SEATTLE--In a bit of a mild upset, the Washington State Cougars won the men's team title at the Sundodger Invitational at Lincoln Park in West Seattle, upsetting the #27 ranked Washington Huskies on its 8 kilometer home course.
The Cougars' Lee George took the lead early with a group of Huskies and Cougars lurking, including Washington's defending champion Aaron Nelson (left/photo by Paul Merca), Husky teammates Izaic Yorks and Meron Simon, and Drew Jordan, John Whelan and Richard Shroy of Washington State.
As they headed down the east straightaway for the final lap, Nelson began asserting himself, along with Yorks and Simon, with Jordan, the 2013 MPSF indoor champ at 5000 hanging on.
Nelson pulled away, coasting through the finish in 24:01, with Jordan passing Simon to take second in 24:03, and Simon third in 24:04.
A group of four Cougs--John Whelan, Sam Levora, Richard Shroy, and early leader George, passed Yorks on the final lap to finish 4-5-6-7 and seal the win over the Huskies in times of 24:08 and 24:21 for the latter three. Yorks was three seconds behind in 24:24.
WSU's Forrest Shaffer was ninth in 24:27, while Fred Huxham, the Huskies' talented freshman competing unattached, rounded out the top 10 in 24:28.
“(The WSU runners) were giving us a pretty good competition throughout the race, pushing the pace in the middle and the beginning,” Nelson said. “I was just focused on keeping my composure and staying relaxed and moving up through the ranks until the end when there started to be a little separation with a couple of their guys. I just felt like I needed to make a strong move between a mile and a K to go, and it was good, it was a good race.”
Washington State scored a team low of 24, edging out the Huskies by 9, followed by Fresno State at 91, and Seattle University with 107.
Gus Arroyo was the Redhawks' top finisher in 21st at 25:24.
|Washington's Maddie Meyers and Washington State's Abby Regan|
lead early in the women's 6k invitational race
(photo by Paul Merca)
In the invitational women's 6k, Washington's Maddie Meyers, the only one from last year's NCAA championship squad competing Saturday, pulled away from Canadian Sarah Inglis of Trinity Western to win the title in 20:21, after Washington State's Abby Regan did most of the early front running.
Inglis was second at 20:30, with Regan third at 20:34.
Fourth and fifth went to Alison Jackson (20:44) and Annemarie Schwanz (20:46) of Trinity Western and Fresno State.
The Washington duo of Kaylee Flanagan and Anna Maxwell were sixth and seventh in 20:59 and 21:04, followed by Western Washington's Katelyn Steen at 21:12 in eighth. Fiona Benson of Trinity Western (21:21) and Washington's Kelly Lawson (21:22) rounded out the top ten.
The 14th ranked Huskies won with a low of 25, with Washington State, running without Ruby Roberts second with 42 points. Fresno State was third with 80, followed by SeattleU at 89.
Sophie Curatilo was SeattleU's top finisher in 17th at 21:44.
“It feels really good,” Meyers said of the win. “This I guess is technically my first collegiate win, so that’s pretty cool. This is by far my best collegiate 6k, so it’s exciting.”
Commenting on his team's performance, WSU director of Cross Country/Track & Field Wayne Phipps said, “There was a great effort on both sides today. Abby and Drew ran the second-fastest times in WSU history for this course. Both teams executed our race strategy very well by being very controlled in almost tempo effort until 2,000 meters to go. The group was tired from a hard few weeks of training but ran very well and I couldn’t be happier about where our teams are at this point in the season."
Husky coach Greg Metcalf said, “This was the first time we’ve competed, and racing is the only real evaluator what you’re doing."
“I was proud of our women, I thought they did a nice job today. Maddie was fantastic, I thought Kaylee and Anna ran great. I liked what the women did today. The men, the hardest thing that we do is keeping your eye on the prize. The goal is to be ready to run 10,000-meters in November. I think our team is pretty good, but we looked a little flat today. So we’ve got to go fix that, we’ve got a massive meet in two weeks and we need to be much more fired up then.”
SUNDODGER OPEN RECAP
With NCAA Division II nationally ranked Seattle Pacific and Simon Fraser in the mix, few gave Central Washington much of a chance in the open women's section.
The race went to form, as Maria Bernard of reigning NAIA champs British Columbia handily took the women's crown in 20:37 over 6k, a time that would have place fourth in the invitational section.
Canadian Lindsey Butterworth was second in 21:32, followed by Rebecca Bassett of Simon Fraser in 21:36, Amelie de Fenoyl of UBC third in 21:39, and Central Washington's Dani Eggleston fifth in 21:58.
UBC took the women's open team title with 44, followed by Simon Fraser at 58, Club Northwest at 74, and Central Washington fourth with 112 points, substantially ahead of conference rival Seattle Pacific's 172, which should put the Wildcats in the national conversation when the USTFCCCA D2 rankings are released next week.
Central Washington finished fourth despite a sub-par performance by cross country All-American Connie Morgan who was 26th in 22:53.
Anna Patti was Seattle Pacific's top runner in 31st in 23:04.
Jack Williams of the University of British Columbia won the men's open 8k race in 24:34.
UBC took the men's open team title with 36 points, comfortably ahead of Simon Fraser's 63 and Trinity Western's 144. Division III Whitman was fourth with 178 led by Matt Wotipka's 16th place finish in 25:33.
Complete results of the Sundodger Invitational are available here, along with Washington's meet recap.
EAGLES SWEEP PORTLAND STATE AND IDAHO
In Portland, Led by sophomore Sarah Reiter and junior Vince Hamilton for the second time this season, the Eastern Washington University men's and women's cross country teams competed in the Big Sky Cross Country Triangular Meet Saturday at Pier Park in Portland, Oregon.
Reiter battled and won the 5,000-meter women's race in 17:42, leading the women's team to a victory over PSU.
The Eagle men, picked to finish sixth in the Big Sky Conference this season, had four runners finish in the top ten to beat PSU and Idaho in dual meet scoring. Hamilton led the way with a second-place finish in the 8,000-meter men's race (25:23) just 25 seconds behind the winner.
NOTE: The University of Washington, Eastern Washington, and Washington State University sports information offices contributed to this story.