Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dawgs, Cougs, Eagles & Zags head to Springfield for NCAA West Regionals...

The University of Washington, Washington State University, Eastern Washington, and Gonzaga cross country squad are set to compete in Saturday’s crucial NCAA Western Regional championships at the Springfield Country Club in Springfield, Oregon, hosted by the University of Oregon.

Action gets underway at 9:45 am with the women’s 6k race, followed an hour later by the men’s 10k race.

The top-two finishing teams in both the men's and women's races earn automatic spots at the NCAA Championships, which are just nine days after Regionals on Nov. 22 in Terre Haute, Indiana. The West Region is one of nine Regions across the country, which account for 18 auto qualifiers, then 13 at-large spots are awarded to round out the field.

The UW women are in a solid position in terms of their NCAA chances but need a strong run this weekend to secure their fourth-straight NCAA bid. The Huskies have won the past two West Regional meets to get the automatic bid.

Washington breathed new life into its season at the Pac-10 Championships two weeks ago in Seattle, as the Dawgs turned in their best performance of the season to tie for third in the closest race in conference history. Just six points separated the top four teams, and Regionals looks to be a repeat of that battle as No. 4 Stanford, No. 6 Arizona, No. 7 Oregon, and the No. 11 Huskies could all be neck and neck again.

Second-ranked Stanford is the favorite on the men's side after winning the Pac-10 meet and will face challenges from No. 3 Oregon and No. 13 Portland. The Huskies are unranked and injuries have made things tough of late, but UW has typically run its best late in the year when the distance moves up to 10,000 meters, as it does this weekend.

Courtesy of gohuskies.com, here is an interview with junior Christine Babcock (above/photo by Paul Merca) previewing the NCAA regionals:



For the Cougars of Washington State, it will be a difficult task at best for them to qualify an individual, much less a team for the NCAA championships on November 22, especially given the youth on both squads, as they will run one female upperclassman (Ashlee Wall Eskelen), and three men (Justin Englund, David Hickerson, and Peter Miller).

The Cougar men’s squad is hoping that they can sneak past some teams and maybe get a top five finish in Saturday’s race, according to this interview with Andrew Gonzales and Jono Lafler, courtesy of wsucougars.com.



Eastern Washington will send juniors Cody Barton, Kyle King and Bowe Ebding from the men’s team, along with senior Amy Kolin and junior Stephanie Dye from the women’s team to Springfield.

“The goal for Amy and Kyle is to qualify for the national competition,” said head coach Chris Zeller. “They are both equally capable of making it but like always it will depend on the day and how they’re feeling.”

“For the rest of the team, though it would be great for them to qualify for the national meet, this is a reward for working hard all season and performing well at the Big Sky Championships,” said Zeller. “The goal is for them to gain experience and extend their season. Hopefully down the road they will be in the same position that Amy and Kyle are in.”

Gonzaga will be led by senior Chris Boyle from Seattle’s Bishop Blanchet HS, who is coming off a strong performance in the WCC Championships two weeks ago, where he placed fourth, after finishing tenth in last year’s meet.

Here are the teams and individuals competing Saturday:

Men’s Teams: Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State, California , UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton, Fresno State, Idaho, Long Beach State, Loyola Marymount, Oregon, Portland, Sacramento State, Saint Mary's, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Stanford, UCLA, Washington and Washington State.

Men’s Individuals: Hunter Hays, Cal State Northridge, Gustavo Hernandez, Cal State Northridge, Juan Olea, Cal State Northridge; Cody Barton, Eastern Washington, Bowe Ebding, Eastern Washington, Kyle King, Eastern Washington; Chris Boyle, Gonzaga; Zachary Carpenter, Portland State, John Lawrence, Portland State, Andrew Salg, Portland State.

Women’s Teams: Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State, California , UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly, Cal State Bakersfield, Cal State Fullerton, Fresno State, Hawaii, Idaho, Long Beach State, Loyola Marymount, Oregon, Oregon State, Pepperdine, Portland, Sacramento State, San Diego, San Diego State, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Saint Mary's, Stanford, UCLA, Washington and Washington State.

Women’s Individuals: Zitlalic Ley, Cal State Northridge, Lilyana Morejon, Cal State Northridge, Araceli Zainos, Cal State Northridge; Stephanie Dye, Eastern Washington, Amy Kolin, Eastern Washington; Melissa Hopper, Pacific; Jazmin Quiroz, Pacific; Katie Blue, Portland State, Karissa Fuller, Portland State, Julie Pederson, Portland State, Amber Rozcicha, Portland State; Zsofia Erdelyi, USC.

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

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