Western men first, women third at 9th annual GNAC Championships
Oct. 24, 2009
YAKIMA, Wash. - With four runners finishing within a span of 27 seconds and all placing among the top 10, Western Washington University easily won the men's title in a nine-team field at the ninth annual Great Northwest Athletic Conference Cross Country Championships on Saturday at the Apple Ridge Run Cross Country Facility.
The Viking women finished third behind Alaska Anchorage and Seattle Pacific. They were led by Sarah Porter (Jr., Hockinson), who placed second individually for the second straight year.
"We ran right about where we should have today and it was fun to see," said Western coach Pee Wee Halsell (23rd year).
It was the third title in four years for the Western men, who finished second in 2008, as they captured their fourth GNAC championship overall. The Vikings were led by Bennett Grimes (Jr., Pocatello, ID/Century) and Jordan Welling (Jr., Burlington/Burlington-Edison), who were second (25:05) and third (25:08), respectively.
Grimes finished 15 seconds behind the individual champion, Alaska Anchorage's Marko Cheseto, who became the first two-time men's titlist by completing the 8-kilometer course in 24:50.
Western, ranked No.7 in this week's United States Cross Country Coaches Association/NCAA Division II Top 25 Poll, had a winning score of 33 points, 37 ahead of runner-up Alaska Anchorage (70), the defending champion.
"It was a very gutsy race and a really good quality race," said Halsell. "It was good to see our No.5 (runner) moving up closer with less than a minute between them (top five) and our No.6 is not that far back.
"That top seven group is tough and that is what we want to see."
Grimes and Welling were two of four Vikings to earn all-conference recognition by placing among the top 10. Western's Anthony Tomsich (Sr., Fairbanks, AK/West Valley) was sixth (25:14) and Blake Medhaug (Jr., Bothell) ninth (25:32).
It was the third all-league honor for Grimes, Medhaug and Welling
The top three GNAC women's teams were all ranked among the top 10 nationally.
No.5-rated Alaska Anchorage took top honors with 25 points, having five runners within 16 seconds of one another as they placed 3-4-5-6-7. No.7 Seattle Pacific finished second with 48 points as it had a string of four league titles snapped, and No.8 Western was third with 64 points.
Porter finished the 6-kilometer course in 21:13, just 10 seconds behind Seattle Pacific's Jessica Pixler (21:03), the two-time defending national champion, who took an unprecedented fourth straight GNAC title.
Western's Ashley Vincent (2001-02) is the only other conference athlete to win as many as two GNAC individual championships.
"That's as close as she's (Porter) been to Pixler and that's exciting to see," said Halsell. "And the team ran a good group pack with our No.4 and No.5 runners moving up ... and I think we're going to improve."
Porter was all-league for the third consecutive season. Last year, she also finished second, 39 seconds behind Pixler
Also finishing among the top 10 for the Vikings to earn all-league honors was Lauren Breihof (So., Vancouver/Mountain View), who placed ninth in 22:37.
Western's Courtney Olsen (Sr., Bellingham/Squalicum), bothered by a bad back, was 12th (22:52); Emily Wallen (Fr., Olympia/Capital) 20th (23:48), Sierra Brisky (So., Acme/Mount Baker), 21st (23:51), Danielle Slaughter (Sr., Spokane/Shadle Park), 23rd (24:00); and Kirsten Moore (Fr., Carlsbad, CA), 24th (24:01).
Grimes, Medhaug, Porter and Welling all earned All-America recognition last season.
The Vikings have a week off before competing in the NCAA II West Regional on Saturday, Nov. 7, which will be held at Golden Gate State Park in San Francisco, Calif. The top three men's teams and the top four women's teams at the regional meet along with the top two individuals not on a qualifying team or anyone else in the top five qualify for the national meet Nov. 21 at Evansville, Ind.
Oct. 24 (Sat.) 9th Annual Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships - Yakima, Wash. (Apple Ridge Course)
TEAM RESULTS (8K) - 1. Western Washington 33, 2. Alaska Anchorage 70, 3. Western Oregon 74, 4. Northwest Nazarene 99, 5. Seattle Pacific 138, 6. Central Washington 167, 7. Saint Martin's 190, 8. Alaska Fairbanks 219, 9. Montana State Billings 257.
TOP TEN - 1. Marko Cheseto, Alaska Anchorage, 24:50; 2. Bennett Grimes, Western Washington, 25:05; 3. Jordan Welling, Western Washington, 25:08; 4. Alfred Kangogo, Alaska Anchorage, 25:12; 5. Micah Chelimo, Alaska Anchorage, 25:13; 6. Anthony Tomsich, Western Washington, 25:14; 7. Chris Reed, Western Oregon, 25:26; 8. Kyle Van Santen, 25:28; 9. Blake Medhaug, Western Washington, 25:32; 10. Barak Watson, Northwest Nazarene, 25:35.
WWU INDIVIDUAL RESULTS - 2. Bennett Grimes 25:05, 3. Jordan Welling 25:08, 6. Anthony Tomsich 25:14, 9. Blake Medhaug 25:32, 13. Eric Brill 25:59, 15. Greg Kubitz, 26:12, 18. Yonas Berhe 26:28, 22. Sam Bedell 26:43, 24. Nick Abraham 26:48, 36. Kyle Johnson 27:32.
TEAM RESULTS (6K) - 1. Alaska Anchorage 25, 2. Seattle Pacific 48, 3. Western Washington 64, 4. Northwest Nazarene 114, 5. Western Oregon 146, 6. Montana State Billings 167, 7. Alaska Fairbanks 196, 8. Central Washington 205, 9. Saint Martin's 255.
TOP TEN - 1. Jessica Pixler, Seattle Pacific, 21:03; 2. Sarah Porter, Western Washington, 21:13; 3. Miriam Kipngeno, Alaska Anchorage, 22:02; 4. Shoshana Keegan, Alaska Anchorage, 22:06; 5. Ruth Keino, Alaska Anchorage, 22:12; 6. Hallidie Wilt, Alaska Anchorage, 22:16; 7. Laura Carr, Alaska Anchorage, 22:18; 8. Jane Larson, Seattle Pacific, 22:20; 9. Lauren Breihof, Western Washington, 22:37; 10. Jaclyn Puga, Northwest Nazarene, 22:48.
WWU INDIVIDUAL RESULTS - 2. Sarah Porter 21:03, 9. Lauren Breihof 22:37, 12. Courtney Olsen 22:52, 20. Emily Wallen 23:48, 21. Sierra Brisky 23:51, 23. Danielle Slaughter 24:00, 24. Kirsten Moore 24:01, 26. Jessica Boyer 24:06, 28. Kristi Fairbanks 24:12, 35. Mary Rogers 24:29.
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