Eastern men defeat Big Sky Rival Portland State
The Eastern Washington University men’s and women’s cross country teams got their first look at another Big Sky Conference school Saturday (Sept. 15), as the men placed sixth and the women placed seventh at the Sundodger Invitational in Seattle, Wash. After running lower distances in the first meet, the men went back to their normal distance at 8,000 meters while the women went farther running 6,000, 1,000 meters more than their usual 5,000.
The women scored 204 points and the men scored 173 points to beat conference foe Portland State, who had 182 points.
“I felt it went pretty well overall,” head coach Chris Zeller said. “Everyone ran either where their training has indicated or better and put in really solid performances.”
David Thor continued his strong freshman campaign, finishing 19th overall in the men’s invite section with a time of 24:55.74 and scoring 13 points for the Eagles. Quin Olivas was the second finisher for Eastern, running a time of 27:08.28 to place 62nd. Finishing behind Thor and Olivas was Nathan Fall (65th, 27:50.71), Isaac Seward (68th, 28:33.70), and Brandon Nobach (71st, 31:52.69).
Zeller noted how Thor ran a time that was a few seconds slower than last year’s top finisher for Eastern, who was a senior at the time. “To come in and do that as a true freshman shows promise for years to come,” Zeller said. “He’s really in good company as far as freshman go.”
According to Zeller, Olivas had a strong race as well. “Quin really rebounded from two weeks ago and looked much smoother and more competitive.”
Leading the Eagle women for the second straight meet was team captain Berenice Penaloza, who came across the line in 23:10.22, good for 39th overall. Danie Moon (48th, 23:51.04), Acacia Smith (54th, 24:36.33), Monica Jaenicke (58th, 24:58.90) and Jessi Johnson (60th, 25:05.22) rounded out the top five for Eastern. Coming in after those five was Lauren Brewington (64th, 25:30.78), Brittney Swanson (66th, 27:09.80) and Lynnsie Stoneback (67th, 29:17.45).
“Berenice moved up a lot on the last loop and made up a lot of ground so it’s nice to see her close that hard,” Zeller said. “I still think she has lots of room for improvement.”
Another big highlight to Zeller was Jaenicke, who continues to improve after not racing for nearly two years due to injuries. “To see what Monica has done these last couple weeks is really impressive, especially with her training in the summer having been limited,” Zeller said.
“Overall, the fact that no one had poor performances showed me they’re responding really well to the training and they should continue to keep getting better,” Zeller said.
The Eagles will get another look at some Big Sky Conference schools Sept. 28 at the Montana Invitational which will take place at the University of Montana Golf Course in Missoula, Mont.