MONMOUTH, Oregon—The Western Washington and Seattle Pacific women’s teams earned spots to compete in the NCAA Division II cross country championships on a wet Saturday at the Ash Creek Preserve course.
The Vikings, who were second at the GNAC championship meet two weeks ago in Bellingham, finished second with a score of 165, behind winner Chico State’s 89 points.
In a very close battle for the final three women’s spots, GNAC champ Alaska Anchorage was third with 201, followed by Cal Baptist with 203, and Seattle Pacific with 207, nosing out Central Washington, which had 212 points.
Seattle Pacific’s Anna Patti (left/photo by Paul Merca) was the top finisher from Washington’s four GNAC schools, finishing fourth over the 6k course in 21:16.
Western’s Taylor Guenther was sixth in 21:22, while All-American Dani Eggleston of Central was 13th in 21:37.
All five of Western’s scorers finished in the top 60, with a 1-5 split of 68 seconds.
Behind Guenther were Tracy Melville (26th, 21:59), Brittany Grant (27th, 22:00), Shawna Troupe (49th, 22:21), and Lillianna Stelling (58th, 22:30).
“The women ran a great race by placing second and I really think we have more left in the tank as we head to Nationals. I am very proud of them,” said Viking coach Pee Wee Halsell.
For Seattle Pacific, the difference maker was second runner Mary Charleston, as the sophomore ran the race of her life to finish 20th in 21:49.
Also scoring for the Falcons were Sarah Macdonald (42nd, 22:12), Hanna Calvert (72nd, 22:42), and Chynna Phan (73rd, 22:44).
"At our team meeting last night, all we talked about was just putting it all out there and crossing the finish line and falling on your knees," said Falcon senior Lynelle Decker, who now will race in her third national championship meet. "I knew I was doing that, I knew the team was doing that. So even if we hadn't made it, I knew it was all put out on the course today."
Decker was their sixth runner across the line in 22:45.
After Eggleston, Central’s scoring runners were Megan Rogers (18th, 21:47), Alexa Shindruk (33rd, 22:06), Stephanie Rexus (69th, 22:41), and Erin Chinchar (82nd, 22:48).
Saint Martin’s was 19th with a team score of 542, led by Karen Horvath in 22:15.
Joyce Chelimo of Alaska Anchorage won the women’s race in 20:43.
In the men’s 10k race, the Vikings finished sixth with 194 points, as Alaska Anchorage (55), Chico State (79), Cal Poly Pomona (81), and Simon Fraser (107) earned the four qualifying spots for the national championships.
Western was led by Andrew Wise (14th, 30:23), followed by Sean Eustis (28th, 30:47), Isaac Decline (46th, 31:27), Matthew Lutz (47th (31:27), and Max Romey (59th, 31:40).
By not finishing in the top four at regionals, the Vikings snapped a streak of eight straight seasons qualifying for the NCAA championship race.
Henry Cheseto of Alaska Anchorage continued his dominance, winning the race in 29:30.
Central Washington finished 14th with 400 points, led by Jonathan Lafferty in 53rd with a time of 31:34. Seattle Pacific was 20th with 557, as Ben Halladay was 99th in 32:35. Saint Martin’s was 23rd with 656 points, with Jasper Heckman leading the way in 125th in 33:24.
NOTE: The sports information offices of Western Washington, Seattle Pacific, and Central Washington contributed to this report.