Wednesday, November 8, 2017

All five Washington schools to converge at Jefferson Park GC for NCAA West Regionals Friday...

All five of the state’s NCAA Division I schools will gather at Seattle’s Jefferson Park Golf Course on Beacon Hill for Friday’s NCAA West Regional cross country championship meet, with both Washington squads and the Washington State men’s team looking to run well enough to earn a spot in next week’s NCAA championship meet in Louisville, Kentucky.

Both Washington and Washington State men’s squad will have to have strong team races if they hope to advance to Louisville. The #20 Huskies and the #27 Cougars will have to contend with #4 Stanford, #6 Portland, #10 UCLA, #13 Oregon, and #25 Boise State. The West regional is by far the deepest region in the country in the quality of teams.

On the women’s side, the #16 Huskies will have to square off against #3 Oregon, #4 San Francisco, #7 Stanford, #10 Boise State, and #26 California if it hopes to advance.

The top two teams from Friday’s race, plus the eight other regional races contested around the country will automatically advance to Louisville, while the other 13 teams that make up the 31 team field will have to wait for the NCAA cross country committee to announce the at large squads on Saturday.

The top four individual finishers not on a qualifying team, and inside the top 25, will be chosen to advance for each region. Two additional athletes will be selected from the national pool at-large. They must also have finished within their region's top-25 to advance.

Of the three Washington based teams with realistic shots of advancing to Kentucky, the WSU men’s squad, which was ranked as high as #11 earlier in the season in the USTFCCCA national coaches’ poll, has the least margin for error. 

The Cougars’ 11th place finish at the Notre Dame Invitational is perhaps the biggest blemish on their 2017 team resume.

With seven nationally ranked teams in the West regionals, the onus will have to be on WSU All-American Michael Williams (above/photo by Paul Merca) to run closer to the front to help put the Cougars in a solid position to make their case to go to Louisville. Williams was their second runner at the Pac-12 championships two weeks ago, where he was 19th.

With the men’s race distance 10k instead of 8k, WSU head coach Wayne Phipps feels more confident in his team’s chances at regionals. He feels that the extra 2k distance plays to the Cougars’ strength.

Notable Washington natives running for schools outside the state include Oregon’s Tanner Anderson from Spokane, and the Portland duo of Nick Hauger from Spokane, and Logan Orndorf from Duvall.

Washington’s Amy-Eloise Neale returns as the defending NCAA west regional champion, after winning the race last year in Sacramento, en route to a eighth place finish in the national championships in Terre Haute, Indiana.

One notable runner who won’t run is Boise State’s Brenna Peloquin from Gig Harbor. Peloquin, who finished sixth at last year’s NCAA championship meet, is being redshirted this season.

Gonzaga, Eastern Washington and Seattle University’s squads are all looking to place in the top half of the approximately 30 schools entered in the meet.

The meet gets underway at 10:30 am with the women’s 6k, and the men’s 10k an hour later. If you can’t make the meet, media partner Flotrack.org ($) will stream the race.

The home page for the NCAA West Regionals is available here, which has links to the live results, box draws, course map, and start lists.

NOTE:  The University of Washington and Washington State University contributed to this report.

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