Friday, November 10, 2017

Husky men surprise field with second place finish at NCAA West Regional championships...

Andy Snyder, Colby Gilbert & Andrew Gardner placed
in the top 10 as the Huskies finished second at the NCAA
West Regionals (Paul Merca photo)
SEATTLE—What a time for a major breakthrough!

The University of Washington men’s cross country team, which finished fifth at the Pac-12 championships a fortnight ago, pulled one of the biggest surprises of the day Friday, as the host Huskies finished second in the NCAA West Regional cross country championships at Jefferson Park Golf Course.

Portland, the nation’s number six team in the current USTFCCCA Division I coaches’ poll, won the regional title by a 63-65 margin over the #20 Huskies.

Among the teams the Dawgs left behind on a mild but sunny day on Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood included #4 Stanford, the Pac-12 team champs two weeks ago; #13 Oregon; #10 UCLA; #26 Boise State; and #27 Washington State.

Early in the race, WSU’s Michael Williams and Portland’s Emmanuel Roudolff-Levisse went to the front, with Arizona’s Hunter Davila just trailing the duo, and a large pack of about 15-20 runners behind.

The Huskies ran a near perfect team race, with seniors Colby Gilbert and Andrew Gardner always near the front of the main pack, with Andy Snyder and Mahmoud Moussa close behind, and the trio of Tibu Proctor, Johnathan Stevens, and Talon Hull within reasonable eyesight of Gilbert and Gardner.

As the runners entered the last of five laps, Williams began to pay for his front running efforts, as he dropped from fourth at the 9k mark all the way to 12th at the finish.

Roudolff-Levisse won the race in 29:34, with teammate Jeff Thies second in 29:39.

Spokane native Nick Hauger of Portland finished fourth in 29:42, passing Gilbert in the last 400, with Gilbert taking fifth in 29:44.

The next four spots went to athletes with Washington ties, as Spokane’s Tanner Anderson of Oregon (29:44), Washington’s Gardner (29:44), Edmonds native Miler Haller of Boise State (29:44), and the Huskies’ Andy Snyder (29:46) went 6-7-8-9.

Rounding out the Husky scorers were Moussa in 18th (29:54), and freshman Proctor (30:03) in 26th, giving the Huskies a 1-5 spread of 19 seconds, by far the best spread of the 30 team field.

For the Cougars, who had high expectations entering the start of the season, they must wait until Saturday to find out if they will advance to next week’s championship meet in Louisville, after finishing seventh with 194 points.

After Williams’ 12th place finish in 29:49, Chandler Teigen was 20th in 29:56, followed by Nathan Wadhwani in 41st (30:20), Justin Janke in 47th (30:39), and Paul Ryan in 74th (31:08), as the Cougs ran a 1-5 split of 80 seconds.

Gonzaga cracked the top ten, as the Bulldogs were tenth with 294 points, led by Peter Hogan in 48th in 30:39.

Eastern Washington finished 24th with 645 points, led by Colton Johnson in 66th in 31:00, while Seattle University was 26th with 727 points. Eli Boudouris led the way in 122nd in 32:10 for the Redhawks.

Washington coach Greg Metcalf heaped praise on his two senior leaders, Gilbert and Gardner, along with the efforts of Snyder, and his two freshmen, Proctor and Hull, neither of whom had raced at the 10k distance until today.


In the opening women’s 6k race, defending West Regional champ Amy-Eloise Neale of Washington finished third to lead the #16 ranked Huskies to a sixth place team finish.

The Huskies were in a bit of a hole early, as both Kaitlyn Neal and Nikki Zielinski got tangled up with some other runners in the 207-woman field in the first 100 meters, falling to the ground and having to play catch-up.

While eventual winner Charlotte Taylor of San Francisco (19:15) and Boise State’s Allie Ostrander (19:17) battled all the way from start to finish, Neale was in a group of about seven runners behind Taylor and Ostrander.

As the race wore on, she maintained her position, and moved into third before the 5k mark, opening up a gap on eventual fourth place finisher Weronika Pyzik of San Francisco, crossing the finish in 19:26 to Pyzik’s 19:30.

Following the Cardinal were defending national champ and #3 ranked Oregon with 92, followed by #10 Boise State’s 104, with #26 Cal, led by a 10-11 individual finish by Bethan Knights and freshman Brie Oakley, getting the better of the Huskies by a 183-202 count.

The other UW scorers were Emily Hamlin in 40th (20:39); Izzi Batt-Doyle in 44th (20:45); Anna Maxwell in 49th (20:51);  and Allie Schadler in 66th (21:03).

Washington State finished 15th with 420 points, led by Vallery Korir’s 19th place finish in 20:08.

Eastern Washington was 21st with 603, led by Kaili Keefe in 58th place in 20:57. Gonzaga was 24th with 703 points, led by Jordan Thurston in 80th place in 21:13, and Seattle University was 26th with 749 points, as Johanna Erickson was 97th in 21:36.

The Huskies will have to wait until Saturday to find out if they will advance to the national championships next week, though indications from numerous knowledgeable collegiate cross country experts believe that the Huskies’ overall body of work this season will be enough to get them in.

The Husky women’s overall resume this season includes a 4th place finish at the Dellinger Invitational in Oregon; a 14th place finish at Wisconsin; and a fourth place finish at the Pac-12s.

Assuming that Cal gets in as a team, the Cougars’ Korir may be in line for an individual at-large berth into the NCAA championship meet.

Danielle Shanahan of Loyola Marymount was the top finisher not on one of the top six teams, finishing 12th, followed by Taryn Rawlings of Portland in 14th, and Claire Green of Arizona in 15th.

The teams and individuals receiving at-large berths to next week's NCAA championships in Louisville will be announced at 9 am, pacific time Saturday.

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