Thursday, November 29, 2012

Some tweets we're passing along...


A couple of things that we've picked up and are passing along, all courtesy of that wonderful social media platform called Twitter:

London Olympic shot put bronze medalist Reese Hoffa (left/photo by Paul Merca) will make an appearance in Poulsbo on Saturday on behalf of AdoptTogether, a nonprofit crowdfunding platform that helps offset adoption expenses for families.

According to the release, this event aims to spread awareness about its crowdfunding platform by opening the dialogue surrounding adoption, which traditionally has been a private family affair.

Hoffa was born in Kentucky, then moved to Augusta, GA when he was six and lived there through high school. He was adopted before his fifth birthday after life circumstances led his teen mother to give him up for adoption.

In a recent interview with Track & Field News, Hoffa said, "There are a lot of good kids looking to be adopted because all they want is an opportunity to show that even if they came from a family situation that may not have been very good, once given the chance they can really show what they can do."


Rainier Beach HS grad and world championships competitor Ginnie Crawford wants to let the readership know that she's opening a new store in Bellevue called Ginnie's Collection Consignment Boutique.

Crawford will be in her store, located at 11810 NE 8th Street, Suite A on Saturday between 10 am & 5 pm.  

The store's phone number is 425-455-3228.

Finally, friend of the blog and former University of Washington sprint coach LaMonte Vaughn was named head track & field coach at Cal State Los Angeles this week.

“We are delighted that LaMonte Vaughn will be leading our track and field and cross country programs,” athletic director Dan Bridges said in a release. “He has done outstanding things throughout his career and we are looking forward to him continuing that success at Cal State L.A.”

Vaughn, who most recently was at UCLA the last three seasons, coached at UW for four years.He had several All-American athletes at Washington, including Ashlee Lodree and Jordan Boase. Lodree was a six-time All-American focusing on the hurdle events, while Boase was a standout quarter-miler and a member of several All-American relay teams. Vaughn coached the men’s 4x100 relay team to its first-ever Pac-10 title in 2008 and helped guide the 4x400 relay team to a school record in 2005. The 4x400 relay team was third at the 2006 NCAA Indoor meet and eighth at the outdoor meet.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A potpourri of news from the last week...


paulmerca.blogspot.com took some time off to enjoy the Thanksgiving holidays, so here's a rundown of what's happened since we last posted on Wednesday the 21st (I think we've set a record for the longest time between posts):

At the Chiba Ekiden on November 23rd, Bellingham native Jake Riley (left/photo by Paul Merca), who now competes for Hanson's/Brooks in Michigan, ran 28:46 on his 10k leg, as he got Team USA into third place going into the fourth of six legs of the marathon relay, consisting of co-ed legs of 5m/5w/10m/5w/10m/7.195w, as Kenya and Japan led.

Riley ended up running the second fastest time of the stage, as New Zealand's Jake Robertson took the stage win in 28:40.

In stage 5, Portland's Galen Rupp (far left) took the stage win as he ran 28:20, but was still 16 seconds behind the Kenyan and Japanese squads when he handed off the sash to Neely Spence for the anchor leg.

Former Eastern Washington standout Mattie Suver traveled with Team USA as an alternate.


The 2012 USA Track & Field annual meeting takes place in Daytona Beach, Florida starting Wednesday through Sunday.

The annual meeting will feature a post-mortem on what happened with Team USA at its various competitions this year, including the Olympics.

With 2012 an election year, delegates will vote on various committee chairmanships, including the men's track & field committee, where former Washington State University coach John Chaplin is stepping down, with current vice-chair Ed Gorman running against former Olympic team member Tonie Campbell.

Club Northwest founder Bill Roe, a former USATF president, is running for Long Distance Running chair.

Current USATF president Stephanie Hightower is running for another term as president of the organization.

The Jesse Owens Award will be handed to Allyson Felix and Ashton Eaton on Saturday night as the country's top track & field athletes of 2012 as voted by members of the national track & field media (disclosure: paulmerca.blogspot.com is a voter for this award).


Over the weekend, Felix and Jamaica's Usain Bolt received the IAAF's world athlete of the year award for their efforts in 2012 (disclosure: paulmerca.blogspot.com is also a voter for this award).

Felix won the Olympic 200m title in London and was part of the gold medal-winning 4x100m and 4x400m Relay teams to become the first woman since 1988 to win three gold medals at a single Olympic Games. The victorious 4x100m Relay quartet in London clocked a 40.82 World record. Her 21.69 victory in the 200m at the U.S. Olympic Trials was the fastest in the world this year and made Felix the fourth fastest woman in history.

“It is pretty much one of the coolest awards I’ve ever received,” Felix said. “Winning it means you are at the top of your sport, which is something we all strive for. To finally reach the goal during the journey of a long career is very special.”

Bolt successfully defended both his 100m and 200m titles at the Olympic Games in London, clocking 9.63 and 19.32 respectively, both the fastest times in the World this year. He concluded his Olympic appearance by anchoring a Jamaican quartet to a 36.84 World record in the 4x100m Relay. He won six out of seven competitions in the 100m, and three of four in the 200m.


Finally, some good news for US track & field, as the Drake Relays announced Wednesday a ground-breaking 5-year sponsorship deal with HyVee, a Iowa chain of supermarkets.

The deal includes an increase in prize money to draw world class athletes to the event.  The commitment includes more than half a million dollars in purse money for a field that currently features 16 medalists from the 2012 London Olympic Games and a world record holder already confirmed to compete at the Relays with more to potentially join the star-studded field at a later date. Those Olympians and professional athletes will compete in ‘London Rematches’ for a $50,000 purse in the running events and a $25,000 purse in the field events.

The Relays and those athletes, including 2012 Olympic gold medalists Aries Merritt, Felix Sanchez, Renaud Lavillenie, Jenn Suhr, and Brittney Reese, will be featured on ESPN2 with 90 minutes of action being broadcast to nearly 100 million homes in prime time.

The deal with the Drake Relays, scheduled next year for April 24-27, will also help the meet draw more top collegiate teams to Des Moines.

Could the University of Washington, featuring Des Moines native Katie Flood make an appearance on the famed Blue Oval in 2014?

NOTE:  USA Track & Field, the IAAF, and the Drake Relays contributed to this report.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Jake Riley and Mattie Suver travel to Japan for Chiba Ekiden...


As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, here's what's happening:

Bellingham's Jake Riley (left/photo by Paul Merca) and Eastern Washington University alum Mattie (Bridgemon) Suver, will represent Team USA in Friday's Chiba International Ekiden in Japan, featuring teams from Australia, Canada, Finland, Kenya, Korea, Norway, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Russia, Japan, and several Japanese select squads.

The Chiba Ekiden is a co-ed marathon relay with six legs ranging from 5k to 10k, with an anchor leg of 7.195k to round out the 42.195k race.

Headlining Team USA is Olympic 10000m silver medalist Galen Rupp from Portland, as the University of Oregon alum will run the penultimate leg of 10k.

Riley, who earned his spot on the team when he placed third in the US road 10k race in Minneapolis last month, will be the third runner on the six-person squad, where he'll run the 10k leg.

Suver traveled to Japan as an alternate.


Some post-NCAA cross country stuff we missed:

Here's a link to a story in the Kitsap Sun on Central Kitsap HS product Shane Moskowitz, who finished 53rd in 30:23 as Oklahoma State's fifth man across the line to clinch the Cowboys' national championship title last Saturday.

Moskowitz struggled after the 5k mark with a sideache, but rallied over the last few kilometers.

"It was definitely the best day of my life," he said.  "For sure."

In the same race, it turned out that Gig Harbor's Miles Unterreiner pulled his hamstring as the Stanford senior struggled to a 140th place finish in 31:04, after spending Friday in Seattle interviewing for a possible Rhodes Scholarship, flying to Louisville for the race, and flying back to Seattle immediately after the race via private plane for the second part of the interview.

Unterreiner did not get the Rhodes Scholarship.

"It was a terrific experience,'' said Unterreiner, who turns 23 later this month. "All the other finalists were so incredible and it was such an honor having a chance to meet them this weekend. I also pulled my hamstring in the race and didn't run well, so it was a pretty tough weekend.''


Redmond HS product Devin McMahon finished 123rd in the women's 6k race at the NCAA D1 championship meet, running 20:57, as Cornell finished 13th.

Carey Lyons of Tacoma (photo courtesy Oberlin College)
In the NCAA Division III championships, Carey Lyons of Tacoma's Stadium HS, competing for Oberlin College in Ohio, finished 35th in a time of 21:59 to earn an All-America certificate, helping Oberlin to a ninth place finish in the meet.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Huskies finish ninth at NCAA championships, as Oregon takes the title...


LOUISVILLE, Kentucky--Timing issues aside, the University of Oregon women and the Oklahoma State men's squads took home the team trophies at the NCAA Division I cross country championships at EP "Tom" Sawyer State Park Saturday on a perfect day for running.

In the opening women's 6k championship, a group of six runners, led by Cal Poly freshman Laura Hollander took to the front, crossing the 2k mark at 6:24.  

The six, which included Iowa State's Betsy Saina (left/photo by James Kirby, thenextleveliowa.com), Dartmouth's Abbey D'Agostino, Oregon's Jordan Hasay, UTEP's Risper Kimaiyo, and Iowa State's Meaghan Nelson, continued their front running through the first half, passing 3022m in 9:45.

In the second half, Saina, D'Agostino, and Hasay broke away and were running side by side until the last 100 meters when Saina opened enough of a gap to hold off the hard-charging Hasay.

Saina held on for the win in 19:28, followed by D'Agostino and Hasay, who were both timed in 19:29.

After some initial confusion after the race in which Oregon was first declared the national champion, then Providence, the Ducks of the Pac-12 Conference were finally crowned the national champions with a low score of 114 points, followed by Providence at 183, and Stanford at 198.

Pre-meet favorite Florida State was fourth at 202, followed by Michigan at 247, and Arizona in sixth at 263.

The University of Washington finished ninth with 334 points, while Colorado was 24th to round out the Pac-12 teams.

The Huskies were led by Megan Goethals in 48th place in 20:22, followed by Lindsay Flanagan in 74th in 20:37.  Katie Flood and Justine Johnson finished together in 89th and 90th in 20:43, while Liberty Miller rounded out the Husky scorers in 152nd at 21:07.

"We just didn't to to the national championships and have a great day," said UW head coach Greg Metcalf.  "Last year we were aggressive and ran great.  We just didn't get out and get involved in the real race up front."

In the men's 10k race, Texas Tech's Kennedy Kithuka opened up a gap on the Arizona duo of Stephen Sambu and defending national champ Lawi Lalang in the seventh kilometer to claim the NCAA title, running 28:32, with Sambu second at 28:39 and the previously undefeated Lalang third at 28:52.

Oklahoma State, coached by former Olympia prep Dave Smith, claimed yet another team title, scoring a low of 72 points, with Central Kitsap grad Shane Moskowitz clinching the win for the Cowboys, as he was their fifth scoring runner, placing 53rd (40th team) in 30:23.

From the Pac 12, Colorado was third with 158 points, with UCLA 13th at 376 points, Stanford 16th at 408, and Oregon 20th with 472 points.

The Huskies' Joey Bywater finished 69th in a time of 30:31, while Washington State's Todd Wakefield was 111th in 30:51.

"I'm proud of Todd and think he took big steps and ran a great race. Running 10k races back-to-back is a pretty tall order for him, being a miler," WSU distance coach Tim Riley said. "We're thrilled to be at the NCAA Championships but our goal was for him to be an All-American but there are a lot of great runners here today who did not get that goal. Todd is only a sophomore so we expect to back here next year and the year after."

Stanford's Miles Unterreiner from Gig Harbor was 140th in 31:04,  after spending Friday in Seattle interviewing for a possible Rhodes Scholarship, then taking a private plane back to Seattle for the second part of the interview, which happens at 4 pm, Seattle time.


In Joplin, Missouri, it was a disappointing day for the Western Washington Vikings, as the #10 ranked squad finished 21st in the NCAA Division II men's 10k championship race on the Missouri Southern campus course.

The placing snapped a string of four WWU top 10 finishes and was its lowest of the six-year national run. The Vikings were 10th in 2011, ninth in 2010, fourth in 2009, 10th in 2008 and 11th in 2007.

Western was led by Dak Riek, who finished 37th in a time of 30:21, to earn All-America status.

"He was running with a bad Achilles, but he ran like a warrior," said WWU coach Pee Wee Halsell of Riek. "He was probably around 100th after the first mile, but he moved up from there. He really wanted to be among the top 40 and be an All-American and he did it."

Tyler Cannon placed 126th (31:47) for the Vikings. Tanner Boyd was 143rd (31:58), Chip Jackson 155th (32:06), and Kyle Johnson 166th (32:16) to complete the Viking scorers.

Alaska Anchorage's Micah Chelimo won the individual title, running 28:57, sixteen seconds up on Adams State's Kevin Batt.

Adams State won the men's team title with 34 points, followed by Colorado Mines with 102, then GNAC champ Alaska Anchorage at 148.

In the women's 6k championship, Ballard High School alum Bridget Berg finished 17th to earn her second NCAA D2 All-America certificate, helping Humboldt State to a 15th place team finish with 379 points.

Seattle Pacific's women's squad finished 17th overall with 393 points, led by first year runner Katie Thralls, who finished 44th in 21:29, four places and three seconds away from an All-America certificate.

She was followed by McKayla Fricker in 88th (22:06), then Katie Morris in 95th (22:16), Lynelle Decker in 112nd (22:35), and Jasmine Johnson (129th, 22:38).


In Terre Haute, Indiana, Roosevelt/Seattle HS alum Lucy Cheadle of Washington University finished 21st in the NCAA Division III women's 6k championship race in 21:35.

In the men's 8k championship race, University of Puget Sound's Matt Klein finished 175th, running 26:14.


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

Thursday, November 15, 2012

UW women aim for podium finish at NCAA D1 cross country championships...


The collegiate cross country comes to a roaring climax Saturday as the NCAA Division I, II & III championships are contested Saturday at three different venues around the country.

Most of the country's eyes will be pointed towards Louisville, Kentucky and the Division I championships at Tom Sawyer State Park, where the #7 ranked University of Washington women's team will try for their fourth top-four finish since 2008, in the 6k championship race that starts at 9 am, pacific time, and will be streamed live via ncaa.com.

The Dawgs saw the course earlier this season at the Greater Louisville Classic, a meet in which they finished second to Arizona, without junior Megan Goethals (right/photo by Randy Miyazaki, trackandfieldphoto.com).

Coach Greg Metcalf's squad returns five of their top-seven runners from last year’s NCAA meet, where they finished second overall in a tight battle with Georgetown. Junior Katie Flood and Goethals earned All-America honors last year, finishing seventh and 18th, respectively, in Terre Haute.

At Pac-12s, and West Regionals, the women placed fourth behind Oregon, Arizona, and Stanford, three teams sitting ahead of UW in the rankings. Washington will look flip the tables come Saturday. Florida State enters the race ranked No. 1 nationally, and No. 3 Iowa State, No. 6 Michigan, and No. 8 Providence are teams outside of the Pac-12 with podium designs of their own.


On the men's side, Joey Bywater of Washington and Todd Wakefield (above/photo by Paul Merca) of Washington State will compete as individuals in the men's 10k championship race that gets underway at 10:15 am pacific time, having earned top-four finishes at last week's Regionals from a non-qualifying team.

Bywater was eighth overall at last week's race, while the Cougars' Wakefield, a middle distance specialist, finished 14th, nipping WAC cross country champ Erik Barkhaus of SeattleU for the last individual spot to nationals.

Courtesy of Washington State, here's a video interview with Wakefield:


Other significant individuals with Washington ties competing at Saturday's D1 championships include Redmond HS grad Devin McMahon of #16 Cornell, and Gig Harbor HS grad Miles Unterreiner of #2 Stanford.

Unterreiner will actually spend most of Friday in Seattle interviewing for one of 32 Rhodes Scholarships, fly to Louisville for the race, then return to Seattle on a private plane to complete his interview with the Rhodes Scholarship committee.

In Joplin, Missouri, the men's team from Western Washington and the women's squad from Seattle Pacific will look to improve upon their national ranking.

The Viking men are ranked #10, while the Falcon women are ranked #25 in the final regular season poll conducted by the USTFCCCA.

Western has finished among the top 10 in each of the last four years, being 10th in 2011, ninth in 2010, fourth in 2009 and 10th in 2008.

"Our goal is to finish in the top 10 and I believe we have a good chance of doing that," said WWU coach Pee Wee Halsell.  "I think we're capable of it, things just need to happen the way we'd like."

Seattle Pacific makes its first team appearance at the national championships since 2009, when the Falcons placed fourth, led by Jessica Pixler, who won the individual title that year.

Western will be led by Dak Riek, who finished fifth at the West Regionals in Kahuku, Hawaii two weeks ago.

SPU will be led by senior Katie Thralls, who was their top finisher at regionals, placing 11th.

"Knowing that nationals is something to strive for and reach for, and now that we've actually made it, it's like, 'Wow – I can't imagine,'” Thralls said. “It's actually here, it's reality."

Humboldt State senior Bridget Berg, a product of Seattle's Ballard HS, looks for her second straight NCAA D2 All-American berth.

Like the NCAA Division I championships, the Division II meet will be streamed live from the Missouri Southern cross country course on ncaa.com, with the men's 10k race getting underway at 8:30 am pacific, and the women's 6k race starting at 9:30 am.

While there are no teams from the state of Washington competing in Saturday's NCAA Division III championships in Terre Haute, Indiana, two athletes with state connections will line up.

Roosevelt HS grad Lucy Cheadle, who competes for Washington University in St. Louis, will run in the women's 6k race at 9 am pacific, while University of Puget Sound senior Matt Klein, who finished tenth at the NCAA D3 West Regionals in Salem, Oregon, will run in the men's 8k race at 8 am, pacific.

NCAA.com will stream the meet live from the LaVern Gibson course in Terre Haute.

NOTE:  The NCAA, the USTFCCCA, along with the sports information offices of the University of Washington, Washington State University, Western Washington, Seattle Pacific, and the University of Puget Sound contributed to this report.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Gig Harbor's Miles Unterreiner races back to Seattle after NCAA championships Saturday...


Gig Harbor High School graduate Miles Unterreiner (left/photo by Paul Merca), who is a key component in second ranked Stanford's bid to unseat #1 Oklahoma State in Saturday's NCAA cross country championships in Louisville, Kentucky, faces a second race to the line moments after he crosses the finish in the men's 10k national title contest, scheduled to start at 1:15pm, eastern (10:15 am in Seattle).

Shortly after his race, Unterreiner, who finished 16th at last Friday's NCAA West Regional at Jefferson Park in Seattle, will board a private plane back to Seattle for a 4 pm interview and reception, in which he will find out if he is a recipient of a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, a postgraduate award for selected foreign students to study at the University of Oxford in England.

The interview process for the Rhodes Scholarship occurs over a two-day period.  Unterreiner will attend the first part of the interview in Seattle on Friday, then fly to Louisville to meet his team for Saturday's race.

In an interview posted on the Stanford Daily web site, Unterreiner said that the first meeting in Seattle with the Rhodes panel would be meaningless if he can't get back to Seattle after the race for the second interview, both of which are mandatory.

There are no direct commercial flights from Louisville to Seattle that would allow him to make the second interview Saturday afternoon.  Given the rules that the NCAA enforces on student-athletes regarding benefits, Unterreiner had to wait until Monday to find out if a private plane could be provided in order for him to make the interview.

The list of notable Rhodes Scholarship recipients include former New York Knick forward and US Senator Bill Bradley, President Bill Clinton, NBA center and Congressman Tom McMillen, and US Senator J. William Fulbright.

You can also read an article on Unterreiner's plight here, courtesy of the San Jose Mercury News.


In the women's poll, Florida State, Oregon, Iowa State, Stanford and Arizona are in the top five.

The Washington Huskies are ranked #7, with Colorado the only other Pac-12 school ranked at #23.

On the men's side, Stanford is co-number 2 with Iona, followed by Wisconsin and Texas.

From the Pac-12, Colorado is ranked #7, with Oregon at #16, and UCLA at #22.

Saturday's NCAA championship race begins with the women’s 6k, slated to begin at noon, eastern (9 am on the West Coast), followed by the men’s at 1:15 p.m., eastern.  NCAA.com will provide a live webcast of the national championships.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Oregon's Hasay and Arizona's Lalang win NCAA West Regional crowns...


SEATTLE--On a cool and sunny day in Seattle's Beacon Hill neighborhood, Oregon's Jordan Hasay (left/photo by Paul Merca) and Arizona's Lawi Lalang took home the individual titles Friday at the NCAA West Regional cross country championships at Jefferson Park Golf Course.

In the day's opening women's 6k race, Cal Poly/San Luis Obispo freshman Laura Hollander, who entered the meet undefeated, took to the front early, with pursuit from Hasay and Oregon teammate Alexi Pappas, going through the first of three laps in 6:23, extending her lead to five seconds at the 3000 meter mark, crossed in 9:36.

At 5k, crossed in 16:04, Hasay chipped a second off the lead, with Pac-12 champ Kathy Kroeger of Stanford establishing herself in third.

In the team race, Oregon established itself up front early with the host Washington Huskies and Arizona in pursuit, while Stanford's scoring runners were content to let things play out.

In the final kilometer, Hasay's experience won out, as she reeled Hollander in, running 3:08, to cross the line first in 19:16, opening up a victory margin of six seconds over the CP/SLO freshman.

Pac-12 champ Kroeger was third in 19:27, followed by Arizona State's surprising Shelby Houlihan in 19:50, with Stanford's Cayla Hatton rounding out the top five in 19:51.

The Ducks maintained their position up front, winning the team title with a low score of 64 points, 21 points up on runner-up Stanford's 85 points, who got the automatic bid to the national championships on a tiebreaker.

Arizona was third with the identical score of 85, with the host Huskies fourth with 96 points.

Washington was led by Katie Flood, who had a bounceback race, finishing 15th in 20:05.  Megan Goethals was 17th in 20:09, with Justine Johnson one place back in the same time.  

Lindsay Flanagan was 21st in 20:10, and Liberty Miller closed out the scorers in 25th at 20:16.

Washington's strong finish and strength of schedule this season should get the Huskies into the national championships in eight days in Louisville.

Gonzaga finished 14th with 354 points, led by Emily Thomas' 40th place finish in 20:45.

Washington State was 19th with 545 points, as Ruby Roberts led the Cougar charge, running 20:57.  Seattle University was 23rd with 655 points, led by Hannah Mittelstaedt's 76th place finish in 21:20.

Eastern Washington's lone runner was Berenice Penaloza, who was 145th in 22:16.

Like the Pac-12 championships two weeks ago in Santa Clarita, the race was a runaway with Arizona's Lawi Lalang and Stephen Sambu taking charge after an opening two miles, run with a large pack in 9:49.

Among those hanging on to the large pack behind the Wildcat duo were WAC champion Erik Barkhaus of Seattle University and Joey Bywater of the host Huskies.

In fact, Barkhaus was in third at 18:13 with two laps to go in this 10k race, before he faded.

Lalang and Sambu finished the 10-k course in 29:02, and 29:38, respectively.

Oregon's Trevor Dunbar was third in 29:43, with Stanford's Joe Rosa fourth at 29:44, and UCLA's Lane Werley fifth in 29:49.

Bywater cracked the top ten in 29:53 to nab eighth place.

Making a late charge on the final lap, Washington State's Australian import Todd Wakefield finished a surprising 14th  in 30:01, one spot ahead of Barkhaus, clocked in the same time.

Behind Bywater, Rob Webster Jr was 27th at 30:19, followed by Tyler King (40th, 30:27), Aaron Beattie (41st, 30:28), and Aaron Nelson (49th, 30:32).

Stanford easily won the team title with 45 points, with Portland a strong second at 107 points.

UCLA took third with 128 points, followed by Oregon at 135, followed by the Washington Huskies in fifth at 165, as they may be on the bubble for an at-large spot in next week's national championships.

Washington State, who was looking to make their second straight trip to the national championships, finished a disappointing seventh with 223 points, obviously hampered by team leader Andrew Kimpel's 98th place finish, as he showed the effects of the hamstring injury sustained before the Pac-12 championships.

Gonzaga was 14th with 401 points, led by Chris Boyle's 66th place finish in 30:52, and Seattle University was 16th at 451 points.

Wakefield and Barkhaus will most likely advance to next week's national championships as individual competitors, based on their top 25 finish, with Bywater going as an individual if the Huskies don't advance as a team.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

West's best cross country teams converge upon Beacon Hill for NCAA West Regionals...


For Gonzaga, Eastern Washington, Seattle University, the University of Washington, and Washington State University, the road to Louisville, Kentucky goes through 4101 Beacon Avenue South in Seattle on Friday, as the Huskies hosts the NCAA West regional championships at Jefferson Park Golf Course to determine who runs in the national championships the following week.

The vaunted University of Washington women's cross country team (left/photo by Paul Merca), currently ranked #7 in the USTFCCCA national poll, is the defending regional champion, a title the Huskies have won the last four years.

If the Huskies are to win a fifth straight regional title, they will have to upend #3 Oregon, #4 Arizona, and #5 Stanford, all of whom finished ahead of Washington at the Pac-12 championships almost a fortnight ago in Santa Clarita, California.

The Dawgs will also have to have a strong performance from junior Katie Flood, who had an uncharacteristic bad race in California, as she struggled to a 26th place finish.

A first or second place finish in this meet, which is one of nine regional championship races contested across the country on Friday, guarantees those teams a berth in the NCAA championships on November 17th, with an additional 13 teams earning at-large bids, which are selected by committee.

Washington is in prime position to earn a national championship spot even if they don't' finish in the top two, based on their strength of schedule this season, which included appearances at the Louisville Classic and the Wisconsin adidas meet.

Both the Washington and Washington State men's teams will need to run over their heads Friday to be in the conversation for an at-large entry into the national championships, as they will face #3 Stanford, #9 Portland, #11 Oregon, #25 Arizona State, and #27 UCLA.

In the case of Washington State, any hopes for the Cougars to make a return trip to the national championships will rest on the shoulders of senior captain Andrew Kimpel, who missed the Pac-12 meet with a hamstring injury.  In last year's regionals at Stanford, an inspired Kimpel finished 13th to help WSU take fourth.

Though Seattle University's men's team is a long shot to qualify for the national championship meet, the Redhawks' Erik Barkhaus could potentially qualify as an individual to the national championships.

Barkhaus, the WAC champion, would have to be one of the top four finishers in the regional 10k race not on an advancing team, while also finishing in the top-25.

In the women's 6k race, scheduled to get underway at noon, runners to watch include freshman sensation Laura Hollander from Cal Poly/SLO; Stanford's Kathy Kroeger; Oregon's Jordan Hasay; San Francisco's Eva Krchova; Arizona's Elvin Kibet; Oregon's Alexi Pappas; Jennifer Bergman of Arizona; Amanda Mergaert of Utah; Megan Goethals of the UW; and Shelby Houlihan of Arizona State.

Lawi Lalang & Stephen Sambu
of Arizona (Paul Merca photo)
In the men's 10k race that will be contested at 1:15, defending NCAA champion Lawi Lalang of Arizona is the one to watch along with teammate Stephen Sambu, after they destroyed the field two weeks ago at the Pac-12s.  Others to watch include the Oregon duo of Trevor Dunbar and Parker Stinson, Scott Fauble and William Kincaid of Portland; Chris Frias of Cal Poly; Lane Werley of UCLA; Joe Rosa of Stanford; and Joey Bywater of the host Huskies.

Admission to the meet is absolutely free.  Complete meet information is available here.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Ballard HS alum Bridget Berg leads Humboldt State to NCAA cross country berth...


KAHUKU, Hawaii--Ballard High School alum Bridget Berg (left/photo courtesy Humboldt State University) finished fifth as the Humboldt State senior helped lead the Jacks to a third place team finish in the NCAA Division II West Regional championships at Kahuku Golf Club Saturday morning.

Berg, who finished second at last year's NCAA West Regionals in Spokane Valley and won the California Collegiate Athletic Association individual title two weeks ago, covered the 6k course in 21:42, as Alaska Anchorage's Susan Tanui took the individual crown in 21:19.

Chico State won the team title with 51 points, followed by GNAC champ Alaska Anchorage with 56 and Humboldt State with 120.

The Seattle Pacific Falcons grabbed the fifth and final automatic spot to the NCAA Division II championships in Joplin, Missouri in two weeks, scoring 157 points, just three points behind fourth place Cal State Stanislaus.

Western Washington's bid for a fifth straight trip to nationals was snapped as they finished seventh with 274 points, with Central Washington tenth at 335 points.

Katie Thralls raced to an 11th-place finish in a time of 22:08, and Katie Morris was 26th in 22:44 to lead the Falcons.

Rounding out SPU's scorers were Robyn Zeidler in 27th at 22:44, McKayla Fricker in 36th at 23:00, and Jasmine Johnson in 63rd in 23:30.

Sophomore Katelyn Steen led the way for Western Washington with a 28th place finish in 22:45.

For Central Washington, senior Kelsey Kreft led the way for the Wildcats, finishing 34th in 22:54.

In the men's 10k race, Western Washington's Dak Riek finished fifth in 32:10, to help the Vikings to a third place team finish and its sixth straight trip to nationals.

Like the women's team race, Chico State and GNAC champ Alaska Anchorage went 1-2, with Chico edging out UAA 38-46, with Western a solid third at 82 points.

Seattle Pacific, which had an outside chance of qualifying for the nationals, finished a disappointing 11th with 323 points, and Central Washington was 18th with 491 points.

UAA's GNAC champ Micah Chelimo took the individual title, cruising through the 10k course in 31:58.

The Vikings had three other runners receive all-region recognition by finishing among the top 25. They were Tyler Cannon in 15th in 32:55; Chip Jackson 16th in 32:56; and Dylan Peterson 24th in 33:14.

Rounding out Western's five scorers was Kyle Johnson, who was 26th in 33:21.

Seattle Pacific was led by Jordan Wolfe in 35th, running 33:54, and Central Washington was led by Ryan Eidsmoe in 91st place in 35:31.


NOTE:  The sports information offices of Hawaii Pacific, Western Washington, Seattle Pacific, and Humboldt State University contributed to this report.

Friday, November 2, 2012

State's Division II schools head to Hawaii for Saturday's NCAA D2 West Regionals...

WWU coach Pee Wee
Halsell (WWU photo)

With trips to the NCAA Division II championships in Joplin, Missouri on the line, squads from Western Washington, Seattle Pacific, Central Washington and Saint Martin's head to Kahuku, Hawaii for the NCAA West Regional cross country championship meet Saturday.

The men's 10-kilometer race begins at 8 a.m. HT, followed by the women's six-kilometer run at 9 a.m. The top five team finishers in both the men's and women's races and the top three individuals not on one of the qualifying teams will travel to Joplin, Missouri, in two weeks for the NCAA II National Championships at Missouri Southern University.

The Viking men, ranked #10 in the USTFCCCA Division II poll,  are seeking a sixth straight trip to nationals, and the #30 women a fifth consecutive appearance. In contrast to the cool and rainy weather of the Pacific Northwest, the conditions in Hawaii are expected to be humid and hot with a predicted temperature of 84 degrees.

Seattle Pacific's women's squad, which is ranked #25 in the USTFCCCA Division II poll, is looking to get back to the national championships, which it hasn't appeared in since 2009, as are its men's squad, which last appeared at the NCAA championships in 2004.

Though the Wildcat women's team placed fifth at the GNAC championship meet two weeks ago in Monmouth, Oregon, the school's highest finish since their third place finish in 2006, they are at best a long shot to qualify for the national championships.

However, Central Washington's Kelsey Kreft may have a shot to qualify for nationals as an individual.

NOTE:  Western Washington University, the GNAC, and the USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Glacier Peak's Amy-Eloise Neale gives verbal commit to Huskies...

Amy-Eloise Neale (l) & Katie Knight

This blog usually doesn't pay too much attention to schools and top prep recruits until the national letter of intent day, but we just got word via Glacier Peak HS assistant coach Frank Dauncey that Amy-Eloise Neale (far left/photo by Paul Merca), the British internationalist who competed at the IAAF world youth championships in the 2000 steeplechase finals in 2011, has given the University of Washington a verbal commitment to enroll at the school in the fall of 2013.

Neale, a two-time state 3A cross country champion at Glacier Peak in Snohomish, is poised to join her good friend and rival from North Central HS in Spokane, Katie Knight (right/photo by Mike Scott) at the U-Dub.

Neale was the Gatorade state high school track & field athlete of the year in 2012, and has won five career Washington 3A track titles.  She has personal bests of 4:43.82 for the mile and 10:12.33 in the 3200m.

Knight, who was a member of Team USA's junior squad at the BUPA Great Edinburgh Cross Country International Challenge in January, made a verbal commitment to attend Washington in early October, picking the Huskies over Pac-12 rivals Colorado and Stanford.

The two will race each other Saturday at the WIAA 3A cross country championships in Pasco, where Knight is the defending champion, unseating Neale, who won the title as a freshman and as a sophomore.

Per NCAA rules, the University of Washington is not allowed to comment on any high school commits until the school has received a letter of intent.  Verbal commitments are not official.

The national letter of intent signing date for track and field/cross country is February 6, 2013.

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