Friday, October 27, 2017

Mahmoud Moussa breaks through with fifth place finish at Pac-12 championships...

SPRINGFIELD, Oregon—For most of the season, observers of the University of Washington cross country team felt that Mahmoud Moussa (left/photo by Paul Merca) was on the verge of a breakthrough, but were wondering when that would happen.

After the fog had burned away Friday morning at the Springfield Golf Club, that breakthrough came at the Pac-12 cross country championships, as Moussa ran to a fifth place finish over the 8k distance.

As they did at last year’s NCAA regional championships in Sacramento, several runners from Washington State took control of the front, beginning with Nathan Wadhwani, followed by Chandler Teigen, then their All-American Michael Williams, with UCLA’s Robert Brandt, who did much of the leading at the Wisconsin Invitational, close by.

At the penultimate split point, Brandt and Cclorado’s Joe Klecker went to the front, with Moussa and Stanford’s Grant Fisher lurking.

Moussa went to the front with less than 800 meters to go, but as they went to the final 400, Fisher surged to the lead and held it as they shot down the final straightaway.

Fisher won in 23:45, with Klecker second in 23:48.

A pair of Stanford runners, Steven Fahy, and Alex Ostberg, nosed Moussa out at the line, with all three timed at 23:52.

WSU’s Teigen hung on to take ninth in 24:03.

Colorado’s reign as conference champions ended, as the Cardinal, thanks to a top-5 finish by their three top runners, won with a final team score of 41 points, with the Buffaloes second with 47 points.

Washington was fifth with 114 points, while Washington State took sixth with 138.

Other scorers for the Huskies were Andrew Gardner in 11th (24:05); Colby Gilbert in 27th (24:27); Talon Hull in 29th (24:29); and Andy Snyder in 47th (24:47).

WSU’s other scorers were Michael Williams in 19th (24:12), Jake Finney in 33rd (24:32), Matthew Watkins in 37th (24:34), and early leader Wadhwani in 45th (24:40).

Spokane native Tanner Anderson of Oregon was 22nd in 24:16, as the host Ducks were fourth with 109 points.

In the opening women’s 6k championship race, Oregon’s Katie Rainsberger went to the front as she did at last month’s Dellinger Invitational that she won in setting a course record of 18:48.

Unlike the Dellinger and the Wisconsin meets where Washington’’s Amy-Eloise Neale hung back, the senior from Snohomish via Great Britain stayed in contact with the front runners, fluctuating anywhere from third to twelfth.

With less than 1000 meters to go, Neale was in prime position to jump the leaders, sitting on the shoulder of Colorado’s Dani Jones and Rainsberger.

Jones took the conference title, running 18:58, with Rainsberger and Neale going 2-3 in 18:59.

Colorado won the team title with a low score of 53 points, with Stanford and Oregon tied at 71.

Washington was fourth with 128 points, while Washington State was tenth with 259.

After Neale, the Huskies’ scorers were Kaitlyn Neal in 26th (19:35), Izzi Batt-Doyle in 27th (19:39); Emily Hamlin in 36th (20:04), and Anna Maxwell in 38th (20:05).

Washington State was led by Vallery Korir in 13th (19:20); Devon Bortfeld in 40th (20:06); Melissa Hruska in 77th (21:00); Josie Brown in 81st (21:03); and Kiyena Beatty in 88th (21:17).

Next up for both Washington squads is the NCAA West Regionals at Seattle’s Jefferson Park Golf Course on November 10th.

NOTE:  The University of Oregon and the Pac-12 Conference contributed to this report.

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