SEATTLE—On a drizzly day at Jefferson Park Golf Course on Beacon Hill, Seattle University’s Lila Rice (left/photo by Paul Merca) won the Western Athletic Conference cross country title to lead the Redhawks to a surprising second place team finish with a score of 46 points.
Rice was in a group of seven runners through the first kilometer of the 5-kilometer race, before breaking away a little over half way through the race.
By the time the race ended, she extended her lead to 18 seconds, winning in a time of 18:01, with Savannah Berry of Utah Valley the closest pursuer in 18:19.
Johanna Erickson was SeattleU’s next finisher in seventh in 18:25, followed by Olivia Stein in 10th at 18:39.
Moira O’Connor Lenth was 12th in 18:39, and Rebecca Lassere rounded out the Redhawk scorers in 16th place in a time of 18:51.
Talking about the decisive move to secure the victory, she said, “I have a really bad kick, so I figured I’d try to get a head start and see what happens.”
Describing the final lap, Rice said, “I wanted to keep going at that pace, and I was feeling pretty good.”
The Redhawks, who were third in this meet last year, moved up one spot to second, as Utah Valley successfully defended its conference title with a low score of 41 points, led by a second place finish by Berry’s 18:19. The Wolverines put four runners in the top 9 to clinch the conference crown.
In the men’s 8k race, University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Bryce Miller, an NCAA and US Olympic Trials qualifier in the steeplechase, and the defending conference champ in the 5000 and steeple, took command half way through the race, to earn his first WAC cross country title, and his seventh overall conference championship, as he stopped the watches in 25:04.
His victory helped propel the UMKC Kangaroos to a one-point conference championship over defending champion Utah Valley, winning by a 46-47 count, and stopping an attempt by Utah Valley to win its fourth straight WAC title.
Seattle University finished third, replicating its finish from last year, with a final team score of 65 points.
The Redhawks were led by Ben Monk’s eighth place finish in 25:34. He was then followed by Eli Boudouris in 11th (25:42), Jacques Hebert in 13th (25:50), Tyler Flannery in 15th (25:51), and Matt Seidel in 18th (26:04).
NOTE: The Western Athletic Conference and Seattle University contributed to this report.