MONMOUTH, Ore. - The Western Washington University men's and women's cross country teams each placed 8th in their respective races at the NCAA II West Region Championships on Saturday, hosted by Western Oregon University at Ash Creek Preserve.
Competing against schools from the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, California Collegiate Athletic Association and PacWest Conference, the WWU women placed 8th of 30 teams in the women's 6,000-meter race while the WWU men, led by an All-West Region performance from senior Andrew Wise (Denver, CO/East) in 14th overall, were 8th of 27 teams in the men's 10,000-meter race.
The WWU women totaled 257 points in 8th place, just behind Academy of Art (252 points) in 7th. Cal Baptist won the regional title with 68 points, followed by Alaska Anchorage (84 points) and Chico State (105 points) composing the top three.
The WWU men finished with 213 points in 8th place. Chico State defended its regional title from last year, winning with 55 points ahead of Cal Baptist (84 points). Western Oregon and Simon Fraser tied for 3rd at 121 points, with the tiebreaker awarding Western Oregon the 3rd-place finish.
"On both the men's and women's sides we had some solid races," head coach Pee Wee Halsell said. "As far as our team average times, we were really solid and had really good packs, they just were a little bit far back when it comes to that. It's a tough region, some good races happened in front of us and we had some good races, it just wasn't good enough to move on I don't believe."
On the men's side, Wise had an All-West Region performance for the second consecutive year after placing 20th at the regional meet last season. He finished with a time of 30:30.9 in 14th place and was part of the lead pack during the early portion of the race. Junior Jadon Olson (Mill Creek, WA/Jackson) nearly earned All-West Region honors, finishing just outside the top 25 in 27th with a time of 31:00.8.
Redshirt freshman Eric Hamel (Enumclaw, WA) crossed the finish line in 51st with a time of 31:37.6 for WWU, followed by junior Dylan Hayes (Seattle, WA/Garfield) in 58th (31:41.5) and senior Sean Eustis (Washougal, WA) in 63rd (31:45.6) to complete the WWU scoring.
Redshirt sophomore James Jasperson (Lacey, WA/North Thurston/Everett CC) placed 85th in a time of 32:12.5 while redshirt sophomore Liam Cossette (Spokane, WA/Ferris) was 118th in a time of 32:51.2 for the Vikings.
Western Oregon's David Ribich, who won the GNAC Championships individual title two weeks ago at Lake Padden Park in Bellingham, took the regional title as well with a time of 29:49.2 by pulling ahead of Chico State's Kyle Medina (29:57.5, 2nd) at the end of the race.
On the women's side, senior Lillianna Stelling (Langley, WA/South Whidbey) led WWU in 38th place with a time of 22:05.4, followed closely by redshirt sophomore Tracy Melville (Lamont, WA/Lind-Ritzville/Sprague) in 39th with a time of 22:06.4.
A trio of consecutive finishers for WWU in places 59th through 61st completed the scoring for the Vikings. Senior Alexandra Laiblin (Oak Harbor, WA) was 59th (22:29.2) while freshman Jane Barr (Seattle, WA/Roosevelt) placed 60th (22:30.3) and senior Maddy Hutchison (Snoqualmie, WA/Mount Si) followed in 61st (22:31.3).
"We had some good races - Andrew (Wise) had a great race and Lilli (Stelling) and Tracy (Melville) both had great races and competed well to be where they were, so that was good," Halsell said. "It's a good group, like I said, we just weren't far enough up."
The GNAC Championships individual champion and 2016 All-American Caroline Kurgat of the University of Alaska Anchorage took top individual honors at the regional meet with a winning time of 20:26.1 to finish 38.5 seconds ahead of the next finisher.
"They handled well, they moved up well - especially on the men's side we could have started out a little bit harder and I think that would have been the key to us possibly moving on," Halsell said of the Vikings. "But they ran solid and needed to be further up at the beginning of the race because they had too far to move up, and when you're moving with that many bodies in a race it makes it tough - they did an amazing job of moving up to where they did finish but it wasn't quite enough."
The top three teams in each race at regional championships automatically qualify for the NCAA II Championships, along with the top two individuals per gender who were not part of a qualifying team. Individuals who finish among the top five at regional meets automatically qualify as well. A total of eight additional team berths and eight additional individual berths are determined by a committee using a formula to award additional bids.
The selected field for the NCAA II Championships will be announced via a press release on NCAA.com on Monday, Nov. 6. The NCAA II Championships will be held on Nov. 18 at Angel Mounds in Evansville, Ind.
NCAA II West Region Championships Team Scores:
- Cal Baptist (68)
- Alaska Anchorage (84)
- Chico State (105)
- Simon Fraser (127)
- Cal St. San Marcos (165)
- Cal Poly Pomona (189)
- Academy of Art (252)
- Western Washington (257)
- Humboldt State (292)
- Point Loma (307)
- UC San Diego (325)
- Stanislaus State (328)
- Seattle Pacific (332)
- San Francisco St. (348)
- Central Washington (378)
- Azusa Pacific (437)
- Dixie State (505)
- Cal St. East Bay (508)
- Western Oregon (518)
- Fresno Pacific (610)
- Northwest Nazarene (643)
- Concordia (Ore.) (653)
- Cal St. Los Angeles (682)
- Concordia (Cal.) (699)
- Alaska Fairbanks (702)
- Cal St. Monterey Bay (717)
- Saint Martin's (753)
- Sonoma State (803)
- MSU Billings (831)
- Notre Dame de Namur (849)
- Chico State (55)
- Cal Baptist (84)
- Western Oregon (121*)
- Simon Fraser (121*)
- Alaska Anchorage (172)
- Academy of Art (174)
- Cal Poly Pomona (178)
- Western Washington (213)
- Cal St. San Marcos (235)
- UC San Diego (297)
- Cal St. East Bay (302)
- Azusa Pacific (367)
- Northwest Nazarene (404)
- Fresno Pacific (422)
- San Francisco St. (428)
- Central Washington (454)
- Concordia (Ore.) (509)
- Stanislaus St. (513)
- MSU Billings (520)
- Concordia (Cal.) (537)
- Dixie State (546)
- Cal St. Monterey Bay (562)
- Humboldt State (586)
- Alaska Fairbanks (596)
- Seattle Pacific (616)
- Saint Martin's (754)
- Dominican (Cal.) (858)
*Tiebreaker won by Western Oregon
- Lillianna Stelling (22:05.4) - 38th
- Tracy Melville (22:06.4) - 39th
- Alexandra Laiblin (22:29.2) - 59th
- Jane Barr (22:30.3) - 60th
- Maddy Hutchison (22:31.3) - 61st
- Sophia Galvez (22:36.3) - 67th
- Peyton Shinnick (23:05.3) - 95th
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