Vikings win both team titles at 35th annual WWU Invitational

Sarah Porter

Oct. 11, 2008

Complete Results

BELLINGHAM, Wash. --- Western Washington University had convincing victories in claiming both the men's and women's titles Saturday in the 35th annual Western Washington University Cross Country Invitational Meet at Lake Padden Park.

The Vking men, ranked No.14 in the latest United States Cross Country Coaches Association Top 25, put nine runners in the top 14 in claiming their fourth consecutive team championship, and the women grabbed their first WWU Invite title in recent history behind Sarah Porter (So., Hockinson), who was an individual champion for the fourth consecutive time.

Porter, who has finished in the top 10 in all nine of her career regular-season meets, covered the 6-kilometer women's course in 21:24, a full 56 seconds ahead of teammate Courtney Olsen (Jr., Bellingham/Squalicum), the second-place finisher. Marie Mullen of Central Washington was third (22:38).

The Vikings won the women's team title with 25 points, 14 ahead of second-place Seattle Pacific at 39. Central was third with 73.

The Western men finished with 15 points, well ahead of runner-up Seattle Pacific, which had 68. Seattle Running Club was third at 84, followed by Central at 94 and British Columbia with 105.

John Riak of Saint Martin's won the race in 31:44, edging Western's Jordan Welling (So. Burlington/Burlington-Edson) by a mere second (31:45), and Western's Bennett Grimes (So., Pocatello, ID/Century) by only four seconds (31:48).

Riak and Welling were tight for nearly the entire race. Riak opened up a small lead with 200 meters to go, but Welling was closing as they reached the finish line. Blake Medhaug (So., Bothell) paced four other Vikings in the top 10 by placing fifth (32:31). Yonas Berhe (Fr., Seattle/Roosevelt) was eighth in 33:02, with Tahoma Khalsa (Jr., Shoreline/Shorecrest) ninth (33:08), and Eric Brill (Fr., Kent/Kentwood) 10th (33:24).

For the Western women, Lauren Breihof (Fr., Vancouver/Mountain View) was sixth in 22:49, with Rachael Johnson (So., Yakima/West Valley) seventh (23:01) and Danielle Slaughter (Jr., Spokane/Shadle Park) ninth (23:20).

"It was a beautiful day, our kids competed great," said Western coach Pee Wee Halsell (22nd year). "Our times for the guys were good and the spread in times for our top five was very small. For the women, Sarah ran much faster than last year's winning time, and the team ran well, they're moving up and getting better. We had two great team efforts and we're making strides toward post-season."

Western takes a week off before competing in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships on Saturday, Oct. 25, at Yakima.

Oct. 11 (Sat.) at WWU Invitational - Bellingham, Wash. (Lake Padden Park)


TEAM RESULTS - 1. Western Washington 15, 2. Seattle Pacific 68, 3. Seattle Running Club 84, 4. Central Washington 94, 5. British Columbia 105

WWU INDIVIDUAL RESULTS (10K) - 2. Jordan Welling 31:44, 3. Bennet Grimes 31:48, 5. Blake Medhaug 32:31, 8. Yonas Berhe 33:02, 9. Tahoma Khalsa 33:08, 10. Eric Brill 33:24, 11. Sam Bedell 33:29, 13. Kyle Lampi 33:48, 14. Jonathan Skelton 34:08, 23. Nick Abraham 34:50, 34. Alex Wipf 35:13, 43. Thomas Race 36:06

TOP 10 - 1. John Riak, St. Martin's, 31:44; 2. Jordan Welling, Western Washington, 31:45; 3. Bennet Grimes, Western Washington, 31:48; 4. Sam Alexander, Seattle RC, 32:21; 5. Blake Medhaug, Western Washington, 32:31; 6. Josiah Price, St. Martin's, 32:26; 7. Charlie Sunderlage, Seattle RC, 32:37; 8. Yonas Berhe, Western Washington, 33:02; 9. Tahoma Khalsa, Western Washington, 33:08; 10. Eric Brill, Western Washington, 33:24


TEAM RESULTS - 1. Western Washington 25, 2. Seattle Pacific. 39, 3. Central Washington 73

WWU INDIVIDUAL RESULTS (6K) - 1. Sarah Porter 21:24, 2. Courtney Olsen 22:20, 6. Lauren Breihof 22:49, 7. Rachael Johnson 23:01, 9. Danielle Slaughter 23:20, 11. McKinley Williams 23:37, 16. Phoebe Hartnett 23:45, 18. Sierra Brisky 24:06, 19. Kendra Hedges 24:15, 24. 24. Shellane Jensen 24:53, 25. Cheri Watson 25:00, 27. Valerie Matthews 25:06, 28. Kendra Miller 25:10, 29. Ellie Siler 25:15, 30. Kate Berni 25:28, 31. Nicole D'Amico 25:30, 34. Catherine McDonald 25:54, 35. Megan Northey 25:58, 38. Erin Flinn 26:48

TOP 10 - 1. Sarah Porter, Western Washington, 21:24; 2. Courtney Olsen, Western Washington, 22:20; 3. Marcie Mullen, Central Washington, 22:38; 4. Natty Plunkett, Seattle Pacific, 22:43; 5. Kate Harline, Seattle Pacific, 22:47; 6. Lauren Breihof, Western Washington, 22:49; 7. Rachael Johnson, Western Washington, 23:01; 8. Katie Hart, Seattle Pacific, 23:13; 9. Danielle Slaughter, Western Washington 23:20; 10. Lisa Anderberg, Seattle Pacific, 23:33

WWU wins both team titles in home meet


BELLINGHAM - Four potential All-Americans who inspire each other helped show how Western Washington University has a shot at making school history by sending both of its cross country teams to the NCAA Division II nationals.

That was the story as Western's men and women swept their 35 th annual WWU Invitational at Lake Padden on Saturday, Oct. 11.

"We lived up to our expectations and maybe exceeded them," said Western coach Pee Wee Halsell. "It was a great day."

Western sophomores Jordan Welling and Bennett Grimes, second and third in the men's race, and sophomore Sarah Porter and junior Courtney Olsen, first and second in the women's event, all have the same goals: Western's best national team showings along with All-American status.

"Three men's teams go to the nationals from our region and five women's teams go," Halsell said. "Right now, we rank third among the men in our region and sixth among the women. Our men hope to beat our Division II best, which was 11th last year. Our women are trying to make the Division II nationals for the first time."

In a spirited men's finish, St. Martin's John Riak won the 10K race in 31 minutes, 44 seconds, one second ahead of Welling and four seconds ahead of Grimes, as the Vikings outpointed second-place Seattle Pacific 15-68. Since St. Martin's did not field a complete squad, Western's score was a team sweep.

Porter claimed the 6K women's race in 21:24 and runnerup Olsen ran a strong 22:20 as the Vikings outscored Seattle Pacific 25-39.

Grimes, a former Idaho high school standout from Pocatello, earned All-American honors last season as a redshirt freshman while receiving tips and inspiration from his father, former Division II national 10K champion Danny Grimes from Humboldt State.

Welling saw his redshirt freshman year spoiled by injuries, but the onetime Burlington-Edison runner is now healthy and talented enough to rank with Grimes with regard to potential.

"I would consider both of us our No. 1 runner," Welling said.

"I'm fine with that," said Grimes, who placed 43rd at last year's nationals but was among the top 30 American citizens and thus gained All-American status. "The friendly competition helps us both a lot."

"Actually," he added, "we have three potential All-Americans. Blake Medhaug (who was fifth) is also a good redshirt sophomore. And next season, we'll be getting Tony Tomsich (sidelined by injury) back, so our eventual goal is one of those top-four NCAA team trophies."

On the women's side, Porter showed how she qualified for three national meets as a freshman: indoor and outdoor track and cross country. If she stays healthy, she could become the first Western woman to compete in 12 national events.

Porter won the Class 2A state cross country title as a junior at Hockinson High, but she uses the memory of her sixth-place finish as a senior to motivate her. She has learned not to take anything forgranted.

"I draw a lot of motivation from that memory," Porter said. "I remember my picture was on the cover of the state program when I was a senior, and I felt so much pressure."

The much-improved Olsen, meanwhile, has far surpassed her accomplishments at Squalicum High, where she contributed to a couple of state Class 3A cross country championships - her best finish was 15th -- and qualified for state track in the hurdles. Olsen, who also played basketball, was overshadowed by stars in all three sports.

"For the first time, I'm working out in both summer and winter (as well as in-season training), and it has made a huge difference," said Olsen, who became inspired by Porter's work ethic. "That's the reason I'm running so much better."

"Now I'd say Courtney works harder than I do," said Porter, who put in 13 consecutive weeks of 100 miles during the summer and fall until cutting back to 90 miles in the past week.

"Courtney is one of my favorite runners," Porter said. "She's by far the most athletically talented girl on our team and she's starting to live up to her potential. She's so graceful."

Olsen, who says her top mileage is about 70 per week, wasn't about to say she outworks the relentless Porter.

"I think Sarah is a real spitfire," Olsen said. "I've never seen a more gutsy runner."

Yonas Berhe and Tahoma Khalsa were eighth and ninth, respectively, to round out Western's men's scorers. Lauren Breihof, Rachael Johnson and Danielle Slaughter were sixth, seventh and ninth for the women, giving Western the distinction of 10 of the top 18 placers in the two meets combined.