A surprising West Region Championships on Friday lead to the No. 4 Washington women’s cross country team qualifying for nationals, along with junior Fred Huxham of the men's team.
The highlight of the women’s 6,000-meter race was redshirt junior Amy-Eloise Neale’s exciting win. The Huskies started out fast, with Neale, freshman Nikki Zielinski, sophomore Charlotte Prouse, and freshman Kaitlyn Neal all running in the top five. Juniors Katie Knight and Izzi Batt-Doyle were right behind the group of four.
However, the start proved to be too fast for Washington as many of the Huskies fell back as the race continued on. Neale and Prouse were the only two who managed to stay in the front pack, running in 10th and 11th.
With the finish line drawing near, Neale made a late surge — she moved from 10th up to first, taking home the West Region individual title with a time of 19:27. Neale finished 13 seconds ahead of the rest of the field. Prouse ended up in 10th with a time of 19:51.
Knight, Neal, and Batt-Doyle had solid finishes, as they rounded out the scoring for the Huskies. They finished 24th (20:11), 27th (20:16), and 29th (20:20). The Huskies finished with 88 points, but still came in second to No. 7 Stanford, who had 71. The Huskies will have another chance to perform better at the NCAA Championships on Nov. 19.
Huxham had his best race of the year as he individually qualified for nationals with a third place finish. He finished the 10,000-meter race in a time of 29:47. The Washington men finished 10th in a tough field of runners, effectively ending their season.
Huxham and junior Colby Gilbert ran near the front of the pack for a large portion of the race, but Gilbert fell back near the end.
Junior Andrew Gardner was the second Husky across the finish line, coming in 33rd with a time of 30:20. He was followed by junior Johnathan Stevens in 53rd (30:45), and Gilbert in 76th (31:18). Redshirt freshman Julius Diehr was the final Husky to score points, coming in 100th (31:57).
While the Huskies may have had a disappointing finish to the season compared to last year’s first place finish at the Western Region Championships, they will look forward to next season with all of their top five runners returning.
The UW women, along with Huxham, will prepare for their biggest race of the season. For the first time this season they will not have an off week between races. The NCAA National Championships will take place in Terre Haute, Ind. on Nov. 19.
Reach reporter Carly Knight at email@example.com. Twitter: @carlyfries83