With a number of its top runners being held out, Western Washington University opened the 2014 season with its men’s and women’s squads both placing second at the Central Washington University Cross Country Invitational on Saturday afternoon at Rotary Park.
Host Central won both races. The Wildcats had a three-point advantage, 34-37, over WWU in the men’s six-kilometer run involving eight teams and a 16-point margin, 19-35, in the women’s four-kilometer race featuring five schools.
Both Viking squads were ranked in their respective United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association NCAA Division II National Pre-season Polls, the men No. 18 and the women No. 19.
Max Romey and Matt Lutz led the Viking men, finishing second (19:37) and third (19:56), respectively. Issac Derline, an unattached runner, took the individual title in 19:36.
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Taylor Guenther paced the WWU women, placing third in 15:03. Central’s Dan Eggleston and Connie Morgan finished one-two with respective times of 14:55 and 14:58.
Katelyn Steen, who earned All-America honors in 2013 by placing 34th at nationals, was one of the team members not running for WWU. She will be the only Viking participating on Saturday, Sept. 20 (11 a.m.), at the University of Washington Sundodger Invitational held at Seattle’s Lincoln Park.