Sunday, September 6, 2009

NCAA D-II cross country champ Jessica Pixler impressive in low-key season debut...

BELLINGHAM--Seattle Pacific seniors Jessica Pixler (above/photo courtesy SPU sports information) and Jane Larson posted the two fastest women’s times of the meet in Saturday’s Lake Padden Relays, and, along with senior Chad Meis, helped the Falcons sweep the college coed division.

Pixler (Sammamish, Wash./Eastlake HS) covered 2.6 miles at Lake Padden Park in 13 minute, 50 seconds to lead the Captain Falcon team, which also included sophomore Kayla Wilkins (Vancouver, Wash./Evergreen HS), sophomore Andrew Hamilton (Ballard, Wash./Ballard HS) and freshman Caleb Parker (Richland, Wash./Richland HS).

Larson (Fall City, Wash./Cedar Park Christian HS) had the second-fastest women’s time of 14:35. That set the pace for the Pedigree Falcon team of Larson, senior Kate Harline (Orem, Utah), junior Jordan Lance (Mill Creek, Wash./Jackson HS) and sophomore Daniel Hamilton (Missoula, Mont.) Harline’s time of 15:30 was third-best for the Seattle Pacific women, and Lance’s 13:32 was No. 2 for the Falcon men.

Meis easily had the best time among the SPU men, finishing his 2.6 miles in 13:01. He was the front runner on the Millennium Falcon team that also included sophomore Nate Sleight (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue Christian HS), senior Lisa Anderberg (Edmonds, Wash./Kamiak HS) and sophomore Mary Williams (Lake Jackson, Texas).

“I feel like this is a great start to the season,” Falcons coach Erika Daligcon said. “Everyone ran real strong, and I saw some good performances. It was nice to see Western Washington out there (the Vikings won both the men’s and women’s divisions) and to see Slippery Rock (which came all the way out from Pennsylvania).”

Host Western Washington University won both the men's and women's divisions Saturday.

"It was a fun, low-key start of the season," said Western coach Pee Wee Halsell. "We saw some good things and it gives us an idea of where we are in our training, which is what we wanted most from this meet."

Placing first in the men's division was a Western foursome of Blake Medhaug (Jr., Bothell), Eric Brill (So., Kent/Kentwood), Bennett Grimes (Jr., Pocatello, ID/Century) and Anthony Tomsich (Jr., Fairbanks, AK/West Valley), each running one lap around the 2.5-mile course for a combined time of 51:54.

Medhaug turned in the top individual clocking of 13:11.

An unattached quartet was second in 55:10.

Placing third in 55:19 was a Western team made up of Sam Bedell (Sr., Reno, NV), Kyle Johnson (R-Fr., Nine Mile Falls/Lakeside), Yonas Berhe (So., Seattle/Roosevelt) and Greg Kubitz (Sr., Kelso).

Slippery Rock PA was fourth in 56:20.

In the women's division, the winning time of 1:01.12 was posted by a Viking squad comprised of All-American Sarah Porter (Jr., Hockinson), Courtney Olsen (Sr., Bellingham/Squalicum), Danielle Slaughter (Sr., Spokane/Shadle Park) and Lauren Breihof (So., Vancouver/Mountain View). Porter ran the team's best leg of 14:45.

Placing second in 1:04.44 was the Western quartet of Sierra Brisky (So., Acme/Mount Baker), Emily Wallen (Fr., Olympia/Capital), Kristi Fairbanks (Fr., Snohomish) and Kendra Hedges (So., Lake Stevens).

The Falcons and Vikings will get an early-season look at some of their Great Northwest Athletic Conference competition -- and a look at the GNAC championship course -- next Saturday in the Apple Ridge Preview in Yakima. Racing begins at 11:30 a.m.

NOTE: The sports information offices of Seattle Pacific and Western Washington contributed to this report.

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