Saturday, September 12, 2009

Western Washington sweeps at Central Washington Invitational...

YAKIMA, Washington--Despite holding out a number of its top runners, nationally ranked Western Washington University swept the team and individual titles in both the men's and women's divisions Saturday at the Central Washington University Cross Country Invitational held at the Apple Ridge Course.

The Viking men, ranked seventh in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association NCAA Division II National Preseason Poll, won with a score of 19 points, 29 ahead of runner-up Seattle Pacific (48).

Host Central Washington was third (57), Alaska Fairbanks fourth (108) and Skagit Valley CC fifth (145).

Western's Bennett Grimes from Pocatello, Idaho (#233/photo courtesy WWU Sports Information) and Blake Medhaug (Jr., Bothell) placed 1-2, Grimes having a winning time of 19:49 on the 6-kilometer course, followed by Medhaug in 20:09.

Placing fifth for the Vikings was Nick Abraham (So., Sammamish/Skyline) in 20:47 and Yonas Berhe (So., Seattle/Roosevelt) was sixth in 20:48.

In the women's division, Western, ranked No.10 nationally, took top honors with 31 points, Seattle Pacific finishing second with 45. Alaska Fairbanks was third (65) and Central fourth (76).

The Vikings' Sarah Porter (Jr., Hockinson) posted a winning time of 15:13 on the 4-kilometer course, over a minute in front of second-place Kate Harline (16:15) from Seattle Pacific, which ran without NCAA division II champ Jessica Pixler and All-American Jane Larson.

Western's Emily Wallen (Fr., Olympia/Capital) was fourth in 16:32 and Kristi Fairbanks (Fr., Snohomish) was sixth in 16:36.

"We knew that this wasn't going to be a big meet," said Western coach Pee Wee Halsell, "but it gets us ready for next week's competition, which is one that we're gearing up for."

Among the notable Vikings not competing Saturday were Lauren Breihof (So., Vancouver/Mountain View), Courtney Olsen (Sr., Bellingham/Squalicum), Danielle Slaughter (Sr., Spokane/Shadle Park), Anthony Tomsich (Sr., Fairbanks, AK/West Valley) and Jordan Welling (Jr., Burlington/Burlington-Edison).

"They don't need to race every week and it gives our younger athletes a chance to compete, which helps their confidence," Halsell said.

Both Western teams placed 10th at last year's NCAA II National Championships.

The Vikings and Falcons next compete at the Sundodger Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 19 (9 a.m.) at Lincoln Park in Seattle.

Complete results from the meet can be accessed here.

NOTE: The sports information office at Western Washington University contributed to this report.

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