Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sarah Porter wins GNAC cross country title; Vikings finish second to Alaska Anchorage...

YAKIMA—Western Washington senior Sarah Porter (left/photo courtesy Western Washington University) won the women’s individual title at the Great Northwest Athletic Conference cross country championships Saturday at the Apple Ridge Run cross country facility.

However, Western’s bid to win its first GNAC women’s team crown was derailed, as #4 ranked Alaska Anchorage placed four runners in the top six and five in the top 11 in winning their second consecutive team title with 27 points. Western Washington, ranked #8 in the current USTFCCCA national Division II was a distant second with 69 points.

Porter covered the women's 6,000-meter course in a winning time of 21:04, falling just one second short of the course record set last season by Jessica Pixler of Seattle Pacific.

"She (Porter) employed a different strategy today, going out very controlled and then waiting until the last 200 to 300 meters before really pouring on the steam," Western coach Pee Wee Halsell said. "She was upset at not getting the course record, but it was good to see her get that first title at a championship event."

Porter is the first Western woman to win a GNAC title since Ashlee Vincent took back-to-back crowns in 2001 and 2002.

Alaska Anchorage placed four runners in the top six and five in the top 11 in winning their second consecutive team title with 27 points. Western Washington was a distant second with 69 points.

Porter’s teammate Lauren Breihof was seventh in 22:37, while Seattle Pacific’s Natty Plunkett finished ninth in 22:44. St. Martin’s Joscelyn Minton rounded out the top ten in 22:49.

Seattle Pacific finished seventh with 160 points, while St Martin’s was eighth at 189 points, and Central Washington ninth with 233 points.

In the men’s race, Alaska Anchorage’s Marko Cheseto won his third straight GNAC individual crown, running 23:56, as he led the Seawolves to a 41-56 team victory over defending champ Western Washington.

Three Vikings finished among the top 10, all for the fourth time. They were Jordan Welling (Sr., Burlington/Burlington-Edison) fifth (24:34), Bennett Grimes (Sr., Pocatello, ID/Century) sixth (24:36) and Blake Medhaug (Sr., Bothell) eighth (25:16).

St. Martin’s Spencer Hunt finished ninth in 25:24, while teammate Kyle Van Santen rounded out the top ten, clocking 25:30, leading the school to a fifth place team finish with 175 points.

Seattle Pacific was sixth with 180 points, while Central Washington was ninth with 230 points.

All nine GNAC institutions are now eligible to compete in the NCAA West Regional November 20 at Bellingham, though some of the schools require their teams to finish at a certain position in the GNAC meet to advance to the regional meet (Seattle Pacific’s release stated the Falcons needed to finish fifth or better to advance to Bellingham. The Falcons will send Plunkett to the West Regionals).

Western Washington's release can be read here.

Complete results from the GNAC Championships can be accessed here.

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

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