Vikings Finish In Upper Half At NCAA Championships
Western Washington's Ashley Reeck earned All-American status at Saturday's NCAA Cross Country Championships.
Western Washington's Ashley Reeck earned All-American status at Saturday's NCAA Cross Country Championships.

Saturday, November 18, 2023
by Evan O'Kelly

JOPLIN, Mo. – Great Northwest Athletic Conference champion Western Washington had a strong showing at the 2023 NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships on Saturday, with the women’s team placing 14th and the men taking 16th at Tom Rutledge Cross Country Course.

Both Vikings teams finished in the upper half of the championship race, marking the sixth time in program history that the university has achieved that feat at the NCAA Championships. It was the first time since 2014, when the men placed 13th and the women 12th, that both Vikings teams finished in the upper-half.

A total of five GNAC runners claimed All-America status on Saturday, with four on the women’s side and one on the men’s.

Viking sophomore Ashley Reeck led her pack across the finish line, claiming All-America status in 30th place with a time of 20:35.3. Ila Davis followed in 53rd place with a time of 20:56.4 competing in her first national championship race. Mia Crocker finished in the upper half among the field of 260 runners, placing 109th with a time of 21:43.8. Emma Smith took 133rd place in 21:55.7, Sophie Wright was 175th in 22:15.7, Marian Ledesma was 187th in 22:23.4 and Meaera Nystrom rounded out WWU’s field in 193rd with a time of 22:26.7.

GNAC and NCAA West Region champion Kendall Kramer was the conference’s top finisher at the national meet, crossing the line in 23rd place with a time of 20:31.2 to earn All-American status for the second straight year. Teammate Rosie Fordham also earned All-America with a 36th-place finish, as she cruised to a time of 20:40.3.

Saint Martin’s star Cassidy Walchak-Sloan became the second women’s All-American in school history, crossing the line in a time of 20:34.1 to take 27th place. The junior joined 2016 SMU All-American Shannon Porter, who placed 24th, and became the third woman to compete at the national meet in a Saints uniform.

NCAA West Region champion and GNAC Newcomer of the Year Johan Correa completed a remarkable debut cross country season with All-America distinction, posting the top finish among all conference runners in 17th place with a time of 29:50.3. Correa was just the second man in CWU history to qualify for the national championship race, after Sam Scotchmer placed 80th for the Wildcats in 2007.

Western Washington’s men’s team was led by Ryan Clough, who finished in 73rd place with a time of 30:51.7. Andrew Oslin followed in 88th place in 30:59.9 and Kevin McDermott also cracked the top-100 finishing in 90th place with a time of 31:02.5. Also providing points for the GNAC champions were Jeret Gillingham in 146th place (31:39.9), Jalen Javurek in 153rd place (31:46.7), Will Henry in 158th place (31:49.8) and Jason Binn in 253rd place (34:00.2).

The Alaska Anchorage men also represented the GNAC on Saturday, finishing their season with a 34th-place team finish. Without the presence of reigning All-American Coleman Nash, the Seawolves were led by Michael Zapherson who placed 174th with a time of 31:57.1.

Winona State’s Lindsay Cunningham won the individual national title with a time of 19:30.1, crossing the line 15 seconds ahead of runner up Eleonora Curtabbi of West Texas A&M. Grand Valley State won the women’s team title, topping the field of 34 teams with 59 points for a healthy 27-point margin ahead of second-place Adams State.

On the men’s side, it was West Texas A&M’s William Amponsah who claimed the title with a time of 29:04.3, nearly nine seconds ahead of runner-up Simon Kelati of Western Colorado. Wingate topped a field of 34 teams with a score of 70, besting second-place Colorado School of Mines by nine points.