It’s survive and advance time for the state’s four Division II schools Saturday as the NCAA Division II West Regionals take place at Ash Creek Preserve on the campus of Western Oregon University in Monmouth starting with the women’s 6k at 10 am, followed by the men’s 8k at 11:15 am.
It’s pretty cut and dry for those teams looking to qualify for the national championships in two weeks in Joplin, Missouri—for the women’s teams, the top five at regionals advance to nationals, while in the men’s race, the top four squads move on. Unlike the Division I schools, there’s no such thing as a Kolas calculator or strength of schedule to figure out who goes. You either are in or you’re out.
On the women’s side, there are five nationally ranked teams—#4 Chico State, #6 Alaska Anchorage, #9 Cal Baptist, #13 Western Washington (above/photo by Paul Merca) and #19 UC San Diego, with Central Washington receiving votes in the last USTFCCCA Division II national coaches’ poll conducted after the GNAC championships two weeks ago.
Seattle Pacific, led by Anna Patti, was ranked in the national top 25 before having a sub-par team performance at the GNACs in Bellingham, where they finished fifth, while Central Washington, which qualified for the NCAA championships last year, finished third after not looking good as a team during the regular season.
For Western, Central and SPU, the key to going to nationals will rest with how close the rest of their seven runners can run behind their front runners—Taylor Guenther for WWU, All-American Dani Eggleston for CWU, and Patti for the Falcons.
On the men’s side, it will be an uphill battle for Western Washington, who’ve been regulars at the national championships, with six nationally ranked teams—#2 Chico State, #5 Alaska Anchorage, #6 Cal Poly Pomona, #14 Cal Baptist, #17 San Francisco State, and #21 Simon Fraser in the mix battling for four spots.
NOTE: The USTFCCCA along with the sports information offices of Seattle Pacific and Central Washington contributed to this report.