Cougar cross country ventures to Pre-Nationals in Oklahoma

As the back half of the season begins, the Cougs look ahead with big aspirations

HAYDEN STINCHFIELD, Evergreen sports co-editor

The top two Cougar women made up a combined 150 spots in the last five kilometers of the race. These comebacks guided the team to a fifth-place finish in a big race.

On Oct. 15, WSU cross country competed in Stillwater, Oklahoma with more than 20 other schools from around the nation in the Pre-National Races.

The cross country season has a very different schedule from most sports, with only six races that are run by the majority of the team over the course of the almost three months the season lasts. These races can be split into two halves, with the first three races being competitively unimportant races where the focus is on preparation and the last three races being the obviously important Pac-12 Championships, NCAA Regionals and National Championships.

At the Pre-Nationals race, Cougar men took home 12th, with the lead performance from Brian Barsaiya taking home 25th place with a time of 24 minutes and eight seconds. Other Cougs in the top 55 were Kelvin Limo and Leif Swanson, with times of 24:31 and 24:36 respectively.

The women’s team showed out on their biggest stage so far this year and nobody did it better than Alaina Stone Boggs. Stone Boggs started further back than expected and was in 44th at the one-kilometer mark, but over the remaining five kilometers she climbed up 40 spots and finished the race in 4th place with a time of 20:37 for the 6k race.

Still missing multiple top runners due to injury, the Cougs would need standout performances from more than just Stone-Boggs to have a real chance at competing in this race and they got those performances. Caroline Jerotich, who also had a tough start to the race, managed to improve 110 spots after the 1k mark to finish the race in 15th place with a time of 21:15.

These performances, along with strong races from Neema Kimtai (47th, 21:44), Pietra Da Silva (71st, 22:03) and Samantha Boyle (136th, 22:52) took the Cougs to a 5th-place finish. To finish 5th in a race as huge as the Pre-Nationals are is a big deal and it bodes especially well that they had one of their best performances as a team with the Pac-12 Championship happening on Friday.

With the NCAA Pre-Nationals race now in their rearview, the Cougars are moving forward to the back half of the season. The Cougs race next in Riverside, California at the aforementioned championship races. Going in as an underdog against several nationally ranked teams in both races, the Cougars will hope to rise to the occasion and exceed the expectations outsiders have of them. Fans can tune in to watch the Championship race on the Pac-12 Network starting with the women’s race at 8:40 a.m., followed by the men at 9:40 a.m. on Friday.