Sunday, November 1, 2009

Weekend roundup: Halloween conference cross country edition...

After a one hour delay due to weather conditions making travel conditions to the course hazardous for several teams, the Eastern Washington men's team finished fifth in the Big Sky Conference cross country championships Saturday in Greeley, Colorado.

Sophomore Kyle King (left, #133/photo courtesy Eastern Washington University Sports Information) led the Eagles with his 17th place finish over the 8K course, running 26:52. Junior Alex Smyth (#134) was 22nd at 26:59, followed by junior Graham Vaux in 28th at 27:11.

Freshman Simon Sorensen was 38th in 27:58, and sophomore Cody Barton was one place behind in 28:04 to round out Eastern's five scorers.

The Eastern women's team finished ninth in the Big Sky meet with a team score of 278 points, and were led by sophomore Stephanie Dye's 44th place finish, clocking 21:50 over the 6K course, hosted by Northern Colorado University.

At Belmont, California, Gonzaga University's cross country teams got at least some of the improvement they were looking for at the West Coast Conference Cross Country Championship.

The Bulldogs men finished fifth with 123 points, one spot better than last year's sixth-place finish and 145 points. The Gonzaga women finished sixth with 134 points, just five points behind fifth-place Pepperdine University. Last year the Bulldog women were seventh with 211 points.

"It was night and day from last year," Gonzaga second-year head coach Pat Tyson said. "We showed improvement but we still have goals, and one of those is to be in the top four in this conference."

Seattle sophomore Chris Boyle, who Tyson said has been the Bulldogs top runner the past two weeks, proved it Saturday with a 10th-place finish in 25:34 over the 8K course. Junior Matt Bejar, running near his hometown of San Jose, Calif., finished 23rd in 25:34 and senior Brett Withers of Woodinville, Wash., was 28th in 26:17. All three ran in last year's championship.

Boyle was named to the All-WCC first team, the first Bulldog since Joe Miller in 2006 to earn first-team recognition. The top 10 finishers are named to the All-WCC first team with the next five runners accorded honorable mention recognition.

Newcomers comprised the rest of the Bulldog roster. Spokane freshman Tate Kelly was 30th in 26:29, Christian Burger, a freshman from Portland, Ore., was 32nd in 26:30, freshman Patrick Richie, who hails from Grand Rapids, Minn., was 37th in 26:40 and freshman Brad Kachigan from Long Beach, Calif., was 41st in 26:52.

"We hoped we could have cracked the top four but they competed well. Plus, we have six of these seven back next year along with whatever we add to the arsenal for next year. We left some pretty talented alternates home this year," Tyson said.

Tyson said Boyle ran a good race, starting in about 20th and gradually moving his way through the pack and getting into the top 10 in the last mile.

"He would have been a good guy for some of our other runners to have keyed off," Tyson said.

Junior Molly Funk of Denver drew the praises of her coach.

"Molly was hit with some asthma problems during the race and probably dropped 10-14 positions in the final mile," Tyson said. "But she hung on to finish and was still in our top four. She's fine, but she was disappointed. But I'm extremely proud of her."

Elizabeth Slamkowski, a sophomore from Colorado Springs, Colo., paced the Bulldogs in 22nd in 22:39 over the 6K layout to lead a solid line of tightly-bunched Bulldog blue through the finish gate. Spokane junior Corrina O'Brien was 26th in 22:47, junior Brittany O'Regan of Chico, Calif., was 27th in 22:49, Funk was 29th in 22:52, Spokane freshman Laura Bergam was 30th in 22:56, sophomore Kayla Lloyd of Hood River, Ore., was 32nd in 23:01 and Eugene, Ore., sophomore Brenn Donnelly was 40th in 23:26.

"We were the best team with balance," Tyson said. "But we need a couple of top guns to go with a solid group. Our ladies are marvelous middle-distance runners, but we need some 5K runners to supplement them. But they are young and will continue to improve."

At Bronx, New York, the Seattle University men's cross country team finished in second place, while the women's cross country squad also exceeded preseason expectations with a fourth place finish at the Great West Conference Championships Saturday at Van Cortlandt Park.

Matthew McClement earned second team All-Great West honors with an 11th place finish, posting a time of 26:53.49 over the eight-kilometer course. Hans Heitzinger (Scottsdale, Ariz.) was the next SeattleU runner to cross the finish line, finishing in 17th place with a time of 27:10.33.

By coming in one after the other, the next three runners were able to secure the team's second-place finish. Michael Van Nuland (Newcastle, Wash.) finished in 22nd place with a time of 27:22.55, followed by Kelton Sears (Maple Valley, Wash.) in 23rd place in 27:23.12 and Nicholas Alvarado (San Francisco, Calif.), closing out his collegiate cross country career, in 24th place with a time of 27:25.96.

Adam Kollgaard (Kent, Wash.) earned a 36th place finish with a time of 28:08.27, and Erik Barkhaus (Whitefish Bay, Wis.) finished in 41st place in 28:27.60. SeattleU finished with 91 points, holding off third-place South Dakota (96 points) and fourth-place New Jersey Tech (99 points). Utah Valley easily won the team competition by placing five runners in the top eight, while Christian Baumbach of New Jersey Tech won the individual race in a time of 25:57.95, over 20 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor.

For the second time this season, Celeste Cassidy (Bellingham, Wash.) was the top finisher for the SeattleU women, crossing the finish line in 18th place in 24:24.32 over six kilometers. Lauren Hammerle (Seattle, Wash.) completed her first collegiate season with a 23rd place in 24:51.93, and Rachel Yorkston (Bellingham, Wash.) quickly followed her to the finish, placing 24th with a time of 25:00.33. Greta Stickney (Poulsbo, Wash.) crossed the finish line in 26th place with a time of 25:06.87, and Brittney Hovdenes (Rapid City, S.D.) finished in 28th place with a time of 25:21.85.

Freshman Jennifer Stolle (Seattle, Wash.) earned a 30th-place finish with a time of 25:38.55, and Allison Prather (Carpinteria, Calif.) finished in 37th place in 26:15.96. Led by individual champion Mary Nothum, who posted a time of 22:16.49, Utah Valley easily won the team title with seven runners among the top nine.

NOTE: The sports information offices of Seattle University, Eastern Washington, and Gonzaga University contributed to this report.

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