(left/photo by Mike Scott) as a force on the national scene.
After winning both the Sundodger and the Bill Dellinger Invitationals, Nelson proved himself at the regional level, but the question many wondered was whether or not he could hold himself up with the big boys of collegiate cross country.
The answer was an emphatic yes, as Nelson finished fourth at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational 8k race against perhaps the deepest field in the country this season, as he clocked 23:26, 14 seconds behind winner Kemoy Campbell of Arkansas.
Nelson got himself positioned in the top 30 in the first half of the race, then made a strong surge in the second half, picking people off as the kilometers went by and passing all but winner Campbell, Harvard's Maksim Korolev, and North Carolina State's Andrew Colley, who had broken away from the field.
Afterwards, UW head coach Greg Metcalf said that Nelson's efforts was one of the best by a men's distance runner in recent memory.
“Aaron ran fantastic; incredibly smart, patient, his last 3k he was running past some of the best distance runners in America.”
Washington finished 15th out of the 35-team field that featured 20 of the nation's top 30 squads. The Huskies scored 428 points, just behind 28th-ranked Notre Dame, but finishing ahead of eight higher-ranked teams including No. 12 Indiana, No. 14 Texas, No. 30 Arizona State, No. 27 Dartmouth, No. 26 Florida, No. 22 Minnesota, No. 24 Georgetown, and No. 21 UCLA.
Following Nelson on the men’s squad was sophomore Meron Simon who had maybe his best big meet performance according to Metcalf, as he was 84th overall in 24:15. Sophomore Izaic Yorks suited up for the first time today and came through third on the team in 91st-place in 24:18. Junior Aaron Beattie then crossed in 122nd and freshman Andrew Gardner capped the team scoring in 137th-place in 24:32.
Redshirt freshman Blake Nelson had a nice top-seven finish for the Huskies; he was 167th in the huge field in 24:42. Sophomore Tyler King finished at 188th to round out the top-seven. Also running was freshman Sumner Goodwin, who was 222nd overall and sophomore Jacob Smith who was 225th.
Northern Arizona won the meet with 121 points, followed by BYU with 174, and Portland with 216. Spokane native Nathan Weitz was 39th overall (23:55) to help NAU with the win, while Seattle Prep grad Charlie McDonald was 61st in 24:07.
The UW performance Saturday may get the Dawgs into the USTFCCCA national top 30 when the rankings come out early next week.
The fourth-ranked Husky women's squad had a bit of a rough go over the 6k course, as they finished ninth with 308 points, a big drop from their fourth place finish in last year's meet.
Arizona took the team title with 117 points, followed by Arkansas at 136, and Providence at 191.
NCAA championship meet favorite Abbey D'Agostino of Dartmouth took the win in 19:31, followed by Providence's Emily Sisson (19:44) and Marielle Hall of Texas (19:46).
Katie Flood led the Huskies with her 23rd place finish in 20:15. Sophomore Maddie Meyers was the No. 2 Husky in 47th-place in 20:37, just ahead of freshman Amy-Eloise Neale who was 50th in 20:39.
Justine Johnson was critical to the Husky effort, as she was 81st overall in 20:57. Freshmen Kaylee Flanagan and Katie Knight finished up side by side, with Flanagan getting the final scoring spot in 107th-place and Knight finishing 109th. Sophomore Baylee Mires finished the top-seven, as she finished her first ever 6k in 21:31, finishing 157th in a field of nearly 300. Senior Liberty Miller and sophomore Eleanor Fulton had tough days as they finished 185th and 194th, respectively.
“Our women came here to win a cross country race and obviously that didn’t happen, so we can have a much better day and we will,” said Metcalf. “It was the first really big meet for some of our youngsters and I thought we just didn’t go out and engage in the race and challenge the Arizona and Arkansas runners.”
Washington's release is available here; complete results from the Wisconsin adidas Invitational are available here.
COUGAR MEN, EAGLE WOMEN PREVAIL AT INLAND EMPIRE CLASSIC
In Lewiston, Idaho, Washington State's Andrew Gonzales finished fourth and led the Cougars to the Division I team title at the Inland Empire Classic meet hosted by Lewis-Clark State at the Lewiston Orchards.
Gonzales finished the 8k course in a time of 23:29, as Greg Montgomery won in 23:11, followed by Lewis-Clark State's Sam Atkin in 23:25, and Andrew Kimpel, who only has track eligibility left at WSU, third in 23:27.
Todd Wakefield crossed the finish line in 23:43 to take sixth overall. Following were Forrest Shaffer ninth (24:00), John Whelan 10th (24:06), Lee George 17th (24:27), and Jackson Haselnus 30th (24:57).
The Cougar men wrapped the meet with 24 points. The team finished ahead of Gonzaga (39) and Eastern Washington (63).
Gonzaga's Willie Milam was their top finisher in 23:41, while Chris Schroll was Eastern Washington's top runner in 12th in 24:13.
In a bit of an upset, the Eastern Washington women won the team title, scoring 26 points to upend Washington State (33), Gonzaga (65) and Idaho (99).
Hillary Holt of the College of Idaho was the overall winner in 16:42 over the 5k course, followed by Washington State's Ruby Roberts (16:58), and Spokane CC's Jessica Mildes (17:06).
The Eagles were led by Katie Mahoney's 4th place finish in 17:17. Following Mahoney were Sarah Reiter (17:32), Berenice Penaloza (17:35), Paula Gil Echvarria (17:42), and Caite Arrigoni (17:50).
Gonzaga, which held out several runners, was led by Maggie Jones, who finished 16th in a time of 17:50.
EMERALD CITY OPEN
In Seattle, Club Northwest's Kimber Lemon won the women's 6k race at the Emerald City Open hosted by Seattle University at Lower Woodland Park in 22:02, followed by teammate Kristi Houk in 22:15, and the University of Washington's Megan Morgan in 22:17.
SeattleU's Lauren Hammerle was fourth in 22:20.
Colby Gilbert, a UW runner competing unattached, won the men's 8k race in 25:21, followed by SeattleU alum Matthew McClement in 25:26, and Washington's Nick Harris in 25:38.
Nathan McLaughlin was SeattleU's top runner in 11th in 26:15.
NOTE: The sports information offices at the University of Washington, Washington State University, Eastern Washington University, Gonzaga University, Lewis-Clark State, and Seattle University contributed to this report.