Saturday, November 19, 2011

Ballard High School alum Bridget Berg earns NCAA D2 All-America honors at nationals...

SPOKANE VALLEY--Competing in snowy 29-degree weather, Ballard High School of Seattle alum Bridget Berg (left/photo courtesy Humboldt State University) earned NCAA All-America honors with her 24th place finish at the NCAA Division II cross country championships at the Plantes Ferry Sports Complex.

Berg, who runs for Humboldt State in California, crossed the line in 22:02 over the 6-kilometer course.

"I had hoped to finish higher, and I was disappointed at first," said Berg, a junior with one more cross country season of eligibility remaining. "After I thought about it, I understand this is a special experience. This is nationals, and who knows if this is the only chance to get here. I feel special."

Berg, whose training was restricted to biking and swimming most of the season due to a history of injuries, made her break through at the regional meet two weeks ago, when she placed second, earning the trip to nationals. Though the nationals race was run on the same course, conditions were quite different Saturday then they were on that occasion.

"It was a tougher race. The pack went out a lot faster, and it was really cold," Berg said. "I didn't feel as strong as I did two weeks ago. I had to be much tougher mentally."

The Western Washington men's team finished tenth, while their women's squad finished twelfth overall.

The Vikings, making their fifth straight appearance in the national title meet, were led by Dak Riek and Tyler Cannon. Riek, who was battling bronchitis, placed 58th, covering the 10-kilometer course in 32:38 and Cannon was 63rd with a 32:42 clocking.

Nick Abraham (32:51), Eric Brill (33:09), and Tanner Boyd (33:32) were the other three WWU scorers, placing 69th, 83rd, and 101st, respectively.

Saint Martin's Kyle Van Santen finished 84th in 33:09, behind Brill.

Western's women were led by freshman Katelyn Steen, who ran 23:09 over the 6k course to finish 70th.

Lauren Breihof was 73rd in 23:15, followed by Rachel Johnson in 92nd at 23:34, Mary Rogers in 114th at 23:53, and Haley O'Connor in 116th at 23:57.

Individual champion was Shippensburg's Neely Spence, who was timed in 20:53 to win her second straight NCAA D2 title, while Augustana of South Dakota won the women's team title.

Western State (Colo.) was the men's team title, led by individual champion Ryan Haebe, who ran 30:46.

Complete results of the NCAA Division II national championships are available here.

NOTE: The sports information offices of Humboldt State and Western Washington contributed to this report.

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