Wednesday, November 19, 2014

NCAA cross country champs preview: Dawgs send both squads; Vikes teams aim for D2 nationals...

The University of Washington cross country teams head to Terre Haute, Indiana for Saturday's NCAA cross country championship meet at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course looking to place better than the rankings received by the nation's coaches who vote in the USTFCCCA poll.

After last week's regional championship meet in Palo Alto, where the men finished fifth, and the women fourth, the voters ranked the Husky men 16th, and the women 19th in the final regular season poll.

The Husky men make their first appearance at the national championship meet since 2009, when they finished 18th.  

They'll be led by senior Aaron Nelson (left/photo by Paul Merca), who competed in this meet last year, finishing 20th.  Nelson has been the #1 runner for the Dawgs in every meet that he's worn the purple jersey.  Nelson will look to become Washington's first two-time All-America competitor with a top-40 finish.

Running with Nelson Saturday are a trio of juniors Tyler King, Izaic Yorks, and Meron Simon, along with freshman Colby Gilbert, the Pac-12's freshman of he year.  Husky coach Greg Metcalf will pick two runners from redshirt freshmen A.J. Yarnall and Johnathan Stevens, along with true frosh Fred Huxham to complete the seven man squad.

On the women's side, the Huskies will travel eight women to the nationals, led by Maddie Meyers, who finished fourth in the Pac-12 meet, and seventh in the regionals.

She'll be joined by regionals top-25 finishers Anna Maxwell, and Eleanor Fulton.  Maxwell, a freshman, finished 15th last week, while Fulton, a junior was 25th.

Also traveling to Indiana are sophomore Kaylee Flanagan, freshman Anastasia Kosykh and redshirt frosh Kelly Lawson.  Junior Erin Johnson was Metcalf's seventh runner at regionals, with Jenna Sanders traveling and available to run.

The Huskies' preview of the championships is available here.

Inglemoor HS grad Tansey Lystad, who finished sixth in the West Regionals for the University of Portland, will compete in the NCAA meet as an individual.

Pasco HS graduate Marisa Howard, an All-American in the steeplechase last season, will compete for Boise State, and look to help steer the Broncos to a top-10 finish after her squad took second at the regionals.

Other notables running Saturday include Conner Peloquin (Gig Harbor HS) from BYU, Shane Moskowitz (Central Kitsap HS) of Oklahoma State, and Nathan Weitz (Shadle Park HS) of Northern Arizona.

Peloquin was 22nd in the Mountain Region meet, while Moskowitz was 11th in the Midwest meet.  Weitz was held out of the Mountain region meet by the Northern Arizona coaching staff.

Saturday's NCAA championship meet gets underway at 9 am with the women's 6k, and the men's 10k an hour later.  The meet will be webcast on NCAA.com.

DIVISION II AND III NOTES

Western Washington, Central Washington, Seattle Pacific, and Saint Martin's all head to Billings, Montana for the NCAA Division II championship meet at Amend Park.

Western Washington looks to qualify both teams for the national title meet in two weeks in Louisville, Kentucky, while Central Washington may be in a dogfight to qualify its women's squad.

The Viking men are ranked #23 in the latest USTFCCCA poll, while the Viking women are #18

The top six teams from Saturday's meet will advance to the national championship meet, plus the top three individuals not on a qualifying team.

Western Washington will be led by GNAC champ Katelyn Steen, the Great Northwest Athletic Conference women's champ.

Central Washington's duo of 2013 All-American Connie Morgan and Dani Eggleston, both of whom placed in the top ten at the GNACs, look to pull the Wildcats to its first national championship meet since 2000 when they finished seventh.

While Seattle Pacific's squad is at best a long shot to qualify for nationals, Anna Patti, who was seventh at the GNAC, could be in the mix to qualify as an individual.


In Division III, Washington University's Lucy Cheadle, a senior from Seattle's Roosevelt HS, goes into the NCAA championship meet as one of the favorites to take the national crown Saturday at the Golf Center at King's Island in Mason, Ohio.

Cheadle won the Midwest Regional meet last week, and has gone undefeated so far this season.

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