Sunday, December 28, 2014

Catching up on news from the last few weeks...

After a long break for the holidays, let's catch up on several news items we've missed:

USA Track & Field announced the squad that will run in the Great Edinburgh Cross Country race on January 10th in Scotland, and it will have a significant presence of athletes with Washington ties.

Bellingham native Jake Riley, the runner-up at the USATF national club cross country championships on December 13th, along with Seattle's Angela Bizzarri, who was third at the club cross meet, will compete in the men's and women's senior race at Holyrood Park.

Seattle Prep graduate Joe Hardy, who is a freshman at the University of Wisconsin, will run in the junior men's race.

The meet organizers also announced that Garrett Heath of the Brooks Beasts (left/photo by Paul Merca) will defend his title in the men's invitational short-course (4k) race, and that Washington State alum Bernard Lagat will make a rare cross country appearance. 

On December 12th, Washington State held an intrasquad meet at their indoor facility to conclude the fall semester training and conditioning cycle.

Using a 5-3-2-1 scoring format with only two athletes per team scoring, the Crimson defeated the Gray squad by a 108-94 count.

The Cougars will open the 2015 campaign on January 17th in Seattle at the UW Indoor Preview meet.

Courtesy of WSU, here's video highlights and interviews from the meet: 

NOTE:  The IAAF, USA Track & Field, and Washington State University contributed to this report.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Sehome HS alum Jake Riley second at USATF Club XC Champs; Bizzarri third in women's race...

BETHLEHEM, PA.--Bellingham native and Sehome HS alum Jake Riley (left/photo by Paul Merca) finished second in the USATF national club cross country championships Saturday on the Lehigh University cross country course.

Riley, the 2012 USATF national club champ, who finished 11th in his marathon debut in 2:13:16 at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in October, ran 29:10 over the 10k course to finish two seconds behind 2013 world championships team member Ryan Hill of the Bowerman TC out of Portland.

Rounding out the top five overall were Hill's Bowerman TC teammate German Fernandez in 29:10, Craig Forys of the New York AC in 29:14, and Andrew Colley of Zap Fitness Reebok in 29:15.

Other notables with Washington ties who finished in the top 100 (572 finishers) included Western Washington alum Jordan Welling in 59th (30:40); Bellingham native Chris Kwiatkowski in 67th (30:45); and Seth Bridges of Club Northwest in 70th (30:47).

Zap Fitness Reebok won the national club title with a low score of 65 points, with Club Northwest 24th in the 72-team field with 770 points.

In the women's 6k race, Seattle resident Angela Bizzarri of the Brooks Beasts moved up one spot from her finish at last year's club nationals in Bend, Oregon, finishing third in a time of 19:34, as Laura Thweatt won the title in 19:15.

Tara Erdmann of Nike was second in 19:25, followed by Bizzarri, then Alisha Williams in fourth in 19:35, then Brianne Nelson in the same time.

Bizzarri's Brooks Beast teammate Amanda Mergaert was 15th in 20:07.

Other athletes with Washington ties finishing in the top 100 (343 finishers) included Eastern Washington alum Mattie Suver in 17th in 20:15;  Western Washington alum Sarah Crouch in 23rd in 20:25; Gonzaga alum Lindsey Drake in 32nd in 20:34; Katie Conlon of Club Northwest in 83rd in 221:34; Andrea Garvue of Club Northwest in 89th in 21:41; and, Lana Lacey of Club Northwest in 92nd in 21:43.

The Boston Athletic Association won the women's team title with 50 points, while Club Northwest was ninth with 330.

In Bloomington, Indiana at the Hoosier Open meet Friday on the campus of Indiana University, Pasco HS graduate and NCAA cross country All-American Marisa Howard finished second in the 5000 meters, clocking a personal best of 16:07.90, the second best time in BSU history, easily eclipsing her previous best of 16:49.04 set in 2013 at the Mountain West indoor championship meet.

NOTE:  USA Track & Field and Boise State University contributed to this report.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Bizzari, Riley lead field of Washington runners at USATF national club cross country champs...

A number of athletes with ties to the state of Washington will travel across the country to Bethlehem, PA.,  for Saturday's USATF national club cross country championships on the Lehigh University cross country course.

Leading the group of Washington athletes are Angela Bizzarri (left/photo by Paul Merca) and Amanda Mergaert of the Seattle-based Brooks Beasts TC.  Bizzarri, a former NCAA cross country champion, finished fourth in this meet last year.  Mergaert joined the Brooks Beasts in September, and moved to the Seattle area from the Sacramento area.

Western Washington alum and former NCAA D2 cross country champ Sarah Crouch, who finished sixth (seventh before the disqualification of Kenya's Rita Jeptoo) in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in a PR 2:32:44 in October, is also listed among the entries for Saturday's race, as are Eastern Washington alum and 2013 world cross country team member Mattie Suver, Bellingham HS alum Becca Friday, and Gonzaga University alum Lindsey Drake.

Seattle based Club Northwest will field a team in the women's race, led by Oregon alum Katie Conlon.

On the men's side, Bellingham native and Stanford alum Jake Riley, the 2012 USATF club cross country champ who now competes for the Hansons/Brooks Distance Project in Michigan, is entered. Riley is coming off an 11th place finish (second American) at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, where he ran 2:13:16 in his marathon debut.

Riley will face off against a field that includes former Stanford teammate and reigning USA cross country champ Chris Derrick, along with Matt Tegenkamp, Chris Solinsky and German Fernandex of the Nike Bowerman TC from Beaverton.

Others entered in the meet include Washington alum Jake Schmitt, Western Washington alum Jordan Welling, and a Club Northwest team led by Gonzaga alums Chris Boyle and Brett Winegar.

The women's 6k gets underway at 12:45pm, eastern time, while the men's 10k starts at 1:30pm eastern. will provide on-demand video of the races, which features many of the country's top club teams and individuals.  The top six finishers in each of the two races may be selected to represent the USA at the 2015 BUPA Edinburgh Cross Country meet in Scotland next month.

According to USA Track & Field Cross Country Council chair Mike Scott, the entries for the meet, which includes men's and women's masters races, has topped 1800 athletes, making it the largest meet since the 2012 edition at Seattle's Jefferson Park Golf Course.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Vikings' Steen finishes fifth at NCAA Division II cross country championships...

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky--Western Washington's Katelyn Steen (left/photo courtesy WWU Athletics) finished fifth to become the second runner in school history to place in the top five at the NCAA Division II cross country championships on a wet course that had to be shortened at E. P. "Tom" Sawyer Park.

The original 6k course was shortened to 5.78k due to an accumulation of 1 1/2 inches of rain from Friday on.

Steen ran 21:29, as Kendra Foley of Grand Valley State led a 1-2-3 GVS finish by winning in 21:06, helping Grand Valley State to a national title with a low score of 50 points.

Following Steen for the Vikings were Taylor Guenther in 51st (22:17), Haley O'Connor in 98th (22:48), Austin Reiter in 126th (23:10), and Makhaila Thornton in 140th (23:20) to round out their scorers.

The Vikings finished 12th with 352 points, while Central Washington, who edged out Western two weeks ago at the NCAA West Regionals in Billings, Montana,  finished 18th with 461 points.

"She went for it right from the beginning and was right with the eventual champion over halfway through the race," said Viking coach Pee Wee Halsell of Steen, who entered the race as the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and West Regional champion. "She had an amazing race that capped off an incredible cross country career."

The only other Viking runner to finish in the top five at the NCAA cross country championships was Sarah Porter, who finished second in both 2009 and 2010.

Central Washington was led by Connie Morgan, who earned her second straight All-America certificate with a 28th place finish in 21:56.

After Morgan, Dani Eggleston was the next Wildcat across the line in 42nd, two spots out of All-America honors in 22:07.  Megan Rogers then followed in 89th place (22:46), followed by Hannah Dowdell in 177th (23:41), and Erin Chinchar in 203rd (24:12) to close out their scorers.

"Connie just really showed her level of running maturity," CWU head coach Kevin Adkisson said. "She got out there and ran a strong first mile, and was well positioned and gradually moved her way to the front."

Commenting on the Wildcats' season, Adkisson said, "I'm very content with the top 20 finish. That's what we said we wanted. Our ladies had a great year overall and I'm so proud of everything we did. We set this goal a year ago and they did the work over the year to make this happen. If someone told me before all of this that we would be 18th overall I would have said 'that would be awesome'".

In the men's 9.65k race, Western Washington, making its eighth straight NCAA championship meet appearance, finished 13th with a score of 332 points, as perennial powerhouse Adams State of Colorado, led by individual champion Tabor Stevens (30:02) won the national title with a low of 69 points.

The Vikings were led by Isaac Griffith in 54th place (31:46), followed by Sean Eustis in 63rd (31:54), Tabor Reedy in 74th (32:10), and Nathan Richards in 94th (32:25).

In Cheney, Jozie Kimes and Jordan Arakawa of Eastern Washington highlighted competition in the Candy Cane Invitational meet to open the 2015 indoor track & field season for the Eagles at Jim Thorpe Fieldhouse.

Kimes on Friday won the pentathlon with a final score of 3359 points, missing the school record by one point, running 8.97 in the 55 hurdles (779 points), winning the high jump at 5-3.25/1.61m (747), throwing the shot 31-0.5/9.46m (494), long jumping 16-8.75/5.10m (587), and running 2:25.38 in the 800 (752).

Arakawa, the reigning Big Sky weight throw champ, won his specialty with a toss of 62-8 (19.10m).

One notable mark for the Eagles came in the triple jump as Morena Mannucci set a mark of 39-2.25 (11.94m) in finishing second, just short of the school record of 39-2.5 (11.94m).

In the dual meet scoring the Eagles fell to Montana on both the men's (58-49) and women's (46-34) side.

Eastern Washington's release is available here.  Complete results of the meet are available here.

In Boston, the University of Portland's Tansey Lystad finished fourth in the 5000m at the BU Season Opener at the Boston University Track & Tennis Center.

Lystad, a graduate of Inglemoor HS ran 15:51.12, as Sarah Disanza of Wisconsin, who finished second in the NCAA cross country championships two weeks ago won in a time of 15:20.57.

Results of the BU Season Opener are available here.

NOTE:  The sports information offices of Western, Central and Eastern Washington University contributed to this report.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Central Washington makes first NCAA appearance in 14 years, while Viking's Steen looks to contend...

For the cross country teams from Central and Western Washington, the road to the national championships ends this Saturday at the NCAA Division II title meet in Louisville, Kentucky at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer Park.

The Wildcats from Ellensburg (above/photo courtesy CWU sports information) have been one of the best stories of the 2014 season, after finishing fifth in the NCAA West Regional meet in Billings, Montana.  The squad, ranked #22 in the final USTFCCCA Division II regular season rankings, makes its first appearance at the national championship meet since 2000.

For the Vikings, sending teams to the national championship meet is something that's expected every season.  The men's squad have made it to nationals every year since 2007, while the women have run in the final meet of the season in six of the last seven years.

Western's squads goes into the national championship meet ranked #18 in the final USTFCCCA men's poll, while the women's team goes to Louisville tied for #23 in the national poll.

Western's Katelyn Steen (left/photo courtesy WWU Athletics), the reigning GNAC and regional champ out of Eastlake HS in Sammamish, is considered one of the top contenders to win the national title.

"I think she does (have a good chance to win)", said Viking coach Pee Wee Halsell.  "It's not an easy thing, but I believe in her abilities and know that she's capable of it."

In talking about her strategy on Saturday, Halsell said, "She'll go out pretty hard because the field will and be in contact and then the second half she's just going to go for it."

Steen will be joined by Haley O'Connor, who makes her third nationals appearance, along with Taylor Guenther, Sofia Marikis, Austin Reiter, Makhaila Thornton, and Brittany Grant.  All but Grant have national championship meet experience.

When talking about their team's goals Saturday, Halsell and Central Washington coach Kevin Adkisson both aim to better their USTFCCCA rankings.

"it's nice to see that we are ranked 22nd in the nation, and I think that it is very reasonable for us to set a goal of finishing in the top 20," said Adkisson.

After seeing Connie Morgan earn All-America honors in the 2013 meet, it was a goal of the Wildcats to get the whole team over to nationals.  However, Adkisson is looking at this as a building block for the future, stating "It's my goal as a coach to make this an annual thing. We have to keep people healthy, motivated, and continue to recruit."

Besides Morgan, the Wildcats will have in their arsenal Dani Eggleston and Megan Rogers, who finished in the top 15 at the regionals.

Also traveling to Louisville are Hannah Dowdell, Brenna Eldredge, Erin Chinchar, and Jayna Inderbitzin.

The Viking men will be led by Isaac Griffith, Tabor Reedy, Jonathan Quimby and Nathan Richards, all of whom have national championship meet experience.  Griffith was the Vikings' #1 runner at the regional championship meet, finishing 12th two weeks ago.

Isaac Derline, Sean Eustis and Matt Lutz will run in their first national championship meet.

Saturday's meet gets underway at 8am pacific time with the men's 10k, with the women's 6k following at 9:15 am pacific.  The meet will be streamed live via

NOTE:  The USTFCCCA and the sports information offices of Central Washington and Western Washington University contributed to this report.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Eagles open 2015 indoor track & field season with Candy Cane Invite in Cheney...

Believe it or not, the 2015 indoor track & field season gets underway Friday and Saturday at Jim Thorpe Fieldhouse on the campus of Eastern Washington University in Cheney, as the Eagles host the seventh annual Candy Cane Invitational.

The meet is set up as a dual against the University of Montana, who are looking to reverse a 53-38 loss pinned on them by the Eagles in last year's meet by the men's team.  The two teams tied last year at 52.

Not all running events are offered in this early season meet, with the longest distance being 600 meters, with all other races on the straightaway.

Friday's competition consists of the women's pentathlon and the first four events of the men's heptathlon.

Saturday's events consists of the final three events of the heptathlon, along with the men's and women's shot, weight, pole vault, long jump, triple jump, high jump, 55 hurdles and dash, and the 600.

Eastern will be led by reigning Big Sky weight throw champion Jordan Arakawa (above/photo courtesy EWU), who ended the 2014 season by qualifying for the NCAA championship meet outdoors in the hammer.

The Eagles are looking to start the 2015 season strong, as marks in this weekend's meet will count towards qualifying for the Big Sky championship meet in Flagstaff at the end of February.

In other news, University of Washington alum Katie Mackey of the Seattle-based Brooks Beasts finished seventh in the Flotrack Flo Beer Mile World Championship race Wednesday night at the Circuit of the Americas.

Mackey ran 6:55.34, as Elizabeth Herndon ran 6:17.76 to set a women's world record in the beer mile, which consists of chugging one 12-ounce beer before each lap, then running.

In the men's race, 2013 world championships silver medalist Nick Symmonds of the Brooks Beasts was seventh in 5:41.71.

NOTE:  The sports information office of Eastern Washington University contributed to this report.

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