Saturday, November 12, 2011

Huskies cruise to fourth straight NCAA West Regional title; Cougar men fourth...

PALO ALTO, California--The sixth-ranked University of Washington women's squad easily won its fourth straight NCAA West Regional cross country championship on an overcast day at the Stanford Golf Course, scoring 50 points to easily outdistance second place Arizona's 98 points.

The Huskies won on the strength of placing all of its five scoring runners in the top 15, led by reigning Pac-12 champ Katie Flood, who finished fifth in 20:14 over the 6k course.

She was followed by redshirt freshman Megan Goethals (left/photo by Paul Merca) , who ran her best race as a Husky in placing eighth in 20:17. Lindsay Flanagan finished tenth in 20:27, followed by Justine Johnson's 13th place finish in 20:38, and Christine Babcock in 14th at 20:39.

Oregon's Jordan Hasay (19:44) took the individual title for the second year in a row, pulling away from early leader Tara Erdmann of Loyola Marymount, who faded to third in 19:53. Cal's Deborah Maier snuck past Erdmann for second in 19:51.

"We ran well. One to five we were twenty-five seconds. Katie Flood was in control and we told her early on to let the leaders go and the team was running great behind her and it wasn't about going after the win today," said UW coach Greg Metcalf. "I thought that was the best run of the year for Justine, Christine, Lindsay, and Megan, and a real solid run from Katie. It was a really good day and I think they walk out of here excited and with some momentum."

Washington State, which was missing top runner Ruby Roberts, finished 14th with a team score of 378 points, led by Caroline Austin's 40th place finish in 21:19. Gonzaga was one spot behind the Cougars with 399 points, led by Lindsay Drake, who finished 34th in 21:11.

Eastern Washington did not have a full team, but Tonya Turner was the Eagles' top finisher in 64th at 21:44.

Perhaps one of the happiest squads at the Stanford Golf Course were the Washington State Cougar men's cross country team, who powered their way to a fourth place team finish.

Andrew Kimpel (#556) was the first Coug across the line in 13th at 29:46 over the 10k course, followed closely by Jono Lafler (#557, photo by Paul Merca) in 29:47 for 15th.

Justin Englund was 31st in 30:14, followed by Todd Wakefield in 30;21 for 39th place, and Andrew Gonzales closed out the WSU scorers in 43rd in 30:24.

"We ran the way we knew we could and now all of our work has paid off," Cougar co-captain Lafler said.

"The guys were indestructible today. Now we wait and see if we get an at-large bid," said WSU coach Pete Julian.

"It's been a tough road for us. Even if we don't go to NCAA's, I couldn't be prouder of these guys. Kimpel and Lafler exceeded my expectations."

Speaking of his squad, he said that they've found their way in the Pac-12, the most competitive conference in the country.

Here is a video interview with Julian, followed by an interview with top finisher Andrew Kimpel.

The University of Washington finished 11th with 329 points, with Aaron Beattie leading the way in 41st at 30:23. Gonzaga was 18th with 510 points, with Tate Kelly's 81st place finish in 31:08, while Eastern Washington was 23rd with 623 points, led by Simon Sorensen, who was 93rd in 31:24.

No. 6 Stanford won the men's team title with 50 points, followed by No. 8 Portland (53), Cal Poly (122) and Washington State (141). California was a distant fifth (173) with perennial power No. 17 Oregon sixth (175).

Arizona's Lawi Lalang, the 2011 Pac-12 champion, won the West Regional title in a time of 28:34.

Among notables from the state of Washington competing at the West Regionals and placing in the top 25, Stanford's Jake Riley from Bellingham was fifth in the men's race in 28:59.

In the women's race, Sequim native Stephanie Marcy from Stanford was 11th in 20:33. Oregon's Bronwyn Crossman from Bellingham was 15th in 20:43.

Complete results from the NCAA West Regionals are available here.

NOTE: The sports information office of the University of Washington, Washington State University, and Stanford University contributed to this report.

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