Vikings travel to Hawaii for NCAA II West Regional on Saturday
Oct. 31, 2012
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - The Western Washington University men's and women's cross country teams are competing in the NCAA Division II West Regional Championships on Saturday at the Kahuku Golf Course in Kahuku, Hawaii.
The men's 10-kilometer race begins at 8 a.m. HT, followed by the women's six-kilometer run at 9 a.m. The top five team finishers in both the men's and women's races and the top three individuals not on one of the qualifying teams will travel to Joplin, Missouri, in two weeks for the NCAA II National Championships at Missouri Southern University.
The Viking men are seeking a sixth straight trip to nationals, and the women a fifth consecutive appearance. The conditions in Hawaii are expected to be humid and hot with a predicted temperature of 84 degrees.
"The weather could be a factor, if we let it be," said WWU coach Pee Wee Halsell (26th year), "but if we stay hydrated, we should be okay."
"I think both of our squads are headed in the right direction. We're running faster and peaking at the right time. I'm very confident in the men, but the women will have a tougher battle."
In the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association/NCAA II Top 25, the Vikings are No.10 in the men's ranking and No.30 in the women's rating. In the regional polls, the men are third and the women seventh. Two weeks ago at the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships, the men placed second and the women fourth.
At regionals last fall, the WWU women placed third and the men fourth. They both finished third in 2010. In 2009, the Viking men were second and the women fourth, and in 2008, the WWU men finished third and the women fifth as five teams qualified in that division. In 2007, the Viking men were second.
Alaska Anchorage is the two-time defending regional champion in both the men's and women's divisions. Chico State had an eight-year reign as the men's champion end in 2011, finishing second. The Wildcat women also were the runner-up.
The WWU men are led by Dak Riek (Jr., Everett/Mariner), who earned West Region all-star honors last year by placing 22nd. Riek was one of three Vikings receiving all-conference recognition two weeks ago, the other two being Chip Jackson (Jr., Shoreline/Shorewood), who was fourth, and Kyle Johnson (Sr., Nine Mile Falls/Lakeside), who was 10th.
It is the third trip to regionals for Jackson and Johnson; the second for Cannon, Boyd, Peterson and Riek; and the first for Reedy.
"The men just have to keep running like they have been," said Halsell. "They have to stay solid and keep moving up, which they've been doing."
The Viking women are paced by Kaitlyn Steen (So., Sammamish/Eastlake), who placed 22nd at last year's regional to earn all-star honors, and Austen Reiter (Fr., Camas). Steen has been WWU's top finisher in three meets this season and Reiter once. It is the second regional appearance for Steen as well as Makhaila Thornton (So., Bend, OR/Mountain View). Also going for the first time, besides Reiter, are Taylor Guenther (Fr., Vancouver/Prairie), , who won at the Central Washington Invitational, Haida Ikeda (Sr., Issaquah), Maddie McGee (So., Spokane/North Central) and Arielle Walton (Jr., Issaquah). "The key for us is that the top five have to run well," said Halsell "Kaitlyn (Steen) has to have a good run as does Austen (Reiter) and our three, four and five runners need to be up there as a pack."
Western Washington Vikings Sidebar Links
|Email this article||Printer-friendly format|