Gonzaga Women Finish in Top-25 at National Championships
Nov. 21, 2015
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The Gonzaga women's cross country team placed 25th in their first-ever appearance at the NCAA Cross Country National Championships Saturday.
On a cloudy, 53-degree morning at Tom Sawyer Park, the Zags totaled 615 team points and were led by an 82nd place finish from Shelby Mills. She crossed the line at 20:44.5. The senior was at 6:45.5 at the 2K mark before finish just under 21 minutes on the 6K course. Her finish was the highest for a GU runner at the NCAA National Championships since Cheska Fairbanks placed 14th in 1996 in Tucson, Ariz.
“We had pretty big goals going into the race and didn't finish quite how we wanted to, but honestly I am so proud of what we've done not only today, but all season long,” Mills said. “To place ahead of where we were ranked and to try to give a little bit of love to all of the underdogs was really rewarding. We ran with the best in the nation and came out with our heads held high. I can't ask for a better team to have both here and back in Spokane. We've definitely felt the Zag love!”
In the men’s race, Matthew Crichlow climbed 34 spots over the final 5,000 meters to finish in 134th place. The senior’s time of 31:16.8 is a new personal record by 16 seconds. It was also the 10th-fastest time on the program’s 10K all-time list.
“Last year, I was on the sidelines injured the whole cross country season, so I've come a long way in a year,” Crichlow said. “I wish I would have run a little better, but when I take a step back, it's been an honor to compete and represent Gonzaga this weekend. I'll only use this energy to get me fired up for track season."
Crichlow was the first-ever GU men’s runner to compete at the NCAA National Championships. He was 117th after 2,000 meters at 5:54.4, before sliding to 168th at the 5,200-meter mark. The Edmonds, Wash. native improved 24 spots by 8,000 meters at 24:49.0.
Jessica Mildes finished 139th in the women’s race. Her time of 21:06.6 was her second-fastest 6K time of the season. The junior’s 2,000-meter time was 6:53.4. Closely behind in 142nd, Jordan Thurston completed a breakout season with a time of 21:08.8.
Maggie Jones (184th) and Amelia Evans (238th) wrapped up the Gonzaga scoring. Jones finished at 21:27.2 and Evans had a time of 22:17.8.
“We came in with big expectations and there was a touch of disappointment initially,” GU women’s Head Coach Patty Ley said. “Then perspective set in and this is a team that was fifth at West Coast Conference Championships in 2014 and 16th in the West Regional. And, here we are with a group of women who were good, but not great, high school runners facing teams with multiple sub-five mile women in high school.
“As Jordan Thurston said ‘it was a crazy goal and we did something crazy’. Shelby and Amelia both had rougher than normal days as they may be fighting off something. I’m exceptionally proud of each one of these women. They are fine athletes, students and awesome people.”
The New Mexico women claimed their first-ever national team title. The Lobos’ team total of 49 easily clinched first place. Colorado placed second with 129 points.
Notre Dame’s Molly Seidel won the individual title with a time of 19:28.6. The senior had a five-second advantage on Boise State freshman Allie Ostrander.
The Syracuse men snapped Colorado’s chance for a third straight national title. The Orange edged Colorado by nine points for their second-ever national title, and first since 1951. It was the closest men’s team finish since 2004.
For the third consecutive season, Edward Cheserek of Oregon won the individual men’s title. The junior has now won the national title in each of his first three seasons. His time Saturday was 28:45.8, which was close to 25 seconds ahead of the field.
“It’s been a pretty good day here in Louisville,” Director of Gonzaga Cross Country and Track Pat Tyson said. “It was Gonzaga’s first opportunity to compete at the big dance, and it was good stuff. The women showed great stuff. A big hug to Patty Ley for what she’s done with the women this year.
“For Crichlow, we said he had to go out and get a good position early, and he did. He fell back a bit, but ended up running a good race and beat some really good runners. He opened up the gates for our program; we want to bring the entire men’s team here, we want to bring more quality to this venue. This is where we want to be. Now we’re getting excited about indoor and outdoor track!”
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