Pre-Nationals kind to Cougar runners

From staff reports

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Running against nationally-ranked squads, the Cougar cross-country teams showed that they deserved their moment in the spotlight.

The Pre-Nationals Cross Country Invitational on Saturday at “Tom” Sawyer Park in Louisville, Kentucky, was an important meet for teams vying for an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships next month at the same course. After beating several nationally- and regionally-ranked teams at the meet, both Cougar cross-country teams made strong cases to pick up one of those berths.

The women’s team won the unseeded Black race with a total of 176 points, finishing ahead of Buffalo, Arizona, California-Davis and Louisville.

Senior CharLee Linton completed the 6,000-meter course in 21 minutes and finished in eighth. Sophomore Devon Bortfeld crossed in 21:13, taking 17th place, with junior Morgan Willson coming in 21st. Junior Steffie Pavey finished the course in 22:00 for a 24th place finish.

“The women executed the race plan very well,” said Wayne Phipps, Head Coach of WSU cross-country, in a press release. “We were third at halfway and closed very strongly. Steffie passed close to ten people in the final 400m. On top of winning, we beat a few teams ranked ahead of us in our region, which was one of our main goals.”

In the seeded Red race, the men’s team took 13th,beating several regionally-ranked universities like Cornell, Eastern Michigan, Texas, Duke, San Francisco, Yale, Purdue, Ohio State, Florida and Georgia.

The first Cougar to cross the finish line after 8,000m was sophomore Michael Williams. He beat his junior teammate John Whelan by five seconds with Whelan finishing in a time of 23:54. Sophomore Sam Levora finished in the top 100 and helped add to the final score for the team. Other scoring teammates included freshman Chandler Teigen, taking the 131st spot, with freshman Nathan Wadwhani finishing right on his heels.

“Michael and John had fantastic races and it was great experience for our freshmen who competed well,” Phipps said. “We will need to close our 1-5 gap by the end of the year, but I am very confident we will be able to do that.”

The Cougars’ next schedule races are the Pac-12 Championships, which they are hosting at the Colfax Golf Club on Oct. 30.

Reporting by Casie Moe