Monday, December 30, 2013

The 2013 US national lists are now available from Track & Field News!

With 2013 about to end, the final US top marks of the 2013 season was published by Track & Field News shortly after Christmas.

Bernard Lagat
Among athletes with Washington ties who made the top ten in 2013 were:  Michael Berry in the 400 (45.14); Joe Abbott (1:45.04) and Mark Wieczorek (1:45.36) in the 800; Jordan McNamara in the 1500 and mile (3:34.00/3:52.42); Bernard Lagat in the 3000 and 5000 (7:34.71/12:58.99); Jeshua Anderson in the 400 hurdles (49.14); Brad Walker in the pole vault (19-1 1/2); Jarred Rome in the discus (208-7); and Jeremy Taiwo in the decathlon (8239).

On the women's side, Washingtonians with top-10 marks include: Phoebe Wright in the 800 (2:00.20); Katie Mackey (4:04.60/4:32.0) and Brie Felnagle (4:05.64/4:30.3) in the 1500 and mile; Felnagle (8:52.59/15:14.33) in the 3000 and 5000; Jamie Cheever (9:29.13) in the steeple; Mattie Suver (32:29.14) and Megan Goethals (32:52.78) in the 10000;  Ginnie Crawford (12.67) in the 100 hurdles;  Andrea Geubelle (21-11.5/46-6.25) in the long and triple jumps; Aretha Thurmond (204-1) in the discus; Britney Henry (228-10) in the hammer; and Kara Patterson (187-5) in the javelin.

Andrea Geubelle
An abbreviated version of the lists is available via the USA Track & Field web site.  The complete list is available only to subscribers of the magazine.

As many of you have noticed, paulmerca.blogspot.com tends not to post very much during the holiday season, as the focus shifts away from the track, roads, and field to my family, many of whom put up with what I do during the other eleven months of the year., whether it's me missing a family outing, bumming a ride to the airport, or blocking phone calls, texts and emails in order to finish a story.  Additionally, there's a little thing called the NFL post-season that I'm involved in covering that's taken some time away from the blog.

Rest assured that once the indoor season gets under way, paulmerca.blogspot.com will be back in full force!

Once again, thank you very much for visiting this web site to get your news on Washington state's elite professional and collegiate track & field scene.  Enjoy the rest of the holidays!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Clemson's Brianna Rollins and Indiana's Derek Drouin hoist The Bowerman Trophy...

ORLANDO, Florida--Clemson hurdler Brianna Rollins (left/photo by Paul Merca) and Indiana high jumper Derek Drouin were awarded The Bowerman Trophy as the most outstanding collegiate track & field athletes of the 2013 season in a ceremony held Wednesday evening at the JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes as part of the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Convention.

Rollins is just the second hurdler to win the award — the first since Queen Harrison in 2010 — and the first from Clemson, while Drouin scored a plethora of firsts for the award. He is the first from Indiana and the Big Ten to win the award, and is the first field event specialist to hoist The Bowerman Trophy.

Rollins emerged out of a strong field that included another pair of collegiate record holders in Arizona high jumper Brigetta Barrett and hurdler Kori Carter of Stanford.

Drouin (above/photo by Paul Merca) had to consistently defeat 2012 Olympic silver high jump medalist and rival Erik Kynard for his two NCAA championships in 2013, and he had to surpass equally difficult competition in Arizona’s four-time 2013 NCAA champion distance runner Lawi Lalang and UCLA NCAA champion discus thrower Julian Wruck for The Bowerman Trophy.

Rollins bookended her season with an indoor 60 meter hurdles collegiate record of 7.78 in her very first final of the season and kept an undefeated hurdles season going through the NCAA Outdoor Championships. In Eugene, Ore., for the championships, she set the collegiate record twice in the 100 hurdles, including a 12.39 in the final over fellow finalist Carter.

She went on to set the American record in the 100 hurdles en route to a U.S. outdoor title at 12.26, and staged an impressive come-from-behind world title over defending Olympic champ Sally Pearson of Australia to claim the gold  medal in Moscow.

Drouin turned in nearly flawless NCAA Championships performances en route to indoor and outdoor national titles, and had an overall record to match with nine wins in nine collegiate events. He won both NCAA titles  at heights of 7-8 (2.34m) or higher, and just before the NCAA Championships tied the No. 2 all-time collegiate mark with a leap of 7-8¾ (2.36m) at the Nike Prefontaine Classic.

After the collegiate season, Drouin claimed a Canadian championship and then went on to take bronze at the IAAF World Championships with a Canadian record of 7-9¾ (2.38m) in the high jump after claiming the Olympic bronze in 2012.

NOTE:  The USTFCCCA contributed to this report. Paul Merca of paulmerca.blogspot.com is a voter of The Bowerman Award.

My Bowerman votes--Derek Drouin & Brianna Rollins

The nation's top track and field coaches are currently assembled in Orlando, Florida for the annual USTFCCCA convention, which began on Monday.

One of the highlights of the annual convention is the presentation of The Bowerman Wednesday night to the country's top collegiate track & field athlete of the year, as the USTFCCCA continues to add value to make the trophy presentation on a par to football's Heisman Trophy and basketball's Wooden Award.

I've been a media voter for the Bowerman Award for the last several years, and have always felt that it's my obligation to let the readers know who I voted for and why.

Due to other obligations, I did not attend either the NCAA indoor or outdoor championships this year; however, I did get to see all six finalists (Brigetta Barrett of Arizona, Kori Carter of Stanford, Brianna Rollins of Clemson; Derek Drouin of Indiana, Lawi Lalang of Arizona and Julian Wruck of UCLA) compete in person at least once.

My vote for the Bowerman:

MEN:

I went with Derek Drouin of Indiana (left/photo by Paul Merca), the NCAA indoor and outdoor high jump champion, who went undefeated both indoors and outdoors during the collegiate season, jumping 7-8 1/2 (2.35m) indoors, and 7-8 3/4 (2.36m) outdoors, before topping that mark with a jump of 7-9 3/4 (2.38m) at the IAAF world championships in Moscow.

Though it was in a losing effort, I was actually impressed with his 7-8 3/4 jump at the Nike Prefontaine Classic, where he went toe to to with Qatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim, before Barshim got the win at 7-10 1/2 (2.40m).

Though he won the NCAA 5/10 double outdoors, and the mile/3k double indoors, the quality of marks Lawi Lalang put up wasn't that good relative to the marks put up by Drouin.  Wruck put together a solid series of throws during the season, capped by a best of 223-7 (68.16m) in the discus in Claremont, California shortly before the NCAA championships in Eugene, which he won.

Looking back at my ballot, I should have gone Drouin-Wruck-Lalang instead of Drouin-Lalang-Wruck.

WOMEN:

That was an easy choice--Brianna Rollins  (left/photo by Paul Merca) of Clemson, the NCAA indoor and outdoor hurdles champ and collegiate record holder indoors and outdoors.

Rollins in my opinion put together one of the most dominating performances of the collegiate season, not losing a final, and not losing 17 races indoors and outdoors, cumulating with an impressive 12.39 run in the finals of the 100 hurdles at the NCAA championship race, a collegiate record.

After the collegiate season, she won the finals of the 100 hurdles at the IAAF world championships in Moscow.

Any other year would have given Arizona's Brigetta Barrett my first place vote for the Bowerman, as she went undefeated during the collegiate season, and set a collegiate record in the high jump of 6-6 1/4 (1.99m).

Kori Carter of Stanford's record in the 400 hurdles any other year would have given her at least a second place vote, with Carter sweeping the Pac-12 and NCAA titles, and setting a collegiate record of 53.21, not to mention going undefeated in final races.


Finalists were chosen by the Bowerman Advisory Board based on performances recorded during the indoor and outdoor 2013 track & field seasons. Only performances through the conclusion of the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships are used in consideration. Voting for the The Bowerman includes members of the Advisory Board, media personnel, statisticians, collegiate administrators, along with past winners and online voting by fans and USTFCCCA members.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Husky alum Brad Walker moves over to Mizuno and New York Athletic Club...

In case you missed it, University of Washington alum and two time US Olympian Brad Walker (left/photo courtesy Mizuno), the American record holder in the pole vault, recently signed a deal to wear Mizuno in competition for the 2014 season, according to a tweet posted on his account.

Walker, the 2007 world outdoor champion and 2006 world indoor champion, also announced that he will compete for the New York Athletic Club, and will be represented by Karen Locke of Bay Area based Elite Athletes Network.

Walker was dropped by long time sponsor Nike after his fourth place finish at the world championships in Moscow when the company became upset because he taped his competition spikes.

According to sources, Walker's Mizuno deal is a multi-year agreement.

Walker is currently based in Phoenix, where he's training under coach Dan Pfaff at the World Athletics Center.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Beasts TC & Joe Gray take home national titles at USATF National Club Cross Country Championships...

BEND, Oregon--Led by Cal alum Deborah Maier's third place finish, and top ten finishes by Angela Bizzarri, and Brie Felnagle, the Seattle-based Beasts TC took home the national title at the USA Track & Field National Club Cross Country Championships at the River's Edge Golf Course on a chilly, snow-filled day.

University of Colorado alum Laura Thweatt took the victory over the 6-k course that featured numerous tight turns and slippery footing, winning in a time of 21:43.

Maier crossed the line in 22:06, with former NCAA cross country champ Bizzari one place and one second back, and 2011 club cross country champ Felnagle seventh in 22:15.

Completing the scoring for the Beasts were Seattle Pacific alum Jessica Tebo in 13th in 22:25, and Minnesota alum Jamie Cheever in 18th in 22:33.

The Beasts won the national title with a low score of 34 points, easily ahead of second place Boulder Running Company, which had 85 points.

Among runners with Washington ties that finished in the top 25 included Sequim HS alum and former Stanford runner Stephanie (Marcy) Dinius in 11th (22:20); Washington alum Christine Babcock in 21st (22:37); and defending champion Mattie Suver in 24th (22:46).

On the men's side, Lakewood resident and University of Portland alum Joe Gray of Club Northwest (above/photo by Mike Scott), who is known nationally as one of the country's premier mountain and trail runners, found the tough course to his liking, as he won the national title in 31:05 over the 10k course, six seconds ahead of runner-up Sean Quigley.

Washington State alum Jono Lafler of the Palouse Pirates missed a top-25 placing, finishing 26th in a time of 32:03.

Complete results from the USA Track & Field National Club Cross Country Championships are available here.

NOTE:  USA Track & Field contributed to this report.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Palouse Pirates set to swing their swords in Bend at USA National Club Cross Country Championships...

Singlet of the Palouse Pirates, who will
compete at the USA Track & Field
National Club Cross Country Champs
(photo courtesy Palouse Pirates)
The state of Washington will have a significant presence in Saturday's USA Track & Field National Club Cross Country Championships in Bend, Oregon, led by defending champions Jake Riley and Mattie Suver, along with 2011 women's champion Brie Felnagle.

One of the teams from Washington looking to make their presence known at the club championships is the newly-formed Palouse Pirates squad from the east side of the state, and more specifically, Pullman.

Washington State University football coach Mike Leach, who has an obsession for pirates, and the pirate culture, was the inspiration for the Palouse Pirates.  

Consistent with that inspiration is the fact that all of the members of the Pirates have ties to Washington State University, as three members of the team--David Hickerson, Justin Englund, and Jono Lafler are Cougar grads, while two others--Andrew Kimpel and Drew Jordan, currently compete at Wazoo.

In true pirate tradition, the team will race in Bend in their distinctive white, low-tech cotton singlets with a skull and crossbones spray painted, in marked contrast to the polyester, Dri-Fit tops many teams will sport at the club championships.

The idea of competing at the club nationals began with Kimpel, who was out of cross country eligibility this fall, looking for meets to run in.  The older members of the Pirates thought that it would be fun to make their own team, consisting of Cougar alums, rather than join an established track club.

Due to the fact that Kimpel and Jordan both have eligibility left at Washington State, the team members are self-funding their trip to Bend to compete in the club nationals.


When asked if the Palouse Pirates could be expanded in the future, Jordan said, "If it could grow into something more and be a sustainable way for some alumni to compete competitively for a couple years after college--absolutely we would do anything to make that happen.  The running and athletic culture in Eastern Washington is pretty amazing.  The idea of pairing with some businesses is not far-fetched at all."

A thank you note to the USA Track & Field Cross Country Council...

In the trenches interviewing
Blake Russell at 2006 IAAF World Cross
Country Champs (Patti Stirk photo)

I regret not being able to accept the award in person in Indianapolis last week; nonetheless, I am humbled and honored to accept this award.

Doris Heritage is a woman whose passion for cross country I've had the privilege of witnessing in person here in Seattle from the time I started in the sport in the early 1970s.  Through her work at Seattle Pacific as a competitor and coach, all the way to being a coach/team leader on various national squads, world cross country and Olympic teams, she has represented our sport well at all levels, and is a wonderful ambassador of the sport.

My association with the USA Track & Field Cross Country Council began in 1999 when I was the media relations director for the local organizing committee staging the USA championships in Tacoma, Washington, and also served stints doing media relations for the Vancouver (WA) local organizing committees.

I've been lucky enough to assist eleven USA national teams with media relations at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships wherever they've been contested, along with helping out in the trenches at the national championships.  

I'm honored to follow in the footsteps of those who have won the award before me, many of whom have done more for the sport and USA Track & Field than I have, including Dr. Ken Foreman, Anne Timmons, Lynn Jennings, Lance Harter, John Babington, Patrick Shane, Adam Goucher, Blake Russell, and Bill Roe.

Before signing off, I'd like to thank the various meet directors at the national championship meets for their help and feedback, along with the USA Track & Field staff, especially former staff members Tom Surber, Michael Cain and Aron McGuire, along with current staffers Jill Geer and Jim Estes for putting up with me for all these years.

I also want to thank the many men and women around the country and around the world who have covered Team USA and its athletes at various national and world championships.

Most of all, I'd like to thank the athletes and staff who have been cooperative whenever they've been asked to provide a quote or speak to the media, and to Cross Country Council chair Mike Scott and the entire committee for having faith in me.

Thanks!


PS--Have a great meet in Bend this weekend!

Eugene gets next eight NCAA outdoor champs; UW the 15/17 NCAA west regionals; US Club XC champs...

Catching up on some news from the last few days here…

The NCAA announced Wednesday that Eugene will host the next eight editions of the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field championships at Hayward Field.

 “We are excited that Hayward Field will remain the dream destination for every Division I athlete and we plan to turn the NCAA Championships into the hottest ticket in the sport,” said University of Oregon Senior Associate Athletic Director and President of TrackTown USA Vin Lananna. “It took a remarkable partnership of entities from not only from the Eugene-Springfield community, but the entire State of Oregon to make this commitment to the sport of track and field.”

The NCAA meets give the Eugene-Springfield community an unprecedented number of high caliber events in the coming decade with the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships coming to Eugene next summer, the USA Championships on the slate for 2015 and the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials returning to TrackTown for the third consecutive time.

Additionally, the University of Washington was announced as the host school for the 2015 and 2017 NCAA West Regional cross country championship meets, which will be contested at the Jefferson Park Golf Course on Beacon Hill.

Courtesy of the NCAA, here is the video of the national championship site announcements:



Eastern Washington's Keisa Monterola was named the Big Sky indoor track & field athlete of the week for winning the pole vault competition at the Candy Cane VI invitational in Cheney last Saturday.

Monterola entered the competition with the bar at 13-5 1/4 (4.10m) and cleared it on her second attempt, qualifying for the Big Sky Championships in Pocatello, Idaho on Feb. 27-Mar. 1. That mark sits atop the Big Sky performance list and third in the nation on the young season.
This is the fifth time the Venezuelan-native has been named Athlete of the Week since joining the squad as a junior-college transfer in the 2011-12 season.  Monterola is competing in her final indoor season for the Eagles and has exhausted her outdoor eligibility.


The country's biggest open cross country championship race happens Saturday in Bend, Oregon as the USA Track & Field National Club Cross Country Championships are contested featuring the nation's top cross country teams. More than 1,200 competitors and 100 teams are entered in the event, which features a 10-kilometer men’s race and a 6-kilometer women’s race. Clubs will compete for a total prize purse of $25,000.

Returning to the women’s field are 2012 champion Mattie Suver, the Eastern Washington alum and 2013 world cross country team member who led Boulder Running Company to a second-place finish a year ago, crossing in 20:01.

She'll be challenged by a slew of runners familiar to Washington fans, including 2011 champ Brie Felnagle of the Beasts TC, and former NCAA champ Angela Bizzari.

The Seattle based Beasts TC will also have in their arsenal Jamie Cheever, Deborah Maier, and Jessica Tebo to give the Beasts a legitimate shot at winning the national team title.

Seattle based Oiselle will run two squads, with one group consisting of its Project Little Wing team featuring Lauren Fleshman and Washington alums Mel Lawrence and Christine Babcock, and another group with runners from the Seattle area, including Seattle Pacific alum Natty Plunkett.

The Greater Bellingham RC, featuring Oregon alum Bronwyn Crossman and Western Washington alums Sierra Brisky and Courtney Olsen will have a squad in Bend, as will the Seattle Running Club and Club Northwest.

Among the big names entered on the women's side include Olympian Shannon Rowbury and Oregon alum Jordan Hasay of the Nike Oregon Project.

The men's race will be led by Bellingham native and defending champion Jake Riley of the Hanson's/Brooks Distance Project.

He'll be challenged by former Olympians Matthew Centrowitz and Alan Webb, along with German Fernandez.

One of the most interesting team entries in the men's race is from the newly formed Palouse Pirates squad which features David Hickerson, Drew Jordan, Jono Lafler, Andrew Kimpel & Justin Englund, all of whom have ties to Washington State University.

Also entering teams in Bend are the Greater Bellingham RC; Seattle RC with 10-time Seattle Marathon champ Uli Steidl and SeattleU alum Erik Barkhaus; the Tacoma City RC with UCLA alum Alex Crabill; the Spokane Distance Project; and Club Northwest.


NOTE:  The NCAA, USTFCCCA, USA Track & Field, and the sports information offices of the University of Oregon and Eastern Washington University contributed to this report.


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Eagles' season opener nets 14 qualifying marks for Big Sky indoor championships..

CHENEY--The Eastern Washington University track and field team had 11 athletes meet conference standards, with three earning two each to attain a total of 14 Big Sky qualifying marks at the Candy Cane VI Invitational Friday and Saturday (Dec. 6-7) at the Jim Thorpe Fieldhouse.

Nick Stearns kicked off the solid weekend for the Eagles, earning a qualifying score of 4,729 points in his first heptathlon, a mark that ranks him fifth all time in school history.

On the track, senior Steven Warner (left/photo courtesy EWU Athletics) had the most notable mark of the meet, running 7.61 in the prelims of the 55 meter hurdles, and following it up with a 7.63 time to win the finals.

In the women's pole vault, All-American Keisa Monterola, who only has indoor eligibility left at Eastern, won the event with a mark of 13-5 1/4 (4.10m).

The Eagles had 11 event winners at the Candy Cane Invite, with seven on the men’s side and four for the women.

In dual-team scoring, the Eagle men defeated the University of Montana Grizzlies 53-38, while the Eastern and Montana women tied 52-52.

The Eagles will take over a month off before they head to Seattle to compete at the UW Indoor Preview on January 18th.



NOTE:  The sports information department at Eastern Washington University contributed to this report.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Candy Cane VI season opener now underway at Eastern Washington...

CHENEY--Eastern Washington University opened its 2014 indoor track season with the annual Candy Cane indoor scoring meet with the University of Montana Friday at the Jim Thorpe Fieldhouse.

In the men's heptathlon, the Eagles' Nick Stearns is currently in second with a four-event score of 2435 points behind Montana's Austin Emry with 3083.

The women's pentathlon was won by Montana's Shayle Dezellem with a score of 3313 points as the Grizzlies took the top three places.  Katrina Chamberlain was the Eagles' top finisher in fourth with 2764 points.


Meanwhile, courtesy of Eastern Washington, here's a link to a preview of what to expect from the Eagles in the 2014 season, led by pole vaulter Keisa Monterola and thrower Jordan Arakawa (above/photo courtesy EWU Athletics), including a video interview with men's coach Stan Kerr, and women's coach Marcia Mecklenburg, both of which you can access here.




NOTE:  The sports information department at Eastern Washington University contributed to this report.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Jax Thoirs clears personal best to highlight UW Purple/Gold intrasquad meet...

SEATTLE--At the end of the day, no one will remember that the Gold squad took the victory over Team Purple by a count of 244-226 at the fifth annual Purple/Gold Intrasquad meet to celebrate the end of the fall training block for members of the University of Washington track and field team.

But those who were in attendance at the Dempsey Indoor Thursday will remember the jump that Jax Thoirs (left/photo by Paul Merca) cleared, as the native of Glasgow, Scotland cleared a personal best of 18-1 3/4 (5.53m) to highlight the meet, and serve notice to the collegiate vault field that he will be one to watch this season.

Thoirs opened the competition with a first attempt clearance of 15-11 3/4 (4.87m) followed by a third attempt make at 16-7 1/4 (5.06m).

After a clearance of 17-7 (5.36m) on his first attempt, he had officials raise the bar to 18-1-3/4 (5.53m), three centimeters above his previous personal best of 18-0 1/2 (5.50m) set this summer in Finland.

Thoirs ran through the pit on his first attempt before clearing the bar on his second attempt.

UPDATE:  Thanks to our friends at Scottish Athletics, we've now been told that his jump is a Scottish national record, pending the usual verification process.

His reward?  A leg on the all x 307m (distance around the Dempsey oval) relay for the Gold squad, the last event of the evening, as sprinters, jumpers, and throwers get together to run one lap to determine the final results of the meet.  

Thoirs and women's pole vault winner Logan Miller clinched the meet for the Gold squad, as the Purple team won the all x 307 relay.


The other significant mark of the meet came from hurdler Chris Williams, as the Pac-12 freshman of the year from last season came close to matching his personal best in the 60 hurdles of 7.92, as the sophomore from Philadelphia ran 7.94.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Indoor season gets underway Friday and Saturday in Cheney for Eagles...

Eastern's Nick Stearns
(photo courtesy EWU Athletics)
Believe it or not, the 2014 indoor track & field season gets underway Friday and Saturday, as Eastern Washington University hosts the sixth annual Candy Cane Invite at the Jim Thorpe Fieldhouse in Cheney.

While it's a bit of a low-key season opener for the Eagles, the meet will be scored as a dual meet between the Eags and visiting Montana.

“Each year we feel like the meet is involving and that remains true this year,” said head men’s coach Stan Kerr. “It’s a great meet on a lot of different levels.”

“This is an opportunity for our athletes to see what they’ve accomplished from fall training,” said head women’s coach Marcia Mecklenburg. “It’s a great time for them to have fun and see where they’re at.”

“It’s always fun to go against Montana because they tend to be competitive in events we’re also competitive in,” said Mecklenburg. “I can’t tell you how many times one point has separated us with Montana in terms of team standings at conference, so we’re always in the mix with them.”

The meet begins Friday with the men’s heptathlon and women’s pentathlon starting at 10:30 a.m. The men will conclude the heptathlon Saturday with the first of the final three events starting at 8:30 a.m.

The regular portion of the meet will take place Saturday with field events beginning at 11 a.m. The running events start at 12:30 p.m. In addition to the 55-meter dash and 55-meter hurdles, the one-mile run has also been added to the list of running events offered at the meet.

Courtesy of Eastern Washington University, here's a video preview of the meet:


Meanwhile across the state, the University of Washington will have a low-key intrasquad meet to celebrate the end of the fall training block Thursday night at the Dempsey Indoor starting at 5pm, with the first running event at 6:15 pm.

The final event of this intrasquad meet is the entertaining all x 307 relay, which involves every team member from throwers to sprinters, as each runner, jumper, and thrower goes one lap around the Dempsey oval.

NOTE:  The sports information office of Eastern Washington University contributed to this report.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

AROUND THE TRACK: Unterreiner earns Rhodes Scholarship; Nelson among Washington All-Americans; Brooks Beasts feature...

As we go into the Thanksgiving holiday, it's time to catch up on a few items:

Miles Unterreiner was awarded a
Rhodes Scholarship
(photo by Paul Merca)
At this time last year, we chronicled the story of Gig Harbor HS alum Miles Unterreiner, who was in Seattle the day before the NCAA cross country championships for an interview with the Rhodes Scholarship committee, then flew to Louisville, Kentucky to run in the championship race, then returned to Seattle for the second part of the interview, only to lose out on the scholarship.

There is a happy ending to this, as Unterreiner was selected as a 2014 Rhodes Scholar by the Rhodes Trust over the weekend.  Rhodes Scholarships provide all expenses for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford in England.

Unterreiner, who graduated from Stanford with bachelor's and master's degrees in history, was a writer and managing editor for the Stanford Daily, and served as president of the Stanford American Civil Liberties Union executive board.

Unterreiner, who is currently working at the think tank The Frontier Group in Santa Barbara, plans to pursue a masters of philosophy in international relations at Oxford.

"I am incredibly honored to receive the Rhodes Scholarship from among a field of such extraordinary candidates," Unterreiner said. "I absolutely could not have done it without the support of my professors and teachers, my advisers, my athletic coaches, my friends and family and Stanford University. This award truly belongs to all the people who have guided me and shaped who I am. So what I feel most of all about receiving the Rhodes Scholarship is thankful – for everyone in my life who made it possible."

Here's the link to the Rhodes Scholarship winners for 2014.

The USTFCCCA announced the athletes receiving All-America honors in cross country in a release on Monday.

Athletes earned All-America honors by finishing in the top 40 in Division I and II, and in the top 35 in Division III.

In Division I, the University of Washington's Aaron Nelson from Walla Walla earned All-America honors by finishing 20th in the men's 10k race in Terre Haute, running 30:27 to become the first Husky to earn that honor since Christian Belz turned the trick in 1998.

In Division II, Western Washington's Katelyn Steen from Sammamish's Eastlake HS and Kamiak HS grad Bryton Reim from Cal Baptist each earned All-America honors at Saturday's NCAA Division II championship meet in Spokane.

Steen finished 34th in the women's 6k race in a time of 21:46, while Reim was 36th in the men's 10k race in 31:13.

In Division III, Roosevelt HS alum Lucy Cheadle, competing for Washington University of St. Louis was fifth in the NCAA Division III championship meet in Hanover, Indiana, as she ran 21:29 for the 6k distance.

The complete list of athletes earning USTFCCCA All-America honors is available on their web site.

For those wondering where Daje Pugh, the outstanding hurdler from California who attended the University of Washington last year went, it turns out that she elected to transfer to the University of Kentucky over the summer.

Last season, Pugh ran 13.99 in the 100 hurdles, and 63.38 in the 400 hurdles, after winning the 2012 USATF Junior Olympic title in a personal best of 13.61, and the California state title in the 300 hurdles in a US leading time of 40.57.  Pugh was a scorer for the Huskies at last year's Pac-12 meet in the 4 x 100 relay, and also ran on their 4 x 400 relay.

Finally, our friends at Flotrack have put together a series of videos on the Seattle based Brooks Beasts middle distance group headed by coach Danny Mackey.

While Brooks, whose world headquarters is also located in Seattle has sponsored runners for years, they've never committed to putting together a national-caliber training group focusing on middle-distance runners (the company sponsors the Hanson's group out of Michigan, which is focused on 10k-to-marathon runners) until this January, when the Beasts were born.



Saturday, November 23, 2013

Nelson caps breakout season with All-America honors at NCAA cross country champs...

TERRE HAUTE, Indiana--University of Washington junior and Walla Walla native Aaron Nelson's (left/photo by Paul Merca) breakthrough cross country ended with a 20th place finish and All-American honors at the NCAA Division I championships at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course.

Nelson’s breakout season was capped with the best finish by a Husky at the NCAA meet since Christian Belz finished 17th in 1998. That was the last time a Husky earned All-America honors until Saturday, when Nelson crossed the line in 30:27.

“What he did today was what we believed he was capable of doing,” said Husky coach Greg Metcalf. “He felt great and was purposeful in his run. He went out with the single-minded goal to be an All-American today. You talk to kids about what you hope they’re going to do, and how to go do it, and he followed the plan to a tee. For him to finish 20th-place, it’s outstanding, and for a guy who’s never been in the meet before. He had a great day and it was fun.”

“The first 5k went by like nothing, and all of a sudden I’m halfway through the race and feeling like I haven’t started racing yet. Then a pack started to form and people started moving a bit and I wasn’t sure if I had the energy to maintain in that position,” Nelson said. “I kind of struggled for a few ‘k’ in the middle there but then all of a sudden found myself back in it and was rolling some people up. That was kind of a second wind for me.”

With flooding near the starting line in the days before the race, organizers moved the start line 100 meters from the original start, meaning that runners had to get out a little quicker than normal to get good position on the muddy course.

“The course conditions were really rough, but I hung in tough and stayed up there with the top group,” Nelson said. “They started to fade away a little, some people died off, and I kind of found myself up in the top-30, and just moved. I’m really excited about this race, I’m really happy. My main goal today was just to be top-40 and to be top-20 was even sweeter.”

Freshman Edward Cheserek of Oregon pulled away from defending champion Kennedy Kithuka of Texas Tech to win by 18 seconds in a time of 29:42.

#1 ranked Northern Arizona, with Shadle Park HS alum Nathan Weitz, finished second in the team race behind team champ Colorado, as the Buffaloes, the Pac-12 champs wind with 149 to NAU's 169.  Weitz finished 76th in 31:05.

Defending champ Oklahoma State finished third with 230 points, as Central Kitsap alum Shane Moskowitz finished 141st in 31:43 as the Cowboys' sixth runner.

The University of Portland, with Seattle Prep alum Charlie McDonald, finished seventh with 293 points.  McDonald placed 60th in a time of 31:00.

In the women's 6k race, the University of Washington finished a disappointing 17th with a team score of 376, as the Huskies could not overcome a big hole at the start of the race, when frontrunners Megan Goethals and Katie Flood took a fall a little bit near the 1-kilo mark.

During the pile-up, Flood lost her shoe, and had to sit down to put it back on, at which point she was dead last in the 250+ woman field.  At the 2k mark she fought back to 215th place, then stormed to 127th at the 4k, before finishing in 84th in 21:13.

Goethals, who missed the first half of the season with a stress fracture, had a similar race after the crash, charging all the way up to 80th in 21:11.

Senior Liberty Miller was the third Husky finisher, taking 96th in 21:17 in her last cross country race. That was the best NCAA finish in four appearances for Miller. Freshmen Amy-Eloise Neale and Katie Knight were the fourth and fifth scorers for the Dawgs today in their first run over the NCAA course. Neale took 121st overall in 21:26 and Knight was just three seconds back in 128th-place.

Dartmouth's Abbey D'Agostino took the national title in a time of 20:01, beating West regional champ Emma Bates of Boise State by three seconds.

Providence took the team title with 141 points, beating out Pac-12 champ Arizona who scored 197 points, with surprising Butler finishing third with 200 points.

Redmond HS alum Devin McMahon finished 164th in 21:45, as Cornell finished 23rd with 569 points.


DIVISION II RECAP

In Spokane at the Plantes Ferry Sports Complex, Western Washington's Katelyn Steen finished 34th in 21:46  over the 6k course to earn All-America honors and led the Vikings to an 18th place finish, scoring 452 points.

Seattle Pacific, which had beaten the Vikings at both the GNAC and NCAA regionals, finished 21st with 492 points, led by Anna Patti's 72nd place finish in 22:24.

Western's scorers consisted of  Taylor Guenther in 94th (22:35), Haley O'Connor in 131st (22:53), Austen Reiter in 136th (22:57), and Lillianna Stelling in 144th (23:00).

SPU's other scorers consisted of McKayla Fricker in 106th (22:41), Lynelle Decker in 115th (22:46); Sarah Macdonald in 138th (22:38), and Jasmine Johnson in 157th (23:10).

Ashley Nichols, a Inglemoor HS grad running for Bentley (MA), finished 149th in 23:05.

The individual women's champion was the University of Mary's (North Dakota) Jennifer Agnew in 20:51, with Pittsburg State's Jessica Macy second in 21:03.  Grand Valley State took the women's national title with 54 points.

In the men's 10k race, Western Washington finished 20th with 544 points, led by Chip Jackson's 61st place finish in 31:38.

Scoring for the Vikings were Cory Johnson in 116th (32:31), Isaac Griffith in 125th (32:36), Jonathan Quimby in 153rd (32:52), and Tabor Reedy in 177th (33:13).

The individual men's champion was Adams State's Tabor Stevens in 29:51, 11 seconds better than runner-up Vegard Olstad from Western State.  Stevens' win helped propel perennial D2 powerhouse Adams State to yet another national title.

Kamiak HS alum Bryton Reim earned All-America honors with his 36th place finish in 31:13, as his Cal Baptist squad finished 22nd.


ROOSEVELT HS ALUM LUCY CHEADLE PLACES FIFTH IN D3 NATIONALS


In Hanover, Indiana, Roosevelt HS alum Lucy Cheadle (above/photo courtesy Washington University) was fifth in the NCAA Division III cross country championships, running a time of 21:29 over the 6k course, earning All-America honors.

The University of Puget Sound's Kathryn Flyte finished 64th in a time of 22:21.

Chelsea Johnson of St. Scholastica won the national title in 21:12.


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

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The college cross country season roars to its finale Saturday...

And it comes down to one race on Saturday.

For the teams from the University of Washington, Western Washington, and Seattle Pacific, the miles run over the summer and the races during the fall comes down to one more race on Saturday as the NCAA cross country championships close out the collegiate season.

The University of Washington women's team, which started out the season ranked #5 in the USTFCCCA national poll after finishing ninth at last year's NCAA meet in Louisville, looks to salvage a strong finish in Terre Haute, Indiana, after what's been an up-and-down season.

Their season started with the loss for the first few meets of All-American Megan Goethals due to injury, and a lack of consistency by their back runners in their last few meets after winning the Dellinger Invitational in Oregon on October 5th.

The only constant for the Huskies this season has been senior Katie Flood (above/photo by Paul Merca), who's been the lead runner for the Dawgs this season in four of five races, and is coming off her best cross country performance in two seasons after placing fourth at the NCAA West Regionals in Sacramento last week.

Besides Flood, the Huskies will have a trio of upperclassmen in seniors Liberty Miller and Justine Johnson, along with junior Megan Goethals.  They'll also run freshmen Amy-Eloise Neale and Katie Knight, with the final spot on the line to be filled by either frosh Kaylee Flanagan or sophs Baylee Mires and Maddie Meyers.

The Huskies' Aaron Nelson will be the lone representative on the line in the men's national championship race after finishing eighth at the NCAA regional meet last week.

Nelson gets things underway in the men's 10k championship race at 9am, with the women's 6k championship going at 10:15am.  Both races will be streamed online at ncaa.com.

The men's race will have some significant story lines involving athletes with Washington ties, as #1 ranked Northern Arizona, with Spokane's Nathan Weitz from Shadle Park HS, goes against #2 Oklahoma State, which has Central Kitsap alum Shane Moskowitz on its squad, and is coached by Olympia native Dave Smith.

The University of Portland, with Seattle Prep alum Charlie McDonald from Bellevue on its squad, looks for a top ten team finish in the national title race.

On the women's side, Redmond HS alum Devin McMahon will run in her third NCAA cross country championship meet for Cornell.  The senior finished 123rd in last year's meet.

Across the state in Spokane, both Western Washington squads and Seattle Pacific's women's teams look to improve upon their current ranking in the USTFCCCA poll.

The Western Washington men finished the regular season ranked #19, as did the Seattle Pacific women, while the WWU women finished in the #25 spot.

Western will send seniors Chip Jackson, Tanner Boyd and Dylan Peterson to the line along with Issac Griffith, Nathan Richards and Jonathan Quimby.  A decision will be made on Tabor Reedy, who DNF'd at regionals due to a heel injury.  If he can't go, Cory Johnson will race.

The Falcons will run McKayla Fricker, Jasmine Johnson, Anna Patti, Sarah Macdonald, Lynelle Decker, Hannah Calvert, and Claire Rachwitz.

The Vikings will line up Katelyn Steen, Haley O'Connor, Taylor Guenther, Austen Reiter, Haida Ikeda, Lillianna Stelling, and Sofia Marikis.

For both teams, early positioning will be a key factor in Saturday's race, which gets underway at 10:30am with the women's 6k, followed by the men's 10k at 11:30am at the Plantes Ferry Sports Complex.  Like the Division I race, the Division II race will be streamed on ncaa.com.

Significant runners with Washington ties competing in Spokane on Saturday include Cal Baptist's  Bryton Reim, a graduate of Kamiak HS & Everett CC, along with Ashley Nichols from Inglemoor HS in Kenmore, who runs for Bentley (Mass.).

The Division III championship race will be held Saturday in Hanover, Indiana, with Roosevelt HS alum Lucy Cheadle, the winner of the Midwest regional meet, among the runners to watch.


The University of Puget Sound's Kathryn Flyte is in the D3 field as an individual, after her fifth place finish in the West regionals.

The D3 championships will also be streamed on ncaa.com as well.

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

Monday, November 18, 2013

Washington drops to #20 in final USTFCCCA regular season poll as top spots shuffle...

With championship Saturday a few days away, the USTFCCCA released its final Division I regular season rankings Monday.

Some shuffling occurred in the top spots for both men and women, as Northern Arizona University, which has Spokane's Nathan Weitz (left/photo by Mike Scott) on its squad, moved to the number one spot after beating previous #1 Colorado in the Mountain region championship on Friday.

Occupying the #2 position is defending national champ Oklahoma State, coached by former Olympia prep standout Dave Smith, while Colorado drops to #3.

West region champ Stanford moves to #4, while Oregon goes to #5 to round out the Pac-12's representation in the national top 30.

The University of Portland is the only other team from the West region represented in the national rankings, as the Pilots are #11.

On the women's side, Providence reclaimed the national #1 spot after a convincing win at the Northeast regionals, while previous #1 Arizona dropped to #2 by a slim one-point margin.

Arkansas, Florida State, and Colorado round out the top five women's teams.

From the Pac-12, Stanford is ranked #12, and Oregon is ranked #17, while the University of Washington tumbled all the way down to #20 after their fifth place finish in the West regionals last week.

The Dons of San Francisco, who finished fourth in the West regionals, are ahead of the Huskies in the national poll at #19.


DIVISION III REPORT

Puget Sound's Kathryn Flyte, who finished fifth, along with Whitman's Skye Pauly, who placed 11th in the NCAA West regionals in Claremont, California, were chosen by the NCAA Division III Track & Field Committee to compete in Saturday's NCAA D3 cross country championships in Hanover, Indiana as at large-competitiors.

However, Whitworth's women's team, which placed third in the West regional meet, were not selected by the committee as an at-large squad to run in the national championship meet.


The NCAA will provide live streaming video of all three national championship races Saturday via ncaa.com.


NOTE:  The NCAA and the USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Washington women and Aaron Nelson get at-large berths to next week's NCAA championship meet...

INDIANAPOLIS--After Friday's fifth place performance at the NCAA West Regional cross country championships in Sacramento, there was a bit of a cloud hovering over the University of Washington women's cross country team (left/photo by Paul Merca) and their chances of advancing to the national championship meet in seven days in Terre Haute, Indiana.

The cloud was lifted when the NCAA Division I track & field committee announced that the Huskies were advancing to the national championship race as one of 13 at-large teams.

The top five teams from Friday's race--Arizona, Stanford, Oregon, San Francisco, and Washington were all selected to the national title race, with the Wildcats and Cardinal earning the automatic berths by finishing 1-2.

The strengths of schedule for the Ducks, Dons, and Huskies over the regular season, plus their high rankings in the USTFCCCA national coaches' poll played a part in having five teams from the West Region advance to the national championships.

Apart from a two-year gap in 2005-06, the UW women’s cross country team has made the NCAA Championships in 15 of the past 17 years going back to 1997, which was the first year that Greg Metcalf coached the women’s team. Washington looks to extend its recent run of success at nationals, which includes five top-10 finishes in the past six years and three podium finishes, capped by a national title in 2008.

As expected, Washington's Aaron Nelson, who finished eighth at the regional meet in Sacramento, was given an individual spot in next week's national championship meet.

Nelson has followed through on a great season that started with wins at the Sundodger Invite and the Bill Dellinger Invite and included an eight-place finish at Pac-12s.

Among significant individuals who may compete in next week's championships with Washington ties include Cornell's Devin McMahon (Redmond HS), who was 41st in the Northeast regional meet in 21:19; Nathan Weitz of Northern Arizona (Shadle Park HS), who was 28th in the Mountain regional meet in 30:09; Shane Moskowitz of Oklahoma State (Central Kitsap HS), who was 40th in the Midwest regional in 31:18; and Charlie McDonald of Portland (Bellevue HS) who was 16th in the West regional in 30:04.


DIVISION III ROUNDUP


At the NCAA Division III Midwest regional in Rock Island, Illinois Saturday, Roosevelt HS grad Lucy Cheadle (above/photo courtesy Washington University) of Washington University in St. Louis took the victory, running 21:32 over the 6k course…

In the West regional meet in Claremont, California, Whitworth finished third in the women's race with a score of 112 points, while Whitman was fifth with 167.  

Puget Sound was tenth with 265, and Pacific Lutheran was 14th with 410 points.

Kathryn Flyte, a senior at UPS finished fifth in the 6k race in 22:21.

Whitworth will await whether or not they'll advance to nationals as an at-large team

The men's race saw Puget Sound finish seventh with 230, followed by Whitman in eighth at 235, and Whitworth 12th with 306.

T.C. Heydon of Whitman was the top finisher from a Washington school in 21st in 26:02 over 8k.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Portland gets 2016 world indoors, and Mary Cain goes pro...

paulmerca.blogspot.com has finally returned to Seattle from the NCAA West Regional cross country championships in Sacramento, and in our haste to go to the California capital and back in one day, cover the race, and post photos on our Facebook page, neglected to post two very important items on a very busy day for the sport in the USA.

In Monte Carlo, where the IAAF is holding its meetings, and the World Athletics Gala this weekend, the federation announced that Portland will host the 2016 World Indoor Track & Field championships.

The 2016 World Indoor Championships will mark the first time a senior World Athletics Series (WAS) event has been held in the United States since the World Cross Country Championships in 1992. Eugene will host the 2014 World Junior Championships.

“We thank the IAAF Council and President Lamine Diack for entrusting us with the 2016 World Indoor Championships,” USATF CEO Max Siegel said. “We are honored and proud to be given the opportunity to again host the world’s national track & field teams on U.S. soil. USATF and TrackTown have the vision and execution that will make the meet a truly world-class experience.”

“We plan to leave a lasting legacy of new facilities, a renewed passion, and a new model to present indoor track and field,” TrackTown president and former Oregon coach Vin Lananna said. “We will work tirelessly to create the most awe-inspiring event ever held in the U.S. for the athletes, fans, officials, media, partners and the entire IAAF family. We want to demonstrate our commitment with action.”

The three-day meet will be held in March, 2016, at Portland’s Oregon Convention Center (OCC). As configured for World Indoors, the facility will easily accommodate more than 8,000 spectators. A new 200-meter IAAF-certified track will be built and then repurposed as a legacy of the event.

TrackTown USA has hosted the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Trials, which reach record attendance levels. The group also serves as local organizing committee for the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships, to be contested this July in Eugene, Ore., and the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials.

The other big news out of Monaco was the announcement that New York high schooler Mary Cain (left/photo by Paul Merca), has elected to turn pro, to the surprise of absolutely no one.

She has hired PACE Management, led by agent Ricky Simms, to represent her.  

PACE is the same agency that represents two of the biggest names in the sport in Jamaica's Usain Bolt, and Great Britain's Mo Farah.

Cain will officially be a part of the Nike Oregon Project, of which Farah is a member of.

The American high school star had an exceptional year in 2013 setting three American Junior Records in the 800m (1:59.51), 1500m (4:04.62) and indoor mile (4:28.25). Her 800m time made her the first youth, junior or high school American female to break the 2 mins barrier. 

Her indoor mile time was a World Youth Best. Mary also set US National High School records indoors in the 1500m, 3000m and 2 miles and outdoors in the 5000m. She won the USATF Indoor mile title in Albuquerque in March and finished second in the 1500m in the USATF Championships in Des Moines in June to earn her place on the World Championships team for Moscow. 

In Russia, the 17 year old showed maturity beyond her years to qualify for the final and to finish 10th in the World Championships 1500m.

In Cain's one appearance in Seattle in January, she ran the fastest time ever by an American high schooler under any conditions when she ran 9:02.10 at the Washington Preview meet.

She will continue to be coached by NOP mentor Alberto Salazar.


Husky women must wait until Saturday to learn their NCAA championship fate...

SACRAMENTO--The University of Washington women's cross country team will have to hold their collective breaths until Saturday when they'll know whether or not they'll move on to Terre Haute for next Saturday's NCAA cross country championships as the Huskies finished fifth at Haggin Oaks Golf Course.

The #12 ranked Huskies scored 162 points as they finished behind #1 Arizona (84), #18 Stanford (94), #15 Oregon (120), and #17 San Francisco (140) in perhaps one of the country's toughest regional meet.

Washington was led by Katie Flood's fourth place finish over the 6k course in 19:27, as Boise State's Emma Bates took the victory in 19:11, with Arizona State's Shelby Houlihan second at 19:14, and Pac-12 champ Aisling Cuffe of Stanford third in 19:15.

Flood's fourth place finish was the Des Moines, Iowa native's most significant performance since the 2011 season, when she was one of the most dominant runners in the collegiate scene.

Following Flood for Washington were Liberty Miller in 23rd (20:12), Katie Knight in 42nd (20:37), Amy-Eloise Neale in 43rd (20:38), and Megan Goethals in 50th (20:45), giving the Huskies a 78-second gap between their 1-5 runners.

Washington State, led by Ruby Roberts' 15th place finish in 20:02, finished 14th with 401 points.  Gonzaga finished 17th with 437 points, led by Lauren Bergam's 64th place finish in 20:53.  Seattle University was 20th with 563 points, with Hannah Mittelstaedt finishing 96th in 21:23, and Eastern Washington was 22nd with 627 points led by Berenice Penaloza in 72nd place in 20:59.

In the men's 10k race, Washington, which looked to have an outside chance at an NCAA berth if they could string together a strong team effort as they did two weeks ago at the Pac-12 meet, instead regressed, and finished ninth behind cross state rival Washington State, as the Cougs were eighth with 269, and the Dawgs scoring 277 points.

Stanford won the team title with 53 points, followed by Oregon with 64 points and the University of Portland with 92 points.

Oregon's Edward Chesarek won the individual title, running 29:35, with Jim Rosa and Erik Olson finishing 2-3 in 29:43 and 29:48, respectively.

The Huskies' Aaron Nelson finished eighth in a time of 29:54, and appears to have earned a spot in next week's NCAA championship meet as an individual competitor.

Washington State was led by Andrew Gonzales, who was 20th in 30:16.  Following Gonzales were Todd Wakefield in 43rd (30:45), Forrest Shaffer in 52nd (30:56), John Whelan in 74th (31:27), and Lee George in 80th (31:37).

Washington's inability to place runners behind Nelson proved to be the Huskies' undoing, as Meron Simon in 61st was their second runner in 31:14.  Sumner Goodwin was 67th in 31:18, Izaic Yorks was 69th in 31:20, and Andrew Gardner was their last scorer in 72nd at 31:23.

Gonzaga was 11th with 343 points led by Willie Milam in 31st in 30:35; Eastern Washington was 20th with 542, led by Chris Schroll in 68th in 31:19, and SeattleU was 25th with 694 points, with Nathan McLaughlin their lead runner in 112th place in 32:12.

Among significant runners with Washington ties competing in the race, Portland's Charlie McDonald (Bellevue) was 16th in 30:04; and Drew O'Donoghue-McDonald from Boise State (Seattle Prep) was 26th in 30:27.

In the women's race, Wenatchee's Hannah Kiser (Idaho), was 16th in 20:04.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Seattle Pacific women & both Western Washington squads ranked by USTFCCCA in final pre-nationals poll...

NEW ORLEANS--In the aftermath of last Saturday's NCAA Division II West Regional cross country championship meet in Spokane, both Western Washington squads and the Seattle Pacific women's team are in the latest USTFCCCA national rankings released Wednesday.

The Seattle Pacific women (left/photo courtesy Seattle Pacific University), who finished fourth at the regional championships, moved all the way up to #19 in this week's coaches' poll, after not being ranked.

Likewise, Western Washington, which finished one spot behind the Falcons in Spokane last Saturday,  moved to #25 in the latest poll.

The Western Washington men's team, previously ranked #16, dropped three spots to #19 in the poll.

The top three men's teams in Division II are Adams State, Western State, and Grand Valley State, while the women are led by Grand Valley State, Adams State, and Western State.


The NCAA Division II championship meet will be held November 23rd at the Plantes Ferry Sports Complex in Spokane.

NOTE:  The USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

The road to Terre Haute runs through Sacramento for Friday's NCAA West Regional race...

The road to Terre Haute, Indiana and the NCAA cross country championships on November 23rd goes directly through Sacramento, California as Washington's five Division I schools--Washington, Washington State, SeattleU, Gonzaga, and Eastern Washington--vie for team and individual spots at Friday's NCAA West Regional race at the Haggin Oaks Golf Course, hosted by Sacramento State University.

The men's 10k race gets the meet going at 10:30 am, followed by the women's 6k at 11:45 am.

A solid performance in Sacramento by the Washington women's squad , currently ranked #12 in the USTFCCCA national polls on Friday should put the Huskies in next week's national title race, with #1 ranked Arizona, the Pac-12 champ as the Dawgs' most formidable opponent, though they can't overlook #15 Oregon, #17 San Francisco, #18 Stanford, #25 Boise State, and #26 Arizona State.

The Huskies will be bolstered by the presence of All-American Megan Goethals (left/photo by Mike Scott), who made her season debut at the Pac-12 meet in Colorado, after spending most of the season out with a stress fracture.

The Washington men's squad, currently ranked #29 in the USTFCCCA national polls have a bit of a road to climb if they want to go to Terre Haute.

#4 Oregon, #6 Stanford, #10 Portland, #28 Arizona State and unranked Boise State, who beat the Huskies at last month's Bill Dellinger Invitational are the squads that Washington will have to contend with.

Courtesy of media partner RunnerSpace.com, here's an interview with UW coach Greg Metcalf previewing the NCAA West Regionals:


Washington State's men's squad, coming off their best performance of the season with a sixth place finish at the Pac-12 championships, might have the best shot of the other four Washington schools to sneak into the NCAA championship conversation, though they will have to beat at least two nationally ranked squads to be considered.  The Cougs will be led by Todd Wakefield, who qualified for the NCAA meet as an individual last year, and Andrew Gonzales, who has been their #1 runner for most of this season.

There are nine regional meets where the top two teams automatically qualify for the NCAA Division I Championships in Terre Haute. After those 18 teams, 13 at-large teams are selected based on how well they’ve competed this season against the automatic qualifiers. For an individual to make it, they must be one of the first four individual runners to place, and finish in the top 25 overall in their region.



paulmerca.blogspot.com will be on hand to cover the NCAA West Regionals.

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

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Both WWU squads, Falcon women & Central's Connie Morgan advance to NCAA D2 nationals...

SPOKANE--Both Western Washington teams, along with Seattle Pacific's women's squads earned berths for the NCAA Division II cross country championships by placing in the top five at the NCAA West Regional cross country championships on a sunny Saturday at Plantes Ferry Sports Complex.

The #16 Viking men's squad finished fourth with a score of 102 behind Chico State (33), Alaska Anchorage (81), and Cal Poly Pomona (90), and comfortably ahead of the fifth and final team advancing to Spokane for the nationals in two weeks, Cal Baptist with 150.

Western had to run without their #2 runner, senior Tanner Boyd, who dropped out at the half-way mark with a heel injury.

As he's done all season long, senior Chip Jackson led the way with his fourth place finish over the 10k course in 31:43, just behind the Chico State trio of Isaac Chavez (30:56), Johnny Sanchez (31:33) and Dayne Gradone (31:35).

Following Jackson  were Isaac Griffith in 20th (32:33), Tabor Reedy in 21st (32:36), Nathan Richards in 24th (32:38), and Dylan Peterson in 38th (33:10).  Cory Johnson in 53rd (33:32) rounded out the Vikings' six finishers.

Western coach Pee Wee Halsell said, "Even without Tanner I knew we had the depth to move on to nationals. With him, I believe we had a good chance of finishing third."

Bryton Reim from Cal Baptist, a graduate of Kamiak HS and Everett CC, finished seventh in 31:56 to help his team get the final qualifying spot for the national championship meet, which will take place on November 23rd on this same course.

Central Washington finished 13th with 325 points, Seattle Pacific was 16th with 408, and Saint Martin's rounded out the 18-team field with 491 points.

In the women's 6k race, Seattle Pacific's pack-running mentality, led by McKayla Fricker's tenth place finish in 22:37, gave the Falcons a fourth place finish with 137 points, 20 less than fifth place Western Washington's 157, as both squads earned a return trip to Spokane in two weeks.

GNAC champ Alaska Anchorage earned a narrow three-point decision (76-79) over Chico State to get the West Regional team title, with Simon Fraser getting third with 94 points, as the GNAC conference qualified four teams for the national championships.

Alaska Anchorage teammates Susan Tanui (21:46) and Joyce Kipchumba (21:49) went 1-2 ahead of Western Washington's Katelyn Steen in third at 21:53.

Central Washington's Connie Morgan (above/photo courtesy Central Washington University) earned one of the three individual qualifying spots, as she finished sixth in 22:19.

Morgan's sixth place finish made her the first Wildcat to advance to nationals since 2006 when Katie Hummel turned the trick.  Hummel earned All-America honors with her twelfth place finish.

In addition to Fricker's tenth place finish, Seattle Pacific's scorers were Anna Patti in 14th (22:39), Sarah Macdonald in 27th (22:53), Lynelle Decker in 42nd (23:11), and Hannah Calvert (23:21), a 44 second 1-5 split.

Courtesy of Seattle Pacific, here's a post race interview with the team:


After Steen's third place finish, Western's scorers consisted of Taylor Guenther in 12th (22:38), Haley O'Connor in 35th (23:02), Austen Reiter in 49th (23:24), and Haida Ikeda in 58th (23:33).

Central Washington's lack of depth past their #1 & 2 runners cost them, as they finished tenth with 275 points, and Saint Martin's was 23rd in the 23-team field with 707 points.



NOTE:  The sports information offices of Western Washington, Seattle Pacific, and Central Washington Universities contributed to this report.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Western Washington men and Seattle Pacific women aim for return to nationals in Spokane...

Washington's four Division II schools--Western Washington, Seattle Pacific, Central Washington, and Saint Martin's--are in Spokane for Saturday's NCAA Division II West Regionals at the Plantes Ferry Sports Complex where they hope to earn a trip back in two weeks to run in the NCAA national championship race.

Action gets under way at 10:30 with the women's 6k championship race, followed by the men's 10k at 11:30.

At stake are five men's team berths and five women's team berths in the NCAA Division II National Championships, Nov. 23 at Plantes Ferry.  In addition, the top three male and female athletes not on one of the qualifying teams will also return to Spokane for the national meet.

Chico State is the defending men's and women's team champion, but GNAC champion Alaska Anchorage swept both titles two years ago at Plantes Ferry.

Westen Washington's men's squad and Seattle Pacific's women's team are the two squads with the best chances to return to Spokane.

The WWU men placed second two weeks ago at the GNAC Championships, being outscored by just three points, 32 to 35, after having a perfect score at its own invitational two weeks before.

The Vikings are led by senior Chip Jackson (above, #90/photo courtesy GNAC), who led the team at conference by placing fourth.

He's joined by Tanner Boyd, Tabor Reedy, Nathan Richards, and Jonathan Quimby, all of whom finished in the top ten at the GNAC championships two weeks ago in Monmouth, Oregon.

Western is looking to make a seventh straight trip to the NCAA title meet.

For the Seattle Pacific women's team, it's all about finishing among the top five teams. Realistically, that means going for the No. 4 or No. 5 spot, because the top three places are likely to be occupied by Alaska Anchorage, Chico State, and Simon Fraser – perhaps, though not necessarily, in that order.

It'll be SPU and essentially four other schools – Cal State Stanislaus, Cal Poly Pomona, UC San Diego, and Western Washington – going for the last two places.

The Falcons are looking to replicate their GNAC performance, in which they had a 1-5 split of 25 seconds, led by soph Anna Patti, senior McKayla Fricker, frosh Sarah Macdonald & Hannah Calvert, and soph Lynelle Decker, all of whom placed in the top 25 at GNACs.

Courtesy of SPU Athletics, here's a video interview with Decker, as she gives her thoughts on Saturday's regional championships.


One individual to look for is CalBaptist's Bryton Reim, as the Mukilteo native, who started at Everett CC, won the PacWest conference title, and earned a USTFCCCA national athlete of the week award for his efforts.


BREWER NAMED HEAD TRACK/CROSS COUNTRY COACH AT SAINT MARTIN'S


Jim Brewer (above/photo courtesy Concordia University-Irvine Athletics) has been named head men's and women's cross country and track & field coach at Saint Martin's University becoming the fourth head coach in program history.

A 20-year veteran of the coaching ranks at both the high school and collegiate level, he joins SMU having served as the head cross country and track & field coach at Concordia University-Irvine, a NAIA Division I program in California, for the past two years.

During his time coaching at CUI, Brewer coached the women's cross country team to an 11th place finish at the 2012 NAIA Championships. In two years with the Eagles he had 42 national qualifiers and nine All-Americans. Most notably last spring a total of 16 athletes qualified for the NAIA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

Brewer worked at the Division II level as a volunteer assistant coach at Western Washington on two separate occasions: 1996-97 and 2003-07. He was a part of helping coach three cross country teams to the national championships.

A successful collegiate runner in his own right he competed at Western Washington from 1993 to 1996. During that time he earned All-American honors at the 1994 NAIA Cross Country Championships and was a five-time national qualifier (3 cross country, 2 track & field).


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

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