Following seventh-place finish at the UW Invitational last Friday, Eagles move into rankings for second time this season
The continued progress of the Eastern Washington University women's cross country program under new head coach Chris Shane was rewarded Monday (Oct. 5) when the Eagles were ranked eighth in the West Region. It's the highest ranking ever for EWU's women's squad, which was ranked 12th in the preseason before re-entering this week.
"It's exciting to see the hard work and effort our student-athletes are putting forth reflected in this week's regional rankings," said Shane. "We know it is early in the season, and the poll that matters most to us will be the one at the end of the year. That said, this ranking is a show of respect acknowledging Eastern Washington as a top team in a very tough region."
Eastern finished seventh among 12 teams in Seattle last Friday (Oct. 2), placing ahead of Portland, Washington State, UCLA, Oregon State and Seattle. Eastern was just five points from sixth-place Gonzaga.
Gonzaga is right ahead of EWU in the West Region rankings at seventh. The top six teams are Oregon, Washington, Stanford, Boise State, California and Arizona State. Five Big Sky Conference rivals are ranked in the top 15 in the Mountain Region – Weber State (#5), Northern Arizona (#7), Montana State (#9), Idaho State (#12) and Montana (#13).
Individually, defending Big Sky Conference champion Sarah Reiter placed 16th at UW in just her second meet of the season. In EWU's previous two meets, returnees Katie Mahoney and Catie Arrigoni have been the top finishers for the women.
Another one of the team's frontrunners is senior Berenice Penaloza, who placed 42nd at UW last week. She was ninth for the Eagles at last year's Big Sky Conference Championships and received All-Conference honors. Mahoney and junior Paula Gil-Echeverria were also top finishers for Eastern at last year's league meet, finishing 22nd and 34th, respectively.
Picked to finish fourth in the league this year, the women's team was fourth a year ago with 136 points, just six points behind third-place finisher Montana State. Northern Arizona won the title and Weber State was the runner-up.
The Eagles take the Oct. 10th weekend off from competition to prepare for their next big competition on Saturday, Oct. 17, splitting the teams for two different races that weekend. The traveling athletes will head to Kentucky to compete at the University of Louisville Pre-Nationals Invitational at the E.P. "Tom" Sawyer Park. The other athletes will be staying close to home to compete at the Inland Northwest Classic in Lewiston, Idaho.
The Big Sky Conference Championships are Oct. 31 in Cedar City, Utah, and the West Region Championships are Nov. 13 in Seattle.
Eastern's men's team is not ranked in this week's West Region rankings. A year ago, the men's team finished sixth in the Big Sky, just three points away from placing fifth.