Western Washington University’s senior Katelyn Steen claimed the women’s individual title and both the Vikings men’s and women’s teams qualified for nationals by placing fourth and sixth, respectively, at the NCAA Division II West Regional Cross Country Championships on Saturday, Nov. 22, at Amend Park in Billings, Mont.
“Both squads are moving on, which was our ultimate goal,” WWU coach Pee Wee Halsell said in a press release.
Steen won with just more than a five-second margin, completing the 6-kilometer course in 21 minutes, 6.59 seconds. Three weeks ago, she took top honors at the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships.
“Katelyn executed her game plan perfectly,” Halsell said. “With two miles to go she made a move, and that was it.”
Isaac Griffith led the WWU men, placing 12th to earn regional all-star honors for the second straight year. He was timed in 31:26.97 over the 10-kilometer course.
Less than a minute separated the five scoring finishers for the Vikings. Sean Eustis was 29th in 31:51.92, Isaac Derline 34th in 32:00.13, Ferndale’s Jonathan Quimby 36th in 32:08.04 and Tabor Reedy 39th in 32:14.84.
The WWU women’s scoring runners, besides Steen, were Taylor Guenther (26th in 22:11.95), Haley O’Connor (32nd in 22:32.12), Sofia Marikis (63rd in 23:09.72) and Austin Reiter (70th in 23:16.81).
“I’m excited, but I’m disappointed a little bit (in the women’s finish) because I know that we can do better,” Halsell said. “I know that because of our performance at conference, and I’m excited about the possibilities of what we can do (at nationals).”
Chico State successfully defended its title in the 23-team men’s field, winning for the 11th time in 13 years. The Wildcats finished with 30 points. Alaska Anchorage was second (53) and Cal Poly Pomona third (101).
Taking the men’s individual title was Alaska Anchorage’s Henry Cheseto in 30:33.99.
Simon Fraser won its first women’s championship, edging Chico State, 103 to 112, among 24 teams. Defending champion Alaska Anchorage was third (144).
The national will be held Dec. 6 at Louisville, Ky. The trip will be the eighth straight for the WWU men, and the fifth in seven years for the Viking women.
The top six teams in both the men’s and women’s races and the top three individuals not on one of the qualifying earned trips to nationals.
WWU entered the regional meet with its women ranked fourth and men fifth in the latest West Region rankings. The Viking women are No. 18 nationally and the men No. 23.