WWU's goal to place among top 10 at NCAA II nationals
Nov. 12, 2012
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Looking to finish as high or higher than its current national ranking, the Western Washington University men's cross country team competes at the NCAA Division II National Championships on Saturday (11 a.m.), Nov. 17, at the Missouri Southern University campus course in Joplin, Missouri.
The Vikings, who are making their sixth straight trip to nationals, are 10th in the latest United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches/NCAA II Top 25 poll. They have finished among the top 10 in each of the last four years, being 10th in 2011, ninth in 2010, fourth in 2009 and 10th in 2008.
The only time WWU did not place among the top 10 during that stretch was in 2007 when it was 11th. That was the last time the meet was held at Joplin and the temperature was 80 degrees. The last two national meets have been run in freezing conditions with snow.
"Our goal is to finish in the top 10 and I believe we have a good chance of doing that," said WWU coach Pee Wee Halsell (26th year). "I think we're capable of it, things just need to happen the way we'd like."
WWU qualified for nationals by finishing third (top five teams qualified) at the West Regional in Kahuku, Hawaii, on Nov. 3. Four Vikings earned all-region honors by placing among the top 25.
Leading that group was Dak Riek (Jr., Everett/Mariner), who placed fifth to receive region all-star recognition for the second straight year after being 22nd in 2011. WWU's Tyler Cannon (Sr., Kennewick/Kamiakin) was 15th; Chip Jackson (Jr., Shoreline/Shorewood) 16th; and Dylan Peterson (Sr., Seattle/Garfield) 24th.
The Vikings' nearly had all five of their counting runners earn all-region honors as Kyle Johnson (Sr., Nine Mile Falls/Lakeside) placed 26th, one spot short.
Riek, Jackson and Johnson all were GNAC all-stars, finishing third, fourth and 10th, respectively.
It is the third trip for Johnson, the first for Reedy and the second for the other five WWU runners. Last year at nationals, Riek placed 50th and Cannon 54th. Nationally No.1-ranked Adams State has won three of the last four national championships and defending champion Western State is No.2.
West Region champion Chico State is rated No.4 nationally and West Region runner-up Alaska Anchorage is ranked seventh.
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