Friday, October 25, 2013

Conference championship awaits state's four NCAA Division II schools Saturday...

It's conference championship time for the state's four Division II schools, as Western Washington, Seattle Pacific, Saint Martin's, and Central Washington head to the campus of Western Oregon University for the GNAC championship meet at the Ash Creek Preserve in Monmouth.

On paper, Alaska-Anchorage heads into the conference meet as the overwhelming favorite to pick up another conference crown on both the men's and women's sides, as the Seawolves are ranked #8 and #5, respectively, in the current USTFCCCA national polls.

Western Washington is the only state of Washington school ranked nationally in the USTFCCCA polls, as their men's team is ranked #22, and the women's squad is #32.

The Vikings' Chip Jackson (left/photo courtesy Western Washington University) is one of the conference's top returning runners from last year's championship race, where he finished fourth.

The GNAC conference preview of the meet is available here, which includes a link to the meet program.

After the conference championship meet, all four schools return to action on November 9th at the NCAA Division II West Regional meet at the Plantes Ferry sports complex in Spokane Valley, with a return trip to Spokane in two weeks for the NCAA Division II championship meet on the line.

Also happening Saturday and Sunday at the Bandon Dunes Golf Course in Bandon, Oregon is Washington State hall of famer Bernard Lagat's debut at the World Speedgolf Championships.

Lagat, who does not have an official handicap listed in his five years of playing golf, and who has shot an 89 in an official round of 18 holes, will probably have to rely on his running speed to be a legitimate contender.

In an interview with Spikes magazine, Lagat noted that his interest in Speedgolf was piqued by a Twitter conversation I had with him last year about who was a better golfer--him or training partner Abdi Abdirahman.

Also entered in the field is 2008 Olympic 1500m silver medalist Nick Willis of New Zealand, who is an experienced golfer.

Here's two links to stories on University of Washington distance runners Andrew Gardner and Megan Goethals posted from the UW Daily, and ESPNw.

Gardner was part of Husky coach Greg Metcalf's outstanding recruiting class, a group that so far, has helped Washington achieve a national ranking for the first time since 2009 this season.

Goethals is out for the season with a stress fracture in her femur, and is taking classes online in her home of Rochester, Michigan, while helping take care of her mother Diane, who is battling Stage 4 cancer.

The story of Megan Goethals can be read here.

NOTE:  The Great Northwest Athletic Conference contributed to this story.

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