It's the beginning of the championship season for all nine of Washington's NCAA Division I and II schools, as they begin their quest to toe the line in Terre Haute, Indiana on November 22nd or Louisville, Kentucky on December 6th for the D2 title race.
PAC-12 FRIDAY IN OAKLAND
Championship season gets underway Halloween morning at the Metropolitan Golf Links in Oakland, as the University of California hosts the Pac-12 championships.
On the men's side, the University of Colorado is the prohibitive favorite to repeat as conference champions, while reigning NCAA champ Edward Cheserek of Oregon is the man to beat.
The Husky cross country squad, led by senior Aaron Nelson (left/photo by Paul Merca), currently ranked #12 in the latest USTFCCCA poll, is looking to pull an upset in perhaps the toughest men's conference in the country, as the Dawgs must contend with #1 Colorado, #2 Oregon, #9 Stanford, and #11 UCLA. Washington is coming off a strong performance at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational, where they finished eighth against a stacked field.
The Cougars of Washington State are coming off a disappointing performance at the Indiana State Pre-Nationals meet, where they finished 17th in the seeded Blue race. They'll be led by redshirt senior Drew Jordan, who was their top finisher in 58th at Terre Haute.
On the women's side, the Huskies, currently ranked #17 in the USTFCCCA poll, go into Oakland with only four runners with Pac-12 championship meet experience--Maddie Meyers, Kaylee Flanagan, Eleanor Fulton, and Erin Johnson. They will once again run without Amy-Eloise Neale and Katie Knight, both of whom ran at last year's NCAA championship meet.
The Huskies have finished at least third or better in seven of the past eight years, and have not finished lower than fifth in the last 25 years. However, the young UW harriers will run a redshirt freshman in Kelly Lawson, along with three true frosh--Anna Maxwell, Megan Beauchene, and Anastasia Kosykh. The youngsters will need to come through against the likes of #3 Oregon, #7 Colorado and #11 Stanford if they hope to secure a top three finish.
Washington State will be led by the senior duo of Abby Regan and Ruby Roberts, and will line up four other runners with Pac-12 championship race experience. Regan goes into the Pac-12 meet brimming with confidence, with two wins this season, including the Stanford Invitational, and a second place finish at the Pre-Nationals White (unseeded) race two weeks ago.
The meet will be shown on a delayed basis on the Pac-12 Network on November 3rd beginning a t6 pm.
paulmerca.blogspot.com will be in Oakland to cover the Pac-12 championship race.
EWU IN NORTH DAKOTA FOR BIG SKY, ZAGS IN SUNNYVALE FOR WCC, & SEATTLE U IN TEXAS FOR WAC CHAMPIONSHIP MEETS
Saturday, Eastern Washington heads to Grand Forks, North Dakota for the Big Sky Championship meet, where the Eagle women's squad has a legitimate shot at a top three finish, which would top the team's previous best finish of fourth in 2007.
The Eagles will be led by Sarah Reiter (left/photo courtesy EWU Athletics), who has won two meets this season, and finished fourth in the White race at the Indiana State Pre-Nationals meet two weeks ago.
On the men's side, Vince Hamilton and Alex Kimsey lead the Eagles. Hamilton has been the team's top runner all season, except for the Pre-Nationals meet, where Kimsey led the way.
Big Sky Conference action begins with the men's 8,000 at 10:30 a.m. Pacific time, followed by the women's 5,000 at 11:45 a.m. The course is a relatively flat 4,000-meter grass loop. The men will run two loops while the women will run one, plus an additional 1,000-meters.
The Bulldogs of Gonzaga travel to Sunnyvale, California for the West Coast Conference championship meet at Baylands Park, where they look to improve upon their fourth place finish on the men's side and fifth on the women's side.
TheW.tv will have streaming video coverage of the West Coast Conference championship meet beginning at 10 am.
Finally, Seattle University travels to Edinburg, Texas for Saturday's Western Athletic Conference championship meet, hosted by Texas-Pan American. The Redhawks are looking for a top-three conference finish, but must get past Utah Vallley on both the men's and women's' side if they have any aspirations of winning the WAC title.
GREAT NORTHWEST ATHLETIC CONFERENCE TITLE MEET SATURDAY
All four of Washington's Division II schools--Western Washington, Seattle Pacific, Saint Martin's and Central Washington head to Monmouth, Oregon for Saturday's Great Northwest Athletic Conference meet at the Ash Creek Preserve on the campus of Western Oregon University.
|WWU's Katelyn Steen|
(photo courtesy WWU)
Action gets underway at 10:30 am with the men's 8k race, followed by the women's 6k at 11:30 am.
On the men's side, Western Washington returns three runners who finished in the top ten at last year's meet--Tabor Reedy (7th), Nathan Richards (8th), and Jonathan Quimby (10th).
The Vikings, who have finished first or second in the last nine GNAC title meets, may have a serious challenge from Simon Fraser for the second spot, as defending team champion Alaska Anchorage
On the women's side, Simon Fraser and Alaska Anchorage are the two favorites for the team title.
Three women who could make some noise in the individual race include: Western's Katelyn Steen, the runner-up in the 2013 conference championship meet, and the top returning finisher from last year; and the Central Washington duo of Connie Morgan and Dani Eggleston. Morgan was sixth in last year's meet, while Eggleston was seventh.
Thanks to the 1-2 punch of Morgan and Eggleston, the Wildcats could make a run for third in what is projected to be a close battle between Western and Central Washington.
NOTE: The sports information offices of all nine Washington Division I and II schools, along with the Pac-12, WAC, WCC, Big Sky, and GNAC conferences contributed to this report.