Wednesday, October 29, 2014

It's the start of championship season for Washington's nine D1/D2 schools!

It's the beginning of the championship season for all nine of Washington's NCAA Division I and II schools, as they begin their quest to toe the line in Terre Haute, Indiana on November 22nd or Louisville, Kentucky on December 6th for the D2 title race.

PAC-12 FRIDAY IN OAKLAND

Championship season gets underway Halloween morning at the Metropolitan Golf Links in Oakland, as the University of California hosts the Pac-12 championships.

On the men's side, the University of Colorado is the prohibitive favorite to repeat as conference champions, while reigning NCAA champ Edward Cheserek of Oregon is the man to beat.

The Husky cross country squad, led by senior Aaron Nelson (left/photo by Paul Merca), currently ranked #12 in the latest USTFCCCA poll, is looking to pull an upset in perhaps the toughest men's conference in the country, as the Dawgs must contend with #1 Colorado, #2 Oregon, #9 Stanford, and #11 UCLA.  Washington is coming off a strong performance at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational, where they finished eighth against a stacked field.

The Cougars of Washington State are coming off a disappointing performance at the Indiana State Pre-Nationals meet, where they finished 17th in the seeded Blue race.  They'll be led by redshirt senior Drew Jordan, who was their top finisher in 58th at Terre Haute.

On the women's side, the Huskies, currently ranked #17 in the USTFCCCA poll, go into Oakland with only four runners with Pac-12 championship meet experience--Maddie Meyers, Kaylee Flanagan, Eleanor Fulton, and Erin Johnson.  They will once again run without Amy-Eloise Neale and Katie Knight, both of whom ran at last year's NCAA championship meet.

The Huskies have finished at least third or better in seven of the past eight years, and have not finished lower than fifth in the last 25 years.  However, the young UW harriers will run a redshirt freshman in Kelly Lawson, along with three true frosh--Anna Maxwell, Megan Beauchene, and Anastasia Kosykh.  The youngsters will need to come through against the likes of #3 Oregon, #7 Colorado and #11 Stanford if they hope to secure a top three finish.

Washington State will be led by the senior duo of Abby Regan and Ruby Roberts, and will line up four other runners with Pac-12 championship race experience.  Regan goes into the Pac-12 meet brimming with confidence, with two wins this season, including the Stanford Invitational, and a second place finish at the Pre-Nationals White (unseeded) race two weeks ago.

The meet will be shown on a delayed basis on the Pac-12 Network on November 3rd beginning a t6 pm.

paulmerca.blogspot.com will be in Oakland to cover the Pac-12 championship race.

EWU IN NORTH DAKOTA FOR BIG SKY, ZAGS IN SUNNYVALE FOR WCC, & SEATTLE U IN TEXAS FOR WAC CHAMPIONSHIP MEETS

Saturday, Eastern Washington heads to Grand Forks, North Dakota for the Big Sky Championship meet, where the Eagle women's squad has a legitimate shot at a top three finish, which would top the team's previous best finish of fourth in 2007.

The Eagles will be led by Sarah Reiter (left/photo courtesy EWU Athletics), who has won two meets this season, and finished fourth in the White race at the Indiana State Pre-Nationals meet two weeks ago.

On the men's side, Vince Hamilton and Alex Kimsey lead the Eagles.  Hamilton has been the team's top runner all season, except for the Pre-Nationals meet, where Kimsey led the way.

Big Sky Conference action begins with the men's 8,000 at 10:30 a.m. Pacific time, followed by the women's 5,000 at 11:45 a.m. The course is a relatively flat 4,000-meter grass loop. The men will run two loops while the women will run one, plus an additional 1,000-meters.

The Bulldogs of Gonzaga travel to Sunnyvale, California for the West Coast Conference championship meet at Baylands Park, where they look to improve upon their fourth place finish on the men's side and fifth on the women's side.

TheW.tv will have streaming video coverage of the West Coast Conference championship meet beginning at 10 am.

Finally, Seattle University travels to Edinburg, Texas for Saturday's Western Athletic Conference championship meet, hosted by Texas-Pan American.  The Redhawks are looking for a top-three conference finish, but must get past Utah Vallley on both the men's and women's' side if they have any aspirations of winning the WAC title.

GREAT NORTHWEST ATHLETIC CONFERENCE TITLE MEET SATURDAY

All four of Washington's Division II schools--Western Washington, Seattle Pacific, Saint Martin's and Central Washington head to Monmouth, Oregon for Saturday's Great Northwest Athletic Conference meet at the Ash Creek Preserve on the campus of Western Oregon University.

WWU's Katelyn Steen
(photo courtesy WWU)
Action gets underway at 10:30 am with the men's 8k race, followed by the women's 6k at 11:30 am.

On the men's side, Western Washington returns three runners who finished in the top ten at last year's meet--Tabor Reedy (7th), Nathan Richards (8th), and Jonathan Quimby (10th).

The Vikings, who have finished first or second in the last nine GNAC title meets, may have a serious challenge from Simon Fraser for the second spot, as defending team champion Alaska Anchorage 

On the women's side, Simon Fraser and Alaska Anchorage are the two favorites for the team title.  

Three women who could make some noise in the individual race include: Western's Katelyn Steen, the runner-up in the 2013 conference championship meet, and the top returning finisher from last year; and the Central Washington duo of Connie Morgan and Dani Eggleston. Morgan was sixth in last year's meet, while Eggleston was seventh.

Thanks to the 1-2 punch of Morgan and Eggleston, the Wildcats could make a run for third in what is projected to be a close battle between Western and Central Washington.


NOTE:  The sports information offices of all nine Washington Division I and II schools, along with the Pac-12, WAC, WCC, Big Sky, and GNAC conferences contributed to this report.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

WEEKEND ROUNDUP: Morgan & Eggleston of Wildcats go 1-2 at WWU Open...

Here's the recap of a light weekend of racing on the collegiate scene:

In Ferndale on Saturday, Connie Morgan (left/photo courtesy CWU Athletics) of Central Washington finished 1-2 in the women's 5k race at the Western Washington Cross Country Open at Hovander Homestead Park, but the host Vikings took the team title, scoring 27 points to Central's 36 points.

Both Central Washington coach Kevin Adkisson and Western coach Pee Wee Halsell made their runners run controlled, with the Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship race set for Saturday November 1st in Monmouth, Oregon.

After Eggleston and Morgan, who both ran 18:44 (Morgan 18:43.1/Eggleston 18:, Western runners took seven of the top ten spots, led by Taylor Guenther's third place finish in 18:45.

The Vikings sat out their All-American Katelyn Steen.

In the men's 7k race, Cody McCranie of Western led a stream of five Vikings across the finish line, winning in 22:34, and helping WWU score a perfect 15.

Central was led by Rudy Spencer's eighth place finish in 23:00.


In Corvallis on October 24th, Rebecca Lassare was Seattle University's top finisher in the women's 6k at the Beaver Classic, running 24:33 to finish 46th, and earn one of the final two spots on the Redhawks' squad that will travel to McAllen,Texas for the WAC championship meet next week.

In the men's 8k, Joseph Nakao was the Redhawks' top finisher, placing 45th in 27:29.


NOTE:  The sports information offices of Western Washington, Central Washington, and Seattle University contributed to this report.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Light weekend ahead for state's Division I and II schools...

The Western Washington men's cross country team
(photo courtesy WWU Athletics)
With Washington's nine NCAA Division I and II schools entering the start of championship season next weekend, this weekend is fairly light.

Seattle University will send essentially a B squad to Corvallis for Friday afternoon's Beaver Classic at Avery Park, as those runners will compete for the final spots on the Redhawks' travel squad for next week's WAC championship in McAllen, Texas.

In Ferndale, Western Washington will host the Viking Classic at Hovander Homestead Park Saturday, with Central Washington and Northwest University scheduled to participate, with the men running 7k and the women 5k, beginning at 10:30 am.

WWU coach Pee Wee Halsell said that the Vikings will use this meet to help finalize his squad for next week's GNAC championship.


NOTE:  The sports information offices of Seattle University and Western Washington University contributed to this report.

IN RETROSPECT: The 2008 UW cross country team...

Members of the current University of Washington women's
cross country team pose with members of the 2008 national
championship team (in purple jackets).  Paul Merca photo
SEATTLE--It was one of the most amazing season-long accomplishments I've covered in my career.

Sure, in my career covering track & field, I've witnessed numerous world records, met and/or interviewed a countless number of the world's best athletes, coaches, agents, and others involved in the sport.

But from beginning to end, covering the 2008 University of Washington women's cross country team was one of the most pleasurable experiences of my years covering the sport.

As longtime Seattle Supersonics broadcaster Kevin Calabro would have said, we were all on a magic carpet ride with the 2008 Huskies.

All those thoughts about that magical season came back to life when I attended the University of Washington Husky Hall of Fame celebration Thursday night at Hec Edmundson Pavilion, as the squad was honored and inducted into the school's hall of fame, along with 2000 US Olympic 4 x 400 relay pool member Ja'Warren Hooker and hurdler Dave Williams.

It all started about a week or so before the Huskies' first meet, when I met freshmen Kendra Schaaf and Christine Babcock (left/photo by Paul Merca) for the first time at the Dempsey Indoor facility.  I had seen both of them run before they came to Washington--Schaaf at the world junior cross country championships in Edinburgh, Scotland, and Babcock at the Olympic Trials in Eugene.

At the season opening Sundodger meet, Schaaf blew up the course record at Lincoln Park, running 19:58, becoming the first woman to break 20 minutes, and leading a not-quite-full strength Husky team to the Sundodger title.

As a footnote to that 2008 Sundodger race--finishing fifth was a gal from UC Davis by the name of Kim Conley, who would go on to make the US Olympic team four years later in the 5000m.

The Huskies, who started the season ranked #3 in the USTFCCCA pre-season poll, moved up to #1 after a convincing win at the Auburn Invitational in Alabama, placing seven in the top nine, then followed it up with another convincing win at the Pre-Nationals in Terre Haute, Indiana two weeks later.

Those races did not prepare me for what I was to witness in person, beginning on Halloween afternoon at the Springfield Golf Course in Springfield, Oregon, when the Huskies accomplished the first perfect score of 15 in Pac-10 history, going 1-6.


“I’ve used the word ‘synergy’ to describe this team all year long. It started a year ago, when we finished eighth at the NCAA meet, running an average race. Last summer, we had girls running at the Olympic Trials here, and our entire team gained momentum from that experience.”

Two weeks later, the Huskies ran without Schaaf, who instead ran a workout under Metcalf's supervision before the race at the Stanford Golf Course, as the Dawgs had a 1-5 split of 11 seconds to win the NCAA regionals, led by Babcock's third place finish.

That set the stage for Washington's victory on a cold, blustery day in Terre Haute, Indiana, as the two freshmen--Babcock and Schaaf--led the Husky charge with their seventh and twelfth place finish, as they ran 20:02, and 20:18, pulling three other Huskies--Mel Lawrence (25th, 20:33), Katie Follett (26th, 20:33), and Amanda Miller (34th, 20:37) into the top 40.

Washington scored 79 points to win the national title, followed by Oregon with 131, Florida State with 163, and West Virginia with 198.


Out of the core group that won the national title for the UW, Katie (Follett) Mackey, Babcock and Lawrence continue to run as professionals--Mackey for Brooks, and Babcock and Lawrence for Oiselle, with the rest moving on with their lives, whether as moms, graduate students or out in the work place.  Anita Campbell is back at the UW, as an assistant track coach for the Huskies, mentoring the current group of women distance runners in the same manner that Kelly Strong did when the 2008 team made its run.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dawgs move 13 spots in latest USTFCCCA Division I poll...

NEW ORLEANS--The University of Washington men's cross country team had one of the biggest leaps up the national charts, as the Huskies were ranked #12 in the latest USTFCCCA cross country coaches' poll released Tuesday.

Coming off an eighth-place finish at last week's Wisconsin adidas Invitational in Madison, where the Dawgs beat ten teams ranked ahead of them, the Huskies moved 13 spots from their previous #25 ranking.  This ranking marks the highest by a UW squad since 1997, according to the USTFCCCA release.

With their eighth-place finish in Wisconsin, Washington also picked up three at-large wins against ranked teams, which may come in handy after the NCAA West Regional meet, as only the top two teams from each of the nine regional championship meets are guaranteed entry into the national championship, with the other teams selected by the NCAA Division I cross country sub-committee.

The country's top five teams in the men's poll are Colorado, Oregon, Syracuse, Oklahoma State, and Iona.

Other Pac-12 teams ranked in the top 30 include #9 Stanford, and #11 UCLA.

On the women's side, Washington dropped three spots in the national poll to #17 following a 13th place finish at the Wisconsin adidas race.

Michigan State, Georgetown, Oregon, Michigan and Arkansas are the country's top five teams in the national poll.

Other Pac-12 teams ranked in the top 30 include #7 Colorado, #11 Stanford, #22 Arizona State, and #29 UCLA.


Roosevelt HS grad Lucy Cheadle, who attends Washington University in St. Louis, was named the USTFCCCA Division III athlete of the week for winning the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Invitational meet last Saturday, running 20:45 over the 6k course.

This honor marks the second time Cheadle has won the national athlete of the week honors this season.

NOTE:  The USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

WSU women win White section of Pre-Nationals, while Eagles take sixth; WSU men 17th in Blue section...

TERRE HAUTE, Indiana--Led by Abby Regan's (left/photo by Paul Merca) second place finish, the Washington State women's cross country team won the White (non-seeded) section of the Indiana State Pre-Nationals Invitational at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course Saturday.

Regan crossed the line in 21:32 over the 6k course that will host the NCAA championship meet next month, as Courtney Frerichs of UM/Kansas City won in 20:56.

Eastern Washington's Sarah Reiter finished fourth in 21:42.

Other WSU women and their finishes were: Ruby Roberts 21st (22:13), Devon Bortfeld 37th (22:34), CharLee Linton 38th (22:34), Morgan Willson 46th (22:48), Emily Dwyer 78th (23:12), and Steffie Pavey 114th (23:39) as the Cougs took the team title with 143 points, with Southern Illinois second with 182 points.

For the Eagles, their other finishers included: Berenice Penaloza in 22nd (22:15), Katie Mahoney in 34th (22:32), Paula Gil-Echevarria in 58th (23:02), Mayra Chavez in 137th (23:55), and Emily Hazen in 176th (24:40), as they finished sixth with 252 points.

In the men's competition, the Cougars, who came into the meet looking to gain some national recognition after winning both the Sundodger and Stanford Invitationals, finished a disappointing 17th in the Blue (seeded) section.

WSU redshirt senior Drew Jordan  was the top Cougar finisher on the 8k course, finishing 58th with a time of 25:11. The other Cougar scorers included John Whelan 64th (25:14), Sam Levora 102nd (25:28), Jackson Haselnus 124th (25:38), Lee George 132nd (25:41), Conner Johnsen 198th (26:08), and Forrest Shaffer 199th (26:09).

Defending NCAA champ Edward Cheserek of Oregon won the title with a time of 24:05.

In what could be a preview of the Pac-12 championship meet in Oakland in two weeks, Colorado took the team title with 35, followed by the Ducks with 91.

In the men's unseeded White race, the Eagles finished seventh with 233 points, as Indiana won with 164 points.

Eastern Washington was led by Alex Kimsey in 18th in 25:29.  He was followed by Vince Hamilton in 21st (25:32), Stephen Bottoms in 35th (25:54), Isaac Kitzan in 70th (26:17), Chris Schroll in 100th (26:36), and Austin Oser in 101st (26:36).


In Lewiston, Idaho, Gonzaga's men's team put five runners in the top twelve to easily win the Inland Empire Classic, led by Nick Roche's third place finish.

Roche came across in a time of 24 minutes, 15 seconds for 8,000 meters. Colin O’Neil and Troy Fraley were fourth and fifth, also registering a time of 24:15 to show the strength of the pack.

In the women's race, Amelia Evans of the Zags finished fifth with a time of 16:52 over the 5k course as Gonzaga finished third with 47 points, as Montana won with 42.

The results from the Inland Empire Classic are available here (women) and here (men)Gonzaga's recap of the meet is available here.

In Seattle, Seattle University's Sophie Curatilo won the women's 6k at the Emerald City Open meet at Lower Woodland Park, covering the 6k course in 21:42.  UW freshman and reigning California CIF 3200m champ Fred Huxham won the men's 8k in a time of 25:34.


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

Friday, October 17, 2014

Huskies' Aaron Nelson takes third at Wisconsin adidas Invitational...

MADISON, Wisconsin--The University of Washington's Aaron Nelson (left/photo by Mike Scott) moved up one spot from his fourth place finish in last year's meet to take third at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational Friday morning at the Thomas Zimmer Championship Course to lead the Huskies to a eighth-place team finish.

It was the first top-10 finish at Wisconsin for the Husky men in the four years they’ve made the trip. They upset 10 teams ranked ahead of them, while six of the seven teams that finished ahead of UW were ranked in the top-10 entering the meet. 

Nelson was up in the lead pack early, and stayed around 25th until things began to break up, when he moved into a lead group of about ten. Heading into the last 800-meters, the Walla Walla native made another move and briefly grabbed the lead with about 600 to go. That move was quickly countered by Futsum Zienasellassie of Northern Arizona and Maxim Korolev of Stanford, and Nelson chased them in third. Korolev would hold the lead to win in 23:43 with Zienasellassie second and Nelson third in 23:51 for the 8,000-meters.

Syracuse won the team title with 85 points, followed by Iona with 154, host Wisconsin with 176, Portland at 211, and Stanford with 220.  

Colby Gilbert was the second Husky across the line in 53rd in 24:21, with Izaic Yorks four spots behind in 24:22.  Tyler King was 65th in 24:25, with A.J. Yarnall rounding out the scorers in 97th in 24:37, giving the Huskies a 1-5 split of 46 seconds.

“This was a performance we’ve been waiting for from our men’s team, but we need to continue to build on it and gain confidence from here,” said UW coach Greg Metcalf.

On the women's side, the Huskies finished 13th, led by the 40th place finish of Maddie Meyers, who covered the 6k course in 20:36.

Freshman Anna Maxwell was 55th in 20:45, followed by Kaylee Flanagan in 70th in 20:52, followed by Eleanor Fulton in 112th in 21:18, and Kelly Lawson in 159th in 21:41, giving Washington a 1-5 split of 65 seconds.

Iowa State's Crystal Nelson won the race in 19:35, followed by Michigan State's Rachele Schulist in 19:39, and Arizona State's Shelby Houlihan, the NCAA 1500m champ, third in 19:41.

Michigan State won the team title with 87 points, followed by Arkansas with 191, then Iowa State with 212, Wisconsin with 227, and West Virginia at 245 points.

“It was a mixed bag a little bit on the women’s side,” said Metcalf. “Anna had her best race yet as a Husky and showed some of the big talent that she possesses. Maddie, Kaylee and Eleanor all ran solid and better than they were a year ago at this meet. Making the top-10 as a team would have been a terrific day against this field, and we were just short of that. There is so much to learn from every race with a group this young, with four of our seven taking on a race of this size for the first time. They’ll get better from it for sure.”


NOTE:  The University of Washington sports information office contributed to this report.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Big weekend for Washington's five Division I schools in regular season finale...

For the state's five NCAA Division I schools, this weekend's meets conclude the regular season of races before the championship season starts in two weeks with the conference, followed by the regionals, and finally, the NCAA national championship meet in Terre Haute, Indiana on November 22nd.

The UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON gets things started Friday in Madison, Wisconsin, as they'll compete with 38 men's teams and 40 women's squads at the adidas Wisconsin Invitational at the Thomas Zimmer Championship course.

The men will get the racing underway at 9 am PT over an 8-k course, while the women race over a 6-k course at 9:45 am PT.

Folks who wish to watch the races unfold may visit media partner Flotrack.org (subscription required).

Entering Friday's meet, the UW women are ranked #14 in the USTFCCCA poll, and  #25 in the men's poll.  Each race has six of the country's top ten squads in the field.

The Washington women will run course veterans Maddie Meyers, Eleanor Fulton & Kaylee Flanagan, and will throw five newcomers--Megan Beauchene (left/photo by Paul Merca), Kelly Lawson, Jenna Sanders, Anastasia Kosykh and Anna Maxwell into the fire.

On the men's side, all seven men--Aaron Nelson, Meron Simon, Izaic Yorks, Blake Nelson, Tyler King, Sumner Goodwin and Jacob Smith--have experience on the Wisconsin course, with Aaron Nelson finishing fourth in last year's meet in a time of 23:26.


Saturday, both WASHINGTON STATE and EASTERN WASHINGTON will send their squads to Terre Haute, Indiana for the Indiana State Pre National Invitational meet on the same Lavern Gibson course that hosts the national championship meet.

Action in the seeded Blue races get underway at 8 am PT with the women's 6k, and at 8:35 am PT the men's 8k commences.  Flotrack will provide the webcast of the Pre-Nationals.

The Cougar mens' team last were in action on September 27th when they won the Stanford Invitational, edging out UC Santa Barbara and #5 Stanford.  However, that victory did not convince the voters of the USTFCCCA national poll that WSU was one of the country's top 30 teams.

In that same meet, WSU senior Abby Regan won the women's individual title, running 20:31 for 6k, and passing UC Santa Barbara's Raquel Heffrin and Nike's Alexa Efraimson in the last half of the race.

The Cougs will be led by a trio of seniors--Drew Jordan, Lee George, and Richard Shroy on the men's side, while Regan and Ruby Roberts, who sat out both the Sundodger and the Stanford meets, is scheduled to race in Indiana.

Courtesy of wsucougars.com, here's a video interview with Abby Regan:


For Eastern, they'll be led by Chris Schroll and Vince Hamilton on the men's side, and Sarah Reiter and Katie Mahoney on the women's side.  

Those Cougars and Eagles not making the trip to Indiana will race at the Inland Empire Classic in Lewiston, where they'll face Montana, Idaho, and GONZAGA, which is coming off a solid performance by their men's squad after finishing 13th at the Notre Dame Invitational two weeks ago.

The meet gets underway at 11 am with the women's 5k, followed by the men's 8k at 11:45 am.


SEATTLE UNIVERSITY will stay at home and host the Emerald City Open Saturday at Lower Woodland Park in Seattle, with Oregon State and Washington along with Seattle Pacific and several local club teams providing the opposition.

Races get underway at 10:30 am with the women's 6k, and the men's 8k at 11:15 am.

For the Redhawks, Saturday’s race begins the qualification process for the Western Athletic Conference Championships, held in Edinburg, Texas, on November 1st. The top five SeattleU finishers at the Emerald City Open will become part of the travel squad for the WAC Championships and will not have to compete at next week’s Beaver Classic. The rest of the team will travel to Corvallis next Friday, with the chance to earn one of the final four spots on the team that will represent SeattleU at the conference meet.


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

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Bellingham native Jake Riley impressive in marathon debut; WWU grad Crouch sets PR in Chicago...

CHICAGO--Competing in his debut over the distance, Bellingham native Jake Riley (left/photo by Paul Merca) finished eleventh overall at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon through the streets of the Windy City Sunday.

Riley, an alum of Sehome HS in Bellingham, and Stanford University, where he was a six-time All-American at 10000 meters and in cross country, started off conservatively, going through the half-marathon mark in 1:06:33, 63 seconds behind Hansons/Brooks Distance Project teammate Bobby Curtis.

Throughout the race, Riley, currently residing in Rochester, Michigan, was able to click off 5-kilometer splits between 15:43 and 15:54, as he finished in a time of 2:13:16, making the Bellingham native the second American to finish the race.

Curtis finished two spots ahead of Riley, taking ninth in a personal best 2:11:20.

Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge took the victory in a time of 2:04:11, followed by countrymen Sammy Kitwara (2:04:28) and Dickson Chumba (2:04:32).  Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele, one of this century's greatest distance runners on the track and cross country, finished fourth in 2:05:51.

In the women's race, Western Washington alum Sarah (Porter) Crouch finished seventh overall in a personal best of 2:32:44, a twelve minute personal best, eclipsing her previous mark of 2:44:25, set at the 2011 New York City Marathon.

Crouch, who now resides in South Lake Tahoe, California, started slow, but ran average miles between 5:38 and 5:52, before slowing down over the last 7 kilometers, dropping to 6:10-6:12 mile pace.

The native of Hockinson in southwest Washington, and former NCAA Division II 10000m and cross country champion for the Vikings went through the half-marathon point in 1:15:41.

Crouch was the third American across the line, behind Amy Hastings' fifth place finish in 2:27:03,  and Clara Santucci's sixth place mark of 2:32:21.

Kenya's Rita Jeptoo won her second straight Bank of America Chicago Marathon as well as the World Marathon Majors series title and the $500,000 prize, running 2:24:35.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Steen takes third at Viking Classic; Bellingham native Jake Riley to make marathon debut in Chicago...

BELLINGHAM--Western Washington's All-American Katelyn Steen (left/photo courtesy Western Washington University) finished third in the women's 6k at the 41st annual Viking Classic at Lake Padden Park, as the host Vikings finished eighth.

The top three teams--Trinity Western (58), GNAC member Simon Fraser (90), and University of Victoria (100) were all from Canada, while Alaska Anchorage (107) was fourth, Central Washington was sixth (137) Western Washington was eighth, and Seattle Pacific (199) was ninth in the 12-team field.

Steen completed the six-kilometer course in 21:20. She trailed just two Trinity Western runners, Sarah Inglis winning for the second straight year with a 20:52 clocking, followed by teammate Fiona Bensen in 21:17.

"I tried to run relaxed the first part of the race and work hard on the hills," said Steen, who ran 44 seconds faster than her previous best. "Not slipping on the hills on this course is always a key."

Central Washington's Dani Eggleston led the way for the Wildcats with her 11th place finish in 22;00.

The Falcons were led by Anna Patti, who finished 20th in 22:33.

Despite finishing ahead of Western Washington, Central coach Kevin Adkisson said, ""The women didn't have their best day, but it was still pretty good. Dani had a great run on a tough course, in a field of really tough women."

With the Vikings ranked #23 in the latest USTFCCCA Division II national poll, the question remains whether or not the voters will deem the Wildcats good enough to deserve a national ranking when the polls come out next week.

In the men's race, it was a dominating performance by the University of Alaska-Anchorage, placing all five of their scorers in the top 8, led by winner Dylan Anthony, who covered the 10k course in 31:02, and helped the Seawolves to a low score of 18 points.

The University of Victoria (39), Simon Fraser (121), and Western Washington (128) finished second, third and fourth.

Central Washington was ninth with 248 points, and Seattle Pacific was tenth with 278.

Rudy Spencer was Central's top finisher in 33rd place with a time of 32:41, and Turner Wiley was Seattle Pacific's top runner, finishing 20th in 32:11.

Isaac Griffith was Western Washington's top runner in 21st  with a time of 32:12.


BELLINGHAM NATIVE JAKE RILEY TO MAKE MARATHON DEBUT

In Chicago, Bellingham native Jake Riley will make his marathon debut at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Sunday through the streets of the Windy City.

Riley is part of the elite field in the race, headlined by Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele, along with Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge and Wesley Korir.

On the women's side, Western Washington alum Sarah (Porter) Crouch is in the elite women's field that includes 2012 US Olympians Amy Hastings and Lisa Uhl, along with headliners Rita Jeptoo and Florence Kiplagat of Kenya, along with Gelete Burka of Ethiopia.


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

Thursday, October 9, 2014

THE WEEKEND AHEAD: WWU Viking Classic the top meet to watch this weekend...

Dani Eggleston of Central Washington was named the
GNAC Athlete of the Week for her efforts at the
Willamette Charles Bowles Invite (CWU Athletics photo)
All four of Washington's NCAA Division II schools--Western Washington, Seattle Pacific, Central Washington, and Saint Martin's are in action this Saturday.

With the GNAC Championship meet just three weeks away, the Falcons and the Wildcats will send their squads to Bellingham Saturday to compete in the 41st Viking Cross Country Classic at Lake Padden Park, hosted by Western Washington.

In the current USTFCCCA Division II poll, Alaska Anchorage (#7) and Western Washington (#25) are the two nationally ranked men's teams that are competing in Bellingham, while on the women's side, Simon Fraser (#8), and Western Washington (#23) are the two ranked teams racing.

In the women's 6k race, scheduled for 11 am, both Seattle Pacific and Central Washington will have an opportunity to prove that they can compete with Simon Fraser and Western Washington, who so far this season, have shown that they're the class of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.

Central Washington has so far been one of the pleasant surprises this season, especially after their fourth place finish at the Sundodger Invitational in Seattle last month, despite a bad race by All-American Connie Morgan.

Dani Eggleston, a junior from Longview,  has been the Wildcats' top runner so far this season, winning the season-opening CWU Invite, finishing in the top five at Sundodger, and taking second at the Willamette Charles Bowles Invitational.  Eggleston was named GNAC female athlete of the week for her efforts at Willamette last week.

The host team's top runner, Katelyn Steen, will be one of the favorites in the women's race.  The All-American steeplechaser won the Saint Martin's Invitational two weeks ago, and placed eighth in the invitational section of the Sundodger, running against Division I competition.

In the opening men's 10k at 10 am,  it will be a battle between old rivals Western Washington and Alaska Anchorage, as both teams have been the dominant squads in the GNAC.  Their dominance in the conference is stated by the fact that since 2008, one team has won the league title with the other finishing second.

Saint Martin's will travel to Newberg, Oregon to compete in the George Fox Invitational on Saturday.


NOTE:  The Great Northwest Athletic Conference, and the sports information offices of Seattle Pacific, Central Washington, and Western Washington University contributed to this report.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Huskies move up slightly in latest USTFCCCA national poll...

NEW ORLEANS--The University of Washington cross country teams moved up slightly in the latest United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches (USTFCCCA) poll released Tuesday by the organization.

Coming off a solid performance at last Saturday's Washington Invitational at Jefferson Park Golf Course, where the Washington men finished sixth and the women third, the Dawgs moved up three spots to #25 in the men's poll, and one spot to #14 in the women's poll.

The national top five men's teams are Colorado, Oregon, Northern Arizona, Oklahoma State and Portland.  

Northern Arizona won the Washington Invitational, while Portland finished ninth, despite sitting several of their top runners Saturday.

One of the biggest moves in the national poll came from the Bruins of UCLA, whose performance at the Washington Invitational nearly resulted in an upset of Northern Arizona.  The Bruins moved up 11 spots from their previous ranking of #20 to #9.

The other nationally ranked team from the Pac 12 is Stanford at #7.

The top five women's teams in the current poll are Michigan, Michigan State, Oregon, Georgetown, and Arkansas.

Other Pac 12 teams ranked in the national top 30 include #6 Stanford, #7 Colorado, and #25 Arizona State.

Washington State's men's team, which won the Stanford Invitational, did not receive any votes in the latest poll.


In other news from the USTFCCCA, Villanova's Patrick Tiernan was selected as the Division I athlete of the week after winning the Washington Invitational by 20 seconds.

Tiernan and Northern Arizona's Futsum Zienasellassie (4th at NCAAs last fall) and Matt McElroy were together through 5000 meters before the Aussie sophomore made his decisive move. 


NOTE:  The USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

WEEKEND RECAP: Eags win Montana Invite; SeattleU sweeps Viking XC Classic; Eggleston continues hot streak...

Here's a recap of what happened over the weekend with teams from Eastern Washington, Gonzaga, Seattle, and Central Washington:

In Missoula, Eastern Washington won the men's competition at the Montana Invitational, squeezing out a two point victory over Montana State, 51-53, with Gonzaga third at 71 points.  On the women's side, the Eagles finished second to Montana State 46-57, with the Zags third with 64 points.

Gonzaga redshirt Willie Milan, competing unattached, was the overall winner of the men's 8k race, running 24:28.

Eastern's Vince Hamilton was first across the line for the Eagles, finishing 7th overall in 25:12.  Alex Kimsey was 10th in 25:25, followed by Stephen Bottoms in 18th in 25:40, Chris Schroll in 34th in 25:57, and Isaac Kitzan in 51st in 25:57.

Gonzaga's scorers included Max Kaderabek in 7th (25:36), Dillon Quintana in 18th (25:49), Benjamin Stout in 31st (25:53), Dan Amann in 50th (26:01), and Andy Thomas in 71st (26:11).

Sarah Reiter  (left/photo courtesy Eastern Washington University) of Eastern Washington won the women's 5k race in 17:29, five seconds ahead of Gonzaga's Amelia Evans.

Katie Mahoney was 5th in 17:51, followed by Berenice Penaloza in 7th (17:53), Paula Gil Echevarria in 14th (18:10), and Emily Hazen in 36th (19:14).

Gonzaga's other scorers were Jordan Thurston in 15th (18:11), Shelby Millis in 16th (18:13), Zoe Urcadez in 17th (18:21), and Lara Tuthill in 18th (18:24).

Eastern Washington coach Chris Zeller said, "This was the best team effort we've had on our men's side in a long time. I am pleased how we ran collectively from top to bottom. We really emphasized running as a team, not as individuals, and we showed a lot of depth. Our men only had a 45 second spread between our first and fifth runners, and a 14 second spread between our fourth and seventh runners."


In Portland, Seattle University swept both the men's and women's team competitions at the Viking Cross Country Classic hosted by Portland State University.

Gus Arroyo was SeattleU's top finisher in the men's 8k race, finishing fourth in 25:08, as the Redhawks scored 38 points to outdistance the host school by five points.

Sophie Curatilo won the women's title, running the 5k course in 16:49, as the Redhawks placed three runners in the top ten.

Taylor de Laveaga was sixth in 17:08, and Lila Rice was tenth in 17:28.

SeattleU scored a low of 43 to beat Portland State by ten points.


In Salem, Oregon, the Central Washington women's squad finished third in the Cardinal race at the Charles Bowles Willamette Invitational, scoring 87 points, with Chico State winning with 45 points and host Willamette second with 52 points.

Dani Eggleston finished second overall in 17:56 over the 5k course, while All-American Connie Morgan was eighth in 18:19.

In the men's 8k, the Wildcats finished fifth overall with 187 points, as the University of Oregon won with a low of 16 points.

Rudy Spencer was Central's top runner across the line, finishing 32nd in a time of 25:44.


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

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Husky men sixth; women third in stacked Washington Invitational meet...

Aaron Nelson of Washington (left/photo by Paul Merca),
who was listed as questionable entering the meet with a leg issue,
rallied to take fifth.
SEATTLE--On a perfect day for distance running, the cream of the collegiate crop converged upon the Jefferson Park Golf Course on Beacon Hill for the inaugural version of the Washington Invitational, featuring eight nationally ranked men's squads, and three top-30 women's teams, not counting the host Huskies, who are nationally ranked as well.

The men's 8k race lived up to its billing, as #2 ranked Northern Arizona took the team title with a low score of 62 points.

However, #20 UCLA pulled the biggest surprise of the meet, pushing across the line four runners together in the top 12:  Lane Werley in 9th (23:40). Jonah Diaz and Nick Hartle in 10th and 11th (both 23:41); and Sergey Sushckickh in 12th (23:42) to finish second with 72 points.

#6 Stanford, which did not run either twins Jim and Joe Rosa, along with Maxim Korolev, the All-American graduate transfer from Harvard, dropped to third with 92 points.  #13 Virginia was fourth with 112 points, and #26 Oklahoma was fifth with 129 points, just ahead of #28 Washington with 152 points.

A group of six runners established themselves up front--Futsum Zienasellassie and Matt McElroy of Northern Arizona, Abbabiya Simbassa from Oklahoma, Patrick Tiernan and Brian Basili from Villanova; and Amos Bowen of Wyoming, with the Huskies' All-American Aaron Nelson, who was questionable going into Saturday's race, slowly working his way to the front.

Shortly after the 5k mark, Tiernan, an Australian import who was an All-American in the 5000 last year, asserted himself and began pulling away, opening a seven second gap at the bell, extending it to 20 seconds, winning the 8k race in 23:00, with Zienasellassie second in 23:20.

Simbassa was third in 23:22, with McElroy from Northern Arizona fourth in 23:26.

Nelson, who was eight seconds behind the lead pack at the halfway mark, rallied to finish fifth in 23:33.

After Nelson, Izaic Yorks finished 15th in 23:46; Tyler King was 39th at 24:20; Meron Simon was 45th in 24:31; and AJ Yarnall rounded out the Husky scorers in in 49th at 24:34.

Among notable runners with Washington ties, Spokane's Nathan Weitz, competing for Northern Arizona, was 26th at 24:06, and Keegan Symmes of the University of Portland from Sammamish was 34th in 24:16.
Kelsey Smith of UCLA, Maggie Schmaedick of Oregon,
Maddie Meyers of Washington, and eventual winner
Elise Cranny of Stanford lead early (Paul Merca photo)

The women's 6k race went to form, as #3 Oregon won the team title over #4 Stanford, who was missing All-American Aisling Cuffe, by a count of 49-55.

Oregon's pack running overcame the victory by Stanford frosh sensation Elise Cranny, the reigning USA junior cross country champion.

The host Huskies were third with 119 points, with UCLA fourth at 134 points, and Portland rounding out the top five with 144 points.

A group of six--Cranny, the Huskies' Maddie Meyers, UCLA's Kelsey Smith, Oregon's Maggie Schmaedick, Melanie Townsend of Northern Arizona, and Bothell native Tansey Lystad from Portland, went to the front as they exited the east straightway and made the right turn onto the south end of Jefferson Park.

The group of six stayed together, with Meyers, Townsend and Cranny pulling away entering the last of three laps.

In that final lap, Cranny opened up a gap on Townsend and Meyers, cruising to a seven second win over Townsend, 20:11 to 20:18.

Meyers, the winner of the Sundodger meet for the Huskies two weeks ago, held on to third in 20:20, with Oregon senior Lindsay Crevoiserat charging for fourth in 20:29.

Holly Page of Wyoming moved up to fifth in 20:31, just ahead of Lystad in 20:32.

Oregon's Frida Berge (20:40), and Molly Grabill (20:41) were 8th and 9th, with Stanford's Emma Fisher 10th in 20:42.

For the Huskies, Kaylee Flanagan was 26th in 21:01; Eleanor Fulton 28th in 21:02; Anatasia Kosykh 30th in 21:04; and Anna Maxwell was 32nd in 21:07 to round out the scoring five.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Huskies set to host Washington Invitational Saturday at Jefferson Park GC...

Participant's coffee mug--Washington Invitational
Seattle is the site of one of the country's top cross country invitational meets, as the University of Washington hosts the first Washington Invitational Saturday at Jefferson Park Golf Course on Beacon Hill.

The meet features nationally ranked men's teams from Indiana (#7), Northern Arizona (#2), Oklahoma (#26), Portland (#5), Stanford (#6), UCLA (#20), Villanova (#9), and Virginia (#13) on the men's side, and #3 Oregon, #4 Stanford, and #13 Villanova on the women's side.

The Huskies are ranked #28 in the current USTFCCCA men's poll and #15 in the women's poll.

Action gets underway at 11 am with the women's 6k, followed 45 minutes later by the men's 6k.

UW head coach Greg Metcalf said, “I think we’ve created a fantastic regular season cross country meet. It will be cool to look across the starting line Saturday morning and see the 10 men’s teams and 11 women’s teams and go, ‘I don’t think anyone has ever seen Villanova run a cross country meet out here.’”


The Dawgs enter the meet led by Sundodger champs Maddie Meyers, and All-American Aaron Nelson.  USA junior 5000m champ Colby Gilbert will make his UW debut after being redshirted during the 2013-14 season.

Besides the Huskies, there will be several notable athletes with ties to the state of Washington competing, including Spokane's Nathan Weitz (Northern Arizona), Tansey Lystad (Portland), and UW grad Megan Morgan, who is competing for Portland.

The link to live results is available here.

The women's entries for Saturday's Washington Invitational are available here, with the men here.

Elsewhere, Gonzaga University's men's squad finished 14th at the Notre Dame Invitational in a field of 24 teams Friday at the Notre Dame Golf Course in South Bend, Indiana.

The Zags scored 378 points, as the University of Michigan won with a low score of 97 points.

Nick Roche was Gonzaga's first runner across the line in 37th, running the 5 mile course in 23:58. He was followed by Troy Fraley (59th, 24:18), Kyle Branch (74th, 24:25), Colin O'Neil (105th, 24:35), and Robert Walgren (112th, 24:39) to complete the scorers.

Michigan's Mason Ferlic won the individual title in a time of 23:16.


Gonzaga is sending its' women's squad, along with most of the men's team that didn't' travel to Notre Dame to the Montana Open, hosted by the University of Montana.  Eastern Washington is also sending teams to Montana.

Seattle University heads to Portland to compete in the Viking XC Classic Saturday at Portland's Blue Lake Park.

Central Washington is the only Division II school in action Saturday, as they head to Salem, Oregon to run in the Willamette Invitational.  The Wildcats are also slated to send athletes to Saturday's Pacific Lutheran Invitational in Parkland at PLU's South Park.

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

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