Vikings have one goal at West Regional, qualify both teams for nationals
Nov. 2, 2009
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Looking to advance both its men's and women's squads to nationals for the second straight year, Western Washington University competes in the NCAA Division II Cross Country West Regional on Saturday at Golden Gate Park's Speedway Meadow in San Francisco, Calif.
The women's 6-kilometer race begins at 9 a.m., followed by the men's 10-kilometer run at 10 a.m.
The top three men's teams and the first four women's squads advance to the national championships on Nov. 21 at Evansville, Ind.
Last year, Western qualified both teams for the first time since joining the NCAA in 1998, the men placing third and the women fifth as five teams went to nationals in that division in 2008.
In the latest U.S. Cross Country Coaches Association/NCAA Division II Top 25 (Oct. 28), the Vikings are ranked No.6 in the men's poll and No.10 in the women's poll.
"Our goal is to qualify both teams for nationals," said Western coach Pee Wee Halsell (23rd year). "The men are running really strong and probably have a little wiggle room, but on the women's side it'll be important to move up our four through seven runners."
Chico State is the pre-meet favorite in both races, the women being ranked second nationally and the men third. The Wildcats have won the last seven regional men's titles and are the defending women's champion.
Western, which won the Great Northwest Athletic Conference men's title, is rated No.2, followed by Cal Poly Pomona and Alaska Anchorage. GNAC champion UAA is second regionally in the women's poll, followed by Seattle Pacific, Western and UC San Diego.
The Viking men placed third at regionals last year and went on to finish 10th at nationals. They finished second at regionals in 2007 and were 11th at nationals, and also went to nationals in 2003, placing 13th.
Grimes and Welling placed second and third at the GNAC Championships, with Anthony Tomsich (Sr., Fairbanks, AK/West Valley) sixth and Medhaug ninth. Welling finished eighth at regionals last year and Grimes was 11th.
Last year, the Western women placed 10th in their first NCAA national appearance.
Western is led by All-American Sarah Porter (So., Hockinson), who placed third at regionals and 13th nationally last fall and was runner-up for the second straight year at the league meet.
Also representing the Vikings are Lauren Breihof (So., Vancouver/Mountain View), who placed ninth at the GNAC championships, Sierra Brisky (So., Acme/Mount Baker), Kirsten Moore (Fr., Marysville/Marysville-Pilchuck), Courtney Olsen (Sr., Bellingham/Squalicum), Danielle Slaughter (Sr., Spokane/Shadle Park), and Emily Wallen (Fr., Olympia/Capital).
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