Sunday, October 30, 2011

Weekend roundup: WCC, Big Sky & Great West cross country championship recaps...

At the West Coast Conference championships in Belmont, California, Gonzaga University sophomore Emily Thomas (left/photo courtesy Gonzaga University) finished ninth to earn All-West Coast Conference honors, but the teams didn't make the strides coach Pat Tyson and the Zag staff hoped for heading into Saturday's races.

With Lindsey Drake hit by dehydration over the final mile and with the men not getting the Top 20 finishes they figured they needed, the Bulldog men and women finished sixth and fifth, respectively. Both teams finished fifth a year ago and were looking to move up in the standings this year.

The men tallied 140 points with Nate Gesell leading three Bulldogs across the finish line in 25th, 26th and 27thwith junior Tate Kelly and sophomore Willie Milam behind Gesell who finished in 25:37 over the 8K course. Sophomore Brent Felnagle was 30th and freshman Nick Roche 32nd to complete the Gonzaga scoring.

On the women's side, Thomas was followed by freshman Maggie Jones 23rd, freshman Elizabeth Ryan in 26thand sophomore Krista Beyer 28th. Thomas' time was 21:15 over the 6K layout. Emily Albrecht was 43rd to round out the Gonzaga scorers. Gonzaga had 128 points.

Drake, who won the Inland Northwest Challenge for her first collegiate victory in her last meet heading into the WCC Championship, "was in good shape with about a mile to go" according to Tyson. But she struggled the final mile and had to be carried to the First Aid tent when she collapsed at the finish line.

WCC newcomer BYU, as expected, ended the University of Portland's 32-year dominance of the championship, downing the Pilots 25-32 as the Cougars had four finishers in the top seven.

In the women's team race, USF successfully defended its WCC title with 32 points while BYU was second with 52. Portland was third with 86 points and LMU fourth with 105 points. LMU's Tara Erdmann was the individual champion in 20:01.

Results from the WCC Championships are available here.

In Pocatello, Idaho, the Eastern Washington University men’s and women’s cross country teams both placed seventh at the Big Sky Conference Championships.

Senior Tonya Turner, Eastern’s top women runner throughout the season, finished 22nd overall. It was the first time this season the Spokane, Wash., native has finished outside the top ten.

Rounding out the top five women were freshman Katie Mahoney (36th), senior Stephanie Dye (41st), freshman Dani Moon (45th) and sophomore Micaela Rasmussen (48th).

On the men’s side, junior Simon Sorensen led the Eagle squad for the first time this season, finishing 19th overall. Seniors Bowe Ebding andGraham Vaux took 22nd and 23rd, respectively. All three runners crossed the line within 16 seconds of each other.

Junior Jordan Curnutt, a last-second addition to the men’s roster, was Eastern’s fourth finisher in 50th place. Freshman Nathan Fall placed 55th.

Weber State won the women's team title with 40 points, led by individual winner Amber Henry's 17:31 over the 5k course. Northern Arizona won the men's title with 26 points, led by individual winner Diego Estrada's 24:16 over 8k.

Complete results from the Big Sky championships are available here.

At the Great West Conference meet in Grand Forks, North Dakota, SeattleU finished third in the women's team race with 73 points, and sixth in the men's team race with 113 points.

Hannah Mittelstaedt led the Redhawks with a 7th place finish in 18:34 over 5k, with Sarah Bolce cracking the top ten in 18:39. Jennifer Stolle was 13th in 18:55, followed by Sophie Curatilo in 19th at 19:16. Lauren Hammerle rounded out the Redhawk scorers in 25th at 19:33.

For the men, Kelton Sears led the way with a 13th place finish in 26:02. Graham Kinzel-Grubbs was 20th in 26:28, followed by Miles Hille in 26:29. Collin Overbay was 28th at 26:51, and Ryan Dennison rounded out the scorers in 30th at 27:04.

Judith Chumba of Texas-Pan American won the individual title in 17:47, while Matt Perri of Houston Baptist won the men's title over 8k at 25:13.

Utah Valley swept both the men's and women's team titles with 43 (men) and 37 points (women), respectively.

Results from the men's race at the Great West are available here, while women's results are here.

At the ACC championships in Clemson, South Carolina, former Husky Kendra Schaaf won the individual title over 6k, running 19:46, putting the senior in contention as one of the favorites going into the NCAA championships in four weeks in Terre Haute, Indiana.

In the Heps championship meet in snowy Princeton, New Jersey, Redmond HS grad Devin McMahon finished 12th in a time of 22:33 over the 6k course.

At the Pac-12 championships, we neglected to mention that Bellingham's Jake Riley from Stanford finished fourth in 22:55 over the men's 8k course, and Gig Harbor's Miles Unterreiner was 32nd in 24:18.

NOTE: The sports information offices of Gonzaga, Eastern Washington, SeattleU, and the Great West Conference contributed to this report.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Katie Flood wins Pac-12 cross country title as Huskies finish second in Arizona...

LITCHFIELD PARK, Arizona--Washington sophomore Katie Flood (left/photo courtesy University of Washington) won the first Pac-12 cross country championship on a sunny Saturday morning in the Phoenix suburb, helping lead the Huskies to a second place finish behind Colorado.

Flood covered the 6k course at the Wigwam Golf Resort in a time of 19:32, asserting herself shortly after the 4k mark, and pulling away from early leader and defending Pac-10 champion Jordan Hasay of Oregon, and Stanford's Kathy Kroeger.

Early in the race, Kroeger's Stanford teammate and Sequim native Stephanie Marcy led the pack, with Kroeger in tow, and a sold group of runners behind.

After the 4k mark, Flood gradually pulled away from the pack, stopping the watches at 19:32, eight seconds up on Kroeger, and 18 on Hasay.

Rounding out the top five were the Colorado duo of Shalaya Kipp (19:54) and USA steeple champ and Daegu world championships competitor Emma Coburn (19:55), whose 4-5 finish, along with three other Buffaloes in the top 20 sealed the team title for the Pac-12 newcomers, as they scored 50 points to the Huskies' 71.

For Washington, senior Christine Babcock was 12th in 20:23, followed by sophomore Megan Goethals in 16th at 20:27. Freshman Eleanor Fulton was 20th in 20:38, and sophomore Justine Johnson in 22nd at 20:41.

Washington State, who was missing sophomore Ruby Roberts, finished a disappointing 11th with 290 points, as they were led by Caroline Austin in 38th (21:10), followed by Katie Fleischer in 61st (21:57).

Emily Farrar (62nd, 21:57), Sarah Bobbe (64th, 21:59), and Allison Clark (65th, 21:59) rounded out the Cougar scorers.

Notable runners with Washington ties included Stanford's Stephanie Marcy from Sequim in 8th (20:13); Oregon's Bronwyn Crossman from Bellingham in 17th (20:28), and teammate Becca Friday from Bellingham in 45th (21:22).

After the race, Flood said, "My goal coming in here wasn't really to win the race. My goal was to improve on what I've been doing this season and keep moving forward."

On the race itself, she said that they went out a little bit faster than expected, hitting the mile at about 5:20.

In the men's 8k championship race, the #22 ranked Washington State Cougars finished sixth with a team score of 148, with the unranked Huskies seventh with 153.

Washington State was led by Andrew Kimpel's 14th place finish in 23:39, followed by Jono Lafler in 17th in 23:44.

Justin Englund (31, 24:16), Todd Wakefield (42, 24:32) and Andrew Jordan (44, 24:36) rounded out the Cougar scorers.

The Huskies were led by Joey Bywater, who was 16th in 23:43, followed by Gareth Gilna in 27th at 24:03.

Rob Webster Jr (35th, 24:22), Aaron Nelson (36th, 24:26), and Aaron Beattie (39th, 24:31) were Washington's other scorers.

Heavy favorite Lawi Lalang of Arizona was the individual winner in 22:37, and Colorado, led by Richard Medina's third place finish in 22:54, took the team title, dethroning defending champ Stanford in a tight race 46-53.

Complete men's results from the Pac-12 championships are available here, while the women's results are available here.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Washington alum Aretha Thurmond wins third career Pan Am Games discus medal with second place finish...

GUADALAJARA, Mexico--University of Washington alumnus Aretha Thurmond (left/photo by Dena Evans) capped off a long 2011 season by finishing second in the discus at the Pan Am Games on the final day of track & field competition at Telemex Athletics Stadium.

Thurmond earned her third career Pan American medal when she placed second with a throw of  59.16m/194-1. Thurmond won the gold medal at the 2003 Pan Am Games, and finished second in 1999.

Cuba's Yarelis Barrios took the gold medal with a toss of 214-7 (66.40m), setting a new Pan Am Games record.

Afterwards, Thurmond said, “I don’t care if it’s summer time, winter time or fall you can’t turn an opportunity down. My expectations are always high. I always shoot for the top spot, I’m not going to lie, but I’m still happy with the silver medal. It’s been a long season. I’ve been training my tail off, so I can just hang my head high knowing that I gave it my all today."

“I’ve really enjoyed it here. We have a really young team over here. I think it’s great when you can stay with a sport and show them a different side to the sport ... the international relations … the respect for your competitors and the appreciation for the caliber of competition that this is. Everyone is bringing their ‘A’ team. This isn’t like a slam dunk here. I think it’s great for them to see those of us who were able to come from World Championship team and be on this team sets a good example."

In looking forward to the 2012 season and trying to make her fourth Olympic team, she said, “We have depth that is unbelievable right now in the women’s discus and we have to be ready.”

Gonzaga, Eastern Washington & SeattleU set for conference championship races Saturday...

While Washington State and Washington head to Arizona for the first Pac-12 championships, the state's other three NCAA Division I schools are also gearing up for their conference championships.

The Gonzaga Bulldogs (left/men's team photo courtesy Gonzaga University) will make their way to Belmont, California for the WCC championships Saturday, where they will face the likes of perennial champion Portland, and newcomer BYU, which threatens to challenge the Pilots' stranglehold of the men's team title.

Gonzaga earned its first USTFCCCA regional ranking on the men's side, coming in at #14.

If the Bulldogs can finish third Saturday, Gonzaga head coach Pat Tyson will guarantee that he will take his squad to Palo Alto in two weeks for the NCAA West Regionals.

"There are many ways to look at it. You can look at it as pressure, but I see it as a feather in your cap or a stripe on your jersey that you deserve to be here and that you deserve to go to regionals," Tyson said.

On the women's side, the Zags, who won the Inland Northwest Cross Country Classic team title in Spokane two weeks ago, will be led by Lindsay Drake, who earned her first individual victory at that meet.

The WCC championships will be web cast Saturday beginning at 9am with the men's 8k race via this link.

Eastern Washington travels to Pocatello, Idaho for the Big Sky championships, hosted by Idaho State University.

“Their course has a lot of hills, which is something we haven’t had a chance to see yet,” said head coach Chris Zeller about Pocatello’s elevation. “But our teams are competitive and mentally tough. They’ll be just fine.”

The men’s and women’s team are bringing seven and eight runners, respectively, to the championships. The Eastern men will be suiting up senior Bowe Ebding, senior Graham Vaux, junior Simon Sorenson, junior Drake DaPonte, freshman Quin Olivas, freshman Nathan Falland a last-minute addition of junior Jordan Curnutt.

On the women’s side, senior Tonya Turner, senior Stephanie Dye, freshman Katie Mahoney, sophomore Angelica Rodriguez, sophomoreMicaela Rasmussen, freshman Acacia Smith, sophomore Kimberly Macias and freshman Dani Moon will be running.

Last year, the men and women finished fifth and seventh, respectively, at the conference championships. Both teams have a new-look roster, as the two front runners in Kyle King (redshirt) and Amy Kolin (graduation) are not on the team.

Seattle University will race at the Great West Conference meet Saturday in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

SeattleU coach Trisha Steidl will have in her arsenal a good mix of experience and youth on the women's side, while the men's squad will include several runners who have been with the program but are gaining their first experience at a conference championship meet.

"I think they (the women) all have enough experience, and the freshmen will have good people around them to tell them what to expect, so we have a good mix of experience and young people who are tenacious and excited for this race," Steidl said. "The guys are a completely inexperienced group, but I know that they have the determination for this, and they want to finish out our tenure in the Great West by being second again."

"I think we can be very competitive with the other women's teams. If we have our best day, there is a chance for second place. My original goal was for fourth place, but if they race like they did last weekend, then third or second is a definite possibility."

"I hope that they (the men) are motivated to take care of every little thing that they have control over so that they are feeling the best they can on Saturday both physically and mentally," Steidl said.

In the preseason coaches' poll, the SeattleU men were picked to finish second, while the women were selected to finish fourth. Utah Valley is the favorite to once again win both the men's and women's conference titles, but the Redhawks expect to see competition from host school North Dakota as well as Texas-Pan American and Houston Baptist in both races.

ANALYSIS OF THE TOP 30 NCAA WOMEN'S CROSS COUNTRY TEAMS

For those who follow collegiate women's cross country, Mike Scott has a great blog site where you can read his in-depth analysis of the top 30 teams in NCAA Division I.

You can access that site here.

NOTE: The sports information offices at Gonzaga, Eastern Washington, and SeattleU contributed to this report.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Husky women have big target on their backs heading to Pac-12s; can Cougar men prove they belong?

Nearly a fortnight after winning the Wisconsin adidas Invitational and vaulting all the way to the number 2 national ranking in the latest USTFCCCA coaches' poll from #24, the University of Washington Huskies are the hunted as they vie for the first Pac-12 cross country title Saturday in Litchfield Park, Arizona.

The addition of Colorado to the men's and women's races and Utah to the women's races just adds further depth to what was already widely considered the toughest conference races nationally. The women's race features all 12 conference teams, six of which are currently ranked by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. Washington is ranked second, followed by No. 5 Arizona, No. 8 Stanford, No. 10 California, No. 11 Oregon, and No. 16 Colorado.

Sophomore Katie Flood (left/photo by Paul Merca), who was Washington's top runner at last year's Pac-10 Championships in Seattle, is expected to be the Huskies' lead runner, along with sophomore Justine Johnson. Former Foot Locker national champ Megan Goethals, NACAC junior cross country champ Chelsea Orr, and senior Christine Babcock, the lone remaining runner from the 2008 national championship team, are also expected to make an impact in Saturday's race.

It may be a bit of a struggle for the Cougars to place in the top six in the conference. According to coach Pete Julian, "The conference is incredibly tough. I think there are probably six teams ranked in the top 15 in the country - maybe top 12. We are not quite there yet. But then there is that second half of the conference that I think we can do pretty well against, and that's our objective this weekend. We are probably a year away from, I believe, cracking into that top 20, but we can certainly make some in-roads towards those things this year."

Courtesy of gohuskies.com, here's a video interview with Husky sophomore Katie Flood:



On the men's side, the Cougars expect to be in the thick of things, with defending champ Stanford, and newcomer Colorado the favorites to win the first conference title meet.

"The men - it is kind of peculiar. I think Colorado and Stanford are certainly the class of the field. They are both very strong programs - top five programs in the country. After that, there is ourselves, Oregon, UCLA, Arizona State. We could run really quite well and have a great meet, maybe be a few points behind third and end up sixth. It is that condensed in there, and I think the national rankings reflect that too. I think we are all in there between 18th and 23rd nationally ranked. It is a really strong conference. There will be a great team that finishes fifth or sixth at that meet."

The Washington men have struggled this season with injuries and illnesses to seniors Max O'Donoghue-McDonald and Cameron Quackenbush, and a group that hasn't quite found their groove this season, though junior Joey Bywater has been the one constant up front for the Huskies this season.

Courtesy of wsucougars.com, here's Cougar coach Julian previewing the meet:



The University of Washington's release is available here, while Washington State's release is available here.

FOX Sports Arizona will stream the meet live on their web site beginning at 9 am on Saturday with the men's 8k race, followed by the women's 6k race at 10 am.

You can access it via this link.

Arizona's Lawi Lalang is the heavy favorite to win the individual men's title, while defending champ Jordan Hasay of Oregon will battle Colorado's Emma Coburn, the NCAA & USA steeple champ, with a slew of women including California's Deborah Maier, Arizona's Jen Bergman and Elvin Kibet, Stanford's Kathy Kroeger, Colorado's Shalaya Kipp, and the Huskies' Flood expected to be at the front of the pack.

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

Norris Frederick throws a fundraising party...

With all the recent talk on the internet about how difficult it is for athletes in Olympic sports like track & field to fund raise, Roosevelt High School and University of Washington alum Norris Frederick (left/photo by Paul Merca) took the bull by the horns, and did something about it.

He threw a party!

Norris, with the help of some friends and MC Aaron Levine of KCPQ 13's Q It Up Sports, took over Citrus Lounge in Seattle's Lake Union Wednesday night for a fund raiser, which featured several former University of Washington athletes.

For $10, folks could walk the red carpet, mingle and have their photos taken with former Husky athletes Spencer Hawes, Isaiah Thomas, Roy Lewis, along with members of the Seattle Mist lingerie football team, as well as bid on celebrity dates with these local celebrities.

Attendees also had the opportunity to win raffle prizes, and bid on donated items in the silent auction portion of the program.

As the party wound down, paulmerca.blogspot.com talked to Norris about Wednesday's fundraising party.

Michael Mai captures silver medal in the hammer at Pan Am Games...

GUADALAJARA, Mexico--As part of a 1-2 finish, US Army major Michael Mai (left/photo by Paul Merca), who until this past spring, was stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, took the silver medal in the hammer throw on the third day of track & field competition at the Pan American Games at Telemex Athletic Stadium.

Mai, who competed as a member of Team USA at the world track & field championships in Daegu in August, threw a best of 238-6 (72.71m) on his fifth attempt to finish behind teammate Kibwe Johnson, who set a Pan Am Games meet record with a toss of 261-3 (79.63m), besting Lance Deal's 1999 mark of 261-2 (79.61m) set in Winnipeg.

Afterwards, Mai, who is now based in the San Francisco Bay area as part of the Army's World Class Athlete Program, said, “It is great for the U.S. to take first and second. I was definitely shooting for gold like anybody else. I wasn’t happy with my distance. I thought I could have done a lot better. It was difficult to get it going but that’s just on me."

“Some people took time off after the World Championships. I went right into a heavy cycle and then tapered off a bit. I’m not at my best shape for the whole year but I’m still close to a peak."

"Hopefully, I can take the momentum of this silver medal into next year. It’s all about getting that ‘A’ standard to make the Olympic team. And with Kibwe (Johnson) being the only guy who has it right now, the field is wide open. My plan is to be one of those three guys on the team."

He got an extra bit of motivation during the competition, as wife Deirdre was in the high jump finals while he was throwing. Deirdre took fourth with a best of 6-0.5 (1.84m).

"She was out there cheering for me and she help get me motivated before my last couple throws. It is always nice to have here there and she is a big reason where I am where I am. I can’t say enough about her and me pushing each other to better and better performances.”

University of Washington alum Aretha Thurmond, a two time Pan Am Games champion in the discus, will compete on Friday.

Results from day 3 of the track & field competition at the Pan Am Games are available here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Long jumper Norris Frederick to host celebrity auction Wednesday for his Olympic campaign...

Wanted to give a shout out to University of Washington standout Norris Frederick (left/photo by Paul Merca), who is using social media to promote his celebrity auction Wednesday night, beginning at 7pm at Citrus, 1001 Fairview Avenue North in Seattle.

Frederick created a Facebook page to publicize his fundraising efforts as he prepares for his 2012 Olympic campaign.

This auction will feature a silent auction, followed by a celebrity date auction featuring himself, former Washington basketball standouts Isaiah Thomas, Spencer Hawes, footballer Roy Lewis, several members of the Seattle Mist lingerie football team, and much more!

You can dance to the live DJ, enjoy a few drinks, win yourself some prizes and possibly a night on the town with a local celebrity!

The suggested donation for this all-ages event is $10.

WESTERN WASHINGTON CROSS COUNTRY TEAMS MAINTAIN NATIONAL RANKING...

The Western Washington Viking cross country teams remain among the country's top 25 teams in the latest USTFCCCA Division II national rankings released Wednesday.

The Viking men's squad, which finished second in the GNAC meet to Alaska-Anchorage last Saturday, are ranked #20, down one spot.

Their women's squad, which finished third, currently stands #16 in the current polls, the same spot they were in.

The Vikings next race at the NCAA Division II West Regionals in Spokane Valley on November 5th.

The complete NCAA Division II national rankings are available here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Reedus Thurmond resigns as throws coach at the University of Washington...

Just confirmed with a member of the UW sports information staff that Reedus Thurmond (left/photo courtesy University of Washington), who was the throws coach for the Washington track & field team, has resigned his position.

Thurmond originally came to Washington in December 2005 from Auburn University, where he was a graduate assistant while continuing to train and compete at the professional level.

During his tenure at the University of Washington, seven different athletes in the throwing events earned ten All-America honors, the last being javelin thrower Kyle Nielsen during the 2011 outdoor season.

It isn't known what Thurmond plans to do moving forward; currently, wife and Washington alum Aretha is in Guadalajara, Mexico competing as a member of Team USA at the Pan Am Games.

paulmerca.blogspot.com has contacted both Thurmond and Husky head track & field/cross country coach Greg Metcalf for a comment, but has not heard from either party.

Thurmond's name has been removed from the Huskies' list of coaches, though his bio is still up.

It is expected that the University will advertise the position shortly.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Rome settles for silver in Guadalajara at Pan Ams...

GUADALAJARA, Mexico--Marysville's Jarred Rome (left/photo by Paul Merca), a graduate of Marysvile-Pilchuck High School, finished second in the men's discus competition at the Pan American Games, contested at Telmex Athletics Stadium.

Rome threw a best of 202-5 (61.71m) as Cuba's Jorge Fernandez, who finished eighth at the Daegu world championships, took the victory with a best of 215-2 (65.58m).

Such was the Cuban's dominance Monday that any of his four fair throws would have won the competition.

Rome opened with a foul, then threw 200-1 (60.98m) in round 2, then got his best toss in round three. He then fouled his final three attempts, as Ronald Juliao of Brazil got close to the Boise State grad, as Juliao threw his best of 61.70 (202-5), one centimeter short of Rome's best on the day.

Afterwards, the 6-4, 300 pound Rome said, “Two days ago  I threw in the ring. We weren’t suppose to, but I  snuck into the stadium because the rings outside were brand new and really slick and I fell on my face. I sneak in here and the ring was perfect. Then yesterday I heard they put concrete over the ring and resurfaced the top and weren’t even sure it would be dry. So I get in the ring today and was slipping like Jason (teammate Young). So I went like 75 percent and couldn’t really do anything. My first throw went into cage as I slipped out of the back. My second throw was a safety throw to make sure I get to finals. And then my third throw was my best throw. But in order to compete with the Cuban (gold medalist Jorge Fernandez) I couldn’t afford to slip so it was a bad situation. I’m so large (6-4, 300) that when I move out of the back if it’s not a good surface I’m done. A lot of meets are stressful, because I have to make sure the ring is right in order to throw far. The Cuban threw well and I’m happy to get the silver."

“I took two weeks off instead of four weeks after the World Championships. I’m very happy that I’m here. This is definitely more than I thought it would be. In meets like this isn’t about the distance...it's about the place."

“I feel real good. My training the last four months has been the best training of my career leading up to the World Championships. I was very disappointed after the World Championships. I had PRed (68.76),  which is third in the world right now, three weeks before the World Championships which was amazing. I had high expectations for Worlds but was really disappointed. I was eight centimeters away from reaching the finals in the World Championships. I was definitely in medal shape.”

Before leaving the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista for the Pan Am Games, Rome did a long interview with www.throwerspodcast.com about his career, weight training, and the technical changes he made that allowed him to set a PR this season.

You can access the podcast here.

Michael Mai, formerly based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, will throw in the men's hammer on Wednesday.

Complete results from day 2 of the track & field competition at the Pan Am Games are available here.

NOTE: Special thanks to Mike Mahon of USA Track & Field for his assistance in Mexico.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Kara Goucher now is a part of the Oregon TC Elite/Portland...

After running without a coach for almost three weeks, Kara Goucher (left/photo by Paul Merca) will continue training on the Nike campus, as she's aligned herself with Jerry Schumacher's Oregon TC group.

In a post on her blog, Goucher said that she will run under Schumacher's tutelage, citing the fact that she needed "a little bit more accountability and really need people to run with."

Goucher will have as training partners Shalane Flanagan and Lisa Uhl.

There was a hint of this union coming together when Flanagan and Goucher were pictured together with marathon legend Joan Benoit Samuelson at an event in conjunction with the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco last week.

Commenting on her new situation, and the Flanagan/Uhl dynamics, Goucher said, "Instead of feeling territorial or worried that I would disrupt their great dynamic, they have supported and encouraged me. It is like being in this sisterhood where you are dedicated to getting the best out of each other. I know that this is the best situation I could be in and I feel so blessed to have a great coach, group, and two women to work with."

You can read Kara's post here...

Pan Am Games track & field competition begins Sunday...

GUADALAJARA, Mexico--The final major track and field competition for Team USA gets underway, as the Pan Am Games begins Sunday with finals in the men's and women's 20k walk, and the women's marathon.

Daegu world championships competitors Jarred Rome, Michael Mai, and Aretha Thurmond are the three athletes with Washington ties who are competing in the Mexican city this week, as Rainier Beach HS alums Ginnie Crawford (100 hurdles) and Michael Berry (400, 4 x 400 relay) have elected not to compete, after being announced by USA Track & Field in its release last month.

Rome, the Marysville-Pilchuck HS grad, competes on Monday in the discus finals, while Mai, who was based at Joint Base Lewis McChord, throws the hammer on Wednesday.

Thurmond, a two-time discus champion at the Pan Am Games in 1999 and 2003, will throw on Friday, where she'll face Cuban rival Yarelis Barrios.

With the Pan Am Games so late in the calendar, after the world championships and the Samsung Diamond League series, many of the top athletes who are eligible to compete in this meet have opted to shut it down, and either rest or slowly start their buildups to the 2012 season, with the top-flight Americans and Jamaicans the most prominent no-shows.

The IAAF preview of the Pan Am Games is available here.

Television and internet coverage of the Pan Am Games is available via ESPNDeportes.com.

The start lists for the Pan Am Games are available here. The time schedule is available here.

CROSS COUNTRY RECAP

Hannah Mittelstaedt and Kelton Sears were the top finishers for Seattle University Saturday at the Beaver Classic in Corvallis, Oregon.

Mittelstaedt finished sixth over the 6k course in 22:31, and Sears was 25th in the men's 8k race in 26:10.

The top seven Seattle U male and female runners are scheduled to compete in the Great West Conference Championships next Saturday, Oct. 29, at the Ray Richards Golf Course in Grand Forks, N.D.

The SeattleU release and results link to the Beaver Classic is available here.

Vikings get second and third at GNACs in Yakima...

YAKIMA--Paced by the top 10 performances of Lauren Breihof, Tyler Cannon (left/photo courtesy Western Washington University) and Dak Riek, the Western Washington University men placed second (63 points) and the women third (87 points) at the 11th annual Great Northwest Athletic Conference Cross Country Championships held Saturday at the Apple Ridge Run Cross Country Facility.

Alaska Anchorage dominated both 10-team races, as the men successfully defending their title and the women won for the third straight year.

UAA's Micah Chelimo took the men's individual title by seven seconds, completing the 8-kilometer course in 24:24. The Seawolves' Ruth Keino won the women's crown by 13 seconds, covering the 6-kilometer course in 21:26.

In the men's 8k race, Saint Martin's Kyle Van Santen took third in 25:00. The Vikings' Cannon took fifth, with Saint Martin's Spencer Hunt eighth, and the Vikings' Riek squeezing into the top ten in 25:44.

Saint Martin's took fifth with 151 points, Seattle Pacific was sixth at 161, and Central Washington was eighth at 203.

In the women's 6k race, Seattle Pacific's Natty Plunkett led three Washington athletes onto the top ten, finishing seventh in 22:44. Teammate Heidi Laabs-Johnson was one spot behind in the same time, and the Vikings' Briehof ninth in 22:45.

After the Vikings, Seattle Pacific was fifth at 110, Saint Martin's ninth at 236, and Central Washington tenth at 269.

Western's Cannon and SPU's Laabs-Johnson each earned GNAC male and female newcomer of the year for this season.

The road to the national championships begins in two weeks at the NCAA Division II West Regionals at the Plantes Ferry Sports Complex in Spokane Valley, with individual and team berths to the national championships, which will be held in the same venue on November 19th.

Complete results of the GNAC Championships are available here.

NOTE:  The GNAC, and the sports information offices at Saint Martin's, Western Washington, and Seattle Pacific contributed to this report.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

GNAC cross country championships Saturday in Yakima...

YAKIMA--Western Washington, Central Washington, Seattle Pacific, and Saint Martin's will have the daunting task of trying to knock off defending men's and women's team champions Alaska Anchorage at Saturday's GNAC cross country championships.

The championships will be held for the fourth consecutive year at the Apple Ridge Cross Country Facility near Yakima. The women's 6,000 meter race begins at 10 a.m. followed by the men's 8,000 meters at 11 a.m.

In the women's race, Lauren Breihof of Western Washington and Natty Plunkett of Seattle Pacific, along with Joscelyn Minton of Saint Martin's, will try to improve upon their placings from last year. Breihof was seventh, Plunkett was ninth, and Minton tenth in the 2010 edition.

Western Washington, which is ranked third in the region and 16th nationally, likely has the best chance to challenge UAA's two-year conference reign, though they lost Sarah Porter to graduation.

Courtesy of Seattle Pacific, here's a feature story on first year Falcon runner Heidi Laabs-Johnson (left, #592/photo courtesy Seattle Pacific University), a converted soccer player, who is now a key cog on the SPU cross country team.

In the men's team race, Western Washington doesn't have any individual or team victories this fall, but had a solid third-place team finish in the Western Classic and is ranked third in the region and 19th nationally. Tyler Cannon led WWU at their home meet placing sixth on the 10K layout.

Seattle Pacific has won three team titles including two at Fairbanks. The third came in the CWU Appleridge Run where the Falcons' Jordan Wolfe finished first.

Saint Martin's Spencer Hunt, who along with teammate Kyle Van Santen had all-conference performances last year placing ninth and 10th in the GNAC championships, won the UPS Invitational.

Van Santen, who also was also an all-conference selection in 2009, placed second at UPS, third in the UW Sundodger Open Division (Sept. 17) and fifth in the pre-national meet in Spokane and in the Western Classic in Bellingham.

Following the GNAC title meet, most of the GNAC squads will make the first of what will hopefully be two trips to Spokane Valley for the NCAA Division II West Regionals at the Plantes Ferry Sports Complex on November 5th, and a return trip two weeks later for the NCAA Division II national championships on the same course.

The full GNAC release previewing the meet is available here.

NOTE: The GNAC, along with the sports information offices of Western Washington, Central Washington, Seattle Pacific, and Saint Martin's, contributed to this report.

Bothell based Brooks Sports to move world headquarters to Fremont area of Seattle...

BOTHELL--Brooks Sports, Inc. announced Thursday it will “Run Happy” right into Seattle’s vibrant Fremont/Wallingford area, relocating its global headquarters to the recently announced 3400 Stone project by Skanska USA Commercial Development.

With a move-in date slated for late 2013, Brooks Sports, Inc.—parent company to Brooks and Moving Comfort—will occupy roughly 80,000 usable square feet of the 120,000-square-foot building, which is located across the street from Seattle’s popular Burke-Gilman Trail. The ground floor of the new Brooks headquarters building will also house the brands’ first ever retail concept shop.

“We have an incredible opportunity to create a new home for our leading performance brands that exemplifies who we are and ingrains us in the local running community,” said Jim Weber, president and CEO of Brooks Sports, Inc. “Brooks’ mission is to inspire people to run and be active, and it’s our hope that we become a welcoming trailhead along the Burke-Gilman Trail. We believe runners, walkers and others will gather at Brooks to meet friends, start their workouts and celebrate a good run.”

“Brooks Sports’ decision to locate in Seattle means 300 new jobs. That’s a big deal for us right now. It shows that Seattle has what it takes to attract significant new investment even in these tough economic times,” said Seattle mayor Mike McGinn.

NOTE:  The media relations department at Brooks Sports contributed to this report.  Map of Brooks HQ & artists' rendering also courtesy Brooks Sports.

Brie Felnagle designed shoe for Breast Cancer Awareness month available from adidas...

I recently ran across a link via Sole Collector about the adidas Supernova Sequence running shoe that Tacoma native Brie Felnagle (in green top/photo by Paul Merca) helped design in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Brie's ride of choice for her daily training, the Supernova Sequence, has the classic adidas three stripes in pink with a blue upper, along with purple and pink accents.

You can purchase the shoe for $130 from miadidas.com

Over the past few weeks, I've had the opportunity to take the adidas Clima Ride TR (below/photo courtesy adidas) out for a spin as I've recovered from a bum right Achilles tendon that I tweaked in Daegu.

For what's being billed as a trail shoe, I found it surprisingly light. When I first put it on, it felt almost like a racing flat.

As I walked around the house and as I took it around for a run around Seward Park in Seattle, I was surprised by the flexibility of the shoe, especially as it's touted as a trail running shoe. The shoe fit my carbon fiber orthotics fine, and it breathes quite well, though it may be interesting to run with it once the grey and wet weather of the Pacific Northwest comes around.

I liked the grip of the shoe on trails and grass, as it did what it was supposed to do.

The shoe rides a tad bit low for my liking, and while it felt fine on grass and trails, I can feel the difference in the lack of cushioning during the times I ran on the roads.

Overall, a solid shoe by adidas and a decent value for trail runners at $95.

NOTE: adidas Public Relations sent paulmerca.blogspot.com a pair of these shoes to test.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Washington women's cross country squad vaults all the way to #2 in USTFCCCA poll...

NEW ORLEANS--The University of Washington women's cross country team were rewarded for its victory at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational last week by the voters of the USTFCCCA national poll, as they vaulted up from #24 all the way to #2 in the poll that was released Tuesday.

The national top three consists of Florida State, Washington, and previously unranked Vanderbilt, who finished second to the Huskies in Madison.

Washington climbed 22 spots to No. 2 from 24th after winning Wisconsin’s adidas Invitational with 199 points. The Huskies topped 18 ranked teams for the victory which included then-top ten teams Villanova, Stanford, Syracuse, Iowa State, New Mexico, and Providence.

In the men's national poll, Washington State, which skipped going to either the Wisconsin adidas meet or the Pre-Nationals in Terre Haute in favor of staying close to home, dropped two spots to #22 in the current national poll. The Cougars did move up to #3 in the West Regional poll behind Stanford and Portland.

Both the Huskies and Cougars will compete in the Pac-12 Championships at the Wigwam Golf Resort in Litchfield Park, Arizona, just outside of Phoenix on October 29th.

The complete national poll is available here.

Courtesy of gohuskies.com, here are two links--one on junior distance runner Joey Bywater, who was the Huskies' number one runner the past two meets, and one on sophomore Katie Flood (above/photo by Mike Scott), who shared the web site's athlete of the week honors for her seventh place finish at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational in her season debut.

The Bywater feature is available here, while the Flood story is available here.

NOTE: The USTFCCCA, University of Washington, and Washington State University sports information office contributed to this report.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Huskies surprise everyone by winning Wisconsin adidas Invitational...

MADISON, Wisconsin--Just when you thought that the 2011 version of the Washington Huskies had absolutely no shot of winning a big meet, they do it.

Very few people outside the Husky program gave them much of anything going into the Wisconsin adidas Invitational, but the #24 Dawgs pulled off the upset, and probably vaulted themselves at least into the top ten teams in next week's USTFCCCA Division I poll after winning it all, beating 17 of the top 30 teams in the country in the biggest regular season meet of the year.

"Our goal coming in was just to run tough today," said Head Coach Greg Metcalf (cheering on Justine Johnson, #2762/photo by Mike Scott). "I think we did that. We really didn't have a perfect day but we were very solid. We wanted to work on some of the things that we didn't do well at the Griak meet, and I saw some improvements. It's a good midseason win for us but we've got some veterans that know there's plenty more to come."

Washington won with 199 points over the 6,000-meter course. Unranked Vanderbilt was also a surprise, placing second with 211 points. 14th-ranked Arizona was third (230), then two-time defending NCAA Champion Villanova, the nation's top-ranked team, was fourth with 232.

Sixth-ranked Stanford rounded out the top-five with 256 points. Second-ranked Providence, No. 7 New Mexico, No. 8 Syracuse, No. 9 Iowa State, No. 10 California, and No. 12 Oregon were also among the highly-ranked squads the Huskies outpaced.

The Huskies were led by sophomore Katie Flood's seventh place finish in 20:14, followed by Justine Johnson in 23rd at 20:38 and Lindsay Flanagan in 25th at 20:42. Senior Christine Babcock was 50th in 20:55, and Megan Goethals was 94th at 21:13 to round out the Washington scorers.

Defending NCAA champ Sheila Reid took the victory at 20:00 over Oregon's Jordan Hasay by two seconds.

This potentially makes the Pac-12 Championships in two weeks very interesting, with Colorado still the early favorite to win the first conference championship in the new 12-team league.

Courtesy of media partner Flotrack, here's the post-race interview with Katie Flood:



The men had a tough go, as the Huskies finished 31st in the 39 team field with 694 points, led by Joey Bywater's 46th place finish over the 8k course in 24:28.

Gareth Gilna was 88th at 24:45, followed by Aaron Nelson in 170th place at 25:17, then Robby Webster in 186th at 25:26, and Meron Simon in 204th at 25:36.

Lawi Lalang of Arizona took the individual win at 23:11, and the host Wisconsin Badgers won the team title with 66 points.

Results from the women's race at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational are available here, while the men's results are available here.

In Spokane, Andrew Kimpel was the individual men's winner and led the No. 20 Washington State men's cross country team to first place in the Inland Northwest Classic at Spokane Falls CC Friday.

Kimpel, a junior from Spokane, covered the 8,000m course in a course-record time of 24 minutes, 1 second. The men beat out eight other teams from around the Northwest in their final race before the Pac-12 Conference Championships in two weeks, hosted by Arizona State.

Right behind Kimpel was second-place finisher and senior teammate Jono Lafler, who finished with a time of 24:02. Andrew Gonzales (24:28) and Justin Englund (24:29) took the fourth and fifth place spots, respectively. Rounding out the Cougars' scoring lineup was Lee George at eighth (24:43.0) with Drew Jordan the next WSU man at ninth place (24:45).

The Cougar women's team ran the 5000m course at less than full strength, missing sophomore Ruby Roberts who has led the Cougar women in every race this year, and Allison Clark. The Washington State women took third place out of the nine competing teams, scoring 61 points and finishing behind Gonzaga (51) and Montana (54). The women's winner was Gonzaga's Lindsey Drake, who ran a course record time of 17:18

"It still hasn't really hit me yet," Drake said when asked about her victory. "I kind of let other people do the work this time and set me up for it in that last 200 (meters). I wasn't going to let myself get passed this time."

Complete results from the Inland Northwest Cross Country Classic are available here.

In Oregon City, Oregon, Peter VanNuland led the Redhawk men, finishing in 18th place in the men's four-mile run with a time of 21:28. Brothers Chris Auld and Dan Auld crossed the finish line in 20th place and 22nd place, respectively, with times of 21:34 and 21:36.

On the women's side, Meghan Arigo was the first Seattle U runner to cross the finish line, posting a time of 20:26 over the five-kilometer course. Amy Tolentino finished in 49th place with a time of 20:39, and Allison Prather finished in 53rd place in 20:52.

The SeattleU release is available here.

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

Amy Yoder Begley leaves Nike Oregon Project...

In a post on her web site dated October 13th, Nike Oregon Project runner Amy Yoder Begley (left/photo by Paul Merca) of Beaverton announced that she is leaving the Alberto Salazar coached group, based on the Nike campus.

Yoder Begley recently had surgery on her left Achilles tendon, which was troubling the 2008 US Olympian for most of the 2011 season, after having Achilles surgery on her right tendon in August 2010.

The University of Arkansas grad wrote, "I had given the doctors and therapists a deadline of October 15th before we made a decision on surgery to fix it.  I knew if I waited past October 15th, I wouldn’t have time to rehab and get in enough training to race this spring and get a qualifying time.  I don’t want to go into the Olympic Trials without a time.  I did that once and even though the result was amazing, I would rather have the qualifying time this year."

She stated that she will be coached by her husband, Andrew, until the Olympic Trials, then decide where to go from there.

This marks the second significant departure of an athlete from the Nike Oregon Project, as Salazar confirmed to Ken Goe of the Oregonian last week that Kara Goucher had left the squad.

You can read her full post here.

Meanwhile, courtesy of media partner Flotrack, here's a video interview with Washington head cross country/track coach Greg Metcalf on Friday's Wisconsin adidas Invitational meet, which is being touted as the biggest regular season cross country meet of the 2011 season.



The races get underway at 1 pm, central time (11 am, pacific) with the women's 6k, followed 40 minutes later by the men's 8k.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Schedule for 2012 US Olympic Team Trials-Track and Field released...

EUGENE, Oregon--The TrackTown12 Local Organizing Committee, in conjunction with the United States Olympic Committee and USA Track & Field on Wednesday, October 12, 2011, announced the release of the competition schedule for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track and Field that will take place June 21 to July 1st in Eugene.

The first official U.S. Olympic Trials event begins on the evening of Thursday, June 21, with a special edition of the men’s and women’s hammer throw at the Nike Campus in Beaverton, where former Ft. Lewis resident Michael Mai is expected to contend for a spot in London.

The special location for the hammer throw will be a new and exciting phenomenon in U.S.-based competition, and is a practice which started with much success at the 2004 Athens Olympics, where the shot put competition was held on the original Olympic grounds in Olympia, Greece.

“We consider the Olympic Trials to be one of the three greatest track and field meets on the planet, after only the Olympic Games themselves and the World Championships,” said USATF Interim CEO Mike McNees. “All of our events are showcased, with athletes trying for that coveted Olympic Team roster spot."

On Friday, June 22, the first full day of action kicks off at the University of Oregon’s Historic Hayward Field with Ashton Eaton, Trey Hardee (left/photo by Paul Merca) and Bryan Clay in the men’s decathlon, and concludes with the men’s and women’s 10,000 meters. The first weekend of competition is a busy one as finals in the men’s and women’s 100 and 400 meters, men’s long jump, women’s pole vault and women’s discus are contested.

Two rest days – June 26 and June 27 – are sandwiched in between the two four-day periods of track and field competition. Special community events, including an all-comers meet hosted by the Oregon Track Club, will give fans a chance to compete at Hayward Field’s hallowed grounds on the non-competition days.

Here is video of the press conference announcing the schedule, courtesy of the TrackTown12 LOC.



The 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field will be broadcast on NBC and its affiliates. Specific event timetables will be announced early in 2012. For the full competition schedule and athlete information, please click this link.

NOTE:  USA Track & Field and the TrackTown12 LOC contributed to this report.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

All five Washington D-I schools set to race Friday...

All five of Washington's NCAA Division I schools are in action Friday in their final tuneup before the conference championship meets in two weeks.

The University of Washington will travel to Madison, Wisconsin for the Wisconsin adidas Invitational on the Thomas Zimmer Championship Course, where they will face 38 other men's teams and 41 other women's squads.

On the women's side, the #24 Huskies face #14 Arizona, #27 BYU, #10 Cal, #30 Clemson, #22 Florida, #23 Iowa, #9 Iowa State, #15 Michigan State #21 Minnesota, #7 New Mexico, #13 North Carolina and their old friend Kendra Schaaf, #25 Notre Dame, #12 Oregon, #28 Princeton, #2 Providence, #6 Stanford, #8 Syracuse, and reigning NCAA champ Villanova, in what will be the toughest test of the season.

The men's field includes #23 Arizona State, #6 BYU, #28 Florida, #16 Georgetown, #7 Indiana, #26 Michigan, #17 Minnesota, #25 New Mexico, #13 Northern Arizona, #29 North Carolina, #9 NC State, #10 Oregon, #14 Princeton, #24 Providence, #4 Stanford, #21 Syracuse, #27 Texas A&M, #22 UCLA, #19 Villanova, and the #2 ranked hosts from Wisconsin.

The men's 8k and women's 6k races are contested on a course that features an exterior loop of approximately 2,500 meters and an interior loop of 1,000 meters. Both loops cover the area's rolling hills and valleys, while the outside loop also runs through a section of dense woods.

The UW press release previewing the meet is available here.

Washington State, whose men's squad is currently ranked #20 in the most recent USTFCCCA poll, will travel to Spokane to face Division I foes Gonzaga and Eastern Washington at the Inland Northwest Classic hosted by Spokane Falls Community College over an 8k course for the men, and a 5k for the women.

"(This will be a ) tune-up, really. It just gives us another opportunity to race and get a little bit closer to our competitive edge. If we didn't race, it would be a month between Notre Dame (and the Pac-12s). It is just too long to not compete," said WSU coach Pete Julian.

Here's Julian's preview of the meet, courtesy WSU Sports Information:



SeattleU will send most of their team to Oregon City, Oregon on Friday to run in the Mike Hodges Invitational, hosted by Clackamas Community College, as the men will run 4 miles, and the women 5k.

The University of Washington will send some athletes who are not running in Wisconsin to the Hodges Invitational.

The entry list for the Hodges Invitational is available here.

HARRIER NOTES: Western Washington's men's squad moved up to #19 in this week's USTFCCCA Division II poll from #21, while its women's team dropped one spot to #16.

In Division III, Whitman's women's team is ranked #26 in this week's poll, down one spot.

The link to the current USTFCCCA polls for Division II & III are available here.

NOTE: The sports information offices of the University of Washington, Washington State University, Seattle University, Clackamas CC, and the USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Vikings third and fifth in WWU Invitational Saturday...

BELLINGHAM--Alaska Anchorage and Victoria dominated both races at Saturday's Western Washington Invitational at Lake Padden Park, finishing one-two with just 10 points separating their men's teams and a margin of only 12 points between their women's squads.

In the men's team race UAA 33-43 over the University of Victoria, with host Western Washington University third at 86. GNAC member Saint Martin's University was fifth at 131, and Central Washington was eighth at 227.

Micah Chelimo of UAA took individual honors, running 31:05 over 10k, leading three other teammates over the line in the top ten.

St. Martin's Kyle Van Santen (left/photo courtesy St. Martin's University) finished fifth at 31:31, and Western's Tyler Cannon was one spot behind in the same time.

Nathan Minor was Central Washington's top runner across the line in 25th at 32:59.

The women's team title went to UAA 45-57 over UVic, with Western fifth at 126, St. Martin's eighth at 231, and Central Washington ninth at 251.

Ruth Keino took the 6k individual race in 21:10. Rachael Johnson was the Vikings' top finisher for the second straight race in 20th at 22:47.

Joscelyn Minton was St. Martin's top finisher in 32nd at 23:18, while Connie Morgan was 55th in 24:36 to pace Central Washington.

Western Washington, Central Washington, and St. Martin's next competes on October 22nd at the GNAC Championships in Yakima.

Complete results of the WWU Invitational are available here.

NOTE: The sports information office at Western Washington University and St. Martin's University contributed to this report.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Western Washington prepares to host WWU Invitational cross country meet...

BELLINGHAM--The nationally ranked Western Washington University men's and women's cross country teams complete the regular season in their only home appearance Saturday at the 38th annual Viking Invitational at Lake Padden Park.

The women's 6-kilometer race begins at 10 a.m., followed by the men's 10-kilometer run at 11 a.m.

The 11-team field is composed of Alaska Anchorage, British Columbia, Central Washington, Club Northwest, Eastside Track Club, Saint Martin's, Seattle Running Club, Simon Fraser, Trinity Western, Victoria and Western.

The Vikings are ranked No.21 in the men's division and No.15 in the women's division in the latest United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association NCAA Division II Top 25 polls. Alaska Anchorage, which is the defending WWU Invitational champion in both divisions, is #6 in the women's poll and #12 in the men's rating.

The WWU men, who had won six straight titles at their own invitational prior to last year, are led by Tyler Cannon who was the team's top finisher at both the Erik Anderson  Invitational (20th) two weeks ago and the Sundodger Invitational (seventh).

Pacing the Viking women are a pair of seniors in All-American Lauren Breihof (left/photo by Randy Miyazaki, trackandfieldphoto.com) and Rachael Johnson, who placed a team-best 20th in the Erik Anderson meet. Breihof was 23rd.

"It's going to be a good meet and a very competitive meet," said Western coach Pee Wee Halsell. "Alaska Anchorage is ranked ahead of us regionally and nationally, and that alone makes it a good test for us."

Following Saturday's meet, Western takes a week off before competing in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships on Oct. 22 at the Apple Valley Fields Course in Yakima.

NOTE: The sports information office at Western Washington contributed to this report.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Kara Goucher leaves Nike Oregon Project...

Within the last hour, Ken Goe of the Oregonian posted on their web site that Kara Goucher (left/photo by Paul Merca), the 2007 world championships bronze medalist in the 10000 has left the Beaverton based Nike Oregon Project.

According to a text Goe received from Nike Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar, “We can confirm that Kara Goucher has decided to make a change in coaches. We wish her all the best and continued success as an all-time great distance runner.'

Over the last several days, her departure was the subject of speculation, notably on the popular running site LetsRun.com.

After taking a maternity leave last year, she finished fifth in the Boston Marathon, and was 13th in the 10000 at the IAAF world championships in Daegu.

Goe's story is available here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Washington State earns #20 national ranking in latest USTFCCCA polls...

NEW ORLEANS--After a surprisingly strong fifth place finish at the adidas Notre Dame Invitational in South Bend, Indiana where they beat four nationally ranked squads, the Washington State University men's cross country team (left/photo by Paul Merca) finds itself ranked #20 in the latest USTFCCCA polls, released Tuesday.

This is the first time this season that the Pete Julian led squad has broken into the national top 30.

In the women's national rankings, the University of Washington is slotted in at #24, four spots down from #20.

Both defending national champions are currently ranked #1 in this week's polls--Oklahoma State on the men's side, and the Villanova women's squad. Villanova jumped up from #5 in the previous poll.

The complete national poll can be accessed here.

Washington next competes on October 14th at the adidas Wisconsin Invitational in Madison, while the Cougars stay close to home, running in the Inland Northwest Classic in Spokane.

In the USTFCCCA Division II regional polls, both Western Washington teams are ranked #3 in the West Region, while Seattle Pacific's women's team checks in at #7,  In the Division III regional poll, Whitman's women's team is #3, while Whitworth is #9.  Whitworth's men's team is #3 in the D3 regional poll.

NOTE: The USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Seattle Pacific squads sixth at Charles Bowles Invitational...

SALEM, Oregon--Seattle Pacific's Heidi Laabs-Johnson (left/photo courtesy Seattle Pacific University) started strong and kept it going all the way to a 10th-place finish at the 37th annual Charles Bowles Invitational, hosted by Willamette University.

The former Falcon soccer player, in her first year of cross country, finished the 5 kilometers that began in Bush's Pasture Park and ended on the track in McCulloch stadium in 18 minutes, 21 seconds, leading SPU to sixth place among the 16 teams with 175 points.

Senior Natty Plunkett was close behind, clocking 18:29 to take 23rd.

The entire Seattle Pacific scoring pack was in the finish chute within 45 seconds of each other. Sophomore McKayla Fricker was the third Falcon across and 46th overall in 18:50; redshirt freshman Robyn Zeidler was 54th in 18:57, and freshman Jasmine Johnson took 63rd in 19:05.

Chico State, led by Alia Gray's individual victory in 17:51, took the team title with 43 points, as the Falcons were sixth at 175. Division III Whitman was seventh at 193, while Whitworth was 12th at 326. Pacific Lutheran was 14th at 385, with the University of Puget Sound 15th at 388, and Central Washington 16th at 457.

In the men's race, freshman Jordan Wolfe led the Falcons with a 26th place finish over the 8k course, running 25:25.

It is the second time this season that Wolfe has been the first Falcon across the finish line. He won the Apple Ridge Run Invitational in Yakima on Sept. 10.

The Falcons checked in sixth with 160 points, well ahead of last season when they were 16th with 488 points.

In the men's race, the University of Portland and Chico State tied at 37 points, with Barak Watson the individual winner at 24:04.

Whitworth was seventh at 198, Central Washington 10th at 318, UPS 12th at 358, Pacific Lutheran 14th at 359, and Whitman was 15th at 366.

Complete results from the Bowles Invitational are available here.

At Lower Woodland Park, Nick Schippers won the men's 8k in 26:35, and Elise Egseth won the women's 6k in 22:35 at the Emerald City Open, hosted by Seattle University.

The Redhawks swept both competitions.

Complete results from the Emerald City Open are available here.

NOTE: The sports information offices of Seattle Pacific, Seattle University, and Willamette University contributed to this report.

Blog Archive