Zags Get Two Second Place Team Finishes in Eugene
Sept. 11, 2015
EUGENE, Ore. -- Shelby Mills opened her 2015 Gonzaga cross country season with a third place finish at the Bill Dellinger Invitational at Alton Baker Park Friday. The Bulldog women and men both placed second in the team standings.
On a very warm day in Eugene, the GU women had four finishers in the top 10. In her first race since running in the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships last May, Mills led the way over the 6,000-meter course with her third place finish at 20:30.1. Teammate Amelia Evans was right behind in fourth place at 20:30.5. Jordan Thurston placed sixth (20:55.0) and Julie Henling was ninth (21:21.6). Olivia Evans wrapped up the GU scoring in 14th with a time of 22:16.0.
"It felt good just getting the legs turning, especially working together with Amelia and getting in there with Oregon," Mills said. "It's still early in the season so it's a good place to be, knowing we have a lot left in us. The depth of our team is looking really good this year. I'm excited for what's left!"
As a team, the Zags finished with 35 points. Sixth-ranked Oregon won the team title with 23 points. Portland State came in third with 78 points. The Ducks placed all five scorers in the top 10, led by Alli Cash. The sophomore took the individual title with a time of 20:27.5. Teammate Waverly Neer placed second at 20:29.5.
"It was a very dusty race," GU women's cross country Head Coach Patty Ley said. "There was lots of dirt on the legs, the face and in the teeth. But, it was really fun to watch the women run a strong controlled race. It was an awesome sight to see two Ducks and two Zags kicking down the last 100 meters. Amelia and Shelby shared the load and kept each other in the lead pack. Both felt they had never fully extended themselves and just got beat over the last few meters.
"My first cross country season here, we went down to Bend to meet the Ducks in an early season opener. At that time we were badly beaten with only one athlete slipping in to the top eight. Today was a very different story!"
On the men's side, the Bulldogs ran right with No. 6 Oregon for most of the race. GU finished with 46 points. The Ducks took the team title with 15 points, sweeping the top five spots. Portland State placed third with 85 points.
"The Zag men ran very tough," Director of Gonzaga Cross Country Pat Tyson said. "The temperatures were in the 90's. There were gnats hatching and flying along Pre's trails by the millions. There was also bark dust fouling the air. But, the Zag harriers mixed it up with sixth-ranked Oregon! As I said after the WSU meet, this is a very good Gonzaga team. We are going to continue to get better. We shadowed a great Oregon team and I am proud of the Men of Gonzaga!"
Matthew Crichlow moved from 20th to 10th on the GU all-time 8K list with a time of 24:34.3. The senior placed sixth in the race. Troy Fraley was close behind in seventh at 24:48.1. Freshman Scott Kopczynski had another top 10 finish, placing 10th with a time of 25:24.0. Kyle Branch (12th, 25:30.0) and Andy Thomas (13th, 25:38.8) rounded out the Zag scoring.
"Crichlow finished eight seconds back of the fifth Duck," Tyson said. "Fraley's plan was to run bold early. He opened up 50 meters after 3K and then got caught. He is strong and all will pay off later in the season. Our third man, Scott Kopczynski was six seconds behind Oregon's number six. Andy (Thomas) ran the race of his life as number five man for the Zags."
Gonzaga next hosts the WCC Preview/Erik Anderson Invitational on Sept. 19. It will be the first of two home meets this season, both at Plantes Ferry Park. The Zags will get an early look at some West Coast Conference programs in the preview. The 8K men's race begins at 9 a.m., followed by the women's race at 9:45. Admission is free for the general public.
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