Cross country places second in Idaho Orchards Invitational

Cross country was led by freshman Neema Kimtai, placing second overall

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KIERSTEN BUTTERWORTH | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

The 2018 WSU women’s cross country team and joining alumni start their race Aug. 31 at the Colfax Golf Club.

AARIK LONG, Evergreen sports editor

The WSU women’s cross country team competed in their first meet of the 2021 season on Saturday.

WSU finished second out of the four schools competing in the Idaho Orchards Invitational hosted by the Idaho Vandals in Lewiston. The hosts finished first, beating the Cougars by less than a minute overall and by seven places in the meet’s scoring.

WSU had 10 runners competing. The top five finishers on each team earned points based on their finish with the next two being able to displace the other team’s top five finishers.

Freshman Neema Kimtai got the top spot for the Cougars, finishing second overall. Kimtai crossed the finish line just seven seconds after Idaho’s Malaina Thacker.

Redshirt junior Erin Mullins was up next for WSU, finishing fourth overall. The third-best finish for the Cougars was freshman Alaina Stone-Boggs, who finished ninth overall. Caroline Jerotich finished 11th and was immediately followed by another Cougar runner with junior Zorana Grujic finishing 12th.

Two spots later, Zorana’s twin sister, sophomore Jelena Grujic finished 14th overall for WSU. Jelena Grujic led a trio of Cougars in consecutive finishes with sophomore Samantha Boyle finishing 15th and freshman Kerstin Ly finishing 16th.

Ly’s finish did not impact the scoring as she finished outside of the Cougars’ top seven runners. Seniors Pia Richards and Kiyena Beatty finished 20th and 30th overall, respectively.

The impact of the youngsters is a good sign moving forward for WSU. Four of the top seven finishers for the Cougars were either freshmen or sophomores. Kimtai, a freshman from Kenya, led the team in her first meet.

Besides WSU and Idaho, the University of Montana and Eastern Washington University also competed in the meet. The Grizzlies finished third and the Eagles finished fourth.

The Cougars will get back in action with their second regular-season meet when they head to Eugene, Oregon, on Feb. 19 for the LCC Cross Country Invitational hosted by the Oregon Ducks.