Saturday, October 31, 2015

Gonzaga wins women's WCC cross country title on a busy championship Saturday...

SPOKANE VALLEY—On a rainy and blustery morning at the Plantes Ferry Sports Stadium, the Gonzaga women’s cross country team won its first West Coast Conference cross country title since 1995 by the narrowest of margins, tying defending champion Brigham Young with identical low scores of 59 points, but winning the tiebreaker 3-2.

The Zags were led by the winning effort of Shelby Mills (left/photo by Paul Merca) who made a break from the field early through the spectator-friendly loops around the Plantes Ferry Sports Stadium, and extended it for the entire 6-k distance, winning the conference crown in a time of 20:56, an 11-second victory over second place Danielle Shanahan of Loyola Marymount.

Behind Shanahan was Jessica Mildes of the Bulldogs, who crossed the line in 21:11.  Teammate Jordan Thurston was the third scorer for Gonzaga, finishing seventh in 21:21, with BYU’s first scoring runner Jennica Redd, finishing ninth in 21:25.

Gonzaga’s other scorers were Maggie Jones in 23rd (22:06), and Amelia Evans in 25th (22;13).

With identical scores of 59, the tie was broken by comparing the individual finishes of the five scoring runners, with Gonzaga going 1-3-7-23-25, and BYU 9-10-11-12-17, giving the Zags a 3-2 edge.

Mills became only the second GU runner to ever win a WCC cross country title. Cheska Fairbanks was the last in 1996. Mills led for the entirety of the race by a large margin.

"There were scary moments when she got out so quick," Gonzaga women’s coach Patty Ley said. "But, she just kept rolling and had that look of determination on her face. It's been on her mind all season, and it was fantastic to see her win."

"We just turned it on and kept rolling," Ley said. "Not everybody had their best race, but they never gave up on it. That was fantastic."

Gonzaga’s victory over the 14th-ranked Cougars may propel the Bulldogs to a national top-30 ranking when the results of the USTFCCCA coaches’ poll is released on Tuesday.

In the men’s 8k championship race, the Bulldogs finished third with 83 points, as Brigham Young rolled to a low score of 17 points, the lowest since Portland scored a perfect 15 in the 2004 championship.  Portland, the defending WCC champs, finished second with a score of 66 points.

Aaron Fletcher of BYU won the individual title in a tim of 24:41, leading seven Cougars in first eight.  Troy Fraley of the Bulldogs led the way for Gonzaga with his ninth place finish in 25:13.

The other Gonzaga scorers were Matt Crichlow in 16th (25:36), Vince Hamilton in 18th (25:41), Kyle Branch in 19th (25:46), and Jack Pearce in 25th (26:02).

You can watch a replay of the WCC championships here.

In the high altitude of Cedar City, Utah, the Eastern Washington women finished second in the Big Sky Conference championship race Saturday morning at the Cedar Ridge Golf Course.

The Eagles were led by defending Big Sky champ Sarah Reiter, who was eighth over the 5k course in 18:26, followed by her teammate Catie Arrigoni in ninth in 18:37.

Also scoring for the Eagles were Berenice Penaloza in 12th (18:47), Mayra Chavez in 18th (19:01), and Paula Gil Echevarria in 28th (19:13).

Weber State took the team title with 39 points, while Makena Morley of Montana unseated Reiter as conference champ, winning in a time of 17:46.

In the men’s race, Eastern Washington finished a solid fourth with a score of 118 points, as host Southern Utah won with a low score of 26 points to upend 8-time defending champ Northern Arizona, who scored 43 points.  Weber State was third with 96 points.

Eastern Washington was led by Stephen Bottoms in 12th (26:14), followed by Austin Oser in 17th (26:30), Alex Kimsey in 20th (26:38), Isaac Kitzan in 33rd (26:59), and Daniel Schofield in 38th (27:12).

Hayden Hawks of Southern Utah won the individual title in a time of 24:57.

In Orem, Utah, both Seattle University squads finished third at the Western Athletic Conference championship hosted by Utah Valley University at the Lakeside Sports Park.

In the men’s 7.95k race, Nathan McLaughlin led the way for SeattleU, finishing tenth in 24:53, as the Redhawks scored 91 points.

Gus Arroyo followed in 17th (25:17), with Tyler Flannery in 19th (25:20), Baxter Arguinchona 24th (25:34), and Ben Monk 25th (25:35).

Jason Lynch of Utah Valley won the individual crown in 23:59, leading his squad to the team title with a low score of 25 points.  UM/Kansas City was the runner-up team with a score of 47 points.

Olivia Stein of SeattleU was her squad’s top runner in the women’s 5k race, finishing sixth in 18:24.

Elena Smith was eighth in 18:25, with Lila Rice 12th in 18:38 for the Redhawks, followed by Moira O’Connor Lenth in 16th (18:56). Johanna Erickson rounded out the scoring in 24th (19:11)

Utah Valley took the team title with a low of 34 points, while SeattleU and UM/Kansas City tied at 66, with UMKC winning the tiebreaker 3-2.

Gonzaga, Eastern Washington and SeattleU next compete on Friday November 13th at the NCAA West Regional championships at Jefferson Park Golf Course, hosted by the University of Washington.

NOTE:  The sports information offices of Gonzaga, Eastern Washington and SeattleU contributed to this report.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Yorks and Meyers each take third, as Huskies replicate fourth place finish at Pac-12s...

COLFAX—Washington’s Izaic Yorks (left/photo by Paul Merca) and Maddie Meyers each earned third place finishes at the Pac-12 cross country championships Friday at the Colfax Golf Course, as both Washington squads replicated their fourth place finish from last year’s race in Oakland.

In the opening men’s 8k race, Yorks was in a large group of runners but patiently bided his time until the last of four laps of the Colfax Golf Course.

Eventual winner Edward Cheserek of Oregon utilized the same strategy before taking command on the last lap to take his third straight conference crown in a time of 23:07, with Yorks eight seconds behind.

Yorks overcame a late charge from Colorado’s Pierce Murphy to take third by one second.

Freshman John Dressel from Spokane finished sixth in 23:20 as Colorado’s second man as the country’s #1 ranked Buffaloes won yet another team title with a low score of 46 points.

Washington State’s John Whelan, who was among the early leaders, hung on to finish a surprising ninth in 23:27.

Also scoring for the Dawgs were Colby Gilbert in 18th (23:43); Fred Huxham in 22nd (23:49); Tyler King in 26th (23:55); and Andrew Gardner in 27th (23:57).

Washington State’s other scorers were Michael Williams in 12th (23:30); Sam Levora in 32nd (24:04); Chandler Teigen in 40th (24:25); and Jake Finney in 46th (24:36).

The Huskies scored 96 to finish fourth, while the vastly improved Cougar squad, running in front of their home crowd, were sixth with 137 points.

In the women’s 6k race, Washington’s Meyers (left/photo by Paul Merca) used the same strategy of staying in contact with the leaders before making a move on the final lap, as Stanford’s Aisling Cuffe, who won the Washington Invitational earlier this month, took the conference title in 19:54.

Colorado sophomore Kaitlyn Benner of Colorado made a late charge to take second from Meyers in 19:56 to Meyers’ 19:57.  

Benner’s runner-up finish led the Buffaloes to the team title, scoring a low of 45 to edge Oregon by six.

Also scoring for the Huskies were Anna Maxwell in 16th (20:26); Charlotte Prouse in 17th (20:27); Katie Knight in 22nd (20:35); and Eleanor Fulton in 34th (20:51).

Washington State finished tenth with a final team score 262, led by CharLee Linton in 36th (20:52), followed by Devon Bortfeld in 49th (21:09); Morgan Willson in 54th (21:15); Steffie Pavey in 74th (21:52); and Emily Dwyer in 85th (22:09).

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Pac-12, WCC, Big Sky & WAC Championships await Washington's five D1 schools...

Washington State's CharLee Linton
(photo by Paul Merca)
It’s championship weekend for the state’s five Division I schools, with three of them staying within the confines of the state of Washington to contest their conference championships.

Action gets underway Friday in Colfax, as Washington State hosts the Pac-12 cross country championships at the Colfax Golf Club outside of Pullman, with the men’s 8k kicking things off at 10:30am, followed by the women’s 6k at 11:35am.

The Pac-12 Network will present a delayed broadcast of the meet on November 2nd starting at 6pm, with Jim Watson, Dwight Stones, and Lewis Johnson on the call.

Colorado, the country’s #1 team goes into the Pac-12s as the overwhelming favorite to repeat as conference champions.  However, #3 ranked Oregon could potentially make a run at the Buffaloes led by two time defending Pac-12 and NCAA champ Edward Cheserek, who was beaten two weeks ago at the Pre-Nationals meet in Louisville.

The meet also features four other nationally ranked squads—#15 UCLA, #21 Cal, #23 Stanford, and #20 Washington, which will be led by Izaic Yorks, who has had a solid season so far after finishing seventh two weeks ago at the adidas Wisconsin Invitational.  

The Dawgs will also have All-American Tyler King, along with Fred Huxham and Spokane native Andrew Gardner.

The host Cougars look to lean on junior John Whelan, and sophomore Michael Williams, who has been the team’s top finisher so far, and will run in his first conference championship race, after missing last year’s contest due to injury.

On the women’s side, #3 Colorado and #5 Oregon are the teams to beat, with #10 Stanford, the #12 Huskies, and #19 Utah looking to place on the podium.

For the Huskies, All-American Maddie Meyers, who has been the #1 runner all season long, and was fourth at the conference championship in Oakland last year, is expected to lead the way.  Freshman Charlotte Prouse, who was a DNF at the adidas Wisconsin meet with an illness, should be within range of Meyers, with sophomore Anna Maxwell, and redshirt soph Katie Knight following.

Washington State will be led by CharLee Linton (above/photo by Paul Merca) who has been the first Coug across the finish line all season long.

Both Husky squads finished fourth last year, while the Cougars were ninth in the men’s race, and tenth in the women’s race.

On Saturday, Gonzaga, Eastern Washington and Seattle University will compete for the team titles in the West Coast, Big Sky and Western Athletic Conferences.

Gonzaga won’t have to travel far, as they’ll host the West Coast Conference race at the Plantes Ferry Complex in Spokane Valley, which has hosted several championship meets over the years.

Both Brigham Young teams are heavy favorites to win the WCC team titles, as the Cougars’ men’s squad is ranked #4 and the women #14.  The Zags finished third in the men’s team race, and fifth in the women’s championship meet.

Action gets underway at Plantes Ferry at 10 am with the women’s 6k, followed by the men’s 8k at 11 am.

The Eastern Washington women’s squad are looking for big things Saturday morning as they aim for a top 3 finish in the Big Sky championship meet in Cedar City, Utah after an impressive 13th place team finish at the Pre-Nationals meet two weeks ago in Louisville, Kentucky, led by Sarah Reiter’s 16th place finish.

Reiter goes into the Big Sky title clash as the defending individual champion, but also hopes that her supporting cast can run close to her, if the Eagles hope to finish in the top 3.  Meanwhile, the Eagle men’s squad aim to move up from their sixth place finish last year.

SeattleU looks to defend the Western Athletic Conference women’s team title it won in 2014 in Orem, Utah Saturday, while the men look to improve from their fourth place finish. will be on site in Colfax and Spokane Valley for both the Pac-12 and WCC championships.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Vikings earn top three team finishes at GNAC championship meet...

BELLINGHAM—On a cloudy, but crisp fall Saturday at Lake Padden Park, Western Washington’s nationally ranked cross country squads finished second (women) and third (men) at the Great Northwest Athletic Conference cross country championships.

It was a dominating performance by both Alaska Anchorage squads, as the Seawolves swept the team titles, with the women scoring a low of 39 points, to Western’s 71, led by Taylor Guenther's (left/photo by Paul Merca) sixth place finish, while the men scored a low of 21 points to easily outdistance second place Simon Fraser, who scored 54 points.

After Western in the women's 6k race came an inspired effort by Central Washington to take third with 95 points, led by All-American Dani Eggleston’s fifth place finish, with two other Wildcats placing in the top 11.

Nationally ranked Seattle Pacific, the conference’s most improved team going into the championship race, finished fifth with 114 points, while Saint Martin’s was ninth with 217.

As billed, the top four runners in the conference—Joyce Chelimo and Caroline Kurgat of Alaska Anchorage, Simon Fraser’s Rebecca Bassett, and Seattle Pacific’s Anna Patti, broke away from the field early.

Chelimo and Kurgat worked together before the field began the loop around Lake Padden, at which point Chelimo slowly opened up a gap on her teammate, winning in 21:01 to Kurgat’s 21:09.

Bassett, who finished behind Patti at the Sundodger meet in Seattle last month after leading, returned the favor on Patti, as she finished third in 21:30, with Patti fourth in 21:43.

Central Washington’s Dani Eggleston, last year’s third place finisher, showed signs of returning to the form that made her a cross country All-American and an NCAA steeple finalist last year, charging to take fifth, after looking less than impressive in her previous races so far this season.

Western’s Taylor Guenther was sixth in 22:02, leading teammates Brittany Grant in eighth (22:11), and Tracy Melville in tenth (22:25).

Eggleston helped tow Wildcat teammates Megan Rogers to seventh (22:07), and Alexa Shindruk to 11th (22:38).

Larissa Kolasinski led the way for Saint Martin’s with her 14th place finish in 22:42.

Central’s third place finish in the women’s championship coupled with Seattle Pacific’s fifth place will probably signal a shift in the national USTFCCCA Division II rankings when they’re published next week.

In the men’s 8k championship, it was all Alaska Anchorage, as the trio of defending champion Henry Cheseto, Dominik Notz, and Edwin Kangogo opened up a gap early, with only Western Oregon’s David Ribich and Simon Fraser’s Oliver Jorgensen the only ones willing to go with the Seawolf trio early.

Cheseto defended his crown easily, winning in 24:23, followed by Notz in 24:28, and Kangogo in 24:45.

Andrew Wise led the way for Western Washington with his tenth place finish in 25:31, as the Vikings were third with 83 points.

Central Washington finished sixth with 185 points, led by Alex Martinez in 27th at 26:33.  Ben Halliday was Seattle Pacific’s top runner in 31st in 26:37, as the Falcons were ninth with 258 points.

Saint Martin’s finished eleventh with 304 points, led by Jasper Heckman in 46th in 26:59.

Following the GNAC Championships, the league’s teams will compete in two weeks at the NCAA West Regional Championships on November 7th in Monmouth, Oregon, hosted by Western Oregon. The top five teams in the west region meet will advance to the NCAA Division II Championships.

Complete results of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference championships are available here.

NOTE:  The sports information offices of Seattle Pacific, Western Washington, and the GNAC contributed to this report.

Friday, October 23, 2015

GNAC cross country titles up for grabs Saturday at Bellingham's Lake Padden Park...

The state’s four Division II schools head up Interstate 5 north to Bellingham for Saturday’s GNAC cross country championships at Lake Padden Park, hosted by Western Washington University, as they try to unseat defending champs Alaska Anchorage (men), and Simon Fraser (women).

The 2014 women’s team race saw Simon Fraser, Alaska Anchorage and Western Washington divided by three points (62-63-64) proved the start of a banner championship for the GNAC. Those three teams, plus Central Washington, went on to top-six finishes at the West Region championships to give the conference an unprecedented four teams at the NCAA Division II Championships.

On paper, Alaska Anchorage is the team to beat in the women’s race, as they currently are the #7 team in the national USTFCCCA coaches’ poll.

Western Washington stands ready to compete on their home course. The Vikings, ranked No. 12 in the USTFCCA poll, have performed well against tough fields, winning September’s Sundodger Invitational and placing fourth at their own WWU Invitational. They were beat by only one GNAC squad: Alaska Anchorage.

Seattle Pacific, who figured out of the equation last year, is the league’s most improved team. The Falcons finished fifth last year, but have finished no worse than fourth as a team in their four meets this season, winning both races at the Moda Health Alaska Invitational, placing third at the Charles Bowles Willamette Invitational and fourth at Sundodger. The Falcons enter the meet ranked 18th in the USTFCCCA poll.

Both Simon Fraser and Central Washington could play spoilers with a good showing Saturday, as they’ll be led by Rebecca Bassett, and Dani Eggleston, the second and third place finishers in last year’s GNAC title race.  Eggleston’s late season surge in 2014 helped the Wildcats secure a national championship berth, and she ended up as a D2 All-American.

The Clan’s Bassett and Anna Patti of SPU (above/photo courtesy GNAC) are the pre-meet favorites to take the individual crown.

On the men’s side, #5 Alaska Anchorage looks to win their sixth straight GNAC title, led by sophomore Henry Cheseto, the defending champion.

Western Washington hopes that racing on their home course will translate to a strong team finish. Second place at last year’s meet, the Vikings are ranked 21st in the USTFCCCA poll. The Vikings won the season-opening Central Washington Invitational behind a third place finish by freshman Nickolas Mounier and were third at the Sundodger Invitational. Sophomore Isaac Derline was fifth individually at Sundodger while sophomore Andrew Wise led the Vikings to a 14th place finish at their own WWU Invitational to lead a sixth place team finish.

Following the GNAC Championships, the league’s team will compete in two weeks at the NCAA West Regional Championships on Sat., Nov. 7. The top five teams in the West region meet will advance to the NCAA Division II Championships.

The meet gets underway at 10 am with the women’s 6k followed by the men’s 8k at 11am. Spectators are encouraged to get there early, as parking spots at the park may be at a premium, with numerous activities going on.

NOTE:  The GNAC and Western Washington University contributed to this report.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

UW alum & 9x USA national champ Brad Walker joins Washington State coaching staff...

PULLMAN—Brad Walker (left/photo by Paul Merca), a nine-time USA Track & Field pole vault champion, has joined the Washington State University track and field staff as an assistant coach for pole vault and high jump, Wayne Phipps, Director of WSU Cross Country/Track & Field, announced Wednesday.

“We are very excited to add Brad Walker to our staff!,” Phipps said. “He is the most accomplished male pole vaulter in US history. What also impressed me was his knowledge of training in all areas, his professionalism and his passion for the sport. He has worked with some of the world's greatest coaches, competed at the very highest levels, and has helped athletes at every level. He started his athletic career as a high jumper in Spokane and competed in the Pac-12, so he knows this area and is very familiar with this conference.”

Walker, 34, is the current United States men’s pole vault record-holder after clearing 19-feet, 9 3/4 inches (6.04m) in 2008 at the Nike Prefontaine Classic. That mark earned him the Maria Mutola award, presented to the most outstanding performer of the meet.  He is a five-time USATF Outdoor Champion in the pole vault, taking titles in 2005, 2007, 2012 and 2013. He also has accumulated four USATF Indoor Championships, taking titles in 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2012.

His international acclaim includes gold medals at the 2007 World Outdoor Championships and the 2006 World Indoor Championships, silver medals at the 2008 World Indoor and 2005 World Outdoor Championships, and a bronze medal at the 2012 World Indoor Championships. Walker was also a member of Team USA at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Walker was a prep standout at University High School in Spokane Valley, Wash., and went on to an illustrious career at the University of Washington. He was a two-time Pac-10 Champion (2002, 2003) and a four-time All-American with two NCAA Indoor Championships pole vault titles (2003, 2004). He captured the 2003 NCAA title with a vault of 19-0 1/4, nearly nine inches beyond his nearest competitor. 

Walker continues to train and compete in US and international competitions including another trip to the World Championships in Beijing last summer.

“Coaching has been something I’ve always wanted to do,” Walker said. “Early on in my career, as I started to see more success, I was able to work with friends and other vaulters, and had a lot of joy in seeing someone improve just by sharing what I have learned. From my high school coach, Reg Hulbert to Pat Licari at UW, and working with Dan Pfaff and Ty Sevin, every coach I’ve worked with has shown me new insights into the sport. As my repertoire started to grow, I felt that I had a lot of information to share and couldn’t be happier to do it at Washington State. It’s kind of in my backyard, being from Spokane, so it feels like a homecoming. I am really excited about this opportunity.”

Walker takes the spot previously held by Matt McGee, who took a position as the jumps and multi-events coach at the University of Arizona.

NOTE:  Washington State University contributed to this report.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Both Washington squads back in national top-20 in final regular-season USTFCCCA poll...

NEW ORLEANS—Both University of Washington cross country squads are back in the final regular season USTFCCCA national Division I rankings that were released Tuesday after a strong showing at the adidas Wisconsin Invitational last week.

The Husky men’s team (above/photo by Paul Merca), which finished 13th in Madison, jumped back into the #20 spot in the national coaches’ poll after being bumped out of the rankings after losing the Sundodger Invitational to cross-state rival Washington State last month.  Washington was led by Izaic Yorks’ seventh place finish, his highest career finish in a major invitational race.

On the men’s side, the nation’s top five teams, according to the coaches who vote are Colorado, Syracuse, Oregon, BYU, and Michigan.

Other Pac-12 teams ranked nationally include #15 UCLA, #21 California, and #23 Stanford.

The Washington women, who finished eighth at the adidas Wisconsin meet, dropped two spots to #12.  As she had in every race, All-American Maddie Meyers led the way for the Huskies in Madison, finishing 29th.

The women’s top five teams in the latest poll are New Mexico, Michigan, Colorado, Arkansas, and Oregon.

Other Pac-12 teams ranked nationally include #10 Stanford, and #19 Utah.

The next national poll will be released after the various conference championships, which occur October 30-31st. The USTFCCCA poll is available here.

ON THE COURSE:  Sarah Reiter (left/photo by Paul Merca) of Eastern Washington was named the Big Sky Conference athlete of the week for her 16th place finish at the Pre-Nationals meet in Louisville.  

The Renton junior’s efforts led the Eagles to a 13th place finish, beating several nationally ranked teams.  While this blog pays little heed to the USTFCCCA’s regional rankings, the Eagles were ranked #6 in this week’s West Regional poll, a program best.

Reiter is the defending Big Sky cross country champion.

Last Saturday, Gonzaga swept both the men’s and women’s team titles at the Inland Empire Challenge in Lewiston, Idaho.

The Zag’s Shelby Mills was third in the women’s 6k race in 16:56, leading two other Bulldogs across the line in the top seven, while Troy Fraley led the way in the men’s 8k in a time of 24:17 with his fourth pace finish, as they placed three runners in the top ten.

NOTE:  The USTFCCCA, along with the sports information offices of Eastern Washington and Gonzaga, contributed to this report.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Reiter leads Eagles with 16th place finish at Pre-Nationals...

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky—The Eastern Washington women’s cross country team may have done itself a huge favor with a strong performance Saturday at the Pre-Nationals race at TP “Tom” Sawyer Park, site of next month’s NCAA cross country championships, as they finished 13th in the field of 45 teams in the seeded race.

In the meet preview, first year Eagle coach Chris Shane stated that he would be happy with a top 15 finish, considering that they were competing against the likes of #2 Colorado, #4 Oregon, #5 Michigan, #7 Georgetown, #9 Stanford, #26 Villanova, #27 Texas, and #29 Cornell.

The Eagles were led by Sarah Reiter’s (left/photo by Mike Scott) 16th place finish, as the reigning Big Sky cross country champ essentially stayed in the front pack, finishing in a time of 20:26.

Erin Clark of Colorado won the 6k race in 20:01 to put her as one of the favorites to win the Pac-12 crown in two weeks in Colfax.

Following Reiter were Catie Arrigoni in 58th (20:54), Katie Mahoney in 96th (21:07), Berenice Penaloza in 126th (21:18), and Paula Gil Echevarria in 192nd (21:42), giving the Eagles a 1-5 split of 76 seconds between Reiter and Gil Echevarria.

Mayra Chavez was 218th in 21:51, despite losing 66 places after the 3k split, and Chelsea Ribiero was 306th in 23:18.

The Eagles scored 470 points to finish 13th, two points behind Air Force’s 468, as Michigan won with a low of 131, 20 ahead of Colorado’s 151.  Oregon was third with 175, followed by Stanford at 244.  Weber State was the top Big Sky Conference team, finishing eighth with 387 points.

At the Washington Invitational two weeks ago, the Eagles were seventh with 205 points, while Air Force was fifth at 143.

Afterwards, EWU coach Chris Shane said, “I was very proud of her for that, she got in there and ran a very gutsy race and held pace with the top girls and finished strong. We were 13th overall which is where I would have liked to finish. We were dangerously close to beating some really good teams like California – we were nine points away from beating them – and Air Force who finished ahead of us at the Washington Invite (Oct. 2). They only beat us by two points so it was a great accomplishment. Villanova, ranked top 25 in the country was only 13 points in front of us."

In the men’s seeded 8k race, Washington State finished 13th with 445 points led by Michael Williams in 36th place in 23:50.  He was followed by John Whelan in 47th (23:55), Sam Levora in 99th (24:19), Chandler Tegen in 131st (24:32), and Nathan Wadhwani in 132nd (24:32).

Thomas Curtin of Virginia Tech was a mild upset winner, running 23:19 to beat reigning NCAA cross country champ Edward Cheserek of Oregon by 4 seconds.

Defending NCAA champ Colorado solidified itself as the team to beat by winning the meet with 89 points, followed by Oregon (151), and Arkansas (164).

Spokane native John Dressel, running for Colorado, was 46th in 23:55.

The Cougars won the women’s unseeded race with a team score of 176 points led by CharLee Linton’s eighth place finish in 21:01.  Devon Bortfeld was 17th in 21:14, followed by Morgan Willson in 21st in 21:25.  Steffie Pavey was 64th in 22:01, and Emily Dwyer rounded out the WSU scorers in 66th in 22:02.

Buffalo was second with 183, followed by Arizona with 203 points.

In Seattle, Amanda Boman of Portland State won the women’s 6k race in 21:58. while Miler Haller won the men’s 8k race in 25:28 at the Emerald City Open hosted by Seattle University at Lower Woodland Park.

The host Redhawks won the men’s team title with a low score of 30 points, while Portland State won the women’s team title with 38 points. 

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

Friday, October 16, 2015

Izaic Yorks finishes seventh at adidas Wisconsin Invite, while UW women take eighth...

MADISON, Wisconsin—The Washington women’s cross country squad finished eighth in the uber-competitive adidas Wisconsin Invitational Friday at the Thomas Zimmer Championship course near the campus of the University of Wisconsin, while senior Izaic Yorks (left/photo by Paul Merca) gave the Huskies their third straight top-10 individual finish in the men’s race, as the Dawgs earned a 13th place team finish.

The adidas Wisconsin Invitational was Washington’s final tuneup race before the Pac-12 championship meet in two weeks in Colfax, and the meet featured many of the country’s top squads.

The women’s race had 20 teams ranked in the USTFCCCA national top 30, including Washington, which entered the meet ranked #10 in the national poll.

As she had in every race this season, Maddie Meyers led the way for the Huskies with her 29th place finish, running 20:19, as freshman Allie Ostrander of Boise State took the individual title over the 6k course in 19:20.

After pulling freshman Charlotte Prouse off the course with a mile to go (she had been ill going into the race), Katie Knight was Washington’s second runner in 52nd at 20:33, with Anna Maxwell one spot behind in the same time.  Kaylee Flanagan was 70th in 20:43, with Eleanor Fulton rounding out the UW scorers in 89th at 20:54.  Freshman Lindsey Bradley came in 105th at 21:03.

New Mexico took the team title with 32 points, as they placed five runners in the top 10, followed by Arkansas with 188 and Virginia at 217.

On the men’s side, Yorks led the way for the Dawgs over the 8k course, finishing seventh in 23:40, as Tulsa’s Marc Scott won in 23:35.

Andrew Gardner had his best race as a Husky, finishing 65th in 24:16, followed by All-American Tyler King in 83rd at 24.22.  Johnathan Stevens was 124th at 24:34, with Fred Huxham, who was battling illness as well, gutting it out for a 134th place finish in 24:38 to round out the Washington scorers.

Charlie Barringer was 170th in 24:55, and Mahmoud Moussa was 181st in 25:00.

Syracuse won the team title with 101 points, followed by BYU with 186, and Michigan with 218.  UCLA was the only Pac-12 school to finish ahead of UW in ninth with 334 points.

In the women’s open race, the Huskies finished second with 45 points behind Arkansas’ 31.  Emily Hamlin led the way for UW with her second place finish in 20:57. Nikki Hiltz of Arkansas won in 20:54.

“Results were a bit mixed but in the end I think we accomplished what we needed to in terms of points for the national championships,” said UW coach Greg Metcalf. “We’ve had to deal with some sickness on the squad, and today Fred Huxham was having trouble breathing, and Charlotte Prouse was ill and got to a mile in and we pulled her off the course.

“Izaic ran phenomenal today, Andrew Gardner had a great day, our women finished eighth and beat some good teams, and you put Charlotte back in there I think we’re still right in the mix.”

Among notables with Washington ties competing Friday, UW alum Meron Simon, who is using his final year of eligibility at NC State, finished 23rd in the men’s race in 23:55. Portland’s Keegan Symmes, who attended Skyline HS, was 123rd in 24:34, while Seattle Prep alum Joe Hardy from host Wisconsin was 159th in 24:49.

Washington alum Chelsea Orr, who is a graduate student at Baylor, finished 195th in 21:53.

NOTE:  The University of Washington and the University of Wisconsin contributed to this report.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Huskies off to Wisconsin; Cougs and Eagle women to Pre-Nationals, while rest compete close to home...

All five of Washington’s Division I schools are in action this weekend as they run in the final regular season meet of the year before heading into the championship portion of the season.

The Washington Huskies head off to Madison, Wisconsin for Friday’s adidas Wisconsin Invitational, where, on the women’s side, the #10 ranked Huskies will face 19 other (count that correctly!) nationally ranked teams, led by current #1 New Mexico, #3 Providence, #6 Boise State, #8 Iowa State, AND every team from #11 Arkansas to #25 Princeton.

And, oh, by the way, the defending national champions from Michigan State are ranked #13.

Charlotte Prouse & Maddie Meyers of Washington
(photo courtesy University of Washington)
The Huskies will go into battle led by their All-American Maddie Meyers, who has been their #1 runner this season in every meet where she’s worn a Washington singlet, along with their outstanding freshman Charlotte Prouse.

Meyers is listed in the USTFCCCA preview of the meet as one of about 25 contenders for the individual title, though the spotlight shines on New Mexico’s Rhona Aukland & Courtney Frerichs, Arkansas’ Dominique Scott, NC State’s Ryen Frazier, Boise State’s Allie Ostrander, Notre Dame’s Anna Rohrer, and Wisconsin’s Sarah Disanza and Shaelyn Sorensen.

Meyers was 40th in last year’s race, while the team finished 13th.

The women’s 6k race is scheduled for 9am, pacific, with the men following 45 minutes later over an 8k distance.

The men, on the other hand, who are out of the national top-30, will need to have a strong showing at Wisconsin, coupled with strong finishes at the Pac-12s and the NCAA regionals, if they are to be in the mix to get back to the national championship meet as an at-large team in the uber-competitive West Region.

They’ll be led by Sundodger champ Izaic Yorks, who has been their top runner in every meet he’s worn a UW singlet, along with All-American Tyler King.  Yorks was 57th at Wisconsin, while King was 65th last year.  Washington was eighth in this meet in 2014.

Washington will face 17 teams ranked in the USTFCCCA national poll, including 7 of the nation’s top 11 squads.

The Huskies will see their old friend Meron Simon, who graduated this summer and elected to use his remaining eligibility at North Carolina State. Simon, a native of Federal Way, was fourth at the Notre Dame Invitational two weeks ago.

They’ll also see Wisconsin’s Joe Hardy, a graduate of Seattle Prep.  Hardy was 37th in this meet last year.

Meanwhile, Washington State and the Eastern Washington women’s team are off to Louisville for Saturday’s Pre-Nationals meet on the EP “Tom” Sawyer Park course that will host the NCAA championships on November 21st.

For the Eastern Washington women, this meet will go a long way towards determining whether or not they have a realistic shot at getting out of the West region as an at-large team.

They’ll face eight nationally ranked women’s teams, led by #2 Colorado, #4 Oregon, and #9 Stanford, with both the Eagles and the Cougars seeing the Ducks and Cardinal two weeks ago in Seattle at the Washington Invitational.  The Eags will be led by defending Big Sky cross country champ Sarah Reiter from Renton.

They will need to close the gap between their #2 and #5 runners, which was 32 seconds two weeks ago at the Washington Invitational.

This is also a key meet for the WSU men’s team, which also has eyes on a return trip to Louisville as an at-large qualifier. The Cougs won the Sundodger meet for the second year in a row, but were eighth at the Washington Invitational, led by John Whelan’s 13th place finish.

Both Gonzaga squads, plus those athletes from Washington State and Eastern Washington not traveling to Louisville, will run Saturday at the Inland Empire Classic in Lewiston, Idaho.  The meet gets underway at 11 am with the women’s 6k, and the men’s 8k at 11:45.

Seattle University hosts the Emerald City Open meet at Lower Woodland Park on Saturday, with the women’s 6k starting at 10:30, and the men’s 8k at 11:15.

Teams scheduled to compete include Portland State, Central Washington , Portland, Club Northwest, plus a few Washington runners not making the trip to Wisconsin, plus some redshirts.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

WEEKEND RECAP: Alaska Anchorage the team to beat in GNAC after showing at WWU Invite...

Sarah Inglis of Trinity Western
won the women's 6k at the
WWU Invite Saturday
(Paul Merca photo)
If there is one certainty that came out of Saturday’s Western Washington Invitational meet at Lake Padden Park, it’s that the Alaska Anchorage cross country teams are the class of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.

The #5 ranked Seawolves won the men’s division of the WWU Invitational, scoring a low of 37 points, while the Alaska Anchorage women finished second to Langley’s (BC) Trinity Western University.

Over the 10k distance, the Seawolves put four runners across the line in the top seven, led by winner Henry Cheseto, who ran 31:00, five seconds up on Trinity Western’s Declan White.

Host Western Washington, which was ranked #10 in the latest USTFCCCA Division II men’s poll, finished sixth with 160 points, behind Windsor (72), Trinity Western (82), the University of Victoria (99), and GNAC rival Simon Fraser (109).

Central Washington was 11th with 306, and Saint Martin’s was last in the 14-team field with 427.

The Vikings were led by Andrew Wise, who finished 14th in 32:03.

Central’s top runner was Alex Martinez in 66th place in a time of 34:01, while Josh Hunt was 120th in 35:39.

In the women’s 6k race, Trinity Western’s Sarah Inglis, who won the invitational section of the Sundodger Invitational last month, won in a time of 20:47.

Western Washington, which was ranked #18 in the women’s USTFCCCA D2 poll, finished fourth in the 13-team field with 133 points, was led by Taylor Guenther, who was 23rd in 22:32,  Central Washington was eighth with 184 points, as All-American Dani Eggleston was 21st in 22:28.  Saint Martin’s was 12 with 301 points, led by Larissa Kolasinski in 28th in 22:48.

The Vikings will host the GNAC Championships on the same Lake Padden Park course on October 24th.

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

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Vikings set to host WWU Classic Saturday in what may be a preview of the GNAC champs...

WWU's Taylor Guenther
(photo courtesy WWU)
In what may be a preview of the GNAC cross country championships in two weeks, many of its member teams will converge upon Lake Padden Park for Saturday’s Western Washington Classic in Bellingham, hosted by the Vikings.

For many of the schools competing, this is an opportunity to see the course that the GNAC championship meet will be contested, but more importantly, Saturday’s showdown in Bellingham will give those teams an idea on where they stand in what is essentially the last meet before the conference championship.

On the men’s side, the field is led by Alaska Anchorage, which is ranked #5 in the most recent USTFCCCA national Division II coaches’ poll.  They’ll be joined by #12 Simon Fraser and the host Vikings, who are ranked #18.

The women’s field is led by the Seawolves of Alaska Anchorage, ranked #7 in the country, along with Western Washington, which is ranked #10.  The field also includes 2014 NCAA qualifiers Central Washington and their All-American Dani Eggleston, who were ranked nationally early in the season, but fell out of the top 25 after a poor showing at the Sundodger Invitational in Seattle last month.

With the great majority of GNAC schools in the field, the most notable team that will not compete at the Western Washington Classic is Seattle Pacific, whose women’s team moved up two spots in the national rankings to #17 after a third place finish at last weekend’s Charles Bowles Invitational in Salem, Oregon behind only Portland State and the University of Portland.

With the chances to do some damage in the championship part of the season, SPU head coach Karl Lerum is opting for quality over quantity. He has pulled the Falcons out of appearances at the Western Washington Invitational on Saturday and at the Emerald City Classic on October 17. The team will not race again until the GNAC Championships.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Washington women move into national top-10 in USTFCCCA coaches' poll...

NEW ORLEANS—The four major meets of last weekend in the Division I ranks—Notre Dame, Washington, Louisville, and Princeton—played significant roles in determining the national rankings in the latest USTFCCCA coaches poll released Tuesday.

The Washington Huskies (above/photo by Paul Merca), based on their second place finish at their own invitational meet last Friday, moved up five spots to the #10 spot, their highest national ranking since being ranked #4 in early October 2013.

New Mexico remains the country’s #1 women’s squad, followed by Colorado, Providence, Oregon and Michigan.

Other Pac-12 squads include #9 Stanford and the Huskies.  The only other Pac-12 school receiving votes was Cal, which dropped out of the national top 30.

On the men’s side, three Pac-12 schools dominate the national top 5, led by Colorado at #1, followed by Syracuse, Oregon, Stanford and Iona.

UCLA is ranked #20, followed by #22 Cal.  They’re the only other Pac-12 teams in the national top 30.

Arizona State and the Huskies received votes, but finished outside the top 30.

NOTE:  The USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Anna Patti takes second as Falcons finish third at Charles Bowles Invite...

SALEM, Oregon—Led by Anna Patti’s second place finish, the 19th ranked Seattle Pacific women’s cross country team finished third in the Cardinal section of the Charles Bowles Invitational at Bush’s Pasture Park Saturday.

Over the 5k course, Patti ran 17:36, five seconds behind Amanda Boman of Portland State, who took the lead early in the race and maintained it.

Behind Patti came a pack of five Falcons placing in the top 35—Sarah Macdonald (12, 18:06), Mary Charleston (28, 18:31), Chynna Phan (31, 18:36), Hannah Calvert (32, 18:40), and Lynelle Decker (33, 18:41).

Seattle Pacific's total of 105 points on a sunny, comfortable morning trailed only Portland State (75) and the University of Portland (100), both NCAA Division I schools.

Among the 16 teams that SPU beat in the 18-team field were Point Loma (fourth with 119 points) and Humboldt State (seventh with 163). That's significant, because they'll come up against them again on Nov. 7 in Monmouth, Ore, at the NCAA Division II West Regionals. On that day, the top five placers will earn trips to Missouri for the D2 nationals on November 21.

"That was super important today. We've got to beat good teams to get ourselves to the NCAA Championships,” said SPU assistant coach Audra Smith. "That has been our goal since we stepped on campus in the beginning of September. We had a handful of girls who had massive PRs – that is so encouraging.”

In the men’s 8k race, Seattle Pacific finished tenth with 262 points, as Humboldt State won with 43 points.  SeattleU’s B team, comprising of runners who did not run at the Washington Invitational, was third with 91 points, followed by D3 schools Puget Sound (111), Whitman (140), and Whitworth (184).

Tyler Shipley of Puget Sound, their D3 All-American, won in 24:34.

This was Seattle Pacific’s final regular season meet, as they will skip next week’s Western Washington Invitational and train through the next few weeks before the GNAC championship on October 24th in Bellingham.

NOTE:  The sports information office at Seattle Pacific contributed to this report.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Jason Schutz named new throws coach at Washington...

Although the school has yet to formally announce the hire, Jason Schutz (left/photo by Paul Merca) has been appointed as the new throwing events coach at the University of Washington, replacing TJ Crater, who left for a similar position at the University of Arizona.

Schutz comes to Washington from Cal State Northridge, where he coached for the last four seasons.

At Northridge, he developed Mariah Counts, who won the 2015 Big West title in the javelin, and scored for the Matadors in two other throwing events at the conference meet.  In addition to Counts, Monique Griffiths qualified in the discus and hammer for the NCAA West Preliminary round last season.

On the men’s side last season, his throwers scored in three of the four throwing events at the Big West championships.

Prior to CSUN, Schutz coached for two seasons at the University of Pittsburgh. Hismain focus with the Panthers was the development of the team's discus, hammer, shot put and javelin throwers.  During Schutz’s tenure at PITT, the throws group improved dramatically.

Schutz joined the Panthers after serving a year as a volunteer assistant track and field coach at his alma mater, Colorado State. There, he helped oversee the training and development of 18 throwers in 2008-09. He worked alongside Brian Bedard, the head coach at CSU, who has accumulated over 24 years of coaching experience, and has coached 32 All-Americans and two national champions. Additionally, Schutz worked as a strength coach for the athletic department, assisting with the track and field team.

A 2008 graduate from Colorado State with a Bachelor of Science degree in natural resource management, he also minored in watershed science. During his collegiate career, Schutz was a three-time All-American, as well as an Academic All-American and team captain. He competed in the discus, hammer and weight throw events at the NCAA Championships. 

Additionally, Schutz qualified for three USATF Outdoor Championships in the discus throw. He was also a 2008 Olympic Trials participant in the discus, where he threw 190-4 (58.02m) and finished 16th.


McGee replaces Sheldon Blockburger, who left for a similar position at USC.

McGee joins an Arizona staff that has a heavy Northwest connection, starting with associate head coach James Li, and assistant coaches Crater, Francesca Green, and Tim Riley, not to mention volunteer coach Bernard Lagat.

NOTE:  The sports information office at Cal State Northridge and the University of Arizona contributed to this report.

Cuffe and Cheserek win Washington Invitational, while Oregon sweeps team titles...

SEATTLE—In one of the first major tests for the West Coast’s top collegiate teams, the Oregon Ducks swept the second annual Washington Invitational cross country meet at Jefferson Park Golf Course on Beacon Hill Friday afternoon.

Winner Aisling Cuffe (l) of Stanford battles Washington's
Maddie Meyers with 1k to go (Paul Merca photo)
In the women’s 6k race, a group of 20 established themselves up front early on the first of three laps of the Jefferson Park course, before it whittled itself down to nine entering the final lap.  Among those in the group of nine were a group of four runners from Oregon—Alli Cash, Maggie Schmaedick, Waverly Neer and Frida Berge; Washington’s Maddie Meyers and Charlotte Prouse; Hannah Everson of the Air Force; and, Stanford’s Aisling Cuffe and Vanessa Fraser.

On the final lap, Cuffe, Meyers, and Cash broke away, but Cuffe, who sat out all of the 2014-15 cross country and track seasons with injuries, broke away to claim the individual win in 19:41, four seconds ahead of Cash, with Meyers third in 19:50.

Schmaedick (19:51), Everson (19:51), Neer (19:57), and Prouse (20:01) finished 4th through 7th.

Natalie Shields-Connolly (20:04) and Carrie Jube (20:08) of BYU were 8-9, with Fraser of Stanford tenth in 20:08.

The Ducks won with 36 points, followed by the Huskies with 59 and Stanford with 60.

Gonzaga was sixth with 200, led by Jessica Mildes (20:26) while Eastern Washington was seventh at 205, led by defending Big Sky champ Sarah Reiter, who was 16th in 20:16..  

Washington State was ninth with 234 points, led by CharLee Linton in 34th (20:36), while SeattleU was 12th with 314 points, led by Lila Rice in 57th (21:06).

UCLA's Lane Werley & Stanford's Joe Rosa stalk Oregon's
Edward Cheserek with a kilometer to go. Cheserek won
in 23:16 (Paul Merca photo)
In the men’s 8k, defending NCAA cross country champion Edward Cheserek of Oregon was content to let a large group of runners do the work, eventually working his way to the front by the second lap, before moving away from Stanford’s Joe Rosa over the last kilometer to win in 23:16.

Rosa (23:21), Lane Werley of UCLA (23:22), Jack Keelan of Stanford (23:23), and Patrick Corona of Air Force (23:24), did most of the front running, finishing second through fifth.

Washington State’s John Whelan (23:35) was also among the leaders for a good portion of the race, before he faded to 13th place.

In a very spirited team race, Oregon won with 52 points, followed by Stanford with 69 and BYU third with 70.

UCLA, which had two runners in the lead group for most of the race was fourth with 117.

The Huskies, who ran without Colby Gilbert for the second straight meet with a leg injury, were sixth with 146 points, led by Izaic Yorks’ 16th place finish (23:37).

The Cougars were eighth with 189, led by Whelan’s 13th place.

Gonzaga was ninth with 205, led by Troy Fraley in 20th (23:40).  SeattleU was tenth with 332 led by Nathan McLaughlin in 65th (24:29), while Eastern Washington was 11th with 333 points, led by Alex Kimsey in 74th (24:37).

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Washington Invite one of four big invitationals on the national docket this weekend...

All five Washington Division I schools return to action Friday afternoon, as the Washington Huskies host the West Coast’s biggest cross country invitational, the Washington Invitational at the Jefferson Park Golf Course on Beacon Hill.

Action gets underway Friday at 3:15 pm with the women’s 6k, followed by the men’s 8k at 4 pm.

The Washington Invitational is one of four major races this weekend involving nationally ranked teams with the results playing a key role along with regional championship finishes in who gets into the national championship meet in Louisville in November.

Besides Washington, the Notre Dame Invite, the Princeton Inter-Regional meet, and the Greater Louisville Classic will have nationally ranked squads entered.

The men’s field looks especially deep and competitive, with four highly ranked squads and two more receiving votes out of the 11 teams competing. No. 2-ranked Stanford and No. 5-ranked Oregon will be challenged by 11th-ranked UCLA and 12th-ranked BYU. 

The Huskies are receiving votes in the most recent national poll, as is perennial NCAA qualifier Portland, though according to the entry list posted by the host Huskies, freshman Tristan Peloquin from Gig Harbor, who won the open section of the Sundodger two weeks ago, will not race for the Pilots, who are opting to redshirt him. Adding more to the Northwest feel will be Gonzaga, Seattle U., and Eastern Washington.

Washington, who will be led by Sundodger champ Izaic Yorks, will have some added motivation with the entry of Pac-12 rival Washington State, who defeated the Dawgs two weeks ago at Sundodger, and bumped them out of the USTFCCCA national top 30. Conversely, the Cougs are trying to prove to the voters that their victory over the Huskies two weeks ago was not a fluke.

Reigning NCAA champion Edward Cheserek (above/photo by Paul Merca) of Oregon is obviously the one to watch, though the Ducks may be young behind King Edward.  Stanford is scheduled to run Sean McGorty, who was 20th at the NCAA champs last season, along with twins Joe and Jim Rosa.

On the women’s side, Washington, which is ranked #15 in the USTFCCCA poll, looks to try and upset #4 Stanford and #5 Oregon, but can’t overlook #23 BYU, which won the Erik Anderson Invitational in Spokane two weeks ago.

Eastern Washington, led by reigning Big Sky champ Sarah Reiter, looks to mix it up with the powerhouses of the West Coast, as the Eagles appear to enter the core group together for the first time this season after sitting several veterans out of their first two meets.

In Division II, Seattle Pacific is the only Washington school in action this weekend, as they head to Salem, Oregon to compete in the Charles Bowles Invitational hosted by Willamette University.

Anna Patti, who won the women’s open section of the Sundodger, looks to win her fourth straight race of the season, after winning twice in Alaska.

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