Six members of the WWU women's national squad, which placed 18th in 2013, return as do five of the men's team, which finished 20th.
"I'm very excited about the potential of both squads, the summer training has gone very well," said WWU head coach Pee Wee Halsell, who is beginning his 28th season. "It will be interesting to see how things unfold."
The Viking men have made seven straight national appearances and the WWU women have gone to nationals in five of the last six seasons. Making the goal of reaching nationals even more attainable for each is that the top six teams at the 2014 West Regional qualify. Making that possible was that three teams from the region placed among the top eight nationally in each division last fall.
Katelyn Steen (Sr., Sammamish/Eastlake), who earned All-America honors in 2013 by placing 34th at nationals, leads the WWU women. She is a three-time West Region all-star and twice a Great Northwest Athletic Conference all-star.
Her national teammates back are Taylor Guenther (Jr., Vancouver/Prairie), who placed 94th, Haley O'Connor (Sr., Sammamish/Eastlake), who has gone to nationals twice, finishing 99th in 2011 and 131st in 2013; Austen Reiter (Jr., Camas), 136th; Lillianna Stelling (So., Langley/South Whidbey), 144th; and Sofia Marikis (So., Nine Mile Falls/Lakewood), 170th.
Heading a solid group of newcomers are Nicole Bartlett (Jr., Shoreline/Shorecrest), a transfer from Santa Barbara CC, and two freshmen, Alexandria Laiblin (Oak Harbor) and Madeleine Hutchinson (Snoqualmie/Mount Si).
Last fall, Bartlett placed 13th at the California CC state championships to earn All-America honors for the second straight year.
"This is the deepest women's roster that we've had in many years," Halsell said.
Heading the WWU men are the quintet of Cory Johnson (So., Enumclaw), who made a huge jump last season, Isaac Griffith (Jr., Spokane/Lewis & Clark), Jonathan Quimby (Sr., Ferndale), Tabor Reedy (Sr., Poulsbo/North Kitsap) and Nathan Richards (Sr., Longview/R.A. Long). Johnson placed 116th at nationals, Griffith 125th , Quimby 153rd, Reedy 177th and Richards 194th.
Griffith, Reedy and Richards were West Region all-stars, and Reedy, Richards and Quimby were GNAC all-stars.
The hardest runner to replace will be graduated three-time national participant Chip Jackson. He finished 61st at nationals in 2013 and earned all-region and all-conference honors.
Expected to challenge for spots are two redshirt freshmen, Sean Eustis (Washougal) and Logan Giese (Spokane/Central Valley), and four more letter winners - Juan Castillo (Sr., Lake Stevens), Will Jones (So., Vancouver/Columbia River), Matthew Lutz (So., Bremerton/Olympic) and Ryan Peterson (So., Seattle/Garfield)
"This infusion of talent should push the group as a whole," Halsell said. "We've got a good, close squad that has the potential to be in the top 10 nationally."
WWU will host two home meets this season, beginning with its 41st annual Classic on Oct. 11 at Lake Padden Park in Bellingham and followed by the Viking Invitational on Oct. 25 at Hovander Homestead Park in Ferndale.
WWU Men 4th, Women 5th at Sundodger Invitational
Senior Andrew Wise (19th), freshman Jane Barr leads women (24th)
Cross Country Headed to Sundodger Invitational
Women's 6K open race scheduled for 9 am, followed by men's 8K open race at 9:40 am
WWU Men, Women Earn Team Wins at SMU Triangular
Vikings open season with strong performances vs. Central Washington and Saint Martin's
WWU to Open Season at SMU Cross Country Meet
Saturday's meet begins with women's 4K at 10 am, followed by men's 6K at 10:45 am
WWU Men 2nd, Women 4th in GNAC Preseason Poll
The Vikings will host the GNAC Championships for the third consecutive year
Vikings Announce More 2017-18 Program Additions
Head coach Pee Wee Halsell announces second wave of recruits joining the Vikings
Six Vikings Earn Academic All-District Honors
Bethany Drake, Anna Paradee, Jasmine McMullin, Alex Barry, Gordie Kordas and Andrew Wise earn academic award
Vikings Announce 2017-18 Program Additions
Head coach Pee Wee Halsell announces first wave of recruits set to join the Vikings next season
Six Vikings Earn USTFCCCA All-Academic Honors
Senior Matthew Lutz earns distinction for third time in career
Derline Places 102nd at NCAA Championships
Junior Isaac Derline concludes strong junior season with 102nd-place finish at NCAA Championships in Florida
Derline Set to Compete at NCAA Championships
Junior Isaac Derline will race as an individual at the NCAA Championships on Saturday morning in Florida
WWU Men Seventh, Women Eighth at West Regional
Isaac Derline, Andrew Wise and Lillianna Stelling earn all-region honors for Vikings
Vikings Headed to NCAA West Region Championships
The men's race will take place at 9 am and will be followed by the women's race at 10:15 am
14 Vikings Earn GNAC All-Academic Honors
Five WWU Men and nine WWU women earn distinction on GNAC All-Academic Teams
WWU Men Third, Women Fourth at GNAC Championships
Isaac Derline and Matthew Lutz finish among top 10 to net All-GNAC honors for WWU