While the University of Alaska Anchorage men's cross country running team stepped up to the competition at the Western Washington University Viking Invitational this weekend in Bellingham Wash., the women's team was shorted another chance to polish their mettle and let it shine.
For the second week in a row, the men were led by junior Andy Elvester. Elvester's eighth-place finish in 33:43 was supported by Eric Strabel's ninth-place finish in 33:52 and Tobias Schwoerer's 10th-place finish in 33:56. Junior Sean Rivers made his season debut as the Seawolves' fourth runner, placing 20th in 34:30. Freshman Scott Rood was 23rd in 34:41 and senior Vernon Campbell placed 30th in 35:05.
The men's team was more than ready to prove themselves after last week's Western Region rankings were released. Originally ranked fifth, the men dropped two spots after a steady showing at the Sept. 22 Aggie Invitational in Davis, Calif., where they soundly defeated inter-conference rival Humboldt St.
For the first time this season, the Seawolf men made it to the starting line with healthy athletes and a full team roster. Finishing a strong third in the 10-kilometer event, only four points behind meet-winner Central Washington and two points behind runner-up Western Washington University, the men know they're performance was a step in the right direction.
“There's no doubt that we can improve,” said Strabel. “But I know we can improve more than Western (Washington) and Central (Washington).”
The women's team was again plagued by illness, leaving home without their number-five runner sophomore Lindsay Krous. Krous spent the weekend recovering from strep throat while her teammates previewed the regional racecourse.
Sophomore Kiersten Lippmann led the women this time with her 19th-place finish in 23:59. Freshman Stacy Edwards was second for the Seawolves with 24th place in 24:07 and junior Leslie Boyd was 28th in 24:22. Junior Meyoung Blum closed in on her teammates with her 31st-place finish in 24:30. Freshman Stephanie Myers rounded out the top five for the Shewolves, scoring for the first time with her 62nd-place finish in 25:59. Sophomore Heather Walsh was sixth for the women, placing 63rd in 26:03.
With 15 of the top 20 runners in the women's six-kilometer event belonging to club teams or running unattached, the results were misleading. The Seawolves were fifth in the eight-team field. But among college teams, the women were fourth, six points out of displacing second-place Western Washington.
“We actually did pretty good considering how close we were to second place,” said Blum. “We have improvements to make and we know for now what we need to do.”
The Seawolves will spend the next two weeks resting, recovering and preparing to compete in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference championships on Oct. 13 at Kincaid Park in Anchorage.