Cross Country Teams Finish Fourth at Montana Invitational

David Thor finishes eighth, Berenice Penaloza 11th for Eagles

The Eastern Washington University men’s and women’s cross country teams fought through the poor air quality levels at the Montana Invitational Friday (Sep. 28) in Missoula, Mont., as the men and women both placed fourth.

The women scored 91 points while the men scored 102. Montana State won on both the men's and women's sides, with the women scoring 19 and the men scoring a perfect 15 by having the first seven finishers.

“We were looking for some small wins from this meet overall and we did meet some of those,” head coach Chris Zeller said. “However, the smoke and air quality definitely hindered the races a bit for us.”

True freshman David Thor led the way for the Eagles for the third-straight meet, placing eighth with a time of 26:15.5 on the 8,000-meter course. Aside from the Montana State sweep, Thor finished ahead of all runners from both Montana and North Dakota. Nathan Fall (28th, 28:35.7) and Quin Olivas (29th, 29:07.5) were the next two runners behind Thor. Rounding out the top five for Eastern was Isaac Seward (31st, 29:34.5) and Brandon Nobach (33rd, 33:28.5).

“Beating everyone from Montana and North Dakota is a nice feat for David and I think that will send a message to the rest of the conference,” Zeller said.

On the women's side, Berenice Penaloza placed 11th, covering the 5,000-meter course in 18:43.4 and scoring nine points for the Eagles. Finishing behind Penaloza was Danie Moon (27th, 20:09.3), Acacia Smith (29th, 20:19.9), Jessi Johnson (30th, 20:21.7), Monica Jaenicke (32nd, 21:03.6) and Lauren Brewington (33rd, 21:29.78).

“Berenice had a nice breakthrough,” Zeller said. “She was competitive and not afraid to go with the lead pack.”

Zeller also felt that Smith and Johnson ran well strategically. “Acacia and Jessi worked really well and fed off of each other throughout the race,” Zeller said.

 “I wouldn't say we accomplished what we wanted to overall,” Zeller said. “But we have plenty of time to address those issues prior to the conference meet.”

The next race for the Eagles will be the Inland Empire Classic on Oct. 13 hosted by Lewis-Clark State in Lewiston, Idaho. It will be their last race before the Big Sky Championships in Flagstaff, Ariz., on Oct. 27.

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