Saturday, November 22, 2014

NCAA XC RECAP: Three Huskies, Lystad, Howard earn A-A honors, plus D2 regionals & D3 recap...

TERRE HAUTE, Indiana--Kirkland native Tansey Lystad (left/photo by Randy Miyazaki, trackandfieldphoto.com) of the University of Portland was the first Washingtonian to finish, as she placed 15th in the women's 6k at the NCAA Division I cross country championships at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course Saturday.

Lystad, the reigning West Coast Conference champion out of Inglemoor HS, completed the course in a time of 20:20 to earn All-America honors, and the school's highest individual finish at the national championships.

Also earning All-America honors in the national championships on the women's side were the University of Washington's Maddie Meyers, who finished 27th in 20:33, just one spot ahead of Pasco HS grad Marisa Howard of Boise State, who ran 20:36.

The University of Washington women's team, which entered the NCAA championships ranked #19 in the final USTFCCCA regular season poll, finished 23rd with a final team score of 559 points.

Behind Meyers were freshman Anna Maxwell in 124th (21:24), junior Erin Johnson in 177th (21:45), junior Eleanor Fulton in 186th (21:49), and redshirt frosh Kelly Lawson in 196th (21:55), giving the Huskies a 1:22 split from their first through fifth runners.  Soph Kaylee Flanagan was 203rd in 21:58, and frosh Anastasia Kosykh was 217th in 22:09.

Afterwards, UW coach Greg Metcalf commented on his young team, missing two key members from last year's team who ran at nationals in Katie Knight and Amy-Eloise Neale with injuries, said, "For our ladies, getting to the meet was probably the big deal at the beginning of the year and we did that.  A lot of women will learn from this and get better."

Michigan State won the women's national title, scoring 85 points, followed by Iowa State (147), New Mexico (188), and Georgetown (189).  

Pac-12 schools included Oregon in 6th with 249, Colorado in 7th with 267, Stanford in 14th with 415, and UCLA in 27th with 582.

Iona's Kate Avery won the title with a time of 19:32, followed by Wisconsin's Sarah Disanza (19:40), and Boise State's Emma Bates (19:45).

The University of Washington men's squad finished 20th, as Aaron Nelson and Tyler King both earned All-America honors.

Nelson, who finished 20th in the 2013 race, crossed the line at the end of the 10k race in a time of 30:43, while King earned the final All-America spot with his 40th place finish in 30:57.

Junior Meron Simon was 154th in 31:59, followed by junior Izaic Yorks in 159th at 32:02.  Colby Gilbert rounded out the UW scorers in 195th in 32:32, giving the Huskies a 1-5 split of 1:49.

Freshman Fred Huxham was 216th in 32:53, and redshirt freshman AJ Yarnall was 244th in 34:39.

“The men’s side today, to have two men be All-American, I would have bet we’d be a top-ten team,” said Metcalf. “But Aaron Nelson, for him to be a repeat All-American in cross country is a huge testament to the work that he’s done. And Tyler, that’s the best race of his career. But it takes five. Meron and Izaic just didn’t have their best, and Colby struggled today, he’s just way better than that.

It was a successful day for title defenses on the men's side, as Edward Cheserek of Oregon won again in a time of 30:20, four seconds ahead of teammate Eric Jenkins.  Northern Arizona's Futsum Zienasellassie was third in 30:25, followed by Stanford's Maksim Korolev (30:30), and Colorado's Ammar Moussa (30:30).

Colorado won its second straight NCAA team title with 65 points, followed by Stanford's 98, Portland's 175, and Northern Arizona's 188.

Oregon was 6th with 221, and UCLA 18th with 454 to round out the other Pac-12 schools with teams in the field of 31.

Among those with Washington ties competing in the race were Todd Wakefield of New Mexico, who graduated from WSU, but had eligibility remaining, finishing 93rd in 31:30; Nathan Weitz of Northern Arizona (Shadle Park HS), who was 118th in 31:41; Conner Peloquin of BYU (Gig Harbor HS), who was 127th in 31:48; and, Shane Moskowitz of Oklahoma State (Central Kitsap HS), who was 153rd in 31:59.


CENTRAL WOMEN EARN NATIONALS BERTH AS WWU'S STEEN WINS REGIONALS

In Billings, Montana, Western Washington's Katelyn Steen took home the individual title at the NCAA Division II Western Regional championship meet at Amend Park.

Steen, the reigning GNAC champion, ran the 6k distance in a time of 21:07, helping the Vikings to a sixth place team finish (185), good enough to qualify the team for the national championship meet in two weeks in Louisville, Kentucky.

"Katelyn executed her game plan perfectly," said WWU head coach Pee Well Halsell, noting that she wanted to take command  with about two miles to go.

The Central Washington women's team finished one spot ahead of Western Washington to earn its first national championship berth since 2000. scoring 180 points.

Dani Eggleston of the Wildcats was tenth in 21:40, with teammates Connie Morgan (21:58) and Megan Rogers (22:00) close behind in 13th and 14th.

Seattle Pacific's Anna Patti was seventh overall in 21:32, and missed qualifying for the national championship meet as an individual (top 3 not on one of the six qualifying teams).

The Falcons finished 12th with 282 points, and Saint Martin's was 24th with 725 points.

Simon Fraser won the women's regional title with 103 points, with Chico State (112), Alaska Anchorage (144), and UC San Diego (171) finishing ahead of CWU and WWU.

On the men's side, Isaac Griffith's twelfth place finish, in a time of 31:27 over 10k helped Western Washington to a fourth place finish and advance to the national championships, as the Vikings scored 150 points.

The Vikings were the only Washington squad to advance to nationals, as Chico State won the regional title with 30 points, foliowed by Alaska Anchorage with 53 and Cal Poiy Pomona with 101.

Central Washington was 14th with 402, and Saint Martin's was 21st with 568 points.

Alaska Anchorage's Henry Cheseto won the individual crown, running 30:34.


At the NCAA Division III championship meet in Mason, Ohio, Roosevelt HS grad Lucy Cheadle's undefeated season came to an end, as the Washington University of St. Louis senior finished second to Stevens Institute's Amy Regan, 20:52 to 20:59 over the 6k Kings Island Golf Center course.

Cheadle became the 13th individual in NCAA D3 women's history to earn four All-America cross country honors, and her runner-up finish is also the highest individual placing in school history.

The WUSTL women's squad earned a fourth place finish, scoring 180 points, as Johns Hopkins took the team title for the third year in a row with 87 points.


NOTE: The University of Washington, University of Portland, NCAA, Central Washington University, Western Washington University, GNAC, and Washington University of St. Louis sports information offices contributed to this report.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

NCAA cross country champs preview: Dawgs send both squads; Vikes teams aim for D2 nationals...

The University of Washington cross country teams head to Terre Haute, Indiana for Saturday's NCAA cross country championship meet at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course looking to place better than the rankings received by the nation's coaches who vote in the USTFCCCA poll.

After last week's regional championship meet in Palo Alto, where the men finished fifth, and the women fourth, the voters ranked the Husky men 16th, and the women 19th in the final regular season poll.

The Husky men make their first appearance at the national championship meet since 2009, when they finished 18th.  

They'll be led by senior Aaron Nelson (left/photo by Paul Merca), who competed in this meet last year, finishing 20th.  Nelson has been the #1 runner for the Dawgs in every meet that he's worn the purple jersey.  Nelson will look to become Washington's first two-time All-America competitor with a top-40 finish.

Running with Nelson Saturday are a trio of juniors Tyler King, Izaic Yorks, and Meron Simon, along with freshman Colby Gilbert, the Pac-12's freshman of he year.  Husky coach Greg Metcalf will pick two runners from redshirt freshmen A.J. Yarnall and Johnathan Stevens, along with true frosh Fred Huxham to complete the seven man squad.

On the women's side, the Huskies will travel eight women to the nationals, led by Maddie Meyers, who finished fourth in the Pac-12 meet, and seventh in the regionals.

She'll be joined by regionals top-25 finishers Anna Maxwell, and Eleanor Fulton.  Maxwell, a freshman, finished 15th last week, while Fulton, a junior was 25th.

Also traveling to Indiana are sophomore Kaylee Flanagan, freshman Anastasia Kosykh and redshirt frosh Kelly Lawson.  Junior Erin Johnson was Metcalf's seventh runner at regionals, with Jenna Sanders traveling and available to run.

The Huskies' preview of the championships is available here.

Inglemoor HS grad Tansey Lystad, who finished sixth in the West Regionals for the University of Portland, will compete in the NCAA meet as an individual.

Pasco HS graduate Marisa Howard, an All-American in the steeplechase last season, will compete for Boise State, and look to help steer the Broncos to a top-10 finish after her squad took second at the regionals.

Other notables running Saturday include Conner Peloquin (Gig Harbor HS) from BYU, Shane Moskowitz (Central Kitsap HS) of Oklahoma State, and Nathan Weitz (Shadle Park HS) of Northern Arizona.

Peloquin was 22nd in the Mountain Region meet, while Moskowitz was 11th in the Midwest meet.  Weitz was held out of the Mountain region meet by the Northern Arizona coaching staff.

Saturday's NCAA championship meet gets underway at 9 am with the women's 6k, and the men's 10k an hour later.  The meet will be webcast on NCAA.com.

DIVISION II AND III NOTES

Western Washington, Central Washington, Seattle Pacific, and Saint Martin's all head to Billings, Montana for the NCAA Division II championship meet at Amend Park.

Western Washington looks to qualify both teams for the national title meet in two weeks in Louisville, Kentucky, while Central Washington may be in a dogfight to qualify its women's squad.

The Viking men are ranked #23 in the latest USTFCCCA poll, while the Viking women are #18

The top six teams from Saturday's meet will advance to the national championship meet, plus the top three individuals not on a qualifying team.

Western Washington will be led by GNAC champ Katelyn Steen, the Great Northwest Athletic Conference women's champ.

Central Washington's duo of 2013 All-American Connie Morgan and Dani Eggleston, both of whom placed in the top ten at the GNACs, look to pull the Wildcats to its first national championship meet since 2000 when they finished seventh.

While Seattle Pacific's squad is at best a long shot to qualify for nationals, Anna Patti, who was seventh at the GNAC, could be in the mix to qualify as an individual.


In Division III, Washington University's Lucy Cheadle, a senior from Seattle's Roosevelt HS, goes into the NCAA championship meet as one of the favorites to take the national crown Saturday at the Golf Center at King's Island in Mason, Ohio.

Cheadle won the Midwest Regional meet last week, and has gone undefeated so far this season.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Doha wins right to host 2019 IAAF world track & field championships...

The Doha bid team celebrates the announcement
(photo courtesy IAAF)
MONTE CARLO, Monaco--By a count of 15-12 over Eugene, Oregon, the 27 members of the IAAF council voted to award the 2019 world track & field championships to Doha, Qatar Tuesday.

The Qatari capital proposed hosting the world championships from September 28th to October 6th, with the marathon races contested in the evening.

From a television standpoint, the proposed dates conflicts with the start of the major European soccer league (German Bundesliga, EPL, La Liga) seasons, as well as the National Football League and college football in the United States.

For elite marathoners, those athletes will have to decide between running for their country at the world championships or chasing paydays during the fall marathon season with World Marathon Majors races in Berlin, Chicago, and New York.

In the first round of voting (14 votes needed), Barcelona was eliminated with 6 votes, with Doha leading with 12, and Eugene 9.

In a release from the IAAF, president Lamine Diack said, "I am sure that in Doha we will have a wonderful edition of the World Championships."

"It's a privilege and honor to have the trust of the IAAF," said Sheikh Saoud Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, the leader of the Doha bid.

"I am very delighted that these Championships are going to be for the first time in the region. I'm confident that with the help of the IAAF we will organize one of the best World Championships," he added.

"The United States congratulates Doha on securing the 2019 IAAF World Championships. We look forward to Team USA competing in Doha against the best athletes in the world. We thank President Diack, IAAF Council and IAAF bid evaluation commission for considering our bid and for the tremendous collaboration the IAAF showed throughout this process," said USA Track & Field CEO Max Siegel in a release.

Had Eugene won the bid, it would have been the smallest city to host the IAAF's marquee event.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Portland Track to host two new meets in 2015...

PORTLAND--Portland Track, the organization behind the Portland Track Festival contested in June, recently announced that it will stage two new events in 2015.

Portland Track will host the Portland Summer Twilight meet on Thursday July 2nd, with a wide range of events, as opposed to the Portland Track Festival, which mainly focuses on distance events.

On August 8th, the organization will stage the Portland 10000, with one men's and women's 10000 meter race on the track.  This event came about after the Memorial Van Damme Diamond League meet cancelled their 10000m race, and athletes and agents spoke for a mid-to-late season track race at that distance.

Portland Track president Craig Rice said, “U.S. athletes and coaches have been looking for domestic, high-performance events as an alternative to the European circuit and we are happy to welcome everyone back to Portland for our 2015 series of meets.”

All three meets will be run in the evening at Lewis & Clark's Griswold Stadium, according to Ken Goe of the Oregonian.

The 2014 Portland Track Classic was highlighted by Olympic & world champ Mo Farah (above/photo by Randy Miyazaki, trackandfieldphoto.com) of Great Britain and the Nike Oregon Project, as he ran 13:23.42 to win the 5000.


NOTE:  Portland Track contributed to this report.

Both Husky squads head to Terre Haute ranked in top 20; Eugene makes final pitch to IAAF...

NEW ORLEANS--The Washington Husky cross country teams enter Saturday's NCAA Division I cross country championships in Terre Haute, Indiana ranked in the top 20, according to the USTFCCCA final regular season national coaches' poll released Monday evening.

The men's squad goes into Terre Haute ranked #16 after their fifth place finish in last Friday's NCAA West Regional championship race in Palo Alto, where they finished behind Oregon, Portland, Stanford and UCLA.  They were ranked #11 in the coaches' poll before the regionals.

The Huskies will make their first team appearance at the national championship meet since the 2009 season, when they finished 18th.  

The USTFCCCA men's top five are Pac-12 champ Colorado, Syracuse, Oregon, Oklahoma State and Villanova.

Other Pac-12 teams ranked include #9 Stanford, and #12 UCLA.

The Washington women (above/photo by Paul Merca) head into Saturday's national title race ranked #19, dropping four spots from #15.  The Dawgs will make its eighth straight appearance at nationals, and its 16th in the last 18 seasons.

The national women's top five are Michigan State, Georgetown, Oregon, Arkansas, and Iowa State.

Other Pac-12 schools ranked include #8 Colorado, #10 Stanford, and #29 UCLA.


The NCAA Division I cross country championships will be webcast on NCAA.com Saturday beginning at 9 am, pacific.

BARCELONA, DOHA & EUGENE MAKE FINAL PITCHES TO IAAF TUESDAY

The IAAF Council will meet this week in Monte Carlo, and among the decisions it will make in its first session on Tuesday is the site of the 2019 IAAF world track & field championships.

Barcelona, Spain; Doha, Qatar; and Eugene, Oregon will make its final pitch to the IAAF council, beginning at noon, European Central time.  At the conclusion of the final presentations, the 27 members of the council will vote to award the bid, with 14 votes needed to secure.  If none of the three cities gets the required votes on the first ballot, the city with the least votes will be eliminated, at which time a second round of voting will commence.

The final decision on who will get the 2019 world championships will happen around 4 am, pacific time (1 pm, European central time).  The proceedings will be webcast live on the IAAF's YouTube channel.

The IAAF evaluation commission, headed by former world record holder and London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe (center/photo courtesy IAAF), visited all three candidate cities last month.

NOTE:  The USTFCCCA and the IAAF contributed to this report.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

My thoughts on the 2019 IAAF world championships...

Ashton Eaton crosses the finish line in the decathlon 1500
meter run to set a world record at the 2012 US Olympic Trials
at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon (Paul Merca photo)
In two days, the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) will select the site of the 2019 world track & field championships between the cities of Barcelona, Spain; Doha, Qatar; and, Eugene, Oregon.

From a global perspective, there is no way that Eugene can compete with either Barcelona or Doha in terms of accessibility, night life, hotels (especially the 5-star kind), experience hosting major international sporting events (Barcelona hosted the 1992 Olympics, and Doha has hosted several world championship sporting events, and will host soccer's World Cup in 2022), and even stadia (Hayward Field's capacity is well below the IAAF minimum seating capacity of 30000).

If there's one thing that Eugene has that neither Doha nor Barcelona has, it's the passion and enthusiasm for the sport.

In my humble opinion, there is no place that I've visited in the world (and you're talking to a guy who has attended and covered eleven IAAF world championship meets, and two Olympics) that shows the kind of passion for the sport that Eugene has.

Assuming that Eugene can get the hotels built,  have the transportation infrastructure put in place to move athletes, VIPs, officials, and spectators, and have a world class broadcast center and press center for the thousands of print, broadcast and internet journalists and technicians, there is no reason why a world track & field championship meet in Eugene wouldn't work.  Seems to me that if the city can handle 54,000+ on seven Saturdays in the fall for University of Oregon football games, they surely can handle 30000+ for nine consecutive days of track & field.

It's my belief that the city of Eugene, the entire Pacific Northwest region, and the United States will embrace the 2019 IAAF world track & field championships with the same passion that it shows when it hosts meets like the NCAA and USA championships, as well as the Nike Prefontaine Classic and the US Olympic Trials.

If the IAAF selection committee members want to line their pockets with cash, go ahead and vote for Doha.  If those members want to keep the meet in Europe, go ahead and pick Barcelona.  If the IAAF members want to see full stands for every session without having to bus folks in to pad the attendance figures, y'all would be wise to pick Eugene.

Note that since the IAAF began conducting the world championships in 1983, the United States hasn't hosted this meet. The only time the meet's been on this continent was in 2001 in Edmonton, Alberta.

As Russell Wilson, the quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks so often said during the team's magical run in 2013 that cumulated in winning a Super Bowl trophy and a world championship, "Why not us?"

Why not Eugene?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Both Washington squads receive at-large berths to compete in next week's NCAA championships...

INDIANAPOLIS--As expected, both University of Washington cross country squads were selected by the NCAA men's and women's cross country committees to compete in next week's NCAA Division I cross country championships in Terre Haute, Indiana.

The Washington men's squad (above/photo by Paul Merca) will make its first appearance as a team since 2009, when it finished 18th.  

Washington will go into Terre Haute after finishing fifth in the West Regional meet in Palo Alto Friday, behind Oregon, Portland, Stanford, and UCLA.  

The Husky women, who finished fourth in Friday's West Regional meet behind Oregon, Boise State and Stanford, will make its eighth straight appearance at the national championship meet, and its 16th in the last 18 years.

Kirkland native Tansey Lystad of the University of Portland, who finished sixth in the West Regional meet, will advance to the national championship as one of four individuals from the regional meet not on a team.  She joins Arizona State's Shelby Houlihan, Cal's Bethan Knights, and Raquel Hefflin from UC Riverside.

Notables from Washington that will run in the NCAA championships next week include Marisa Howard (Pasco HS) from Boise State, Conner Peloquin (Gig Harbor HS) from BYU, Nathan Weitz (Shadle Park HS), and Shane Moskowitz (Central Kitsap HS) of Oklahoma State.  All except Weitz ran in their respective regional meets on Friday.

Howard finished fifth in the West Regional meet.  Peloquin was 22nd in the Mountain Region meet, while Moskowitz finished 11th in the Midwest regional meet.


The NCAA cross country championships will be webcast on NCAA.com next Saturday beginning at 9 am, pacific time with the women's 6k, followed by the men's 10 an hour later.

NOTE:  The NCAA contributed to this report.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Both Husky squads await their fates after finishing top 5 at regionals; Lystad moves on...

PALO ALTO, California--Both University of Washington cross country teams will await the decision of the NCAA cross country committee on whether or not they will advance to next week's national championships in Terre Haute, Indiana after their women's team finished fourth, and the men's team placed fifth at the Western Regional championship race Friday morning at the Stanford Golf Course.

The announcement on which 13 teams from around the country will move on will take place Saturday at noon, pacific time.  Only the top two teams from each of the nine regional races from around the country on Friday are assured spots on the line in Terre Haute on November 22nd.

One person who is assured of going to the national championship is Kirkland native Tansey Lystad (left/photo by Paul Merca) of the University of Portland, who finished sixth, covering the 6k course in 20:09, one spot ahead of the Huskies' Maddie Meyers, who ran 20:18.

"I was just trying to mix it up with the big girls.  My motto for this season is to 'make it count', and I wanted to run with them and secure a spot at nationals," said Lystad, the reigning West Coast Conference champion.

When asked about her confidence going into the regional championship, Lystad, who graduated from Inglemoor HS, she said that making it to the national championship meet during the track season gave her a big boost.

For the Huskies, freshman Anna Maxwell finished 15th in 20:42, followed by Eleanor Fulton in 25th (20:59), then Anastasia Kosykh in 41st (21:15), and Kaylee Flanagan in 43rd (21:18), giving Washington a 60 second gap between the first and fifth runners.

Washington State finished 13th with 360 points led by Abby Regan's 36th place finish in 21:13.

Gonzaga finished 16th with 413 points, led by Amelia Evans, who finished 32nd in 21:10.  WAC champion Seattle University was 18th with 501 points led by Taylor de Laveaga, who finished 63rd in 21:34.

Oregon took the team crown with a low score of 88 points, followed by Boise State's 103, with Stanford third also at 103 (Boise State's fifth runner finished ahead of Stanford's fifth to take the tiebreaker and the automatic berth to the national championship).

Pac-12 champ Shelby Houlihan of Arizona State won the race in 19:32, three seconds ahead of defending NCAA regional champ Emma Bates of Boise State.  Elise Cranny of Stanford was third at 19:46, followed by Bethan Knights of Cal at 20:00, then Pasco HS graduate Marisa Howard, last year's NCAA steeplechase runner-up from Boise State in fifth at 20:05.

In the men's 10k race, UCLA turned the tables on the Huskies, as the Bruins finished fourth with 104 points, and the Dawgs in fifth with 139, reversing the finish from the Pac-12 championship meet two weeks ago in Oakland.

Washington senior Aaron Nelson (left/photo by Paul Merca) led the Huskies with his seventh place finish in 29:49, even briefly taking the lead with less than a mile to go.

But unlike the Pac-12s, where the Huskies were able to stay in a tight pack with Nelson, the Dawgs had a 37 second gap between Nelson and fifth man Colby Gilbert, who finished 43rd in 30:23.

There was a 16 second gap between Nelson and second Husky Izaic Yorks, who was 24th in 30:02.  Following Yorks for the Huskies was Meron Simon in 32nd (30:12) and Tyler King in 33rd (30:12).

Gonzaga finished tenth with 293 points led by Troy Fraley in 36th (30:17).  Washington State was 13th with 335 points, led by Drew Jordan's 46th place finish in 30:25.  Seattle University was 24th with 684 points.  Gus Arroyo led the Redhawks with his 85th place finish in 31:10.

Stanford's Maxim Korolev won the individual title, running 29:34, one second ahead of Oregon's Edward Cheserek, who was handed his first career loss.  Eric Jenkins of Oregon was third in 29:40, followed by Portland's Scott Fauble in 29:40, and Cal's Chris Walden in fifth at 29:41.

Oregon took the team title with 60 points, followed by Portland's 71, then Stanford's 97, with UCLA fourth at 104, and the Huskies fifth with 139.

UW coach Greg Metcalf expressed confidence that both his teams would advance to the national championship meet. “I thought both of our teams did exactly what they needed to do to get to the show,” he said. “Both teams ran better over the second half of the race. They closed incredibly well. The men especially, the goal was to run as a group at the halfway point and build from there.”

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A day at adidas...

After the conclusion of our coverage of the BMW Berlin Marathon on September 28th, paulmerca.blogspot.com spent a day visiting the world headquarters of adidas in the Bavarian town of Herzogenaurach, which is about a 30 minute drive from Nuremberg.

My trip to adidas headquarters began with a five hour train ride from Berlin to Nuremberg, where I tried to catch up on sleep and get my body adjusted to European time two days after landing in Berlin fueled solely on adrenaline (one word of advice for anyone going to Europe from the USA to cover an event--give yourself an extra day to adjust to the time).

While on the train, my mind wandered back to the days when I first started in the sport, and the adidas shoes many of the top runners of that era ran in--the Country (my first pair of actual running shoes and the shoe many of us at both Sharples Jr High & Franklin wore, because they were in the school colors of white & green), the SL 72 & 76, and the spikes of choice that many of my teammates at Franklin HS wore--the kangaroo suede Tokyo 64 and the Titan with the octopus suction cup outsole that looked like the face of a ping-pong paddle.

I also thought about the stories that some of the track & field athletes of the 1960s and 70s told (some exaggerated, depending on the number of beverages ingested beforehand) about the creative ways amateurs were compensated for medals at the Olympics, including the Benjamin Franklin insoles inside specially marked boxes of adidas and Pumas handed out at the athletes village in the days before sports marketing became big time with agents and public relations execs surrounding athletes.

A few hours after arriving in Nuremberg, I met my host, Craig Vanderoef and his fiancé, Raine at the hotel, and walked a few blocks through the old town for dinner at a local restaurant.

Vanderoef lived in Seattle for a number of years after graduating from the University of Virginia, where he was a standout distance runner, first working at Super Jock 'n Jill, before going to Asics and then to Brooks, where he was a product line manager before joining adidas in 2008.  Craig is now the business unit director for running apparel at adidas.

After some small talk about how he ended up in Germany, along with the previous day's results from the Berlin Marathon (which was a huge victory for adidas, led by Dennis Kimetto's world record of 2:02:57, cruising through the streets of Berlin in a pair of adizero Adios Boosts), and the cultural differences of working in a foreign country,  he filled me in on the tour of the campus, which would cumulate with a meet and greet with the new marathon world record holder.

The following morning, we left Nuremberg for the drive to Herzogenaurach, while passing through some of the historic sites, including the Palace of Justice, where the Nuremberg Trials were held after World War II.

As we entered Herzogenaurach, Craig and I stopped by the original adidas headquarters (above), where founder Adi Dassler worked on creations for some of the world's best athletes ranging from Jim Ryun to Muhammad Ali to Franz Beckenbauer.

From there, we crossed the Aurach River, which divides Herzogenaurach, and drove past the world headquarters of Puma, before heading to adidas headquarters, which is built on the site of a former US military base.

Once inside the adidas World of Sports complex, the first order of business was a short meeting at the "Laces" research and development building to see elements of the 2015 running apparel line. 

What I found interesting was the fact that wool is going to play a major role in some of adidas' technical offerings in 2015 and beyond, extending to the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.  In fact, the company has some pieces in its current running line made of wool, namely the adistar Primeknit wool tee, and the adistar wool insulated jacket.

Another running initiative that was communicated is the company's involvement as a partner with AKTIV Against Cancer, the charity co-founded by the late Grete Waitz, one of the true legends of the sport, and a multi-time winner of the New York Marathon.

During the recently concluded New York Marathon, adidas launched a line of performance apparel and the Grete 30 Boost running shoe, along with a new logo for AKTIV Against Cancer.  In addition, adidas donated $1 to AKTIV for every tweet, Instagram or Facebook post that included the hashtag #mystepmatters with an image of a hand symbol in the shape of an "A".

After the apparel presentation, I then took the grand tour of the campus, including the building where a small sampling of historic adidas shoes, apparel and packaging were displayed. The sight of Bob Beamon's shoes worn in Mexico City to long jump 29-2.5 (8.90m) along with the Tokyo and Titan spikes immediately brought back thoughts of my high school track meets.

We then visited Adi Dassler Sportplatz, the on campus soccer stadium/track complex used by several of the world's best soccer teams and track athletes whenever they're in town, and oh, by the way, a great workout facility for its employees.  By the way, here I am next to the statue of Adi Dassler inside the stadium.

I then made a quick stop inside the adidas performance lab, where one of the technicians took me through some of the machinery used to test prototype shoes, along with an array of equipment and high speed cameras used to scan the feet of athletes and capture athletes performing various activities. 

It was then time to head to the lobby of "Laces" for the lunchtime meet and greet with Dennis Kimetto and Emmanuel Mutai, two days after their impressive run through the streets of Berlin.  A large number of adidas employees assembled and patiently waited to get an autographed poster or a photo op with the world's two fastest marathoners.  

Finally, I had a chance to chat with George Vontsolos, the category director for global performance running, about what's in store for adidas running.

Boost continues to be the big story in adidas running, as they've expanded their offerings of running shoes with the Boost cushioning system, comprised of thermoplastic polyurethane material that is more durable and temperature resistant than the ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA) material used as midsoles on the majority of running shoes marketed worldwide.

After launching in early 2013 with a running shoe, adidas now markets shoes using the Boost cushioning system in running, cross training, basketball, and cleated footwear.  Besides Kimetto's world record in Berlin, Wilson Kipsang ran to victory at the New York Marathon wearing a pair of adidas adizero adios Boost 2.0 racing flats (above/photo courtesy adidas).  Additionally, Berlin women's winner Tirfi Tsegaye and runner-up Feyse Tadese wore the adizero adios Boost 2.0.

We also talked in general terms about some of the track & field spikes that you'll see in the 2016 Olympics.  Like all of the major manufacturers, adidas is already working on their line for Rio.

For a self-proclaimed shoe junkie, the adidas tour was well worth spending the extra two days in Germany to gain knowledge of the athletic sportswear industry, and to appreciate the history of one of sports' most iconic brands.

NOTE:  Special thanks to my host Craig Vanderoef and his staff at adidas in Herzogenaurach, along with Javier Macias of adidas Media Relations in Herzogenaurach and Caitlin Albaugh of adidas Media Relations in Portland. paulmerca.blogspot.com did not receive any compensation for this post.

Lester, Hamlin and Barringer sign national letters of intent to run for the Huskies...


The University of Washington announced on its track & field team's Facebook page that they have signed three athletes to national letters of intent.

The Huskies received national letters of intent from hurdler Carly Lester (above/photo via Getty Images) from Rocky Mountain HS in Fort Collins, Colorado; Boise HS (Idaho) distance runner Emily Hamlin; and Charlie Barringer from Bothell HS.

Lester comes to Washington with a time of 41.18 in the 300 hurdles, which was the fourth fastest time in the nation this past season, en route to winning the Colorado 5A championship.  She's also run 61.17 over 400 hurdles at this year's USATF Junior Olympics, and 14.16 for 100 hurdles at the Colorado state meet.

Hamlin is the reigning Idaho 5A champion in both the 1600 and 3200.  She's run 4:54.55 for the mile and 10:38.25 for the 3200m.  She's also won three Idaho state 5A cross country titles.

Barringer was the runner-up at last weekend's WIAA 4A cross country championship meet in Pasco, running 15:22.  On the track, he was tenth in the WIAA 4A 1600 in a personal best of 4:14.42, and ran 9:05:53 in the 3200m at the Shoreline Invitational.

NOTE:  The University of Washington, along with media partner RunnerSpace.com/DyeStat contributed to this report.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Huskies, Regan, Reiter & Lystad ready to race Friday at NCAA West Regionals...

Friday is go time for both University of Washington cross country teams, along with Washington State's Abby Regan (left/photo by Paul Merca) and Eastern Washington's Sarah Reiter when they line up to run in the NCAA West Regionals at the Stanford Golf Course with trips to Terre Haute, Indiana for the NCAA championships eight days later.

The meet starts at 11 am with the women's 6k race, followed by the men's 10k at noon.

The Washington men's team, which is ranked a season high #11 in the USTFCCCA poll, and the women's team, ranked #15 in the national coaches' poll, appear to be safe bets to advance to the national championships even if they don't place first or second in Friday's race, assuming they run close to the form they showed earlier this season.

The West Region is  one of the country's toughest sections, led by perennial powerhouse squads Oregon and Stanford on both the men's and women's sides, and the Portland men's squad.  Both Washington teams have faced big-time competition in their last three outings--the Washington Invite, the Wisconsin adidas Invite, and the Pac-12s, so they should be battle tested and ready to go.

With both the Washington State and Eastern Washington women's squads facing an uphill battle to advance out of the West region, the best chance for both Eastern's Reiter and WSU's Regan to go to the national championship is by placing in the top 25 individually.  

Reiter goes into the meet on a bit of a roll, after winning the Big Sky championship, while Regan was ninth in the Pac-12, and was the third runner across the line not from a nationally ranked team (Shelby Houlihan of Arizona State won, while freshman Bethan Knights of Cal was third).

Another runner in contention for one of the four individual spots is Kirkland native Tansey Lystad of the University of Portland, who won the West Coast Conference title two weeks ago.

The Seattle University women's team, which won the Western Athletic Conference title two weeks ago, will face its most significant test Friday.  The Redhawks did not compete in a meaningful national caliber invitational meet this season.

There are nine regional meets where the top two teams automatically qualify for the NCAA Division I Championships in Terre Haute. After those 18 teams, 13 at-large teams are selected based on how well they’ve competed this season against the automatic qualifiers. For an individual to make it, they must be one of the first four individual runners to place, and finish in the top 25 overall in their region.



paulmerca.blogspot.com will again be on hand to cover the NCAA West Regionals.

NOTE:  The NCAA, USTFCCCA and the sports information offices of the University of Washington, Eastern Washington, Washington State, and Stanford University contributed to this report.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Lucy Cheadle and Katelyn Steen named USTFCCCA cross country athletes of the week...

Lucy Cheadle (l) & Katelyn Steen
(photos courtesy WU & WWU Sports Information)
NEW ORLEANS--A pair of runners with ties to the state of Washington were named by the United States Track and Field & Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) as its athletes of the week .

Washington University of St. Louis' Lucy Cheadle was selected as the Division III athlete of the week, as she won the UAA conference championship on the Forest Park course in St. Louis.

The product of Seattle's Roosevelt High School covered the 6k distance in 20:32 to win her third straight conference title, and in the process, help her team win the conference title with a low score of 23 to easily outdistance second place University of Chicago.

Cheadle, the reigning NCAA D3 steeplechase champ, earned her third athlete of the week honor this season with the win, as she destroyed the field by 82 seconds.

Western Washington's Katelyn Steen, a product of Eastlake HS in Sammamish, received the Division II women's athlete of the week honors, after winning the GNAC championship meet Saturday in Monmouth, Oregon, covering the 6k course in 20:14, beating her nearest competitor by 19 seconds.

The National Athlete of the Week is an award selected and presented by the USTFCCCA at the beginning of each week, based on performances that were significant on the national landscape.


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

Sunday, November 2, 2014

WEEKEND RECAP: Reiter wins Big Sky; SeattleU women take WAC crown; Steen wins GNAC...

Here is the roundup of action from the various conference championships involving Washington's seven other NCAA Division I & II schools (Washington and Washington State competed in the Pac-12 championship meet Friday in Oakland):

REITER WINS BIG SKY CROSS COUNTRY TITLE

In Grand Forks, North Dakota, Eastern Washington's Sarah Reiter (abovephoto courtesy EWU Athletics) emerged victorious at the Big Sky conference championship meet, running 17:06 over the 5k course in sunny but cold and windy conditions.

Reiter's victory was the first individual cross country conference championship won by an Eagle, and also helped Eastern to tie its highest finish in conference history, finishing fourth with 136 points.

Behind Reiter was Berenice Penaloza in ninth in 17:36, followed by Katie Mahoney in 22nd (17:55), Paula Gil-Echevarria in 34th (18:13), and Mayra Chavez in 70th (18:54).

According to EWU coach Chris Zeller, "I am absolutely ecstatic for Sarah. At the beginning of last year, she wasn't sure if she wanted to keep running after she transferred (from Montana State). After the race, she was looking back on how far she has come. She was overwhelmed and it took a while to sink in that she is a conference champion."

"It was surreal. Sarah looked strong throughout the entire race. At mile two, she gave me a smile and a thumbs up. She was collected and calm the entire race as she gradually picked up the pace."

Northern Arizona took the team title with 61 points, followed by Weber State with 80 and Montana State with 122.

On the men's side, the Eagles finished sixth with 151 points, only eight points out of fourth, as #10 ranked Northern Arizona easily took the team title with 24 points, outdistancing Southern Utah's 66 points.

Vince Hamilton was Eastern's top finisher for the fourth time this season, finishing 13th with a time of 24:41 over the 8k course. Sophomore Stephen Bottoms finished 28th (25:32), and sophomore Alex Kimsey was 30th with a time of 25:33. Senior Chris Schroll finished 39th (26:01.0).

Futsum Zienasellasie of Northern Arizona took the individual title in a time of 24:08.  NAU teammate Nathan Weitz from Spokane finished tenth in 24:31.


SEATTLE U WOMEN WIN WAC CROWN

In McAllen, Texas, Seattle University, led by Sophie Curatilo's runner-up finish, placed four runners in the top ten to claim the program's first Western Athletic Conference championship at the Palm View Golf Club.

Curatilo was second, running 17:48 over the 5k course behind conference champ Courtney Frerichs of Missouri-Kansas City's 16:52.

Lila Rice was fifth in 17:59, followed by Taylor De Laveaga's seventh place time of 18:04.  Elena Smith was tenth in 18:23, and Madison Davis rounded out the Redhawk scorers in 19th in 18:53.

“This is something that we have had our eye on since day one this season, something the ladies have been really focused on, and they have been very determined, more so than I have seen in any other season,” Steidl said. “I knew what our mentality was after last year, and that we would build on that throughout this season. This is a very special thing for our program, and I know they are very excited about accomplishing this goal.”

The Redhawk men finished fourth with a team score of 84 points, as Utah Valley won the team title with 37 points.

Gus Arroyo led the Redhawks with his fifth place with a time of 25:22 over the 8k course. Joe Charbonneau was the next Redhawk to cross the finish line in 16th place in 26:10, followed by Ben Monk in 19th place in 26:20.

Rounding out SeattleU's scorers were Collin Overbay in 24th place with a time of 26:34, just ahead of teammate Chay Weaver in 25th place in 26:38.

Daniel Rubio of New Mexico State won the men's title in 24:56.


GONZAGA MEN THIRD, WOMEN FIFTH AT WCC CHAMPIONSHIPS

In Sunnyvale, California, Nick Roche's 15th place finish led Gonzaga to a third place team finish in the West Coast Conference meet.

Roche placed 15th overall with an 8,000-meter time of 23 minutes, 52 seconds at Baylands Park, the home course of Santa Clara University. All five Zags finished in the top 30 to help the team to 109 points. Portland took the title with 28 points, just holding off BYU, who had 31.

Troy Fraley hung with Roche and the lead group for much of the race, but fell off the pace towards the end, coming in 21st at 24:15. Kyle Branch had a solid race, nearly nipping his teammate Fraley, just a second behind for 22nd. Danny Lunder and Colin O’Neil rounded out the top five for the Zags in 25th and 26th, respectively. Lunder came across in 24:27, while O’Neil was at 24:32.

Portland won the team title, led by David Perry's victory in 23:26.  BYU senior Conner Peloquin from Gig Harbor finished fifth in 23:31.

For the Gonzaga women, juniors Shelby Mills and Amelia Evans placed in the top ten to help lead the Zags to a fifth place finish.

Mills was seventh in 20:07 over the 6k course, while Evans was tenth in 20:30.

The next group of Zag women was led by a career-best run from junior Erin Bergmann, followed by freshman Jordan Thurston and junior Zoe Urcadez. The three were able to feed off each other and help move the Zags well into sole possession of fifth overall. Bergmann was 31st  at 21:27, followed by Thurston in 32nd at 21:29 and Urcadez in 34th at 21:32.

Portland's Tansey Lystad of Kirkland, a product of Inglemoor HS, won the WCC title in a time of 19:40, while BYU took the women's team title with a score of 36 points over Portland's 57.


The next meet for all three schools will be the NCAA Western Regionals on November 14th at the Stanford Golf Course in Palo Alto, California.

GNAC CHAMPIONSHIP GOES TO WWU'S KATELYN STEEN

In Monmouth, Oregon, Western Washington senior Katelyn Steen (left/photo courtesy Great Northwest Athletic Conference) won the Great Northwest Athletic Conference title, running the 6k Ash Creek Preserve course in a meet-record time of 20:14, finishing 19 seconds ahead of Simon Fraser's Rebecca Bassett (20:33), with Central Washington's Dani Eggleston another 10 seconds back to take third.

Seattle Pacific's Anna Patti was seventh in 20:55, while Connie Morgan of Central Washington was ninth in 21:03, and Taylor Guenther was tenth in 21:03.

In the closest team finish in conference history, Simon Fraser took the GNAC title with 62 points, followed by Alaska Anchorage at 63, and Western Washington at 64.

Central Washington was fourth with 85 points, followed by Seattle Pacific at 130.  Saint Martin's was tenth with 298 points, led by Megan Teigen's 43rd place finish in 22:36.

In the men's competition, Western Washington's Isaac Griffith finished ninth overall in 25:24 over the 8k course to lead the Vikings to yet another runner-up finish behind Alaska-Anchorage.

The Seawolves, led by Henry Cheseto, who ran 24:36, placed 1-2-3, and had seven runners finish in the top ten for a low score of 18.

After Western's 61 points for the runner-up spot, Central Washington finished fifth with 159 points, led by Rudy Spencer's 18th place time of 25:33.

Saint Martin's was ninth with 229 points, with Frank Krause leading the way in 32nd in 26:10, while Seattle Pacific was tenth with 235 points.  Turner Wiley was the Falcons' top placer in 19th, running 25:34.

The runners now have a three-week break prior to the NCAA West Regionals, November 22nd at Amend Park in Billings, Montana.  The top six team finishers at Billings will qualify for the NCAA national meet on December 6th at Louisville, Kentucky.


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

Friday, October 31, 2014

Both Husky squads finish fourth at Pac-12s...

OAKLAND, California--Under rainy skies at the Metropolitan Golf Course adjacent to the Oakland airport, the #12 ranked University of Washington Huskies finished fourth in the uber-competitive Pac-12 cross country championships Friday morning.

Washington survived an 11th place finish by lead runner Aaron Nelson (left/photo by Mike Scott), as they packed four other runners within a 20-second span to capture their highest team placing since 2009, when they finished fourth, with a score of 87 points.

Defending Pac-12 and national champion Colorado took the team crown with 30 points, comfortably ahead of second place Oregon's 57 points, with Stanford third with 60 points.

Defending champ Edward Cheserek of Oregon won his second conference crown, running 23:23 to finish 11 seconds ahead of teammate Eric Jenkins.

Behind Nelson, who finished the 8-kilometer course in 23:59 came a breakthrough performance by Tyler King in 12th, one second back.

Redshirt freshman Colby Gilbert, the USA junior 5000m champ, finished 17th in 24:11, followed by Meron Simon in 22nd in 24:16, and Izaic Yorks rounding out the Husky scorers in 25th place in 24:19.

Washington State finished a disappointing ninth with a score of 224, led by Drew Jordan's 35th place finish in 24:36.

Sam Levora was 45th n 24:50, followed by John Whelan in 48th in 24:53.  Lee George was 54th in 25:04, and Forrest Shaffer rounded out the WSU scorers in 55th at 25:05.

In the women's 6k race, the #17 ranked Huskies, running without both Katie Knight and Amy-Eloise Neale, finished fourth with a team score of 93 points, as Oregon nosed out Stanford by a comfortable 54-74 count.

Washington's lead runner, Maddie Meyers (left/photo by Paul Merca), was in the mix for most of the race, before finishing fourth in 20:21, as reigning NCAA 1500 meter champ Shelby Houlihan of Arizona State took the individual title in 19:59.

Behind Meyers for the Huskies were freshman Anna Maxwell in 17th in a time of 20:40, with Kaylee Flanagan finishing 18th in the same time.

Eleanor Fulton was four places back in 22nd in a time of 20:50, while freshman Anastasia Kosykh was 33rd in 21:07.

Washington State finished tenth with a final team score of 246 points, led by Abby Regan's ninth place finish, in a time of 20:30.

CharLee Linton was 58th in 21:32, followed by Ashlie Standow in 62nd at 21:37.  Devon Bortfeld was 67th in 21:41, and Morgan Willson was 68th in 21:43.


The focus turns to the NCAA regional championships two weeks from today at the Stanford Golf Course in Palo Alto.

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.

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