The Washington cross country team had good showings for both the women’s and the men’s Pac-12 Championship Friday. Racing in a very competitive field, the women’s team finished in fourth while the men finished in fifth.
The women’s 6K was close all the way down the stretch, with Washington senior and defending Pac-12 champion Amy-Eloise Neale leading coming down the last hundred meters in the lead. However, Colorado junior Dani Jones’ last-minute kick was too much to handle, with Oregon sophomore Katie Rainsberger sneaking in at second, placing Neale in third with a time of 18:58.7.
Only two seconds separated first and third place.
The finish is reminiscent of Neale’s win last year, when she won this race by 0.4 seconds, beating Jones, who finished third by 1.46 seconds.
This was the eighth race in a row where Neale led the UW women. Sophomore Kaitlyn Neal was the next fastest, crossing the line in 26th at 19:34.3, while senior Izzi Batt-Doyle finished four seconds behind her in 28th. The fourth spot went to junior Emily Hamlin who placed 36th in 20:03.6 while senior Anna Maxwell rounded them out, crossing the line just over a second after Hamlin in 38th place.
The Husky women as a team placed fourth, with 128 points. No. 3 Colorado defended its team title with the win. This is the Buffaloes’ third Pac-12 conference title in a row. In the process, they also upset No. 1 Oregon, who finished tied on points with No. 14 Stanford but lost the tiebreaker putting the Ducks in third.
The UW men also had a very strong outing. Junior Mahmoud Moussa had the race of his life, even leading the pack just after the last split. Even though he was unable to keep up with the kick of the powerhouse runners, he still earned fifth-place, finishing the race in 23:52.0. Senior Andrew Gardner was second to finish for the Huskies, ending up in 11th with a time of 24:04.5. Senior Colby Gilbert crossed the line in 27th at 24:26.4, two seconds before freshman Talon Hull in 29th. The fifth runner for the men was Senior Andy Snyder, who ended the race in 47th with a time of 24:46.4.
Moussa was also only the second non-Stanford runner to cross the line, as the Cardinal finished first, third, and fourth on their way to the conference title. This meant an end to No. 5 Colorado’s six straight conference titles, as the Buffaloes finished second, followed by No. 14 UCLA, No. 8 Oregon, and No. 21 Washington in the top five spots. The Huskies missed out on top four by just 5 points, ending with 114 to Oregon’s 109. No. 20 Washington State finished behind the Huskies in sixth. The individual winner was Stanford junior Grant Fisher, who finished second in this race last year.
The next race for the Huskies will be on Friday, November 10, in Seattle as Washington hosts the NCAA Western Regionals. If the Dawgs can qualify, they will move on to the NCAA championships, held in Louisville, Kentucky on November 18.
Reach Contributing writer Andy Yamashita at email@example.com Twitter: @ANYamashita