Vikings at NCAA II West Regional on Saturday
Nov. 2, 2011
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - With the goal of advancing both its men's and women's teams to nationals for the fourth consecutive year, Western Washington University competes in the NCAA Division II West Regional Cross Country Championships on Saturday at Plantes Ferry Sports Complex in Spokane.
The women's six-kilometer race begins at 10:30 a.m. followed by the men's 10-kilometer run at 11:30 a.m. The top four team finishers in both the men's and women's races and the top two individuals not on one of the qualifying teams will return to Spokane in two weeks for the NCAA Division II National Championships.
"Our workouts are going very well and I'm looking for good things this Saturday," said Western coach Pee Wee Halsell (25th year). "Our chances (to go to nationals) are good and if we run the races like we should everything should go smoothly."
In the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association/NCAA II Top 25, the Vikings are ranked No.16 in the women's poll and No.20 in the men's ratings. They are third in both regional polls, and two weeks ago at the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships, the men placed second and the women third.
Last fall, WWU was the regional host with both its men and women placing third. 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.
Alaska Anchorage is the defending regional champion in both the men's and women's divisions, but both of its squads rank second in the regional poll behind Chico State with WWU third. Western Oregon is fourth in the men's poll and Cal Poly Pomona fourth in the women's.
A year ago, the UAA men ended Chico State's eight-year reign as champions, edging the Wildcats, 49-54. During Chico State's title run its average margin of victory was 53 points.
Chico State, ranked fifth in the latest USTFCCCA men's national poll, posted a near perfect score of 16 in winning its 10th straight California Collegiate Athletic Association championship on Oct. 22 in Santa Rosa, Calif.
The Chico State women, who won a fourth consecutive CCAA title, rank fifth nationally and UAA seventh.
The WWU men are led by two newcomers who earned GNAC all-star honors by placing among the top 10 at the league championships. Tyler Cannon (Jr., Kennewick/Kamiakin), a transfer from Brigham Young, finished fifth and Dak Riek (So., Everett/Mariner), a transfer from CC of Spokane, was 10th.
Completing the Vikings' squad are Tanner Boyd (Jr., Camas), who placed 12th at the GNAC meet, Nick Abraham (Sr., Sammamish/Skyline), Eric Brill (Sr., Kent/Kentwood), Kyle Johnson (Sr., Nine Mile Falls/Lakeside) and Dylan Peterson (So., Seattle/Garfield).
It is the fourth trip to regionals for Brill and the second each for Abraham and Johnson.
The WWU women are paced by Lauren Breihof (Sr., Vancouver/Mountain View), who earned GNAC all-star honors for the second straight year as she finished ninth. She was a West Region all-star last season, placing sixth, and earned All-America recognition in 2009, finishing 31st at nationals.
Representing the Vikings for the first time are Mary Rogers (Jr., Spokane/Shadle Park) and three freshmen - Katelyn Steen (Fr., Sammamish/Eastlake), Makhaila Thornton (Fr., Bend, OR/Mountain View), and Haley O'Connor (Fr., Sammamish/Eastlake).
UAA Defending Champions, But Chico State Top Ranked
Alaska Anchorage is the defending champion in both the men's and women's divisions, but Chico State brings the top national rankings into the 2011 NCAA Division II West Regional cross country championships this Saturday at Plantes Ferry Sports Complex in Spokane.
The women's 6,000 meter race begins at 10:30 a.m. followed by the men's race at 11:30. The top four team finishers in both the men's and women's races and the top two individuals not on one of the qualifying teams will return to Spokane in two weeks for the NCAA Division II national meet.
The UAA men ended Chico's eight-year reign as champions a year ago in the regional meet in Bellingham edging the Wildcats 49-54. During Chico's eight-year title reign its average margin of victory had been 53 points.
Chico, which is ranked fifth in the latest USTFCCCA men's national poll, posted a near perfect score of 16 in winning its 10th straight California Collegiate Athletic Association championship Oct. 22 in Santa Rosa, Calif.
Chico placed 10 runners among the top 11 led by individual champion Adrian Sherrod, who edged teammate Isaac Chavez for first place. Sherrod, who finished 23rd in the 2010 regional meet, was clocked in a time of 25:39.0, one-tenth of a second ahead of Chavez who placed fourth in last year's regional in a time of 31:44.9 and is the top returning regional finisher.
Alaska Anchorage brings a No. 7 national rank into the regional meet after successfully defending its GNAC title in Yakima with a team score of 27. The Seawolves are one of three GNAC nationally ranked teams along with Western Washington (20th) and Western Oregon (23rd).
UAA's Micah Chelimo, who placed sixth in last year's regional meet, won the GNAC individual title in a 8,000 meter time of 24:24. Chavez and Chelimo are among eight of last year's Top 15 regional finishers to return.
Also back is Jake Parisien of Alaska Anchorage (7th), Barak Watson of Northwest Nazarene (8th), Spencer Hunt of Saint Martin's (9th), Joey Kochlacs of Chico State (11th), Anthony Costales of Chico State (12th) and Kipkorir Mutai of Grand Canyon (14th).
Mutai finished second in the PacWest Conference meet last weekend in back of three-time champion Amos Maru of Academy of Art. AAU is a provisional NCAA school and isn't eligible to compete in the regional meet.
Three regional teams are ranked in the latest USTFCCCA women's national poll, including Chico State (5th), Alaska Anchorage (7th) and Western Washington (16th). Chico has won four straight CCAA team titles and UAA has won the last two women's regional titles.
Led by Alia Gray who finished first in a time of 21:07.1, Chico outpointed Cal Poly Pomona 37-98 to win the CCAA women's title, while GNAC individual champion Ruth Keino led Alaska Anchorage to the GNAC title outpointing provisional member Simon Fraser 31-76.
Keino is the top returning finisher from last year's regional meet when she led a 2-3-4 finish for the Seawolves covering the course in a time of 22:01.2. Miriam Kipng'eno, who placed third and Shoshana Keegan, who finished fourth, also are back for the Seawolves.
Other Top 15 finishers back from last year's regional include Lauren Breihof of Western Washington (6th), Tiffany Dinh of Cal Poly Pomona (8th) and Chico's Jonah Weeks (9th) and Stephanie Consiglio (11th). Dinh finished second behind Gray in the CCAA meet.
While the CCAA and GNAC champions will probably battle it out for the regional crowns, Cal Baptist, which swept the PacWest Conference team titles, will not be afforded that opportunity as they are in their first season transitioning from the NAIA.
PacWest women's individual champion Rachel Young of Dixie State will be competing. She won the PacWest title in a 5,000 meter time of 17:52.3.
BYU-Hawaii's men who placed third and its women who finished second had the best team finishes in the PacWest championships among the NCAA eligible teams.
Western Washington Vikings Sidebar Links
|Email this article||Printer-friendly format|