WWU Women's XC Named Red Lion Team Of The Week
The Vikings had three runners in the top-25 and two in the top-10.
The Vikings had three runners in the top-25 and two in the top-10.

Monday, September 21, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. – Thanks to their winning performance at the large Sundodger Invitational, the Western Washington women’s cross country team has been selected as the GNAC Red Lion Team of the Week.

The Vikings, who finished third at last year’s GNAC Championships, put their top-three runners in the top-25 of the women’s open race for a winning total of 103 points. The performance allowed Western Washington to finish 11 points ahead of west region foe Cal Baptist, who entered the week ranked No. 14 in the USTFCCCA Division II rankings, and No. 21 Simon Fraser, who finished eighth in the competition.

"It was exciting to do something of this caliber this early," said head coach Pee Wee Halsell.

Senior Taylor Guenther led the Vikings in the women’s open race, which included runners from NCAA Division II and III schools, NAIA programs community colleges as well as unattached athletes. Guenther finished fifth, covering the 6,000 meters in a time of 21:34.29. Junior Brittany Grant was two spots behind, placing seventh in 21:37.95. Freshman Tracy Melville, running in only her second collegiate race, placed 24th in a time of 22:18.17.

"It shows what the team has done this summer as far as their hardwork coming into the season," said Halsell. "It was fun to be up there and run as well as we did and beat some good, quality teams."

Melville lead a corps of five underclassmen that figured into the Vikings’ scoring seven. Sophomore Alexandra Laiblin finished 34th in 22:29.74 while sophomore Lillianna Stelling placed 40th in 22:36.76. Junior Sofia Marikis rounded out the scoring five in 58th place in a time of 22:57.25.

"We have a good mix of youth and experience on the team," said Halsell.

Western Washington entered the Sundodger Invitational ranked sixth in the USTFCCCA Division II West Region rankings. The Vikings are looking to move up on a stellar season in 2014 where they finished third in a close team competition at the GNAC Championships, a sixth place finish at the NCAA West Region Championships and a 12th place finish at the NCAA Division II Championships. Western Washington opened the season last weekend and finished second in the CWU Apple Ridge Invitational with a score of 34 points. The Vikings will compete again on Saturday at the Saint Martin’s Open in Lacey, Wash.

Seven other GNAC teams competed at the Sundodger Invitational. Seattle Pacific’s Anna Patti took first place in the women’s open race in 21:11.82.