Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cross country news & notes--October 31, 2012...


After a busy weekend that saw NCAA Division I school around the country contest 32 conference championships, the USTFCCCA released its national rankings Tuesday.

In the women's national poll, the Washington Huskies dropped one spot from #6 to #7, as Florida State maintained its grip on the #1 spot.

Pac-12 champ Oregon remains at #3, with Arizona leapfrogging Stanford to #4, with the Cardinal at 5.

Big 10 champ Michigan moves up to #6 ahead of the Huskies.

Other Pac-12 women's teams ranked in the national poll include Colorado at #24 and UCLA at #29.

On the men's side, Oklahoma State, coached by Olympia prep standout Dave Smith, remains at #1, followed by Pac-12 champ Colorado, and runner-up Stanford.

Oregon drops to #11, with Arizona State at #25, and UCLA at #27 representing the Pac-12 in the men's poll.

For the first time this season, the Husky men's team are in the national conversation, as they just missed the top 30 by ten points, receiving 22 points from the voters, based on their sixth place finish at Pac-12s, where the Dawgs were six points away from UCLA and fifth place.


Speaking of the Huskies, the cross country squads tested out their new campus track and field facility next to the East parking lot on a rainy Tuesday afternoon, in what coach Greg Metcalf described as an exciting day for his team.

Courtesy of the UW, here is video of the first workout on the new track.


Though the blog primarily concentrates on professional, and Division I and II track and cross country, we'll occasionally give a shout out to Division III, NAIA and community college folks from around the state, usually in the context of schools participating in events with the big schools.

Unfortunately, we can't possibly do a good job of covering everything with the limited manpower we have (this is a one person operation), so we have to rely on help from the sports information offices of the various schools we cover.

One of our readers pointed out that last weekend, Washington University's Lucy Cheadle (left/photo courtesy Washington University), a product of Seattle's Roosevelt HS, won the University Athletic Association conference cross country title in Rochester, NY.

Cheadle, a sophomore at Washington in St. Louis, won the 6k race by more than 30 seconds, crossing the line in 21:27.

Another Puget Sound prep doing well is Redmond HS grad Devin McMahon of Cornell, who finished tenth last week in the Heps championship meet in Ithaca, NY, running 20:52 for 6k.


Finally, here's a link to a post on the Seattle Pacific web site on the Falcons' AJ Baker and Will Harrison as they prepare for Saturday's NCAA Division II West Regional race in Kahuku, Hawaii, just outside of Honolulu.

Harrison has battled injuries over the last two years and now, he and fellow Falcon senior Baker are aiming to help SPU try to qualify for its first NCAA championship appearance since 2004.

"To have a good enough race to get into the top five, no one person is going to have to something crazy that they've never done before,” Harrison said. “It's just going to take everyone running their best all on the same day.”


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

Saturday, October 27, 2012

SeattleU's Erik Barkhaus wins WAC cross country crown...

RUSTON, Louisiana--Erik Barkhaus (left/photo by Paul Merca) of Seattle University won the Western Athletic Conference individual men's cross country championship Saturday morning in the WAC Championships hosted by Louisiana Tech Saturday morning at Lincoln Parish Park.

Barkhaus became the first SeattleU male runner to win a cross country conference title since Casey Moriarty won the 2005 Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship during the Redhawks' Division II era. He posted a time of 24:03 over the eight-kilometer course, four seconds ahead of Kyle McKenna of Utah State.

"Barkhaus wasn't feeling well going into the race, so we changed race plans and focused solely on getting the win. He looked a little rough today, but ran smart. He'll be healthy and fully prepared in two weeks," SeattleU head cross country coach Trisha Steidl said.

Matthew McClement was fourth-place, posting a time of 24:47 Collin Overbay and Ryan Dennison also finished in the top 20, with Overbay crossing the finish line in 18th place in 25:11and Dennison finishing in 20th place with a time of 25:14.

Graham Kinzel-Grubbs finished in 26th place with a time of 25:24 to round out the Redhawk scorers. 

As a team, the Seattle U men finished in third place with 69 points, behind WAC champion UT Arlington and runner-up Utah State. It is the third top-three finish for the Redhawk men in four years at a conference meet after finishing in second place at the Great West Conference Championships in both 2009 and 2010.

Hannah Mittelstaedt finished in 10th place in the women's five-kilometer race, posting a time of 18:00. 

Jennifer Stolle also finished in the top 20 with a 19th place finish in a time of 18:22.

Sophomores Sophie Curatilo and Madison Davis crossed the finish line together, with Curatilo finishing in 32nd place in 18:46 and Davis right behind her in 33rd place in the same time. Becca Lassere  finished in 42nd place with a time of 19:04 to close out SeattleU's scorers.

The SeattleU women finished in sixth place as a team with 132 points. Idaho won the team championship by just three points over UTSA, with Hannah Kiser of the Vandals earning the individual championship.


In Portland, Gonzaga's Lindsay Drake came back Saturday to finish ninth in a school-record 20:50 at Fernhill Park and earn All-WCC honors in helping Gonzaga University's women to fourth place.
            
Drake's time set a Gonzaga 6K school mark of 21:15 for the WCC Championship set last season by junior Emily Thomas, who, coincidentally, also finished ninth a year ago to earn All-WCC accolades.
            
The Bulldogs scored 105 points with junior Lauren Bergam placing fifteenth in 21:10 to earn WCC honorable mention recognition, Thomas taking 19th in 21:16, sophomore Maggie Jones 29th in 21:36 and freshman Amelia Evans taking 35th in 21:59 to round out Gonzaga's top five. That means four of Gonzaga's top five runners return next season.
             
The Bulldogs recorded their highest finish since placing third in 2004.
            
The University of San Francisco won its fourth straight WCC Championship with 26 points, placing five runners in the top 10 led by individual winner Eva Krchova in 20:35. The University of Portland was second with 52 points and BYU third with 85. The Bulldogs beat Loyola Marymount University by five points.
            
Kelly, one of head coach Pat Tyson's first recruits, just missed All-WCC first-team honors by one second with his 11th place finish in 24:12 over the 8K Fernhill Park layout. But his effort, which earned him WCC honorable mention honors, helped vault the Bulldogs to third place behind the University of Portland and BYU.
            
The Bulldogs scored 103 points to edge the University of San Francisco by two points for third place. Portland, which had never lost a WCC title since 1979 until BYU entered the league and ended the Pilots run last year, moved back to the top with 32 points to edge BYU by one point.
            
Brent Felnagle led the next wave of Bulldogs as four Zags crossed the line from 21st through 27th. Felnagle, a junior, was 21st in 24:39, sophomore Colin O'Neil was 23rd in 24:44, sophomore Nick Roche finished 24th in 24:44 and senior Chris Boyle was 27th in 24:48 to round out Gonzaga's top five.
           
Jared Ward of BYU took individual honors in 23:42.


In Flagstaff, Arizona, Eastern Washington University men’s cross country team placed ninth while the women placed 11th at the Big Sky Championships Saturday in highly-elevated Flagstaff, Ariz. The men scored 286 points, edging out  Northern Colorado by a  single point.  The women accumulated 262 points, finishing just 15 points behind Montana.

Redshirt freshman Berenice Penaloza was once again the top finisher for the Eagles on the women’s side, completing the 5,000-meter course in 18:40 and finishing 29th overall. Following Penaloza to round out the Eagle scorers were Danie Moon (57th, 19:47), Acacia Smith (59th, 19:56), Monica Jaenicke (65th, 20:08), Jessi Johnson (70th, 20:20), and Lauren Brewington (78th, 21:46).

On the men's side, freshman David Thor continued his impressive season with a 25th-place finish, hitting a time of 26:36 on the 8,000-meter course. He was the top finisher for the Eastern men for the fifth-straight meet and also fourth among all freshman runners at the meet. Coming in after Thor to score for EWU was Nathan Fall (62nd, 28:25), Quin Olivas (67th, 29:01), Isaac Seward (74th, 29:51), and Jordan Curnutt (77th, 31:24).


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

Colorado men, Oregon women win Pac-12 harrier titles...


SANTA CLARITA, California--The University of Colorado men's squad and the University of Oregon women won the Pacific 12 cross country championship on a beautiful sunny Southern California day at Robinson Ranch Golf Course outside of Los Angeles.

In the day's opening women's 6k race, Stanford's Kathy Kroeger (far left, with Oregon's Alexi Pappas, Annie LeBlanc, and Washington's Megan Goethals/photo by Paul Merca), who stayed off the early pace, rallied in the last kilometer to take out a four-second victory over Oregon's Jordan Hasay, 20:06 to 20:10.  

Oregon placed two other runners in the top five, with two other runners the top twenty to clinch a 47-69 victory over the Arizona Wildcats.

Stanford finished third with 82, just ahead of the Huskies in fourth at 92 points.

The University of Washington's Megan Goethals, running in her season debut, finished twelfth in 20:37, followed closely by Lindsay Flanagan in 14th at 20:37, with Justine Johnson one second behind in 15th.

Liberty Miller was 25th in 21:04, with defending Pac-12 champ Katie Flood, who had been struggling in the team's last race in Madison, Wisconsin, was 26th in 21:05 to round out the Husky scorers.

For Washington State, Caroline Austin led the Cougars to a 12th place finish with a 33rd place finish in 21:19.  

Ruby Roberts was 53rd in 21:55, Emily Dwyer was 78th in 22:32, Courtney Zalud was 94th in 23:30, and Kiah Condos rounded out the scorers for Washington State in 96th.

Among notable Washington preps, Bellingham's Becca Friday was 48th for Oregon in 21:49.

In the men's 8k championship, Arizona's Lawi Lalang and Stephen Sambu pulled away from Oregon's Trevor Dunbar and Parker Stinson on the final lap to go 1-2 in a time of 22:49 to 22:50.

Dunbar was third in 23:28, with Stinson fourth in the same time.

Colorado put all seven runners in the top 18, led by Blake Theroux's eight place finish to successfully defend their Pac-12 championship with a score of 49 points to outdistance runner-up Stanford, who scored 82 points.

Oregon was third with 105 points, followed by Arizona State at 109, and UCLA at 113.

Washington was sixth at 119, while the Washington State Cougars were eighth at 200 points.

The Cougs were without the services of senior leader Andrew Kimpel, who was battling a hamstring problem, and was held out of the meet by WSU coach Tim Riley.

For the Huskies, Joey Bywater was first across the line in 16th at 23:58, followed by Tyler King in 22nd at 24:12.  Aaron Nelson was 25th in 24:15, with Rob Webster Jr 27th in 24:17, and Aaron Beattie in 33rd at 24:23.

Washington State's Lee George was first across the line in 24th at 24:14, followed by Andrew Gonzales in 34th at 24:24.

Drew Jordan was 43rd in 24:37, with Todd Wakefield 49th at 24:53, and Forrest Shaffer 69th at 25;38.

Among significant Washington preps in the race, Gig Harbor's Miles Unterreiner of Stanford was 20th in 24:10.


Many of the schools who were in Santa Clarita will be in Seattle for the NCAA West Regionals on November 9th at Jefferson Park Golf Course, with berths to the national championships in Louisville, Kentucky on the line.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

All five Washington DI schools head to conference championship meets Saturday...

Pac-12 champ Katie Flood, Megan Goethals, &
Justine Johnson of UW (Paul Merca photo)

With the Division II schools getting their conference championships out of the way, last weekend, it's time for the state's five Division I schools to line up for their championship meet on Saturday.

DAWGS AND COUGS IN SOCAL FOR PAC-12S

Washington and Washington State are off to Santa Clarita, California, northeast of Los Angeles for the Pac-12 championships at the Robinson Ranch Golf Course.  The Pac-12 Network will be broadcasting this year’s championships on a tape delay basis, with Jim Watson and Dwight Stones on the call. The women’s 6,000-meter race will be up first at 9:40 a.m., followed by the men’s 8,000-meters at 10:40 a.m.  

All eyes will be on the Huskies' Katie Flood, the defending champion, as contenders such as Oregon's Jordan Hasay, Arizona's Elvin Kibet and Jen Bergman, Colorado steeplechase Olympian Shalaya Kipp and Stanford's Kathy Kroeger will try to unseat Flood, who also won the NCAA 1500m title last spring.

The road to the conference crown may be crowded, with the Dawgs, who are ranked #6 in the latest USTFCCCA poll, having to contend with #3 Oregon, #4 Stanford, and #5 Arizona, with defending conference champ Colorado at #21 and host UCLA at #24.

Washington is traveling All-American Megan Goethals, who has not raced this season.

Washington State will be led by senior Caroline Austin, who has won two meets this season, the Clash of the Inland Northwest, and the WCC Preview.

The Cougs are looking to improve upon their 11th place finish from 2011.

The Cougar men are going into the Pac-12s with a bit of a chip on their shoulder, after being bumped out of the USTFCCCA top 30, and being leapfrogged by their rivals from Seattle in the West regional rankings, where they're ranked #7 behind the Huskies, who are #6.

Defending Pac-12 champ Colorado (#2 in national poll) and Stanford (#3) are clearly the teams to beat, with Oregon (#8) and UCLA (#15) the other two nationally ranked squads in the meet.

Cougar senior captain Andrew Kimpel talked about the Cougs' prospects in this video, courtesy WSU Athletics:


The Husky men are hoping to put together their best all-around effort yet this season, after a solid day two weeks ago in Wisconsin that was close to being much better. 

paulmerca.blogspot.com will be on site to cover the Pac-12 championships.

ZAGS TO PORTLAND FOR WCC CHAMPIONSHIPS

Pat Tyson's Gonzaga Bulldogs are off to Portland for the West Coast Conference championship meet at Fernhill Park, hosted by the University of Portland.

On the men's side, BYU and Portland are the teams to beat, while the BYU and San Francisco women's teams are the squads to watch.

The Gonzaga women will have some strong momentum heading to Portland after winning the Inland Empire Classic in Lewiston two weeks ago, led by Emily Thomas' third place finish.

Action at Fernhill Park gets under way with the women's 6k at 9am, and the men's 8k at 9:45.

EAGLES IN FLAGSTAFF FOR BIG SKY

Chris Zeller's Eastern Washington squad heads to Flagstaff, Arizona for the Big Sky championships, hosted by Northern Arizona.

Though the Eagles aren't particularly deep, Zeller is looking for his squad to have its best race of the year.

The Eagles will be led by freshman David Thor, and Berenice Penaloza, each of whom have been the first runners for EWU across the line this season.

The men's 8k gets underway at 9 am, with the women's 5k following at 10 am.

SEATTLEU TRAVELS TO RUSTON FOR WAC CHAMPS

Trisha Steidl's Seattle University Redhawks travel the furthest, as the newest members of the Western Athletic Conference travels to Ruston, Louisiana for their debut in the WAC title meet at Lincoln Parish Park.

The women will contest the championship race over a 5k course, which gets underway at 9 am local time, with the men racing over a 8k distance one hour later.

SeattleU's hopes for a high finish rests on the shoulders of Erik Barkhaus, who won the men's 10000 at last spring's Great West Conference meet, and who won the UW/SU season opening meet and the Emerald City Open at Lower Woodland a few weeks ago.

Hannah Mittelstaedt will be the Redhawks' top runner entering the WAC championship meet.

In the WAC coaches' pre-season poll, the Utah State men and the Idaho women were picked to win the championship meet, with SeattleU picked third in the men's championship and sixth in the women's race.

NOTE:  The sports information offices of Eastern Washington, Gonzaga, Seattle University, the University of Washington, and Washington State University, along with the Pac-12, WAC, WCC, and Big Sky Conference contributed to this report.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Western Washington men's squad remains at #10 in latest USTFCCCA national poll...


NEW ORLEANS--There was little change in the top three spots in the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) national Division II rankings released Wednesday, as Adams State’s men’s team and Augustana (S.D.)’s women’s team are still the top-ranked teams in NCAA Division II cross country.

Adams State, No. 2 Colorado Mines, and No. 3 Chico State – were unchanged from the previous men's ranking.

In the women’s top 35, the top eight teams led by No. 1 Augustana (S.D.), No. 2 Adams State, and No. 3 Grand Valley State retained their positions from a week ago.

Coach Pee Wee Halsell's (left/photo courtesy Western Washington) Western Washington Vikings, coming off a strong second place finish in last weekend's Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship meet in Monmouth, Oregon, remains at #10 in the latest men's poll, while conference champ Alaska Anchorage stays at #7.

Montana State-Billings is the only other GNAC school ranked in the men's poll at #34.

In the women's poll, Seattle Pacific dropped one spot to #25, while Western Washington moved up one to #30.

GNAC champ Alaska Anchorage is ranked #5, with runner-up Simon Fraser coming in at #10.


NOTE:  The USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Viking men second, Falcon women third at GNAC cross country championships...


MONMOUTH, Oregon--As expected, Alaska Anchorage swept both the men's and women's team titles as the Seawolves dominated the field at the Great Northwest Athletic Conference cross country championships Saturday at the Ash Creek Preserve on the campus of Western Oregon University.

Powered by individual titles by UAA's Micah Chelimo and Susan Tanui, both squads tallied meet record low scores, with the men scoring 23 points, eclipsing their own record low of 27 set last year, and the women scoring a near perfect 16 points.

Chelimo (#2/photo courtesy GNAC) took his second straight conference title, running 24:50 over the 8k course.

Western Washington finished second with a score of 50 points, led by Dak Riek, who placed third in 25:06, followed by teammate Chip Jackson in fourth at 25:11, and Kyle Johnson in tenth at 25:29.

"The men really lit it up," said WWU coach Pee Wee Halsell of his nationally ranked team. "Dak ran a great race and Chip was outstanding, and Kyle moving up like that was really something.

Seattle Pacific finished fifth with a score of 140 points, led by Will Harrison's seventh place finish in 25:21.

“Our primary goal today was to be in the top five and make sure we were going to the next race,” Harrison said. “We have a couple of guys who had a late start to the season and are still gaining a lot. So the next two weeks, they'll be even more ready to go, and hopefully, we'll improve our finish from last year.”

That next race is the NCAA West Regionals on November 3rd in Honolulu, with trips to the national championships in Joplin, Missouri two weeks later on the line.

Central Washington was ninth with 255 points, while Saint Martin's was tenth at 256 points.

In the women's 6k, Central Washington's Kelsey Kreft earned all-conference honors with her eighth-place finish, as she completed the six-kilometer course in a time of 21:24. She ranked second among runners not from the University of Alaska Anchorage, which had the top four placers plus runners six and seven, en route to 16 team points and the conference team title.

Seattle Pacfic finished third in the team race behind UAA (16) and Simon Fraser (61) with 104 points.  The Falcons were led by freshman Katie Morris' 12th place finish in 21:36.

Western Washington was fourth with a team score of 115, led by Katelyn Steen's 15th place finish in 21:53.

Central Washington, powered by Kreft's eighth place finish, took fifth with a score of 151 points, the school's highest finish since placing third in 2006.

Saint Martin's was tenth overall with a score of 317 points.


In Corvallis, at the Beaver Classic on Friday, sophomore Amy Tolentino led Seattle University to a ninth place team finish as she crossed the line in 50th place in a time of 24:05 over the 6k course.

In the men's 8k, Collin Overbay led the Redhawks as he placed 34th in 25:56, as SeattleU was sixth with a score of 165 points.

SeattleU used the Beaver Classic as a last chance meet for individuals to make the travel squad for next week's WAC Championships in Ruston, Louisiana.


Saint Martin's University announced a few days ago the hiring of former USC All-American and Capital HS product Adam Midles as its new throws coach.

"I am thrilled to join the St. Martin's track and field program and coach Sullivan's staff. Coaching the throws at a collegiate level in my hometown is a very special opportunity, " said Midles. "With a brand new track, throws area and weight room, SMU has as good of facilities as any program in the Pacific Northwest. Combine that with the opportunity to receive a top notch private education and I think it's pretty easy to understand why this is such an exciting time to be at this university."


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

Friday, October 19, 2012

State's four NCAA D2 schools head to Monmouth for GNAC championships...


MONMOUTH, Oregon--It's conference championship week, as the state's four Great Northwest Athletic Conference members--Western Washington, Seattle Pacific, Central Washington, and St. Martin's--head to Monmouth's Ash Creek Preserve for Saturday's championship meet and the first step to the national championships.

The men’s 8k race will begin at 10 a.m, followed by the women’s 6k race at 11.

All four schools are taking dead aim at Alaska-Anchorage, the defending GNAC men's and women's team champions.

On the men's side, all eyes are on UAA's Micah Chelimo, the defending individual champ, with Western Washington's Tyler Cannon and Dak Riek (left/photo courtesy Western Washington) attempting to replicate their top ten finishes from 2011.


In the women's race, unbeaten Susan Tanui of UAA leads the Seawolves into Monmouth, with teammate Miriam Kipng'eno expected to be nipping at her heels Saturday.

Others from Washington expected to finish high, according to the release from the GNAC , include Erika Crock of Saint Martin’s, Robyn Zeidler of Seattle Pacific and Taylor Guenther of Western Washington, each of whom have won races this fall.

Alaska Anchorage, which has won three consecutive West Regional titles, is one of four GNAC teams that are nationally ranked.  The Seawolves are ranked fifth.  Simon Fraser, Seattle Pacific and Western Washington are ranked ninth,  24th and 31st, respectively.


NOTE:  The GNAC contributed to this report.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Checking out the new digs--Washington's new track and field complex...


SEATTLE--I had the opportunity to spend part of the morning with University of Washington head track coach Greg Metcalf and associate head coach Jason Drake as we walked around the new track and field complex next to the soccer stadium and the east parking lot.

As we walked, workers were putting the final touches on the track markings of the purple IAAF certified Beynon BSS 2000 track surface, the same surface that is in use at Hayward Field at the University of Oregon, and is being installed at Washington State University in Pullman and Oregon State University in Corvallis.

One of the biggest challenges of the project was the track's location next to the east parking lot just north of Husky Stadium.

Up until the early 1970s, the current area was essentially a garbage dump site, and that without something to stabilize the footprint of the track facility, there was a real risk that the track would sink as the ground settled.

With that in mind, 177 steel pilings were driven into the ground, driven anywhere from 125 to 140 feet deep.


With cooperation from the weather gods, the crew finished pouring the purple surfacing material in the last week, and began the process of striping the track.

Pole vault runways on the West D area

On the west end of the track are four pole vault runways that can go in either direction (north to south, depending on the wind), a large D area to hold two high jump pits that can be positioned in any direction, and two discus rings, along with a secondary javelin runway pointing towards the east.

The steeplechase water jump is also positioned on the west end D area.

The common finish line is positioned towards the southeast end of the stadium.  Metcalf said that they can run the 100 and 200 meter dashes in the opposite direction with a finish line in the northwest end of the track.

This is the view from the javelin runway

On the east end of the track is another D area with two competition shot put rings plus some practice rings, the main javelin runway (most competitions will be throwing east to west), and the discus/hammer cage will be positioned in the northeast corner of the track, throwing towards the southwest end.

On the inside of the track, which Metcalf calls lane 0, is a softer grey surface for warmup and warmdown, which he also anticipates using for workouts, particularly with distance runners or athletes coming off injuries.

There are four long/triple jump runways (two each direction) located on the south side of the track parallel to the home straightaway.

In the weeks to come, the infield will be seeded with grass.  Bleachers will be installed in the south end of the track along with fencing on the outside.  A plaza area will be put in at the track's main entrance on the southwest corner.

For big meets such as the Pac-12 championships, they can utilize either the soccer stadium or the intramural field as a warmup and/or staging area.

The projected first meet of the new track facility is the dual meet against Washington State in late April (ed-probably April 27), followed by the Ken Shannon meet in early May (ed-probably May 4), before the Pac-12 championships at USC on May 11-12.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Numerous squads do the 'Cupid Shuffle' in latest USTFCCCA coaches' poll...


NEW ORLEANS--The results of last weekend's Wisconsin adidas Invitational (photo of UW's Lindsay Flanagan by Mike Scott) along with the Pre-Nationals in Louisville resulted in several teams doing their version of the Cupid Shuffle as the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Division I poll was released Tuesday.

There was no change at the top in the women's poll as Florida State maintains its position after winning the Pre-Nationals in Louisville over a 37 team field.

Iowa State, the winner of the Wisconsin adidas meet moves to #2 after defeating 47 other squads last week in Madison.

Numbers 3-through-6 are all Pac-12 squads, led by Oregon at #3. Stanford at 4, Arizona in the five spot, and the Washington Huskies, who dropped to #6 after finishing fourth in Madison.

Colorado at #21 and UCLA at #24 are the two other Pac-12 teams ranked in the national women's poll.

On the men's side, Oklahoma State, coached by former Olympia prep standout Dave Smith, takes over the #1 spot, as previous #1 Wisconsin takes a deep drop all the way down to #20.

Three teams are in the men's top ten from the Pac-12--Colorado at #2, Stanford at #3, and Oregon at #8.

UCLA is ranked #15, the last Pac-12 team in the national top 30.  The University of Portland dropped to #17 from #5 in the poll.

For those not in the know, here's the Cupid Shuffle:


The main attention in Division I are the conference championship meets, which get underway on October 27th for the Pac-12.

The complete national rankings are available here.

NOTE:  The USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Cougs' Caroline Austin scores another win at Inland Empire Classic...


LEWISTON, Idaho--Washington State's men's squad earned the team title and Cougar senior Caroline Austin (left/photo by Paul Merca) took individual honors at Saturday's Inland Empire Classic cross country meet at the Lewis-Clark State College Orchards Course.

Austin, a senior from Chehalis, and Ruby Roberts, a junior, finished one-two in the women's 5000m race. This was Austin's third win of the season and she crossed the finish line in a time of 17 minute, 43 seconds. Roberts, who is coming off an injury-plagued 2011-12 year, ran a time of 17:46. Cougar women scoring with their times were Emily Dwyer (18:39, 16th), Courtney Zalud (18:58, 24th) and Abby Knight (19:20, 36th). 

The other WSU women and their finishes included CharLee Linton (19:31, 37th), Kiah Condos (19:40, 46th), Marisa Stoick (19:55, 57th), and Amanda Henderson (20:03, 60th).

Gonzaga took the team title in the women's race, as they had four runners in the top 10 with Emily Thomas third in 17:47, Lauren Bergam fifth (18:07), Amelia Evans sixth (18:08) and Maggie Jones eighth (18:16) over the brand new 5K layout. The Zags scored 37 points to out-distance second-place WSU with 71.

Eastern Washington was tenth with 225 points, led by Berenice Penaloza, who was 17th for the Eagles in 18:42.

Leading the WSU men's team to victory was junior Drew Jordan with second place and sophomore Todd Wakefield who finished third. Jordan and Wakefield were both credited with a time of 24:35 on the 8,000m course. 

Andrew Gonzales finished sixth in a time of 25:00 and Andrew Kimpel, who was had some respiratory issues during dry and dusty race and nearly dropped out, also ran 25:00 and finished seventh. Forrest Shaffer's time of 25:24 was 13th and was the fifth scorer for the Cougars. Richard Shroy ran a time of 26:44 for 47th. Lee George, bothered by the dry and dusty conditions dropped out of the competition. 

Former EWU star Paul Limpf, running unattached, won the men's race in a time of 24:28.

The Gonzaga men had three runners in the top 12 as Tate Kelly once again led the way in 24:47 for third place over the 8K layout. Colin O'Neil was 11th in 25:20 and Robert Walgren 12th in 25:24.

Eastern Washington, which finished ninth in the men's race, was led by freshman David Thor in 25:35, who crossed the line in 20th, marking the fourth straight meet he's led the team.


In Seattle, the SeattleU Redhawks won the men's team title at their own Emerald City Open at Lower Woodland Park, running against local competition.

Erik Barkhaus cruised to the individual title with a time of 25:20, leading the Redhawks to a 1-2-4 finish, as he ran almost 34 full seconds ahead of teammate Matthew McClement, who finished second in 25:54. A strong finishing kick from Ryan Dennison advanced him to fourth place with a time of 26:07.

In the women's race, Club Northwest's Kristi Houk (22:11) and Olympic Marathon Trials participant Ruth Perkins (22:29) went 1-2 over the 6-k course, as CNW finished second by a two-point margin to Simon Fraser, 36-38.

Host SeattleU was third with a score of 64 points, led by Hannah Mittelstaedt's tenth place finish in 22:54.


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

Defending champ Washington Huskies take fourth in stacked Wisconsin adidas Invite...


MADISON, Wisconsin--Competing against a large, stacked field (left/photo by Mike Scott) that included twenty squads ranked in the USTFCCCA top 30, the defending team champion Washington Huskies finished fourth at Friday's Wisconsin adidas Invitational on the Zimmer Championships Course.

The Husky women had a strong pack with just 31 seconds separating their one through five scorers. Junior Katie Flood was at the front of that group, despite not having one of her best days on the course, as she placed 29th in 20:12 for 6,000-meters. Junior Justine Johnson was close behind in 35th-place, followed by senior Lindsay Flanagan in 41st, junior Liberty Miller in 67th, and senior Kayla Evans capped the scoring in 80th-place in 20:43. Freshman Maddie Meyers also placed 114th and sophomore Joelle Amaral was 244th.

Fifth-ranked Iowa State earned the win with 109 points, followed by No. 7 Stanford with 181 and No. 2 Arizona with 242, then the Huskies right behind the Wildcats in fourth with 252. Washington finished ahead of the likes of No. 9 Cornell, No. 10 Michigan State, No. 12 Vanderbilt, No. 13 Weber State, No. 14 Penn State, and ten more ranked squads.

"The women's race was very different from a year ago," said Head Coach Greg Metcalf. "All of our women ran faster a year ago but we weren't up quite as far as we'd like to be. We end up finishing fourth, so it was a solid performance, but collectively we were a little flat."

Once again, the Huskies were missing All American Megan Goethals, who turns out to have a reaction in her femur, according to a post on her Twitter feed.

Freshman Laura Hollander of Cal Poly/SLO was the surprise winner of the Wisconsin adidas race, crossing the line in 19:33. two seconds up on Iowa State's Betsy Saina.

In the men's 8k race, seniors Joey Bywater and Rob Webster Jr. led the way. Bywater led the Dawgs for the third time already this season, finishing 42nd overall in 23:58. Webster had one Metcalf called possibly his best regular season cross country race, finishing 67th in 24:07.

Sophomore Aaron Beattie finished 100th overall in 24:17. The Dawgs were in the top-20 as a team late but lost some ground over the last mile. Sophomore Aaron Nelson came in 154th and redshirt freshman Tyler King rounded out the scoring in 179th-place in 24:37. Taylor Carlson was 204th and Bryan Tibaduiza was 268th to finish the top-seven.

Washington  finished 22nd out of 45 teams, a big improvement over the same race a year ago where UW was 31st out of 39 teams. Washington tied 16th-ranked Minnesota with 542 points, and placed ahead of No. 13 Notre Dame, No. 29 Virginia, and No. 30 Missouri. The Huskies were also ahead of Cal Poly, which was ranked sixth in the West Region ahead of UW, as well as beating out Pac-12 foes Arizona and California.

Stanford took the team title with 135, followed by Iona (145), Oklahoma (166), Texas (267), and Arkansas (308) rounding out the top five.

Given the reactionary nature of the USTFCCCA coaches' poll, expect some significant shifts when the polls release either Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.

The Huskies will now set their sights on the Pac-12 Championships, hosted by UCLA in Santa Clarita, Calif. at the Robinson Ranch Golf Course. The championships are set for Saturday, Oct. 27, starting at 9:40 a.m.


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

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Huskies to take on several nationally ranked squads at adidas Wisconsin Invitational...

The #3 ranked Washington women's cross country team faces its stiffest test Friday morning at the adidas Wisconsin Invitational at 10 am, pacific time.

The Huskies, the defending champs at Wisconsin, will face six top-10 nationally ranked teams, including #2 ranked Arizona, who beat the Dawgs two weeks ago in Louisville.

According to the Huskies' release, All American and reigning Pac-12 champ Katie Flood (left/photo by Paul Merca) will lead the team into battle,  with Lindsay Flanagan, Justine Johnson,  Kayla Evans, Liberty Miller, Joelle Amaral, and freshman Maddie Meyers running.

Washington will miss the services of All American Megan Goethals, and Eleanor Fulton.

The Washington men will run 40 minutes later on the 8-k course, and face 19 ranked teams slated to compete, led by six top-10 teams: No. 1 Wisconsin, No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 5 Iona, No.5 Portland, No. 8 Stanford, and #10 Syracuse.

The men will take ten runners, nearly all of who ran at the Dellinger Invitaitonal at Oregon two weeks back. The lone newcomer is sophomore Aaron Nelson, who had a great Sundodger race but then sat out the Oregon trip. Senior Joey Bywater is coming off a top-10 finish in Oregon and was 46th at this race a year ago. Nelson, Gareth Gilna, Rob Webster Jr., and Michael Miller all ran the Zimmer course a year ago as well and will look to use that experience to their advantage.


Meanwhile, Washington State, Gonzaga, and Eastern Washington square off Saturday at the Inland Empire Classic in Lewiston, Idaho.

The women's 5,000m race begins at 10:30 a.m. and the men's 8,000m race is set for 11:15 a.m.


The women's six-kilometer race, three loops of the two-kilometer course, will start at 10:30 a.m. The men will make four loops of the course in their eight-kilometer event, scheduled to start at 11:15 a.m.

For all five Washington NCAA Division I schools, this is the final major test before the conference championship meets--PAC 12 for UW & WSU; Big Sky for Eastern Washington; West Coast Conference for Gonzaga; and Western Athletic Conference for SeattleU.

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

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Western Washington men's team moves to #10 in latest USTFCCCA national harrier poll...


NEW ORLEANS--The Western Washington University men's cross country team moved up one spot to number ten in the latest United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) poll released Wednesday.

Adams State’s men and Augustana (S.D.)’s women are still the top-ranked teams in the country in NCAA Division II cross country according to the latest national rankings conducted by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). For most, conference championships are just ten days away.


The Vikings still trail GNAC conference rival Alaska Anchorage in the poll, as UAA is ranked #7 nationally.


On the women's side, the Seattle Pacific Falcons, who were idle last weekend are ranked #24, dropping four spots, while Western Washington drops from #23 to #31 in this week's poll.


Two schools from the GNAC are ahead of Seattle Pacific and Western Washington in the national poll--Alaska Anchorage at #5, and Simon Fraser at #9.


The Falcons are in action Saturday at the Emerald City Invitational at Woodland Park, hosted by Seattle University, in their final tune-up before the GNAC Championships on October 20th on the campus of Western Oregon University in Monmouth.


The USTFCCCA national rankings are available here.


THURMOND NAMED THROWS COACH AT ILLINOIS STATE


While on our trip to Athens to cover the We Run Athens 10k last week, we neglected to pass along word that former UW assistant throws coach Reedus Thurmond was named to the same position at Illinois State University in Normal, IL.


According to the release from Illinois State, Thurmond joins the staff after spending the last year as a private coach, coaching his wife, Aretha, along with notable names such as Mart Israel, Rashaud Scott and Kimery Hern. Aretha is a three-time Olympian and five-time U.S Champion in the discus, holding a personal-best mark of 216-01. Israel took fourth-place in the discus at the 2011 World Championships, while All-American Hern was a 2012 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials qualifier. Scott, a former NCAA Champion, earned a top-10 world ranking under Thurmond's direction.

NOTE:  The USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

3000 runners storm the streets of the Greek capital in We Run Athens 10K...


ATHENS, Greece--One of the fun parts of the gig I have with this blog is the opportunity to meet and visit all sorts of folks from around the world.

Such was the case Sunday, when I attended the We Run Athens 10k race (left/photo by Paul Merca) through the streets of downtown Athens as it bypassed several notable landmarks throughout the city.

While the city's big annual race is the Athens Marathon from historic Marathon to the finish in the Panathinaiko Stadium where the 1896 Olympics were staged, along with the finishes of the marathon at the 1997 IAAF World Track & Field Championships (which coincided with my first ever visit to this city; I've been privileged to come to Athens seven times since) and the Olympics, this was the first time a road race of this scale was staged completely inside the city, according to my host Angeliki Choundi of event sponsor Nike Hellas.

Approximately 3000 runners took to the streets of Athens, clad in their black We Run Athens shirts with the distinctive green lightning bolt logo.

One of the central themes of this race was encouraging participants to use social media outlets, including Facebook and Twitter, to share their experiences in today's race, by posting photos on their pages, using the hashtag #werunathens in tweets, and of course, sharing their maps, distance and times by uploading the results using their Nike+ accounts.

As the stream of runners crossed the finish line at the Zappeion Alea, retired two time Greek Olympian in the heptathlon Aryiro Strataki (above/photo by Paul Merca), whose last major international meet was the 2009 world championships in Berlin, and who now works for the Greek athletics federation, explained to me that a race like this as recently as five years ago was only a pipe dream.

She said that with Nike's help and engagement with the local running community, they've been able to enlist the help of local coaches to come to Nike running clubs set up within Athens with their local stores (much like the running clubs in cities in the US with a NikeTown or similar Nike-owned retail store) and design training programs for runners of all levels in order to participate in events like Sunday's We Run Athens.

Quite honestly, when I saw the company's release on the We Run series way back in August, I was intrigued at the thought of coming to Athens to visit friends, especially since the Seattle Seahawks didn't have a home game this weekend, there was only one significant cross country meet that weekend for this blog to cover (Western Washington Invitational), and I hadn't taken an international trip in 2012.

In short, the timing was perfect for me to check out this race.

Once the trip was arranged, the only thing that put a damper was the fact that I had again strained my right Achilles tendon three weeks before the event.  After explaining my situation to the Nike Hellas folks, and thanks to large doses of ice and aspirin, I went ahead and ran the first two kilometers of the race at an easy 9-minute per mile pace, dropping out past the US Embassy, and walking back to the start to grab my camera and shoot the finish of the race, the images of which you can see by visiting the blog's Facebook page.

While I certainly was disappointed in not being able to finish (at my age, you have to be realistic), I have to admit that I had absolutely no expectations at all.


NOTE:  Special thanks to Nike Hellas for their help and hospitality during my stay in Athens, Greece.

Alaska Anchorage and Victoria take team honors at Western Washington Invitational Saturday...


BELLINGHAM--Under sunny skies, the Seawolves of Alaska-Anchorage took top honors in the women's team race Saturday at the Western Washington Invitational at Lake Padden Park, but were three points short of the sweep, as the University of Victoria edged UAA out in the men's team race (left/photo courtesy Western Washington University).

The Seawolves took the women's crown with 41 points to 57 for runner-up British Columbia. Simon Fraser was third (85) and Victoria fourth (90), with the hosts finishing fifth with 152.

Club Northwest was sixth at 157, Central Washington was seventh at 183, with Pacific Lutheran ninth at 265, and St. Martin's tenth at 293.

Victoria won the men's division with 37 points to 40 for Alaska Anchorage, the two-time defending champion.

Host WWU placed third (80) in the men's race, with Club Northwest fourth at 89, Central Washington eleventh at 267, Pacific Lutheran twelfth at 299, and St. Martin's thirteenth at 303.

Micah Chelimo of UAA won the men's title for the second straight year, completing the 10-kilometer course in 31:12. That was five seconds better than runner-up Paul Limpf of Club Northwest, and formerly of Eastern Washington.

UAA's Susan Tanui won the women's 6k in 21:31, eleven seconds up on Alison Jackson of Trinity Western in British Columbia.


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

Friday, October 5, 2012

Nike's worldwide We Run series takes to the streets of Athens Sunday...



ATHENS--There isn't a championship meet or race happening in the Greek capital this weekend, but many of you are wondering why paulmerca.blogspot.com is halfway around the world this weekend?

Besides making a personal visit to some friends who I haven't seen in over four years, I'm attending the We Run Athens 10k race through the city on Sunday.

This event is part of race sponsor Nike's initiative of staging a series of races around the world this fall to highlight some of the Beaverton company's new and improved offerings, including Nike+.

The Nike+ ecosystem allows runners to share their experiences, track their running progress and create and meet challenges for themselves and their running networks. Nike+ gives access to the world's largest running club through nikeplus.com, the redesigned Nike+ Running App for iPhone and Android, nikeplus.com, and the range of Nike+ running products including the Nike+ SportWatch GPS Powered by TomTom, the Nike+ FuelBand and Nike+ Sportband.

I had the opportunity to spend some time with Nike Hellas' Angeliki Choundi Friday before I was asked to take a team photo of the Nike Hellas staff (above/photo by Paul Merca) as they gathered outside their office.

In our conversation, she said that this was one of the largest events that the Greek subsidiary of Nike has put together for the country's running community.

Much as the company has done in various cities in the US, including Seattle, Nike Hellas started a running club in Athens, where runners meet at one of their stores for weekly group runs.  They've enlisted various local coaches to help train runners for the event, and have reached out to members of the running community.

Wednesday, Nike Hellas held a training session with several Greek media members in advance of Sunday's run, which passes several local landmarks, including the Acropolis.

She anticipates about 3000 runners through the streets of Athens, which is set to get underway at 10 am, local time.

I anticipated actually running in this, but have battled Achilles tendinitis over the last two weeks, so my participation is gonna be dicey!


NOTE:  Special thanks to the folks at Nike for their cooperation and help in covering We Run Athens.

Jackson led Vikings set to host WWU Invitational Saturday...


BELLINGHAM-- The nationally ranked Western Washington University men's and women's cross country teams make their only home appearance this Saturday at the 39th annual Viking Invitational at Lake Padden Park.

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

Western will be led by Chip Jackson (left/photo courtesy WWU Athletics), who won the open section of the Sundodger Invitational at Seattle's Lincoln Park last month.

The Vikings are ranked No.11 in the men's division and No.23 in the women's division in this week's United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association NCAA Division II Top 25 polls.

In previewing the meet, Viking coach Pee Wee Halsell said, "I'm looking for a solid run that shows improvement from two weeks ago."

"And I want to see where we stack up to Alaska Anchorage. They are the team to go after, both for the men and the women."

Alaska Anchorage, which is the two-time defending WWU Invitational champion in both divisions, is No.5 in the women's poll and No.7 in the men's rating.

He plans to run everyone who is healthy Saturday.


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

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Brad Walker writes on the next chapter of his vaulting career...


paulmerca.blogspot.com is posting a note written by University of Washington grad, two time Olympian, former world indoor & outdoor champion, and American record holder Brad Walker (above/photo by Paul Merca) on his Facebook page talking about the next chapter of his vaulting career.

Upon reflection of the last four years, which included battling injuries that caused him to miss the 2009 world championships in Berlin, along with no-heighting in the Olympic pole vault finals in London in August, he's come to the conclusion that this country "needs a high performance center where we can take a more professional approach to jumping high."

Here's what Brad wrote:

The beginning of the next chapter. As I reflect back over the last four years of my career, there hasn't been too many ups. It seems like forever ago that I jumped over 6.04 to set the AR in 2008. I have been met by injuries along the way, a surgery, food issues, and many other challenges that I feel have slowed my progress, but has given me tremendous insight into myself. 

As I sit here writing this, I am injury free, and have my food issues all but solved. So what's been missing. Its the same thing that is missing for almost all of the vaulters at the top level right now in the US. An "Environment". As I look around at our countries best, I see a bunch of individuals floating around without a consistent coach, without access to therapy, and some without free reign to train when and how they see fit. Many coaches leave training up to the athletes without guidance as to how to prepare for meets or jump sessions and wonder why the athletes can't seem to stay healthy.

The level of professionalism throughout the world has changed in the pole vault and I feel as though we are hoping that since we have always been a power here in the US, we will find our way again in the future. I believe our future success lies in the ability to create an environment that lends itself to success much like we have seen with the reimurgence of American distance running. 

With that being said, my next project is to create that environment. I truly believe that my success and the future success for the US pole vault lies in creating a high performance center where we can take a more professional approach to jumping high. Its going to be a big project and will affect my training and prep for 2013, but I can't grind out another year and expect results. Its no coincidence my best years of vaulting came while I was having the most fun and trained with a great group of dedicated athletes. 

I will keep you all updated in the progress, and hope that I can rely on your support throughout the pole vault community as I realize I can't do this alone. Thanks for all the support and lets get the US vault scene back where it belongs. 

Your American record holder,

Brad

Huskies drop to #3 in USTFCCCA women's national poll...


NEW ORLEANS--As expected, there was some shuffling in the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association national Division I cross country rankings, with many teams in action around the country last weekend.

In the national women's poll, Florida State took over the top spot with 11 FPVs (first place votes) while #4 Oregon, who fell a spot from #3, notched a lone FPV. Florida State was last in the top spot in the final regular-season poll of 2011. Arizona vaulted ten spots over the field to land at an all-time best #2 on the poll.

At last weekend's Greater Louisville Classic, Arizona surprised the University of Washington, who held the top spot in the country, with their victory over the Dawgs on the national championship course.

The Huskies, who were missing All-American Megan Goethals (left/photo by Paul Merca) in Louisville, dropped to #3 in the national poll.

Besides Arizona, Washington & Oregon, Pac-12 schools in the national rankings include #7 Stanford, and #18 Colorado.

In the men's poll, there was no shifting at the top, with Wisconsin, Oklahoma State, BYU, Oklahoma, and Portland retaining their spots in the top five, with Iona actually tied with Portland.

From the Pac-12, Colorado is ranked #7, Stanford checks in at #8, while Oregon moved up to #15 from #23.  UCLA is the other Pac-12 school in the national top 30 at #27.

Washington State, which was ranked #29 heading into last week's Notre Dame Invitational, dropped out of the national top 30.


NOTE:  The USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

Blog Archive