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.

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