The Eastern Washington University cross country teams have impressive performances today at the Big Sky Conference Championships, as the women's team finished a program best second in the conference and the men's team finished in fourth.
Cedar City, Utah – The Eastern Washington University cross country teams competed in the Big Sky Conference Championships today, Saturday Oct. 31, at the Cedar Ridge Golf course in Cedar City, Utah. The hosting team, Southern Utah, took the men's conference title for the men's team results while Weber State won the championship title for the women's teams.
The EWU women's team finished in second place on the 5,000 meter course after the Wildcats who are ranked fifth in the Mountain Region and 28th in the nation. Their finish recorded a new best finish in program history. The last program best was set at last years Big Sky Championships in Grand Forks, N.D., where the team finished in fourth place. The women's team finished ahead of other top 15 ranked teams in the Mountain Region including Northern Arizona (sixth), Montana State (11th), Montana (12th), and Idaho State (15th). Eastern is currently ranked sixth in the West Region.
The EWU men's team finished in fourth place on the 8,000 meter course behind Southern Utah (first) who is ranked sixth in the Mountain Region, Northern Arizona (second) who is ranked eighth, and Weber State (third) who is ranked 12th. The men's team finished ahead of Montana State who is ranked 13th in the Mountain Region. This is the second time in program history that the men's team has finished in fourth place at the Big Sky Championships, the last time recorded in 2005. The current program record for best finish is third place, which was achieved by the men's team in 2008.
Top Finishers . . .
The top finisher for the men's team was junior Stephen Bottoms who finished in 12th place with a time of 26:13.2. At last year's Big Sky Championships, Bottoms was the second finisher for the men behind Vince Hamilton where he finished in 28th place with a time of 25:31.3. Finishing next for the men was sophomore Austin Oser, who finished 17th overall in a time of 26:29.6, improving from last years championships where he finished in 61st place in a time of 26:49.8. The third male finisher for the Eagles was junior Alex Kimsey who finished in 20th place with a time of 26:38.6. At last year's championship meet, Kimsey was also the third finisher for the men's team, placing 30th with a time of 25:32.2.
The top finisher for the women's team was junior Sarah Reiter who finished in eighth with a time of 18:25.8. Finish immediately after Reiter was senior Catie Arrigoni in ninth place with a time of 18:36.2. Both Reiter and Arrigoni received Big Sky All-Conference awards. At last year's conference championships, Reiter was the Big Sky Conference Champion, finishing in first with a time of 13:51.0. Arrigoni redshirted last season and did not compete in the championships. The third finisher for the women's team was senior Berenice Penaloza, who finished in 12th place with a time of 18:46.7. At last year's meet, Penaloza finished in 12th as well with a time of 14:23.0.
Team Scores . . .
Men: 1. Southern Utah (26), 2. Northern Arizona (43), 3. Weber State (96), 4. Eastern Washington (118), 5. Idaho State (144), 6. Montana (198), 7. Montana State (202), 8. North Dakota (231), 9. Portland State (233), 10. Sacramento State (255), 11. Idaho (256), 12. Northern Colorado (318)
Women: 1. Weber State (39), 2. Eastern Washington (75), 3. Northern Arizona (85), 4. Idaho (131), 5. Montana State (140), 6. Idaho State (153), 7. Montana (187), 8. Portland State (199), 9. Sacramento State (216), 10. Southern Utah (223), 11. Northern Colorado (280), 12. North Dakota (381)
Other Finishers . . .
33. Isaac Kitzan 26:58.7
38. Daniel Schofield 27:11.7
42. Aaron Brenton 27:17.9
51. Dallas Snider 27:45.0
69. Daniel Sanchez 28:24.4
18. Mayra Chavez 19:00.5
28. Paula Gil-Echevarria 19:12.5
36. Katie Mahoney 19:26.2
54. Chelsea Ribeiro 19:56.5
83. Bri Gibson 21:13.9
Quoting Head Coach Chris Shane . . .
"We had a great day today, a career all-time day for Eastern. It's a big step in our program. Our women were second, beating a very good Northern Arizona team by 10 points and coming up short against a very good Weber State team. I am pleased with how every single one of our women athletes ran. Every single one of them gave it their all today. Sarah was our leader followed by Catie who, running her last conference race of her career, came up huge for us. Berenice finished in 12th place and ran a very gutsy race. It was her last conference race of her career as well and it was a big time performance for her. Mayra stepped up huge for us too and was very solid. Paula, our fifth finisher today, has been battling injuries all year, and we needed her to be our fifth finisher in order to place second. She made the difference in placing second or third today. Overall, I am unbelievably happy with the results. We came into the preseason ranked fourth and we exceeded those expectations. To be able to have a group of women performing at this level is incredible. To get beaten by a top 30 team in the country and moving up, it speaks volumes to our program at EWU. I expect more great things in the future from that team."
"On the men's side I saw more of the same gutsy effort. I could not have asked for more from them today. The way that we trained this year, sacrificing some early races to put in more training, it put our men in a situation where they had to be ultimately confident that they had the training to compete at their best. For them to mentally put all of their training together and sacrifice at the level that they sacrificed, running an 8,000 meter race at 6,000 feet of elevation, is a brutal task. When you are battling Southern Utah, Northern Arizona, and Weber State that are all schools that train in altitude, you have a tough order ahead of you. We went toe-to-toe with Weber State for a podium finish and it was back-and-forth all race long with them. Every single man out there was giving it their all. I was incredibly proud of their performance. They went for it and they can be absolutely happy with their heads raised high with this performance. Being fourth today in a competitive region with altitude was a real treat. The race that Stephen ran was inspiring, Austin bounced back from a tough race a few weeks ago, and Alex was also solid for us. Isaac had a little bit of an off day but it wasn't for lack of effort. Every single one of these guys ran their hearts out and I can't ask for anything more than that as a coach. It was inspiring and I will remember this race for my entire coaching career."
"Overall, we were one of the best programs out there today. We can look forward to bigger and better things as Eastern Washington develops and grows and I can expect the program to be a real powerhouse over the next few years."
Up Next . . .
The Eastern cross country teams will now prepare for the West Regional Championships that are to be hosted in Seattle, Wash., on Friday, Nov. 13.