By: Mateo De Dalmases
SFU’s cross country teams had great performances in the 44th Western Washington University Cross Country Classic hosted in Bellingham in the beautiful (and hilly!) Lake Padden Park. While the women managed to keep their undefeated status, the men had a solid performance, finishing third. This was the fourth race of the season and both teams have three more races to go — Conference Championships, Regional Championships, and National Championships.
The first race of the morning was the women’s six km, and all eyes were on the battle for first that Simon Fraser and Chico State were going to have. Although SFU was ranked slightly higher than Chico State, they hadn’t raced against each other yet this season. Everyone knew that the race was open and anything could happen, especially because SFU was missing an important member in Chelsea Ribeiro.
Chico State had an aggressive start in the race, placing most of their runners ahead of SFU’s top five individuals. The Clan women responded throughout the middle and ending parts of the race, when it really matters, and took a very close win by only two points, finishing with 46–44. SFU’s scoring athletes were led once again by another great performance of Julia Howley who placed seventh overall with a time of 21:49, and was followed closely by Addy Townsend who was eighth with a time of 21:57. Olivia Willett (15th), Miryam Bassett (16th), and Sophie Dodd (28th) were SFU’s remaining scorers and also had a crucial role in bringing the win to the Clan.
On the men’s side, although always optimistic, the expectations were lowered substantially since they were lacking their top runner Rowan Doherty due to the flu. Chico State took the team win with an impressive score of 17, placing six of their athletes in the top 10 overall. SFU placed third behind Western Washington, but had a solid performance given the fact that they were missing Doherty.
The first SFU athlete to cross the finish line was Oliver Jorgensen with a time of 31:49 and 12th overall. He was directly followed by Sean Miller, 13th, with a time of 31:54, and Mateo De Dalmases, 18th with a time 32:17. Carlos Vargas (39th) and Chris Sobczak (45th) were the remaining scorers for the men.
Undoubtedly, one of the highlights of the men’s race was Jorgensen’s outstanding performance, who is showing great improvement at every race and practice. Jorgensen has been struggling with injuries that have stopped him from being at his prime for the last two years. It is no secret that the men’s chances of making nationals are heavily reliant on Jorgensen’s talent and injury status in the Regional Championships. The fact that he is doing better is a priceless confidence booster for the entire team.
Both cross country teams will be back in action on October 21 for the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships in Bellingham.