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.
EAGLES TAKE FIFTH AT BIG SKY
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.
ZAGS TAKE FOURTH IN WCC CHAMPIONSHIPS
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).
WENATCHEE'S HANNAH KISER WINS WAC CROWN AS SEATTLE U GETS SECOND
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.