Bulldog Men, Women Have Solid Day At Dellinger Invitational
Springfield, Ore. - Gonzaga University's men's and women's cross country teams made a solid showing Saturday at the Dellinger Invitational hosted by the University of Oregon at the Springfield Golf Course.
The women, with Lindsey Drake finishing 13th in 17:13 over the 5K layout, finished third with 87 points behind the host Ducks (18 points), ranked third in the country, and Southern Utah University (73 points), ranked eighth in the Mountain Region. Gonzaga is ranked 12th in the West Region.
The men, with Tate Kelly finishing 24th in 24:27 over the 8K course, finished fifth with 130 points. But the Bulldogs weren't far behind the University of Washington (114) in fourth or Southern Utah (111) in third. BYU, a West Coast Conference foe of the Bulldogs, won the meet with 32 points while Oregon was second with 49 points.
BYU is ranked first in the Mountain Region and third nationally, Oregon is fourth in the West and 23rd nationally, Washington is ranked 10th in the West and Southern Utah is 15th in the Mountain. The Bulldogs, ranked 14th in the West, did finish ahead of 15th-ranked Sacramento State University.
Trevor Dunbar of Oregon won the men's race in 23:38 while Alexi Pappas of the Ducks captured the women's race in 16:23.
"It was a pretty good day," assistant coach Patty Ley said of the Bulldog women. "We're not firing on all cylinders yet, but to be in the top three is pretty solid and pretty encouraging."
She said Drake ran a solid race, working her way up to 13th.
"Lindsey ran a little bit on the conservative side and I think she's kind of kicking herself because she wasn't far off the top 10. She was in a big pack early, the pack eventually strung out a little bit and she worked her way up to that position," Ley said.
"Lauren had a great race. Maggie was the front runner of that pack for most of the race, taking her chances and keeping engaged with Southern Utah. She slid back a little and then it was boom, boom with Emily and Lauren right there," Ley noted. "Lauren, Emily and Lindsey each had a day off last week as they were a little dinged up, so they just cross trained for one day. But we're doing okay."
Freshman Amelia Evans was the fifth Bulldog across the line, finishing 31st in 17:49.
"Amelia ran her fist sub-18 minutes for a 5K course," Ley said. "Our top seven was tighter than it's been and hopefully we'll be able to pull it up a little more."
But there was more than a minute separating the eighth and 12th runners for the Bulldogs, and Ley said "that was spread out a little more than we had been, but we'll work on pulling it back."
Ley said the Bulldogs would have liked to have beaten Southern Utah.
"We raced them pretty well, but spotted them a little too much early. If it's a best-of-five I think we have a shot at them," she laughed. "We closed on them pretty well at the end. It was good dedication and we're doing pretty well right now."
Head coach Pat Tyson said "there were a lot of good things" his men took out of the day.
"To come that close to Washington and Southern Utah you would like to get third. Our goal was to get third and we got fifth, but at the halfway point we were third behind Oregon and BYU, then we faded to fifth," Tyson said.
Tyson thought his team matched up well.
"If you look at the team scores we matched up well with Washington and Southern Utah. The difference was Washington had a guy get in the top 10 and had an 8-point guy in their line-up. Southern Utah had a 4-point guy. Washington and Southern Utah got a luxury lead on us, but depth wise it was a good day and a good top five. Our top five were ahead of Washington and Southern Utah's fifth man and we had a couple of guys right with Oregon's sixth runner," Tyson said.
Behind Tate were Colin O'Neil 27th in 24:29, Willie Milam 30th in 24:34, Robert Walgren 34th in 24:40 and Chris Boyle 36th in 24:42. The top five all ran a sub-5 minute pace, the first time the Bulldogs have accomplished that for an 8K.
"It was a good, solid team of guys within 16 seconds of each other. It was a new place in Gonzaga history, running respectfully," Tyson said. "We're not satisfied. You are satisfied if you reach your goal."
Tyson pointed to Kelly as "leading the troops" again and Colin O'Neil "had a breakthrough day as our number two man." Tyson said Milam and Walgren ran a solid three-four and Boyle, nursing an inflamed hip, "hung on for fifth and was under a 5-minute pace. He'll run better as the season progresses."
Freshman Conor McCandless suffered from dehydration on the unusually warm day as the temperature hovered near the mid-70s by the time the men's race started.
"McCandless is a tough guy," Tyson said. "He was barely able to lift his legs the last 500 meters, but he struggled across the line and fell to the ground. He was taken to the emergency tent at the finish line and given fluids for about an hour. The doctors and trainers were very good."
McCandless got a surprise well-wisher while in the emergency tent. Legendary Oregon coach Bill Dellinger, for whom the meet is named, paid a visit.
"Dellinger looked Conor in the face and said 'you're going to be alright.' When the guy the race is named after comes in and tells you that, it's a great story. You could tell by the look in Conor's eyes he was appreciative of that," Tyson said.
The Bulldogs finished 16 points behind Washington, the closest ever the Zags have been to the Huskies.
"We beat some decent teams," Tyson said. "UC Riverside is a good team, Massachusetts is solid, we beat Sac State which is ranked right below us in the West and we beat Idaho for the first time."
Overall, Tyson was pleased.
The 12 guys we brought to Eugene ran with a lot heart, were there to compete, got out hard and were never intimidated," Tyson said. "We learned a lot and will come back to the Lewiston meet to decide our nine guys for the WCC Championship which is four weeks from today. We have to see where some guys are. Our top five look solid. Today the WCC with BYU won the Dellinger, the Zags were fifth and knocking on the door. We know we'll be better down the road."
The final tune-up for the Zags prior to the WCC Championship is Oct. 13 when they compete in the Inland Northwest Classic at Hells Gate Park in Lewiston, Idaho. The WCC Championship is Oct. 27 at Fernhill Park in Portland, Ore.