WWU Vikings

WWU women’s runners have historic day at NCAA championships

The Western Washington University women’s cross country placed sixth at the NCAA Division II National Championships on Saturday, Nov. 21, at Joplin, Mo. — the Vikings’ best finish since moving to Division II in 1998.

WWU’s previous best was an eighth-place finish in 2009.

“What a great day for the program with the best NCAA finish in school history,” coach Pee Wee Halsell said in a press release. “I am so proud of how the ladies raced today. They worked so hard all season and today they left it all out on the course and made history. They ran hard, ran determined and the results show that. What a day to be a Viking!”

Senior Taylor Guenther earned USTFCCAA All-America honors placing 26th with a time of 21 minutes, 9.40 seconds on the 6-kilometer course. Guenther also earned All-Region honors with a sixth-place finish in the NCAA West Regional and was a GNAC All-Star for her sixth-place finish in the conference championships.

“I am so proud of Taylor to end her cross country career as an All-American,” Halsell said. “She was the rock of our program and worked so hard to get this point. There was a lot of work that went into this and nobody deserves or earned it more than Taylor.”

Also placing in the top 100 was freshman Tracy Melville in 52nd place (21:40.50) — the fifth-best finish by a freshman Saturday — and junior Brittany Grant in 79th place (22:01.40).

Adams (Colo.) State won the national title with 83 points, while Grand Valley (Mich.) State was second with 97. Western scored 307, as Sara Taferre was 104th in 22:14.20 and Liallianna Stelling was 114th in 22:19.90.