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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Huskies move up one spot in USTFCCCA women's national poll; Portland to bid for 2016 World Indoors...

NEW ORLEANS--The University of Washington's third place finish at last weekend's Pac-12 championships did not hurt the Husky women's squad in the eyes of the USTFCCCA voters, as the Dawgs move up one spot in the national rankings released Tuesday.

Washington's Maddie Meyers &
Katie Knight (Mike Scott photo)
After dropping to #13 in the last poll, the Huskies moved up to #12 and are tied in the national poll with Dartmouth.

Pac-12 champion Arizona is the country's #1 ranked team, followed by Providence and Arkansas.

Colorado, which took a convincing second place finish at the conference meet on their home course, moved six spots from #16 to #10.

Other Pac-12 schools in the national women's rankings include Oregon at #15, Stanford at #18, and #26 Arizona State.

In the men's national poll, the Dawgs are at the tail end of the rankings, as the voters have Washington as the country's #29 team, a drop of four spots from the last poll.

Pac-12 champ Colorado remains the country's #1 team, followed by Northern Arizona and Oklahoma State, two schools that have runners from Washington state on their squads.

Oregon at #4, Stanford at #6, and Arizona State at #29 are the other Pac-12 schools in the national top 30.

The University of Portland dropped 4 spots in the poll to #10.


In our haste to post yesterday, and as a follow-up to a post on the blog on October 17th, we forgot to post that USA Track & Field and TrackTown USA, Inc., announced that USATF submitted a formal bid to host the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships.

The bid application calls for the three-day meet to be held at the Oregon Convention Center (above/photo courtesy Oregon Convention Center) in Portland. A new 200-meter IAAF-certified track would be built and then repurposed afterward as a legacy of the event.

“As a member of the IAAF family, USATF considers it an honor as well as a duty to try to bring a world championship event back to U.S. soil,” USATF CEO Max Siegel said. “Having hosted two very successful Olympic Trials in 2008 and 2012, TrackTown USA has shown itself to be the premier host of world-class track events in this country. We look forward to presenting the bid and continuing to elevate the off-track profile of the United States in the international sports world.”

 “We want to partner with USA Track & Field and the IAAF in bringing our sport to a new generation of athletes and fans,” said Vin Lananna, president of TrackTown USA, Inc. “Portland is a young, vibrant and beautiful city with a culture that fosters innovation and embraces active lifestyles. We believe the city of Portland, the state of Oregon and the entire U.S. would embrace the athletes, officials and media from around the world," said the former Oregon head track & cross country coach, who remains with the UO athletic department to focus on big-time events like the Olympic Trials, next year's IAAF World Junior Championships, and the proposed world indoors in Portland.

USATF and TrackTown USA will present the bid to the IAAF in person on November 15 in Monaco.

NOTE:  The USTFCCCA, USA Track & Field, and TrackTown USA contributed to this report.

Monday, November 4, 2013

WEEKEND ROUNDUP: Eastern alum Mattie Suver scores PR in New York, plus Washington NCAA D3 report...

There were other happenings over the weekend besides the Division I conference cross country races involving Washington runners:

At Sunday's ING New York City Marathon, Eastern Washington alum Mattie Suver (left/photo by Paul Merca) finished 18th in a personal best time of 2:41:18, and earned a qualifying time for the 2016 US Olympic marathon trials.

Suver, who now lives in Colorado, was the third American woman across the line.

Kenya's Priscah Jeptoo won the race in a time of 2:25:07.

At Saturday's Northwest Conference cross country championships for NCAA D3 schools in Spokane, Willamette University swept both the men's and women's team titles.

The Willamette women earned their first women's 6k title since 2008, scoring 37 points in the team scores, which led second place by 15 points. Michaela Freeby earned the individual champion crown, crossing the line in 21:43.

Whitworth's women's squad finished second with 52 points, led by Amanda Blankenship's fourth place finish in 22:20.

Whitman finished third in the women's team standings with 101, while the University of Puget Sound was fifth at 112, and Pacific Lutheran was seventh with 207 points.

The Willamette men defended their NWC title, winning the men's 8k race by 20 points. The Bearcats scored a team total of 49 points. Parker Bennett repeated as the individual champion, with a winning time of 24:31.

David Santillan's third place finish in 25:14 led UPS to a runner-up spot with 69 points.  Whitman was third with 82 points, while Whitworth was sixth at 135 points, and Pacific Lutheran was ninth with 224 points.

Roosevelt HS alum Lucy Cheadle won the UAA cross country championship meet in Pittsburgh on Saturday.

The junior at Washington University in St. Louis ran 21:39 over the 6k course.

Mukilteo native Bryton Reim, who attends Cal Baptist, was the runaway winner at the PacWest Conference Championships, claiming the 8K race by more than 31 seconds in a winning time of 26:01. En route to winning his first conference championship, the win earned him Athlete of the Year and Newcomer of the Year as Cal Baptist won the team title in its first year of postseason eligibility in Division II.

That victory gave Reim, who attended Kamiak HS and Everett CC, the USTFCCCA Division II national athlete of the week.

NOTE:  The Northwest Conference, Whitworth University, New York Road Runners, and the USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

WASHINGTON DIVISION I REPORT: Busy day of cross country sees UW women take third at Pac-12s...

It was a busy day of championship cross country for the state's five NCAA Division I schools on Saturday:

At the Pac-12 Championships in Louisville, Colorado, just outside of Boulder, Washington's Aaron Nelson (left/photo by Mike Scott) finished eighth in the men's 8k race after leading for three of the four laps of the 2k Coal Creek Golf Course.

Nelson led towards the end of the first lap, and led the field into the final lap, before the pack began pulling away.

Freshman Edward Cheserek of Oregon took the win in a time of 24:36, followed by Stanford's Jim Rosa.  Colorado's Blake Theroux was third in 24:47, leading a pack of four Buffaloes with only Oregon's Parker Stinson splitting the quartet with his sixth place finish in 24:56.  

Nelson crossed the line in eighth with a time of 25:01.  Sophomore transfer Jacob Smith turned in his best run yet as a Husky, as he was 25th in 25:56 and sophomore Tyler King also had a good day with a 31st-place finish in 26:02. Yet another sophomore, Izaic Yorks, was 38th in 26:17 and freshman Andrew Gardner capped the Husky top-five in 43rd, making four of UW’s top-five runners freshmen or sophomores.

For Washington State, senior Andrew Gonzales led the way with his 15th place finish in 25:33.  Following Gonzales were Todd Wakefield 19th (25:50), John Whelan 30th (26:01), Lee George 45th (26:23), and Forrest Shaffer 47th (26:27) to round out the Cougar scorers.

Colorado's six runners in the top ten easily gave the nation's #1 ranked Buffaloes their third straight conference title with a score of 28 points to easily beat #4 Oregon's 54 points, with #13 Stanford third at 79 points.  Unranked Arizona State beat the #25 Huskies by two points--140 to 142, followed by Washington State in sixth (151), UCLA in seventh (152), and Arizona (194) and California (220) to round out the field.

“It’s a challenge running at 5,000 feet, there’s lots of things that make it difficult,” said UW coach Greg Metcalf. “Aaron was great, he ran solid, went to the front and felt pretty good but with a thousand meters they pulled away from him. Jacob had easily his best day as a Husky and Tyler bounced back from Wisconsin. All in all I thought our men competed well.”

Arizona's Wildcats continued their outstanding run as the #1 ranked team in the country took home their first conference crown with a low score of 69 points.  The #16 Colorado Buffaloes were second with 75, followed by the #13 Huskies with 111, edging out #12 Oregon by two places.  #20 Stanford was fifth with 129, and #26 Arizona State was sixth with 138.

Washington State finished tenth with a score of 260 points.

Stanford's Aisling Cuffe took the conference title over the 6k course in a time of 21:04 to beat out Arizona's Elvin Kibet (21:15), and Cal's Kelsey Santisteban (21:18).

For the Huskies, senior Katie Flood led the way with her 11th place finish in 21:57, followed by Justine Johnson in 19th at 22:21.  Freshmen Katie Knight and Amy-Eloise Neale were 20th and 27th in 22:25, and 22:35, respectively.

Rounding out Washington's five scorers was junior Megan Goethals, who made her season debut today after missing several weeks due to a stress fracture.  Goethals, who very few people outside the team thought would even run this season, was 34th in 22:49.

Ruby Roberts led the Cougars for the third time this fall and notched a 15th place finish overall in 22:09. Abby Regan was the second Cougar finisher and 50th overall (23:22). She was followed by CharLee Linton 55th (23:30), Courtney Zalud in 81st (24:44), while Kiah Condos was 82nd (24:44) to cap the WSU scorers.


In Bozeman, Montana, the Eastern Washington University men’s cross country team placed fifth, while the women placed seventh at the Big Sky Championships at Bridger Creek GC.

The Eagle men scored 137 points, finishing ahead of Idaho State, Sacramento State, North Dakota, Montana, Portland State and Northern Colorado. Northern Arizona, who had the top three individual finishers, claimed its sixth-consecutive Big Sky title with 25 points. Southern Utah (39), Montana State (89) and Weber State (114) rounded out the top four.

Among the top three finishers for Northern Arizona was Spokane native Nathan Weitz, who was third over the 8k course in a time of 24:39, as Matt McElroy took the win in 24:33.

Chris Schroll (above/photo courtesy Eastern Washington University) was the top finisher for the Eagles, covering the 8,000-meter course in 25:21 for a 14th-place finish. Vince Hamilton followed closely in 17th with a time of 25:26. Freshman Stephen Bottoms was 20th with a 25:47. Eastern's final two scorers were Alex Kimsey (29th, 26:09), and Steven Kutsch (57th, 27:16).

The Eastern women scored 181 points, beating Northern Colorado, Idaho State, Portland State and North Dakota. They were just edged by Montana, which scored 177 points. Weber State claimed the team title with 55 points, and Northern Arizona (64) and Montana State (101) rounded out the top three.

Berenice Penaloza led the way for the Eagles with a 23rd-place finish and a time of 17:50 on the 5,000-meter course. Freshman Paula Gil-Echevarria was close behind in 25th, running 17:53. The other Eagle scorers were Katie Mahoney (40th, 18:09), Sarah Reiter (42nd, 18:11), and Catie Arrigoni (51st, 18:22).

Summer Harper of Weber State won the women's title in 16:55.

“Both squads finished better than their pre-season rankings and where they came in on paper, so they definitely progressed nicely throughout the year,” added Eastern coach Chris Zeller.


In Malibu, California, Willie Milan led Gonzaga to a fourth place team finish at the West Coast Conference championship meet with his ninth place finish over the 8k course.

Milam clocked a time of 23:46, as BYU's Jason Witt took the victory in 23:14.

Nick Roche was 19th in 24:28, followed by Matt Crichlow in 26th at 25:08.  Kyle Branch was one spot behind in 27th at 25:14, while Troy Fraley was their fifth runner in 31st with a time of 25:27.

BYU won their second WCC title in the last three years beating Portland 30-48, with Loyola Marymount edging the Zags for third, 110-112.

The Gonzaga women took fifth with a score of 112 points, as the University of San Francisco took their fifth straight team title with a score of 39 points.

Following USF were the University of Portland and BYU with 62 points each, and Loyola Marymount University with 79 points ahead of Gonzaga.

San Francisco was led by Bridget Dahlberg's win over the 6k course in a time of 20:55.

Gonzaga was led by Lauren Bergam's 11th place finish in 21:35.  She was followed by Maggie Jones in 18th (21:54), Amelia Evans in 25th (22:13), Taylor Cherry in 27th (22:27), and Katy Culver in 31st (22:35).


At Seattle's Jefferson Park GC, Wenatchee native Hannah Kiser coasted to a 20-second victory to win the Western Athletic Conference women's title.

Kiser led five Vandals in the top ten as she crossed the line in a time of 17:16 as Idaho took the team title 25-48 over runner-up and host Seattle University.

SeattleU was led by senior Lauren Hammerle (left/photo by Paul Merca), as the Ballard HS grad finished 4th in 18:10.

Hannah Mittelstaedt was eighth in 18:26, followed by Sophie Curatillo in 9th at 18:28.  Rounding out the Redhawk scorers were Lila Rice in 12th at 18:45, and Taylor de Laveaga in 15th in 18:58.

In the men's 8k race, Idaho's Nicholas Boersma led a Vandal 1-2-3 finish, winning in 25:27, but it wasn't enough to overcome Utah Valley's pack, as Utah Valley squeezed out a 38-43 victory.

SeattleU finished fourth with 111 points, led by Nathan McLaughlin's 16th place finish in 26:21, followed by Graham Kinzel-Grubbs in 17th at 26:24.

Gus Arroyo was 24th in 26:54, followed by Caleb Herrera in 25th at 26:55, then Ryan Dennison in 29th in 27:18.

All five schools return to action on November 15th at the NCAA West Regionals in Sacramento, California at Haggin Oaks Golf Club.

NOTE:  The Pac-12 Conference, and the sports information offices of Montana State University, Gonzaga, University of Washington, Washington State, Eastern Washington, and Seattle University contributed to this report.

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