Saturday, November 7, 2009

Both Western Washington squads & Seattle Pacific women earn NCAA berths...

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - Western Washington University had the best combined showing in school history as its men's team, led by junior Jordan Welling from Burlington (left/photo courtesy Western Washington University) placed second and the women's squad finished fourth at the NCAA Division II West Region Cross Country Championships on Saturday at Golden Gate Park's Speedway Meadow.

The finishes qualified both Viking teams for the national meet November 21st at Evansville, Ind. The men were ranked sixth nationally and the women 10th in this week's U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association/NCAA Division II Top 25.

The runner-up finish by Western's men matched their best ever at regionals. The Vikings also were second in 2007, and third in 2008.

Chico State took the men's title for the eighth straight year with 42 points. Western was second in the 20-team field with 74, and Alaska Anchorage was third with 96, edging out Western Oregon, fourth at 105.

"We hit our goals and got to nationals," said Western coach Pee Wee Halsell . "Now, we just need to fine-tune and I can still see improvement happening."

Welling was second individually in the men's 10k race (31:00) as was the Vikings' Sarah Porter in the women's 6k run (20:43).

In all, five Viking runners earned all-region honors by placing among the top 15. Anthony Tomsich was seventh at 31:24 and Bennett Grimes was 12th in the men's division (31:43), and Lauren Breihof was 12th (21:45) in the women's division.

SPU's Chad Meis, the lone Falcon in the men's race, ran a personal-best time of 32 minutes, 22 seconds for a 21st place finish that fell just short of a national qualifying spot.

Seattle Pacific senior Jessica Pixler from Sammamish went out from the start and ran to her fourth straight Division II West Regional title. She cruised over the 6-kilometer (3.72-mile) course in a record time of 20 minutes, 9 seconds.

The Falcon senior broke her own course standard of 20:37, which she set on Oct. 9 in the San Francisco State Invitational pre-regional meet, and gave her a 34-second margin of victory on runner-up Sarah Porter of Western Washington.

Pixler’s victory and a solid seventh-place run from fellow senior Jane Larson led SPU to a national-qualifying third-place finish in the team standings. Great Northwest Athletic Conference stablemate Alaska Anchorage won with 35 points, Chico State was second with 58, the Falcons were next with 75, and Western Washington grabbed the fourth and final team qualifying spot with 121.

Tori Tyler, a former Pac-10 cross country freshman of the year at the University of Washington, finished sixth in 21:24 to help Chico State earn a second place team finish.

All four of those schools are ranked in the top 10 nationally. Chico came at No. 2, Anchorage at No. 5, Seattle Pacific at No. 6, and Western at No. 10.

Complete results from the NCAA Division II West Regionals can be accessed here.

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

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