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.