SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Katie Flood and Aaron Nelson continued their exceptional seasons with top-10 finishes to lead the Husky cross country teams at the NCAA West Regional Championships today. But it was a mixed bag for the Huskies in the team chase, as the women finished fifth and will need to await an at-large big for next weekend’s NCAA Championships, and the Husky men took ninth, leaving Nelson as a potential individual qualifier for nationals.
Held at the Haggin Oaks Golf Complex and hosted by Sacramento State, the West Region meet was one of nine regional races held around the country today, with the top-two finishing teams in each region automatically advancing to nationals. The national meet will be next Saturday, Nov. 23, in Terre Haute, Indiana.
The 12th-ranked Husky women’s team will have to wait until at-large selections are announced on Saturday to see if they have reached a seventh consecutive NCAA Championships. No. 1 ranked Arizona won the women’s race with 84 points, followed by Stanford (94), Oregon (120), and San Francisco (140) then the Huskies with 162.
The men finished ninth out of 27 teams, scoring 277 points. Stanford was the men’s winner with 53 points, and Oregon earned the second auto spot with 64. The Huskies will be unlikely to receive an at-large bid, but Nelson may well earn a spot as an individual as he finished eighth overall today, a huge career-best. Nelson would qualify provided that the third-place finishing Portland men’s team receives an at-large bid. The top-two individuals from non-qualifying teams in each region advance to Terre Haute.
Flood had perhaps her best run yet this fall, as she took fourth in a very fast 19:27 over the 6,000-meter course. It’s a career-best Regional finish for Flood, as the All-American was sixth as a freshman, fifth as a sophomore, and 15th last year as a junior.
The top-25 finish will earn Flood another All-West Region honor, and senior Liberty Miller will get her second as well, as she had a big breakout race today after battling through some midseason pains. The Simi Valley, Calif. product was the second Husky finisher, in 23rd-place, in 20:12. After Miller, the freshmen pair of Katie Knight and Amy-Eloise Neale came in side by side in 42nd and 43rd places, and Megan Goethals capped the scoring with a 50th-place finish in 20:45. Senior Justine Johnson was unable to earn a fourth All-West Region honor, finishing 81st, and Kaylee Flanagan was 91st in the freshman’s first Regional run.
"Katie looked great today, the best she has looked for sure," said Head Coach Greg Metcalf. "Libby also ran great, and Katie Knight was right there with Libby with about 400 meters to go but lost some ground late, and Amy-Eloise was making up ground so they finished together. Megan is still grinding out there and Justine has been sick so all in all we feel like we will be on the way to Terre Haute and try our best to put it all together on the right day."
Aside from another outstanding effort from junior Aaron Nelson, the Husky men were unable to make a big impact in the field. Through the first couple 2k splits, the UW pack was around 50th, and was never able to make a move forward. Sophomore Meron Simon was the first Husky behind Nelson to finish, crossing in 62nd-place in 31:14. The next three scorers all came across within nine seconds, with freshman Sumner Goodwin 68th in 31:18, sophomore Izaic Yorks in 70th in 31:20, and freshman Andrew Gardner taking 73rd in 31:23. Tyler King was 99th in 31:56 and Jacob Smith was unable to finish.
"Our men, we knew we were a young squad all year and running 10k in November is tough without any seniors," said Metcalf. "We just had a disappointing day and didn't run like we hoped, but we believe Aaron Nelson will get to run his first NCAAs so that's a great opportunity for him. Every one of the other six guys out there today were sophomores or freshmen so they just have to learn from this and get better."
Nelson’s finish matches the Regional placing of Joey Bywater just last season, which ties him for the best individual finish by a Husky since the 2006 season. Bywater went on to finish 69th at NCAAs last year.
2013 NCAA Cross Country West Regionals
November 15, 2013 – Sacramento, Calif.
Haggin Oaks Golf Complex
Team Scores (Top-20): 1. Stanford 53; 2. Oregon 64; 3. Portland 92; 4. Boise State 117; 5. Arizona State 184; 6. UCLA 187; 7. Cal Poly 191; 8. Washington State 269; 9. Washington 277; 10. UC Santa Barbara 287; 11. Gonzaga 343; 12. California 343; 13. UC Davis 361; 14. Arizona 362; 15. Loyola Marymount 365; 16. San Francisco 498; 17. Long Beach State 511; 18. Sacramento State 523; 19. UC Irvine 542; 20. Eastern Washington 542.
Individual Champion: Edward Cheserek, Oregon, 29:35.
Husky Finishers: 8. Aaron Nelson 29:54; 62. Meron Simon 31:14; 68. Sumner Goodwin 31:18; 70. Izaic Yorks 31:20; 73. Andrew Gardner 31:23; 99. Tyler King 31:56. – Jacob Smith DNF.
Team Scores (Top-20): 1. Arizona 84; 2. Stanford 94; 3. Oregon 120; 4. San Francisco 140; 5. Washington 162; 6. Arizona State 175; 7. UC Davis 221; 8. Cal Poly 259; 9. Portland 284; 10. Boise State 300; 11. Loyola Marymount 307; 12. UCLA 330; 13. California 353; 14. Washington State 401; 15. Oregon State 407; 16. Sacramento State 421; 17. Gonzaga 437; 18. UC Santa Barbara 447; 19. Idaho 519; 20. Seattle 563.
Individual Champion: Emma Bates, Boise State, 19:11
Husky Finishers: 4. Katie Flood 19:27; 23. Liberty Miller 20:12; 42. Katie Knight 20:37; 43. Amy-Eloise Neale 20:38; 50. Megan Goethals 20:45; 81. Justine Johnson 21:04; 91. Kaylee Flanagan 21:17.