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.