SPOKANE VALLEY--Gonzaga University’s Kyle Branch and Lauren Bergam (left/photos courtesy Gonzaga University) both made a statement Saturday at the Erik Anderson Invitational cross country meet at Plantes Ferry as they paced a strong Bulldog contingent.
Both finished fourth in their respective races, Bergam in 21:57 over the 6K women’s layout and Branch in 25:47 in the 8K men’s race.
The meet was a preview of the course that will be used for the NCAA Division II championships in November, and squads from both Western Washington and Central Washington were among the teams in the meet.
The women's 6k was won by Dani Walker of Lipscomb University in Nashville, who ran 21:40, as five runners from that school placed in the top ten, including Glacier Peak HS grad Katie Bianchini, who was sixth in 22:04.
Western Washington's Katelyn Steen was the Vikings' top finisher in 19th in 22:38. Central Washington's Dani Eggleston was their top finisher in 40h in 23:10.
The Washington State Cougars sent a limited women's squad after last week's Sundodger Invitational, and they were led by Steffie Pavey's who was 20th in 23:22.
Lipscomb won with a score of 20 points with Gonzaga third with 71 points. Western was ninth with 272, with Central tenth with 287, and the Cougars in 15th at 401.
In the men's 8k race, Sam Atkin of Lewis-Clark took the victory in a time of 25:15, as Lipscomb put four runners in the top ten.
Central Washington's top runner was Rudy Spencer in 56th in 27:08, while Matt Lutz led Western in 76th in 27:34.
Lipscomb won with 40 points, with Gonzaga second at 77. Western Washington was 11th at 344, with Central 13th with 377 points.
In Bozeman, Montana, the Eastern Washington men finished fourth at the Montana State Invitational, led by Chris Schroll's eleventh place finish over the 5 mile course in 25:58.
Host Montana State took the team title with 33 points, followed by Utah State's 36, and Utah Valley's 76 points, with the Eagles scoring 97.
Cristian Soratos of the host school won the individual title in 25:09.
In the women's 3 mile race, the Eagles finished seventh with a score of 155 points, as Utah State won the team tithe with 44 over the host school's 60 points, with Pac-12 member Utah third with 77 points.
Sarah Reiter led Eastern Washington with her 18th place finish in 18:08.
FIFTH AVENUE MILE SUNDAY
Washington State University hall of famer Bernard Lagat, along with Washington grad Katie Mackey are among those competing in Sunday's NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile on the streets of New York City.
"This is the perfect place to end the season," said Lagat, the 2011 victor and last year's runner-up. "The Fifth Avenue Mile is different than a regular mile. It's different from what we run on the track and the atmosphere is great. Bringing the best athletes from all over the world, I'm real excited."
"It's something that is more relaxing to do. You have no stress like U.S. Nationals where you have to make the team," said Lagat. "That is why this event produces the fastest results."
"This is the last one, no stress, but you are going to take it serious and do your best," said Lagat. "At the end, when you cross that line, the season is over and it is the best feeling."
NOTE: The sports information offices of Western Washington, Gonzaga, Eastern Washington, Washington State, and the New York Road Runners contributed to this report.