing third today in 29:47 over the 10,000-meter course. Huxham's 3rd-place finish was the highest by a Husky man at Regionals since 1993 when Simon Baines was 2nd.
Junior Andrew Gardner was the second Husky finisher after leading UW at Pac-12s two weeks ago. He was 33rd in 30:20, and junior Johnathan Stevens was next in 53rd-place in 30:45, followed by junior Colby Gilbert in 76th-place and redshirt freshman Julius Diehr in 100th. Redshirt freshman Andy Snyder also placed 174th in his first Regional race.
"I'm incredibly proud and fired up for Fred for him to run the best cross country race of his career today back close to his home in the Bay Area," said Metcalf. "It's unfortunate that he will be racing on his own, but we just couldn't get the momentum going this fall for whatever reason. I still believe all these men are going to go on to have outstanding track seasons, and we don't lose anybody from our group today for next fall, so our depth should be much stronger a year from now and this will fuel their fire."
The women and Huxham will be off to Terre Haute, Indiana next week. The NCAA Championships are just eight days away, on Saturday Nov. 19.