WWU men's cross country looks to overcome loss

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDSeptember 7, 2013 

The Western Washington University's men's cross country team doesn't lack any motivation entering the 2013 season.

Not only is the team coming off its worst finish at nationals in recent history - a 21st-place finish after entering nationals ranked 10th - the team will embark on its season minus its top runner, Dak Riek.

Riek, an All-American who placed 37th at nationals last year, was ruled ineligible just weeks before the start of the season. His unexpected loss means others, like senior team captain Tanner Boyd, are going to have to shoulder pieces of the burden Riek was expected to carry as the No. 1 runner.

"When me and Dylan (Peterson) found out the next day after our coaches knew was the day before our whole team came into town for our first beginning-of-the-year meeting," Boyd said in a phone interview. "We let the team know, and they were all shocked. They didn't know what to do. ... We told (them) everyone has to step it up, like us captains and returners. Everybody has to do their part."

Boyd said there is little doubt that this team can overcome the loss of Riek.

While his expectations for the season have tempered a bit following the loss of Riek, his belief is that this group can still contend as a top-10 team nationally. The only part now that remains to be seen is how the team will perform come race time. Fortunately, Boyd and the Vikings won't have to wait long as they open up the season at the Central Washington Apple Ridge Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 7, in Yakima.

The men's cross country team isn't without talent. The Vikings return four runners that made it to nationals last year, including seniors Chip Jackson, Boyd and Peterson, as well as junior Tabor Reedy.

Jackson takes the mantle as the team's most accomplished returner, placing fourth at regionals last year while earning West Region and Great Northwest Athletic Conference All-Star honors.

WWU coach Pee Wee Halsell holds particularly high expectations of Jackson, who he believes can take over as the team's top runner.

"(Jackson) is a talented individual," Halsell said in a phone interview. "We believe in Chip ... and we are excited for him."

Jackson won't have to shoulder that burden alone, though, as the team is going to focus more on running together as a group rather than isolating one or two runners out in front, Boyd said.

"We're really just focused on pack running this year," Boyd said. "We're just looking to pack it up and finish in the top 5, really close together. ... We got fourth (at nationals) four years ago not because we had that top runner, which we did, but more importantly because we ran as a pack."

2013 WWU MEN'S CROSS COUNTRY SCHEUDLE

Date Opponent Time

Sept. 7 at Central Washington Apple Ridge Invite (Yakima) 10 a.m.

Sept. 14 at Sundodger Invitational (Seattle) 9 a.m.

Sept. 21 at Eric Anderson Invitational (Spokane CC) 10 a.m.

Sept. 28 at Saint Martin's Invitational (Lacey) 10 a.m.

Oct. 12 WWU Classic Invitational (East Lake Padden) 10 a.m.

Oct. 26 GNAC Championships (Monmouth, Ore.) 10:30 a.m.

Nov. 9 NCAA Division II West Regional (Spokane) 10 a.m.

Nov. 23 NCAA Division II National Championships 10:30 a.m.

2013 WWU MEN'S CROSS COUNTRY ROSTER

Runner Year Hometown

Briann Bates Jr. San Anslemo, Calif.

Tanner Boyd Sr. Camas

Dylan Brown So. Auburn

Zachary Bursell So. Juneau, Ak.

Juan Castillo Jr. Lake Stevens

Sean Eustis Fr. Washougal

Cameron Freshwaters Fr. Tacoma

Logan Giese Fr. Spokane

Isaac Griffith So. Spokane

Chip Jackson Sr. Shoreline

Cory Johnson Fr. Enumclaw

Will Jones So. Vancouver

Matthew Lutz Fr. Bremerton

Cody McCranie Fr. Auburn

Nick Murphy So. Seattle

Hayden Palmer Fr. Prescott, Ariz.

Dylan Peterson Sr. Seattle

Ryan Peterson Fr. Seattle

Brian Piette So. Vancouver

Marty Pletcher So. Sammamish

Jonathan Quimby Jr. Ferndale

Tabor Reedy Jr. Poulsbo

Joshua Reiter Jr. Camas

Nathan Richards Jr. Longview

Noah Ripley Fr. Wasilla, Ak.

Trevor Robinson Jr. Seattle

Max Romey Fr. Anchorage, Ak.

Tyler Schwecke So. Woodinville

Dustin Sjoerdsma So. Redmond City, Calif.

Andrew Wise Fr. Denver, Co.

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