Saturday, November 5, 2011

Western Washington squads, Ballard HS grad Bridget Berg & Kyle Van Santen qualify for NCAA D2 nationals...

SPOKANE VALLEY--Western Washington University's nationally ranked cross country squads successfully earned a return trip to the Plantes Ferry Sports Complex for the NCAA Division II championships in two weeks by placing among the top four at the NCAA Division II West Regional Cross Country Championships.

The Viking women finished third and the men fourth. It is the fourth straight year that both teams are going to nationals, and the fifth consecutive trip for the men.

Alaska Anchorage successfully defended its title in both divisions with Chico State second. The teams entered the day with the positions reversed in the respective regional polls.

UAA dominated the six-kilometer women's run, 27-66 over Chico State. WWU was third with 148 points and Alaska Fairbanks placed fourth by seven points, 164-171, ahead of Cal Poly Pomona in the 24-team field.

In the men's race, the Seawolves edged Chico State by two points, 37-39, and Western Oregon was third at 126, two ahead of the fourth-place Vikings in the 17-team field.

UAA's Ruth Keino was the women's individual champion, winning by 27 seconds in 20:51; and the Seawolves' Micah Chelimo was the men's titlist, prevailing by one second over teammate Isaac Chavez in 30:19.

Speaking afterwards about his squad's performance, Viking coach Pee Wee Halsell said, "I'm very excited about what we can do after two very solid efforts today."

The Vikings were the only one of  Washington's four Division II team to qualify for the national championships.

Qualifying for the national championships as individuals were Kyle Van Santen of Saint Martin's, who finished seventh in a time of 31:10 for the 10k distance, and former Ballard High School standout Bridget Berg (above/photo courtesy Humboldt State University) of Humboldt State, who was second in the women's 6k race in 21:18.

“Finally Kyle makes Nationals. He has been close the last two years and now makes it as a senior,” said SMU head coach Julie Sullivan. “He ran himself out today; he wanted it so bad.”

Complete individual results are available here, while the GNAC recap of the meet and a link to team results are available here.

NOTE: The GNAC, Western Washington, Humboldt State University, and Saint Martin's University contributed to this report.

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