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Men’s cross-country qualifies for NCAA Nationals

Freshman+Jake+Finney+during+a+meet+as+seen+on+October+30%2C+2015.
Freshman Jake Finney during a meet as seen on October 30, 2015.

Freshman Jake Finney during a meet as seen on October 30, 2015.

Freshman Jake Finney during a meet as seen on October 30, 2015.

CASIE MOE | Evergreen cross-country reporter

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The men’s cross-country team is not done yet.

The Washington State men’s cross-country team has advanced as a team to the NCAA National Championship in Louisville, Kentucky on Nov. 21 after taking sixth overall at the NCAA West Regional Championship in Seattle, Friday.

“Our work is not done; getting to nationals is just the first step as we have high expectations for ourselves in Louisville,” Head Coach Wayne Phipps said after the event. “We are much better prepared for 10km than 8km and it showed today.”

The Cougar men’s team captain, junior John Whelan was runner-up on the 10,000 meter muddy course at Jefferson Park Golf Course, taking a time of 30 minutes and 54.9 seconds.

“I wanted to get up to the front, stay out of trouble, and essentially outlast people. That’s a strategy that usually works in a 10k cross,” Whelan said.

Whelan received NCAA All-Region honors with his teammate, sophomore Michael Williams. This distinction is only given to the top 25 individual finishes at each of the nine regional sites. Following his captain, Williams crossed the finish line in third place in the West Regional with 31 minutes and 5 seconds on the clock.

“It was exciting watching Michael finish right behind me and then the rest of the team not too far behind,” Whelan said. “There were a lot of Coug fans on the course and then a lot of people who became Coug fans during the race, which was exciting.”

Next out of the youthful cross-country team came another leader, sophomore Sam Levora taking thirty-second. The final four men were all freshmen: Nathan Tadesee, Chandler Teigen, Jake Finney, and Nathan Wadhwani. Battling the entire race, these freshmen pushed past the competition to finish within two minutes of each other.

The last time the men’s cross-country team made it to the Championships was in 2011 under Coach Pete Julian. Executing with the same expertise, the current Coach and Director of Cross-Country and Track and Field, Wayne Phipps, helped direct the men to a fourth-place West Regionals finish. By this placing, the WSU men’s team became one of the 13 at-large bids competing at the NCAA Championship.

Winning the men’s title in the West Regional Championship for the first time in school history, University of Washington will be one of the teams that WSU will have to watch out for at Nationals. Stanford University and defending national champions, Colorado University will also be top schools on the men’s side.

On the women’s side, the Cougar ladies’ season is over.

“We had hoped for a top ten women’s finish but 11th is a fantastic finish in such a tough region,” Phipps said. “CharLee (Linton) led us once again; she got caught way back in the pack and moved up close to a 100 spots to finish 47th.

Following Linton, sophomore Devon Bortfeld came in 53rd in 21 minutes and 37 seconds. Junior Morgan Willson took 66th, while senior Emily Dwyer was 81st and then Katherine Dittmann finished 99th. In 22 minutes and 52 seconds, senior Steffie Pavey was the sixth Cougar women to finish. Freshman Anisa Allaet rounded out the team in 23 minutes and 22 seconds.

“It was a great race for both sides,” Phipps said. “Just a testament to all of their hard work and commitment to the program. I am extremely proud of the way they competed in adverse conditions.”

The NCAA Cross Country Championships are Saturday, Nov. 21 in Louisville, Kentucky where the WSU cross-country men will race to be nationally ranked.

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Men’s cross-country qualifies for NCAA Nationals