Friday, November 4, 2016

The road to the NCAA D2 championship meet goes through Billings, Montana Saturday...

The road to the NCAA Division II cross country championships for Washington’s four schools—Western Washington, Seattle Pacific, Saint Martin’s and Central Washington—goes through Billings, Montana, as Montana State Billings hosts the NCAA West Regional Championship meet at Amend Park

The men’s 10k race gets the program started at 9 am, followed by the women’s 6k race at 10:15 am. The NCAA regional races will be streamed live via, so fans can watch the race live online.

In the men’s race, the top five men’s teams and the top three individuals not from those squads will advance to the national championship meet on November 19th in St. Leo, Florida, just outside of Tampa,  In the women’s race, the top six teams at the regional meet, plus the top three individuals not from those teams will earn spots in the national championship meet in Florida.

On the men’s side, Western Washington has the best shot of qualifying a team for nationals, though they must get past conference foe Simon Fraser to have a realistic shot.  The Vikings will be led by Isaac Derline (above/photo courtesy WWU Athletics), who was third at the GNAC meet two weeks ago, and Andrew Wise, the team’s top runner at last year’s regionals.

It may be a battle royal between Western Washington and Seattle Pacific for one of the six team slots for the women’s championship meet.

Western Washington’s top returning runner is Brittany Grant, who placed 28th at last year’s regional and finished 23rd at the GNAC Championships. Seattle Pacific and Central Washington placed fifth and sixth last year, results that would earn both team’s nationals invitations this year. Mary Charleson placed 20th at last year’s meet and placed fourth at the GNAC Championships. She has performed well in meets against the rest of the West Region. The Falcons are further bolstered by Sarah Macdonald, who placed sixth at the GNAC meet.

Saint Martin’s Shannon Porter has a realistic shot at earning an individual spot into the national championship meet.

The top teams on paper in the meet include GNAC champion Alaska Anchorage (#11), CCCA champ and national powerhouse Chico State (#7), and PacWest champion Cal Baptist (#9). Other nationally ranked teams in the West regional meet include #16 Simon Fraser, #18 Point Loma Nazarene, and #23 Cal Poly Pomona.  Seattle Pacific fell out of the national top 25 after the GNAC championship meet.

NOTE:  The GNAC, Seattle Pacific, and Western Washington sports information offices contributed to this report.

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