Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Washington women back to number 3 in latest USTFCCCA poll, while Zags ranked for third time...

NEW ORLEANS—The University of Washington women’s cross country squad’s victory at the Under Armour Pre-Nationals Invitational Saturday in Terre Haute, Indiana, moved the Huskies five spots in the latest USTFCCCA Division I coaches’ poll released Tuesday by the association.

The Husky victory, led by senior Katie Rainsberger’s (left, #1276/photo by Paul Merca) sixth place finish, moved the team from number 8 to number 3 in the poll.

Arkansas remains the nation’s number one team, followed in order by Stanford, Washington, BYU, and Colorado.

Other Pac-12 schools ranked in the national top 30 include: number 16 Utah, and number 20 Oregon.

On the men’s side, the Husky men’s squad dropped three spots from number 4 to number 7, after finishing fourth in the Pre-Nationals behind BYU, Colorado and Iona.

The nation’s top five men’s squads are in order: Northern Arizona, BYU, Colorado, Stanford, and Iowa State.

Other Pac-12 teams in the national top 30 include: number 7 Washington, number 10 UCLA, and number 16 Oregon.

After their 16th place finish at the Nuttycombe Invitational in Madison, Wisconsin, the voters were convinced to move Pat Tyson’s Gonzaga Bulldogs into the national top 30, where the Zags reside at 29.

This is the third time in program history that the Bulldogs have been ranked in the national top 30. Last year, the Bulldogs were in the national top 30 for two weeks.

Nationally ranked teams from the West Region include: Stanford (3), Washington (7), UCLA (10), Portland (12), Oregon (16), Boise State (18), and Gonzaga (29).

Next weekend is conference championship weekend, followed by the NCAA regionals on November 15th, as the West Regionals will be hosted by Washington State at the Colfax Golf Course, followed by the NCAA championships on November 23rd in Terre Haute, Indiana.

The USTFCCCA release is available here.

NOTE:  The USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Husky women earn biggest win in Powell era as they take Pre-Nationals crown...

TERRE HAUTE, Indiana—The University of Washington women’s cross country team accomplished its biggest win in the Maurica Powell era, as the number 8 ranked Huskies won the Under Armour Pre-Nationals Blue Race (seeded) team title at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course Saturday, hosted by Indiana State University on the same venue that will host the 2019 NCAA cross country championships.

The Dawgs got the victory by an 84-87 count over number 2 ranked BYU, with #3 ranked Colorado third with 126 points.

The women's team won Pre-Nationals for the third time and first since winning back-to-back titles in 2008 and 2009. The team ran composed and ran together, with the exception of senior Katie Rainsberger who was at the front of the race throughout and led the women with a sixth-place finish. But behind her it was the depth of the squad that moved up consistently throughout the race to secure the team win.

Rainsberger was at the very front of the lead pack for the entire 6k race, coming through in 20:14 to finish sixth overall. Sophomore Shona McCulloch (left/photo by Paul Merca) had one of her best ever runs today as she was 12th in 20:30. Senior Lilli Burdon and junior Allie Schadler crossed side-by-side in 21st and 22nd, respectively, in matching 20:38 times.

Sophomore Camila David-Smith then capped the scoring with a 28th-place finish in 20:42 to give the Huskies a 28 second 1-5 split. Senior Kaitlyn Neal was 80th and junior Hannah Waskom was 104th in the field of more than 250 runners.

BYU’s Erika Bird took the women’s individual crown, covering the course in 20:03.

Husky program director Maurica Powell said afterwards, "Their execution was what was best about it," said Powell about the Husky victory. "Katie did exactly what she intended to do and behind her we had Lilli, Shona, and Allie running the whole race together until the final stretch, and Camila did a really nice job sitting off of those guys and closing the last 2k."

Washington ran without Australian freshman Melany Smart, who was given the race off.

In the men’s 8k, the Huskies, who entered the day as the nation’s number 4 ranked team in the latest USTFCCCA poll, finished fourth in the Blue Race with a final score of 160 points, as number 2 ranked BYU won with 81 points, followed by number 3 ranked Colorado at 83 points, and number 21 Iona was third with 140 points.

Washington was led by senior Andrew Jordan, a transfer from Iowa State, as he turned in an impressive seventh-place effort in a time of 23:34 for the 8k course. Junior Talon Hull got a top-25 finish as he was 23rd in 23:57, and junior All-American Tibebu Proctor was 31st in 24:09. Senior Mick Stanovsek was the No. 4 scorer in 46th-place and junior Jack Rowe finished in 53rd in 24:28 to cap the points. Julius Diehr was the sixth man in 72nd in a time of 24:36 and Alex Slenning was 80th in 24:40.

Mt. Spokane HS alum John Dressel, a cross country All-American for Colorado, led the way for the Buffaloes, with his eighth place finish in 23:35, one second behind Jordan.

While head coach Andy Powell was pleased with the overall effort, he felt that the 1-5 gap needs to be tighter for the next three races, as the Husky men finished with a 1-5 split of 54 seconds.

"Most of our guys haven't raced in a month so it was a good rust-buster and a wake-up call before conference in two weeks," he said. "We faced a good Colorado team today and we've got to get a lot better and close the gap, but we're definitely a much better a team than we showed today. We're healthy and on track and just need to clean a few things up and get ready for the postseason."

BYU’s Conner Mantz won the men’s title in 23:21.

In the men’s White race, Washington alum Andy Snyder, who is now a graduate transfer at San Francisco, was third in 24:51.

The men’s open race saw UW freshman Sam Tanner from New Zealand finish third in 24:41, while the Huskies’ Gavin Parpart was seventh in 25:06.

Andrea Markezich was the top finisher for Washington in the women’s open race, running 22:01 to finish 15th, followed by Kiera Marshall in 17th in 22:10.

Complete results of the Under Armour Pre-Nationals are available here.

Elsewhere, Eastern Washington and Seattle University finished 15th and 16th in the men’s invitational section at the Santa Clara Bronco Invitational Saturday at Bayland’s Park in Sunnyvale, California Saturday.

The Eagles had a final team score of 375 points in the 23-team men’s field, while Seattle University had 387 points.

The Gauchos of UC Santa Barbara won with 52 points. Kevin Lynch of Utah Valley was the individual champ at 23:43.

Carter Ledwith led the way for Eastern Washington, running 24:39 for 8k to finish 24th, while Nathan Pixler was the top Redhawk across the line in 57th, in a time of 25:02.

In the women’s 6k race, the Redhawks were 14th in the 26 team field with 360 points, while Eastern Washington was 21st with 543 points.

Olivia Stein led the way for SeattleU with her 23rd place finish in 20:59, while Kenzie Gaines was the first Eagle across the line in 42nd place in 21:22.

Jenny Sandoval of San Jose State won the individual title in 20:18, while Utah Valley won the team title with 105 points.

The complete results of the Santa Clara Bronco Invitational are available here.

In College Station, Texas, Claire Manley led the Gonzaga women's cross country team to a seventh-place finish at the Arturo Barrios Invitational Saturday. The redshirt junior placed 13th at the meet hosted by Texas A&M.

Manley ran 20:50 for the 6k course.

Jessica Pascoe of Florida was the individual winner in 20:01, while Cal Baptist won the team title with 75 points.

Complete results of the Arturo Barrios Invitational are available here.

NOTE:  The sports information offices of the University of Washington, Indiana State University, Santa Clara University, Eastern Washington University, Seattle University, Texas A&M, and Gonzaga University contributed to this report.

Friday, October 18, 2019

James Mwaura finishes 15th at Nuttycombe Invitational Friday...

MADISON, Wisconsin—Gonzaga’s James Mwaura (left/photo by Paul Merca) finished 15th at the Nuttycombe Invitational Friday hosted by the University of Wisconsin.

The sophomore from Tacoma’s Lincoln HS ran 23:57 over the 8k Thomas Zimmer Championship Course, as Iowa State’s Edwin Kurgat took the win in 23:30. For Mwaura, that was a 38 second improvement over what he ran on this course last year.

Five places behind Mwaura was Washington State’s Amir Ado, who ran 23:59.

Behind Mwaura for the Zags were Peter Hogan in 61st in 24:23, Cullen McEachern in 110th (24:41), Yacine Guermala in 116th (24:44), and Riley Moore in 133rd (24:52).

Scoring for the Cougs were Reid Muller in 114th (24:43), Zach Stallings in 186th (25:19), Matthew Watkins in 196th (25:27), and Justin Janke in 216th (26:03).

Gonzaga finished 16th in the 33 team field with a final team score of 435, while Washington State was 30th with 717 points.

The Zags entered the race unranked in the latest USTFCCCA poll, and the field included 19 ranked programs. GU finished ahead of 10 teams that appeared in the latest rankings, including No. 12 Syracuse and No. 16 Virginia.

Defending national champion Northern Arizona took the win with 59 points, with Stanford second at 133, and Tulsa third at 175.

In the women’s 6k race, the Cougars finished 34th in the 36 team field with 847 points, as Arkansas, the nation’s number one team, won with 62 points, followed by Stanford with 98, and North Carolina State at 203.

Alicia Monson of the host Badgers won the race in 19:40.

Leading the way for WSU on the day was sophomore Zorana Grujic, placing 110th overall with a time of 21:22.

Erin Mullins followed Grujic with a 131st place finish with a time of 21:31, and Josie Brown shortly followed in 156th place with a time of 21:43. Kaili Keefe turned in a time of 22:29 overall to finish 222nd, and following closely behind was Melissa Hruska in 228th place at 22:44.

Complete results of the Nuttycombe Invitational are available here.

NOTE:  The sports information offices of the University of Wisconsin, Gonzaga University, and Washington State University contributed to this report.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

All five Washington D1 squads in action in final regular season races...

For Washington’s five NCAA Division I schools, this weekend will in many cases, help determine which individuals will run in the various conference championship meets that will be contested in two weeks.

The action starts Friday, as Washington State and Gonzaga (men only), led by sophomore James Mwaura (left/photo by Paul Merca) sends their teams to Madison, Wisconsin for the Nuttycombe Invitational hosted by the University of Wisconsin.

Saturday, the #4 ranked men’s squad and the #8 ranked University of Washington women’s teams head off to Terre Haute, Indiana for the Under Armour Pre-Nationals meet on the LaVern Gibson Championship Course, which will host the NCAA cross country championships in mid-November.

Washington will be in the Blue Races with additional individuals running in the open races. The women's 6,000-meter Blue Race will go early Saturday at 8 a.m. Pacific time and feature 37 teams including 10 teams currently ranked in the USTFCCCA Top-30. The men's 8,000-meter Blue Race follows at 8:35 a.m. Pacific and has 38 teams in the field including 10 ranked in the Top-30.

The Huskies will run all of their projected top runners at the Pre-Nationals, with the exception of freshman Melany Smart, who is being rested this weekend.

Meanwhile, the Gonzaga women’s team heads to College Station, Texas for the Arturo Barrios Invitational, hosted by Texas A&M.

Finally, both Seattle University and Eastern Washington will send teams to Sunnyvale, California for the Santa Clara Bronco Invitational on Saturday.

Runners from Eastern Washington, Gonzaga, and Washington State not making the trip will compete Friday afternoon at the Sasquatch Invitational, hosted by Spokane CC, at the Downriver Golf Course in Spokane.

In addition, Central Washington will run a select number of runners, as they are the only Division II school in action this week, as they tune up for next weekend’s GNAC championships in Montana.

Links are provided to the news releases of all five Washington D1 schools.

NOTE:  The sports information offices of Gonzaga University, Washington State University, the University of Washington, Eastern Washington University and Seattle University contributed to this report.

Seattle Pacific maintains number 7 national ranking in latest USTFCCCA D2 coaches' poll..

NEW ORLEANS—Seattle Pacific’s fourth place finish in last Saturday’s Western Washington Classic did not hurt the Falcons in the latest USTFCCCA Division II women’s cross country coaches’ poll released Wednesday.

Despite running without All-American Kaylee Mitchell (left/photo by Paul Merca), Seattle Pacific remains the country’s number 7 team, and the highest ranking squad in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.

The nation’s top five women’s teams are in order: Adams State, Grand Valley State, Colorado School of Mines, Augustana (SD), and Chico State, which won last Saturday’s Western Washington Classic.

From the GNAC, Seattle Pacific is the top ranked team at number 7.

Western Washington, which finished second at its Classic, jumped four spots to number 14, while Alaska Anchorage dropped one spot to number 16 to round out the nationally ranked teams from the conference.

No teams from the GNAC are ranked in the national top 25 in the latest men’s cross country coaches’ poll.

The nation’s top five teams are in order: Colorado School of Mines, Adams State, Chico State, Grand Valley State, and Western Colorado.

The USTFCCCA poll is available here.

NOTE: The USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

Monday, October 14, 2019

WEEKEND RECAP: Vikings take second at their own WWU Classic, plus marathon weekend...

After taking some time off the site to recover from lingering effects from the trip to Doha, here’s a recap of what happened over the weekend:

Saturday in Bellingham, the Western Washington mens’ and womens’ squads finished second at their own Western Washington Classic cross country meet at Sudden Valley Golf Course.

In the opening women’s 6k race, the Alaska Anchorage duo of Nancy Jeptoo and Emmanuelah Chelimo finished 1-2 in times of 21:37 and 21:40.

Seattle Pacific, which ran without their All-American Kaylee Mitchell, was led instead by Dania Holmberg (left/photo by Jamie Lilly for SPU Athletics), who finished fifth in 22:02, and were helped by an eighth place finish by Kate Lilly in 22:15.

Meanwhile, the host Vikings were led by junior Jane Barr’s ninth place finish in 22:18.

The story of the day in the women’s team race was how the #18 ranked Vikings placed all five of its scoring runners in the top 30.

Behind Barr were Tovah Swartz-Ireland (22:35) in 21st, Tracy Melville (22:39) in 25th, Sophia Galvez (22:41) in 26th, and Rebecca Lehman (22:42) in 27th.

Meanwhile, Seattle Pacific, which went into the meet ranked number 7 in the USTFCCCA national poll, could only counter with Katherine Walter (23:04) in in 34th, Kelsey Washenberger (23:13) in 39th, and Elizabeth Thompson (23:25) in 47th.

Number 4 ranked Chico State won the meet with 51 points, with the Vikings second at 88 points. Alaska Anchorage, ranked number 15 in the national poll, was third with 93 points, while Seattle Pacific was fourth with 111 points.

Central Washington was tenth with 221 points, led by Lily Tyrell’s 46th place finish in 23:19, and Saint Martin’s was eleventh with 343 points, as Elaina Hansen was their top finisher in 81st in 24:38.

Needless to say, there will be some shuffling in the USTFCCCA national rankings when the national poll is released on Wednesday the 16th.

In the men’s 10k, it was a runaway up front between Alaska Anchorage’s Felix Kemboi (31:38) and Chico State’s Trad Berti (31:41), with the Seawolves’ Wesley Kirui third in 31:51.

Chico State, which entered the meet ranked number 3 in the USTFCCCA national poll and the only nationally ranked team in the field, placed six runners in the top ten, and eight in the top 12 to run away with the team title, scoring 24 points.

Western Washington was a distant second with 97 points, led by Eric Hamel’s 15th place finish in 32:39.

Seattle Pacific was eighth with 188 points, led by Colin Boutin, who was 30th in 32:59, while Central Washington was tenth with 247 points.

The Wildcats were led by Trevor Allen, who was 33rd in 33:08, while Saint Martin’s was 11th in the 14-team field with 318 points, led by Andrew Oslin’s 51st place finish in 33:36.

Complete results of the Western Washington Classic are available here.

In Lewiston, Idaho, the Gonzaga women’s team picked up a second place finish at the Inland Empire Championships Saturday, hosted by Lewis-Clark State at the Lewiston Orchards.

Jaxon Mackie paced the GU men with an eighth-place finish, and Alicia Anderson led the Bulldog women with a 10th place finish.

Mackie ran 24:05. Ben Hogan crossed the line in 19th at 24:29. Matthew Roberts was 25th with a time of 24:41. Alex Walde (24:49) and Bradley Rzewnicki (24:50) placed 31st and 32nd to round out the Gonzaga scorers.

Anderson's time of 17:51 was just ahead of teammate, Brittney Hansen's 17:51 finish. The Zags' Makenna Edwards (17:57) and Paxton Depoe (18:02) were 15th and 16th. Alyssa Bienfang and Claire Gillett were close behind in 18th and 19th at 18:04 and 18:09.

Idaho took the women's team title, sweeping the top three scoring spots, and placing its top five runners in the Top-10. The Vandals finished with 19 points as a team. The Bulldogs had 62 points.

Calgary had the top four finishes in the men's race, led by Alex James at 23:29. The Dinos cruised the team win with 21 points. Idaho was second with 55 points.

Gonzaga held out its top ten runners on the men’s side as they prepare to run in this Friday’s Nuttycombe Invitational in Madison, Wisconsin.

Gonzaga’s release is available here.


In Vienna, Austria Saturday, defending Olympic marathon champion and current world record holder Eliud Kipchoge became the first man to break 2 hours in the marathon with his 1:59:41 (1:59:40.2) clocking in the INEOS 1:59 Challenge.

Like Nike’s Breaking2 Challenge in Monza, Italy two years ago, this mark will not be ratified for world record purposes, as it used a series of rotating pacers, including Washington State University legend Bernard Lagat, and 2018-19 University of Washington volunteer coach and defending Olympic 1500 meter champion Matthew Centrowitz.

Afterwards, Kipchoge said, “It is a great feeling to make history in sport after Sir Roger Bannister [set the first sub-four-minute mile] in 1954. I am the happiest man in the world to be the first human to run under two hours and I can tell people that no human is limited. I expect more people all over the world to run under two hours after today.”

You can read all about it, and rewatch it here on the INEOS 1:59 Challenge site.

Meanwhile on Sunday at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, defending champion Brigid Kosgei of Kenya wiped out Great Britain’s Paula Radcliffe’s course record of 2:17:18 and her world record of 2:15:25, set in London in 2003 in one fell swoop, running 2:14.04.

Illinois native and University of Washington alum Lindsay Flanagan, who already has the Olympic Games qualifying standard by finishing in the top ten at Boston earlier this year, lowered her personal best to 2:28:08, a 1:17 improvement from her previous best, set in Frankfurt.

“If anything, it’s just giving me confidence,” she said. “I ran well on the hilly course in Boston and then got a PR here, so let’s just keep this trending in the right direction heading into the Trials.”

On the men’s side, Sehome HS alum Jake Riley, who underwent Achilles tendon surgery last year, and left the Hanson’s-Brooks Distance Project to train in Boulder under Lee Troop, returned to elite level racing with his ninth place finish in 2:10:36, 54 seconds under the Olympic Games qualifying standard.

“This is the first race where I've actually felt like the old me beforehand—or actually a better me, because I have two good Achilles now,” he said to Runner’s World afterwards.

Results of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon are available here.

NOTE:  The sports information offices of Western Washington University, Seattle Pacific, Gonzaga, along with the INEOS 1:59 Challenge and the Bank of America Chicago Marathon contributed to this report.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Division II schools head to Bellingham for Saturday's WWU Classic showdown...

Western Washington standout Jane Barr
(photo courtesy WWU Athletics)
It’s as close a feel to a championship race without it being a championship race.

Saturday, all four Washington GNAC schools meet up in Bellingham for the Western Washington Classic at Sudden Valley Golf Course, hosted by the Vikings.

In addition, several other schools from the GNAC will make the trip to Bellingham, including Western Oregon, Alaska Anchorage, Northwest Nazarene, and Simon Fraser.

This meet will give the men one regular season race to contest the regional and national championship distance of 10k as opposed to the conference championship distance of 8k, which they will run in two weeks as the GNAC championship meet goes east of the Rocky Mountains to Billings, Montana, hosted by Montana State Billings.

Action gets underway at 10 am with the women’s 6k featuring four nationally ranked teams—number 4 Chico State, number 7 Seattle Pacific, number 15 Alaska Anchorage, and number 18 Western Washington.

In the men’s race that gets underway at 11 am, Chico State is the only nationally ranked team in the field at number 3.

Western Washington’s meet preview is available here, while the GNAC release is available here.

In Division I, Gonzaga is the only school in action Saturday, as they make the drive from Spokane to Lewiston, Idaho for the Inland Empire Championships, hosted by Lewis-Clark State.

The women’s 5k begins at 10 am, while the mens’ 8k goes at 10:45 am.

Gonzaga’s release is available here, while host school Lewis-Clark State’s home page for the meet is available here.


One story this site didn’t follow as closely during our time in Doha was the announcement last week of Alberto Salazar’s (left/photo by Paul Merca) 4-year suspension handed down by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) after a 4-year investigation.

In response to that, Nike CEO Mark Parker yesterday announced that the Nike Oregon Project will cease to exist, first reported by Runner’s World.

In deciding USADA’s case against Salazar, two independent three-member arbitration panels found that Salazar “trafficked testosterone, a banned performance-enhancing substance, administered a prohibited IV infusion, and engaged in tampering to attempt to prevent relevant information about their conduct from being learned by USADA.”

“This situation, along with ongoing unsubstantiated assertions, is a distraction for many of the athletes and is compromising their ability to focus on their training and competition needs. I have therefore made the decision to wind down the Oregon Project,” Nike chairman, president, and CEO Mark Parker wrote.

Nike will help those athletes on the team, including recent world champions Donavan Brazier (800m) and Sifan Hassan (1500/10000m), along with 10000m silver medalist Yomif Kejelcha of Ethiopia, Oregon grads Galen Rupp, Jordan Hasay, and Jessica Hull, find new coaching situations.

The Runner’s World story is available here.


Late Friday night, Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge will make his second attempt to break the 2-hour barrier in the marathon at the INEOS 1:59 Challenge in Vienna, Austria.

Just like his first attempt two years ago in Monza, Italy, Kipchoge will have a team of pacers working with him who will be shuttled in and out to shield him from the elements as they run in a V formation.

Among the pacers are 2018-19 University of Washington volunteer coach and 2016 Olympic 1500m champion Matthew Centrowitz, and Washington State University hall of fame member and two-time Olympic medalist Bernard Lagat.

Lagat was one of the pacers in Kipchoge’s attempt in Monza two years ago.

You can watch the race on YouTube as it starts at 11:15 pm Friday night, Pacific time (8:15 am, Vienna time).

Meanwhile, defending champion and four-time Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah of Great Britain, and 2016 Olympic marathon bronze medalist and 2017 champion, Galen Rupp go head-to-head in Sunday’s Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

It is significant in that this is Rupp’s first race since the suspension of Nike Oregon Project coach and founder Alberto Salazar.

Rupp has battled Achilles tendon issues over the last year, stemming from last year’s race, where he finished fifth.

Oregon alum Jordan Hasay, who like Rupp, was a member of the Nike Oregon Project, is entered in the women’s elite field, along with University of Washington alum Lindsay Flanagan, a native of the state of Illinois.

You can read about the Bank of America Chicago Marathon elite field here.

NOTE:  The sports information offices of Western Washington University, the GNAC Conference, Gonzaga University, Lewis-Clark State, the INEOS 1:59 Challenge, and the Chicago Marathon contributed to this report.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Doing our best to catch up on college cross country...

Now that we’ve returned home from Doha and the IAAF World Track & Field Championships, it’s time to refocus the coverage back to the collegiate cross country season, which has been so badly neglected.

We’ll start our efforts to catch up with what we’ve missed by posting a series of links to various web sites:

—The University of Washington men’s and women’s cross country teams remain in the top 10 of the most current USTFCCCA coaches polls, with the Husky men checking in at number 4, and the women’s squad ranked number 8.

On the men's side, Northern Arizona, BYU, Colorado, Washington & Stanford are the nation's top five teams, while the women are led by Arkansas, BYU, Colorado, New Mexico & Stanford.

The Washington men won last Saturday's John Payne/Curtis Invitational at Chambers Bay in University Place, led by Mick Stanovsek (left/photo by Paul Merca), who won in a time of 24:31 over 8k.

The Husky women's team were fifth at the Joe Piane Invitational hosted by Notre Dame, led by Melany Smart, who was fourth in 16:22.  Utah of the Pac-12 was the team champs with 110 points.

--Gonzaga took 14th in the men's race at the Piane Invitational at Notre Dame last Friday, led by James Mwaura, who finished eighth in a time of 23:31.

--Seattle University won the women's team title at the John Payne/Curtis Invitational at Chambers Bay on October 5th, led by individual winner Olivia Stein, who ran 17:24. Hamza Ali was the first Redhawk to cross the line in the men's 8k, finishing 11th in 25:33.

--Last Saturday (October 5th), Eastern Washington traveled to Salem, Oregon for the Charles Bowles Invitational hosted by Willamette University.  The Eagles were third in the men's team race, while the women's squad finished fourth.  Carter Ledwith and Rees Jacot were the top runners across the line for the Eags.

--Washington State was idle last weekend, but competed the week before at the Bill Dellinger Invitational, hosted by the University of Oregon. Amir Ado and Zorana Grujic led the way for the Cougs, who finished tenth in the men's team race, and 12th in the women's team competition.

--In Division II, Seattle Pacific's men's squad took third at the John Payne/Curtis Invitational last Saturday, led by Elius Graff, who finished 19th in 26:11.

--Central Washington's women's squad took second, and the men's team was fourth at the John Payne/Curtis Invitational Saturday. Lily Tyrell was the Wildcats' top runner, finishing eighth in 18:22 for 5k, while Trevor Allen was 12th in 25:40.

--Saint Martin's Nick Sarysz and Elaina Hansen led the way for the Saints at last Saturday's John Payne/Curtis Invitational. Sarysz ran 26:26 for 8k to finish 22nd overall, while Hansen was 24th overall in 19:15.

--Western Washington was the only Division II school idle last weekend. The weekend before, the Vikings, who are ranked #17 in the most recent USTFCCCA women's national poll, finished fourth in both races at the Roy Griak Invitational in St. Paul, Minnesota on September 28th, hosted by the University of Minnesota.

Talia Dreicer led the way for the Vikes in the women's race with her 15th place finish in 23:08 for 6k,  while Eric Hamel was the top runner for WWU in the men's 8k in 16th place in 26:09.

The latest Division II USTFCCCA poll releases later Wednesday.  The Vikings will host the Western Washington Invitational Saturday at Sudden Valley GC in Bellingham Saturday, with all four Washington GNAC schools expected to field full teams in its final regular season meet before the GNAC championships in two weeks.

NOTE:  The sports information offices of all nine Washington Division I & II schools contributed to this report.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Josh Kerr of the Brooks Beasts finishes sixth in the 1500m on final day of world champs...

DOHA, Qatar—In a race devoid of tactics, Kenya’s Timothy Cheruiyot made sure that no one sat and kicked, as he led from gun to tape to win the men’s 1500 meters on the final day of competition at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships at Khalifa International Stadium Sunday night.

Cheruiyot ran 3:29.26 to win the second fastest race in world championship meet history.

Behind the Kenyan, seven of the top nine finishers either set personal or season bests, including Josh Kerr (left/photo by Paul Merca) of Great Britain and the Seattle based Brooks Beasts track club, who finished sixth in a new personal best of 3:32.52.

Two spots behind Kerr was 2018-19 University of Washington volunteer assistant coach Matthew Centrowitz, who after dealing with injuries earlier in the season, ran a season best 3:32.81, and ducked under the 2020 Olympic qualifying standard.

After Centrowitz finished Friday’s semifinal race, he mentioned to reporters in the mixed zone that he thought that Cheruiyot, the defending world champion and a noted front runner, was going to push the pace from the start, and that the best strategy is to go with him from the first step.

Cheruiyot went through the 400 in 55.01, then followed it up by crossing the 800 in 1:51.75. 

At 1200, he was the only runner under 2:50 at 2:48.22, and it was academic that barring a collapse, Cheruiyot was going to defend his world championship.

Kerr sensibly stayed off the pace, and made a hard surge for home with 300 to go, but could not make up ground on the others in front.

Kerr, who now stands tenth on the UK all-time list, said: “I just ran out of steam. I feel like I ran a very even and sensible race, something that I was planning on doing. I got beaten by some very good runners today. I am not disappointed, it is a little bit bittersweet. I feel like a medal was definitely up for grabs today and I kind of let that opportunity go.”

The University of New Mexico grad, who finished his first full year under Beasts coach Danny Mackey, said, “I feel like I gave it my all out there and ran 3:36, 3:36, 3:32. If you asked me if I wanted to do that at the start of the championships and do you think that will medal, I would say hell yeah. I am not disappointed with the way I performed. I prepared very well for this competition and sixth was just what it was on the day.”

Rio 2016 champion Matthew Centrowitz commented: “I wish I had a better start off the line. I was right next to Cheruiyot. We all knew what he was going to do…”

Centrowitz, who had a bit of a late start in his season due to injuries and transitioning to a new coaching situation with Jerry Schumacher and the Beaverton based Nike Bowerman TC, said that having a full year with the new team, which has more strength and 5000 meter based training, will help him going into the 2020 season.

From an American perspective, Team USATF ended the meet with two victories in the men’s and women’s 4 x 400 relays, and a 1-2 finish in the women’s 100 hurdles by Nia Ali and Kent Harrison, giving them 29 total medals, of which 14 were gold.

Complete final day results of the IAAF World Track & Field Championships are available here.

NOTE:  The IAAF, British Athletics and USA Track & Field contributed to this report.

Special thanks for technical assistance during our stay in Doha to the IAAF and to Nikon Japan, who came through with a backup camera. 

Saturday, October 5, 2019

It's good to be a fan for once...

DOHA, Qatar—Sometimes, it’s just good to be a fan.

It’s just past midnight at the place I’ve called home for the last nine days, the Wyndham Grand Hotel, where a sizable contingent from around the world is staying.

The Wyndham is part of a cluster of three hotels within walking distance of each other where the Doha Organizing Committee is housing those who have come from all parts of the world to cover the IAAF World Track & Field Championships.

With no athletes with Washington ties competing Saturday night, I’ve been able to play photographer just a little bit more than normal (disclosure: I am credentialed as a photographer, but I have an upgraded media pass that only gets me into the mixed zone to do quick interviews).

While most of my shooting has been on the perimeter of the track, I’ve been able to trade my yellow IAAF photo vest for a black IAAF vest for one round of the men’s shot put.

What’s the significance? The black bib gets you into the infield, as opposed to trying to shoot it from the perimeter of the track.

I was able to shoot the second round of the shot from the infield, and got good shots of all three Americans in the final—Ryan Crouser, Darrell Hill, and Joe Kovacs.

When you only get one round to shoot someone from the infield, there’s only one rule (actually two)—get it right, and don’t screw up!

As I am also shooting for TrackTown USA in Eugene, I took my best shots and transmitted it via iPhone SD card reader to Jessica Gabriel, their director of communications, who’s been using some of my photos this week for social media posts, primarily on Twitter.

As we got down to the sixth and final round, Kovacs suddenly went into the lead after sitting in fourth with a throw of 75-2 (22.91m). Suddenly, the plan to feature either Crouser or Hill in the post-event tweet went out the window.

Fortunately, I downloaded a pic of Joe from that second round onto my phone, and once the event was over, she was able to tweet out a summary of that competition:

BTW, what else happened tonight from an American perspective? 

Nothing, if you don’t want to call the first victory by a USA men’s 4 x 100 meter relay team (Christian Coleman, Justin Gatlin, Mike Rodgers, Noah Lyles) a big deal; a convincing win in the metric mile by Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands, who trains in Beaverton on the Nike campus as part of the Nike Oregon Project, thus getting the 1500/10000 double; and Shelby Houlihan of the USA and the Nike Bowerman TC was fourth in that women’s 1500 in an American record 3:54.99.

You can read the recap of the meet, as well as look up the results from Saturday night via the IAAF’s micro site.

Before I end this post, I must apologize to all of you for completely neglecting the collegiate cross country action involving the state’s nine teams.

Once I get back to the States, I’ll do my best to catch up with what’s going on in college cross country.

Sunday is the final day of the IAAF World Track & Field Championships, with 2018-19 UW volunteer coach and defending Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz, along with Josh Kerr of Great Britain and the Seattle based Brooks Beasts, duking it out for a spot on the podium in the men’s 1500 meters, which gets underway at 7:40 pm (9:40 am in Seattle).

NOTE:  The IAAF, and USA Track & Field contributed to this report.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Josh Kerr and Matthew Centrowitz advance from the semis to Sunday's 1500m finals...

DOHA, Qatar—Josh Kerr (left/photo by Paul Merca) of Great Britain and the Seattle based Brooks Beasts and 2016 Olympic champion and 2018-19 University of Washington volunteer coach Matthew Centrowitz both advanced to Sunday’s final in the 1500 meters on a lively Friday night at Khalifa International Stadium.

With the stadium nearly filled in anticipation of a possible victory in the men’s high jump by national hero Mutaz Essa Barshim (spoiler alert—he won with a 2019 world leading mark of 7-9.25/2.37m), the twelve men in heat 2 lined up with only five guaranteed to advance, and two others needing to run faster than the 3:36.98 run by Ben Blankenship of Team USATF and the Oregon TC Elite in finishing sixth in heat 1.

Ronald Kwemoi of Kenya wasn’t messing around, taking the field through the first 400 in 59.06, with Centrowitz, Kerr, and 2018-19 University of Washington volunteer coach Amos Bartelsmeyer also tucking in behind Kwemoi.

Kwemoi continued to lead through 800 (1:59.23) and 1000 (2:28.62), but behind him, folks were positioning themselves for the mad dash over the final lap.

Centrowitz got himself positioned into third as the field hit the bell, with Kerr and Bartelsmeyer about two steps behind Centrowitz.

The field opened a gap down the backstraight with over 250 to go, and Bartelsmeyer couldn’t quite respond. Meantime, Kerr covered the move, and as they came off the final turn, the Brit swung to the outside to give himself some running room, and ultimately finished fourth to assure one of the five automatic qualifiers in a time of 3:36.58, while Centrowitz finished sixth in 3:36.77 to get one of the two time qualifiers to Sunday’s final.

Bartelsmeyer, who was one of the revelations of the 2019 season after opening at the Dempsey in January with a 3:55.32 personal best in the mile, finished eleventh in the heat in a time of 3:37.74.

Afterwards, Bartelsmeyer expressed disappointment.

“I wanted to make the final, and I thought I was capable of it. Looking back, I found that I wasn’t quite with in the first half of the last lap, and got gapped a bit. Once you get a gap between the first six, you’re not making it up in the homestretch.”

“The big thing I’m taking away from this meet is that I know that I’m capable of running with these guys and I know I belong with these guys.”

Centrowitz, on the other hand, is preparing for anything to happen in Sunday’s final.

At the same time, he said he felt relieved that he lived tonight to go again in less than 48 hours after getting through as a time qualifier. He said he didn’t do himself any favors by being positioned in lanes 2 and 3 for most of the last 800.

Kerr said: “I feel like I had another gear there if I needed to be, so when I looked around and no one was gaining I had a little smile to myself. It was about making smart decisions, trusting myself and trusting my strength.”

In addition to Barshim’s win in the high jump, Team USATF’s Delilah Muhammad set her second world record of the season in winning the 400 hurdles in 52.16, with Sydney McLaughlin second in a personal best 52.23, replicating their 1-2 finish at the Toyota USATF Outdoor Championships in late July in Des Moines, Iowa.

No athletes with Washington ties compete Saturday, with Centrowitz and Kerr left to run on Sunday when the meet concludes.

Saturday night’s session features finals in the men’s shot put, women’s triple jump, women’s 1500 and 5000 meters, both 4 x 100 relays, and the men’s marathon.

Complete day 8 results of the IAAF World Track & Field Championships are available here.

NOTE:  The IAAF, British Athletics and USA Track & Field contributed to this report.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Centrowitz, Bartelsmeyer & Kerr all advance to 1500m semis at world champs...

DOHA, Qatar—All three athletes with Washington ties advanced to Friday’s semifinals in the men’s 1500 meters as day 7 at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships at Khalifa International Stadium concluded Thursday night.

In what literally was a blanket finish, 2018-19 University of Washington volunteer coaches Matthew Centrowitz of the USA and Amos Bartelsmeyer of Germany (above/photo by Paul Merca) finished third and sixth, respectively in heat 1 of 3 won by Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen in 3:37.67.

Centrowitz and Bartelsmeyer stayed near the front of the pack and maintained contact with the leaders throughout the race, with Bartelsmeyer content to tuck behind the defending Olympic champion in the same way a running back follows his lead blocker.

With 100 meters to go, there were seven runners bidding for six automatic qualifying spots for Friday’s semifinal race (top six in each of the three heats, plus six time qualifiers).

As Ingebrigtsen crossed the line in 3:37.67, Centrowitz took third, 2/100ths behind Ingebrigtsen, while Bartelsmeyer, the German national champ, got the final auto qualifier in 3:37.80.

“My strategy today was to never get out of the top six,” Centrowitz said to reporters in the mixed zone.”

“Being that you’re in the next heat, you have no idea what’s going to happen.”

In the second heat, Josh Kerr of Great Britain (above/photo by Paul Merca) and the Seattle based Brooks Beasts was an easy second behind defending world champ Timothy Cheruiyot of Kenya, running 3:36.99 to Cheruiyot’s 3:36.82.

“You got to make sure that you’re running with your head up,” Kerr said in the mixed zone afterwards.

When asked about his finishing speed, and specifically over the last 100 meters, Kerr said, “I feel like I’ve got some great finishing speed, and I’ve got to trust that over the next rounds.”

He said that he had been training under Beasts coach Danny Mackey at altitude in the buildup to the world championships, specifically in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he was an undergraduate at the University of New Mexico. During the buildup, he said that several of his Brooks Beasts teammates helped him out by serving as training partners.

All three are back in action Friday night in the semifinals, as by sheer coincidence, all are in the second of two semifinal heats at 8:20 pm local time (10:20 am in Seattle), with the top five places advancing to Sunday night’s final, and only two additional time qualifiers.

They are the only three athletes with Washington ties remaining in the meet, which concludes Sunday.

Complete day 7 results of the IAAF World Track & Field Championships are available here.

NOTE:  The IAAF, British Athletics and USA Track & Field contributed to this report.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Devon Allen finishes seventh in 110 hurdles at world champs...

DOHA, Qatar—Former Renton resident Devon Allen (above/photo by Paul Merca) finished seventh in the finals of the men’s 110 hurdles to cap off an exciting day 6 at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships at Khalifa International Stadium Wednesday night.

Allen, who had not run the hurdles since the Toyota USA Outdoor Championships, advanced to the finals earlier in the evening as the final time qualifier out of the three semifinal heats, placing fourth in heat 2 of 3, running 13.36, as Jamaica’s Omar McLeod won the heat in 13.08.

In the finals, Allen got out to an outstanding start, but was hindered by what he considered technical mistakes.

He told reporters in the mixed zone that he had an issue with his Achilles tendon in the buildup to Doha, which hampered his training.

Allen plans to take a few weeks off before starting the buildup to 2020.

In the semifinals of the women’s 400 hurdles, University of Washington alum Gianna Woodruff, representing Panama, ran a season best time of 55.61, 1/100th of a second off her lifetime best and national record, but it was not enough to advance to Friday’s finals, as she finished sixth in her heat.

American Olympian Sydney McLaughlin won the heat in a time of 53.81.

University of Washington volunteer coach Tim Duckworth of Great Britain’s world championship bid in the decathlon ended before the first event, the 100 meter dash started.

Duckworth suffered an unspecified injury during pre-race warmups at the warmup track to his leg, and the decision was made by him, along with University of Washington associate head coach Toby Stevenson to pull the plug on the world championships.

Publisher Paul Merca talked briefly to the two after the decathlon 100, then noticed that Duckworth, the 2018 NCAA decathlon champ while attending the University of Kentucky, was limping noticeably.

In a statement released by British Athletics, Duckworth said, “I am absolutely gutted to have withdrawn myself from my first World Champs decathlon.”

“It was not an easy decision but I didn't want to start the comp and not be able to finish.”

“It would have been a special competition for me and I wish the rest of my British teammates and my fellow decathletes the best of luck.”

Thursday, all of the action surrounding athletes with Washington ties centers around the men’s 1500 meters, as Josh Kerr of the Seattle based Brooks Beasts, and 2019 University of Washington volunteer coaches Amos Bartelsmeyer (Germany) & defending Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz, all run in the first round of the event.

Centrowitz and Bartelsmeyer will run together in heat 1 which starts at 10:00 pm local time (noon in Seattle), while Kerr runs in the second heat, which starts 12 minutes later.

Complete day 6 results of the IAAF World Track & Field Championships are available here.

NOTE:  The IAAF, British Athletics and USA Track & Field contributed to this report.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Kara Winger earns highest placing in a major international with fifth place finish at world champs...

DOHA, Qatar—Vancouver native Kara Winger (left/photo by Paul Merca) earned her highest placing in a major international with her fifth place finish in the javelin as day 5 of the IAAF World Track & Field Championships concluded Tuesday night at Khalifa International Stadium.

Winger, the Skyview HS and Purdue University grad who’s been a mainstay on numerous world championship and Olympic teams, threw 206-3 (62.88m) in round 3 to put herself in fifth place to assure herself three more throws and a spot in the final eight.

After a foul in round 4, she threw her best mark of 207-5 (63.23m) in the fifth frame, before finishing the day with a throw of 204-9 (62.40m).

Kelsey Barber of Australia took the victory with a best of 218-4 (66.56m), followed by Shiying Liu (216-2/65.88m) and Huihui Lyu (214-10/65.49m).

Her highest previous finish at either the world championships or Olympics was an eighth place finish at the 2015 world championships in Beijing, where she threw 199-9 (60.88m).

In a text afterwards to publisher Paul Merca, Winger said, "I’m being a typical never-satisfied athlete about it in that I’m disappointed that I wasn’t good technically again. There is a lot that I did well at PanAms and The Match that didn’t show up tonight, and I’ll just have to chalk that up to nerves and trying too hard. I’m so thrilled with my championship season overall."

"Missing the Diamond League Final this year and really struggling to feel like myself for a while ended up being really good for me. It’s awesome to feel like I truly belong in a major championship final for maybe the first time ever, and that is all due to Jamie Myers’ programming and Dana Lyon’s technical coaching. I LOVED feeling strong and confident in the last few months, and I’m so happy to absolutely trust my system," adding that throwing the javelin feels fun again.

Earlier in the evening, University of Washington alum Gianna Woodruff, representing Panama, advanced to her second straight world championships semifinal, running 56.07 in the 400 hurdles to finish fourth in her heat.

While it was just off her season best time of 55.91 set in late July, it was good enough to advance to Wednesday’s semifinals (top 4 in each of the 5 first round heats, plus 4 fastest time qualifiers), slated to start at 9:05pm local time (11:05 am in Seattle).

Her heat was won by American training partner and current world record holder Dalilah Muhammad, who ran 54.87, the third fastest time of the day.

In addition to Woodruff on Wednesday, University of Washington volunteer coach Tim Duckworth of Great Britain starts the first of two days in the decathlon competition, and former Renton resident Devon Allen runs in the semifinals of the men’s 110 hurdles, in hopes of qualifying for the finals later in the evening.

Complete day 5 results of the IAAF World Track & Field Championships are available here.

NOTE:  The IAAF and USA Track & Field contributed to this report.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Kara Winger & Devon Allen advance at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships...

DOHA, Qatar—Vancouver native Kara Winger (above/photo by Paul Merca) advanced to Tuesday night’s final in the javelin as day 4 of the IAAF World Track & Field Championships concluded Monday night at Khalifa International Stadium.

Throwing in the second of two flights, the graduate of Purdue University and three-time US Olympian improved on each of her three qualifying rounds, ultimately throwing a best of 203-10 (62.13m).

In her series, she started with a toss of 198-8 (60.56m), then followed it up in round 2 at 201-9 (61.51m), then her best of 203-10 (62.13m) in the third and final round, to finish fourth in the flight, and seventh overall heading to Tuesday’s finals.

Former Renton resident and University of Oregon alum Devon Allen finished fourth in his opening round heat of the men’s 110 hurdles, running 13.46, as Jamaica’s Omar McLeod won the heat in 13.17.

Allen’s mark was the 13th fastest of the 24 qualifiers to Wednesday night’s semifinal.

In the one final involving a Washington athlete, former Emerald Ridge HS standout Hassan Mead finished 11th in the men’s 5000 meters, running 13:27.05, as Muktar Edris of Ethiopia won in a season best time of 12:58.85.

In addition to Winger in the finals of the women’s javelin at 9:20 pm local time (11:20 am in Seattle), Washington alum Gianna Woodruff goes in the third of five heats of the women’s 400 hurdles at 5:46 pm local time (7:46 am in Seattle).

Coverage of the IAAF World Track & Field Championships are available on the networks of NBC and NBC Sports Gold ($)

Complete day 4 results of the IAAF World Track & Field Championships are available here.

NOTE:  The IAAF and USA Track & Field contributed to this report.

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