INDIANAPOLIS—As expected, the University of Washington women’s cross country team, which entered the West regional championships Friday ranked ##12 in the nation, earned one of the 13 at-large bids to compete in next Saturday’s NCAA Division I cross country championships in Louisville, Kentucky.
Also joining the Huskies on the women’s side are the West Coast Conference champion and #30 Gonzaga Bulldogs, which will make its first appearance at the national championships, after finishing sixth in Friday’s regional championship at Jefferson Park Golf Course in Seattle, led by Shelby Mills’ (left/photo by Paul Merca) seventh place finish.
Eastern Washington junior Sarah Reiter was one of the four individuals from the West regional race to earn a spot in the championship meet by virtue of her ninth place finish. Reiter becomes the first Eagle to qualify for the national championship race since Mattie Bridgemon in 2008.
"We're super stoked and so excited," Mills said. "We get to compete against the best of them, representing in the Zag jersey. We've come a long way but in the words of (Gonzaga women’s coach) Patty (Ley) `We ain't done yet'!"
Gonzaga’s sixth place finish behind San Francisco at regionals did not affect their standing in the eyes of the selection committee, as four other teams from the West region—Washington, Stanford, San Francisco, and Gonzaga—were picked to compete at the nationals.
San Francisco finished third in the WCC championships behind Gonzaga and BYU, but had a strong showing Friday in Seattle.
On the men’s side, the #17 Washington men, which won the West regional title, will be joined by the unranked Washington State Cougars, who finished fourth Friday, led by the 2-3 finish by John Whelan (left/photo by Paul Merca) and Michael Williams.
This marks the first time since 2011 that the Cougs have qualified for the national championships.
Besides auto qualifiers Washington and Stanford, five other teams from the West region—Oregon, Washington State, Boise State, Cal and UCLA—were selected to run in Louisville, a testament to the strength of the region.
Gonzaga’s Matthew Crichlow, who finished 18th at the regional championship, was selected as one of the four individuals not on a qualifying team from the West to run in Louisville.
Crichlow became the first ever Gonzaga male to qualify for the national championship race.
The University of Louisville will host the championships, Saturday, Nov. 21, at Tom Sawyer State Park located in Louisville, Ky. The women's race will begin at 9 a.m. Pacific Time, followed by the men's race at approximately 10 a.m. Pacific Time. A live webcast of the championships will be broadcast from 9 a.m. Pacific Time until the conclusion of the awards ceremony on NCAA.com.
NOTE: The NCAA, USTFCCCA, and the sports information offices of the University of Washington, Gonzaga, and Washington State contributed to this report.