NCAA West Regional | At Springfield Golf Course | Sat. Nov. 13, 2010

By Leo Collins


Cloudy skies & cool temperatures greeted both runners and fans at Saturday’s NCAA West Regional hosted by the University of Oregon at the Springfield Golf Club. The women’s race was held first on the moderately sloppy course but at least the rains, which had been seemingly omnipresent all week, held back for the event. The women’s race was a bit unique right from the start, as the lead runners would for the most part remain together. After only 150 meters six runners ran at the front & the six, who I could make out, were Jordan Hasay & Alexandra Kosinski of Oregon plus Deborah Maier of California & Tara Erdman of Loyola Marymount. In a racing oddity for XC those runners would head the finish list after their 6K run.

Naturally their lead at that point was essentially titular and a vast phalanx of runners loomed close behind. Jessica Tonn, who made it easier to spot her with her by wearing ear muffs was lodged in the middle of the second group of six near the lead & she in turn was followed by her Stanford team mate Alex Dunne plus Marie Lawrence & Kailey Campbell of Washington & Rowena Tamm (I think) of Cal.

The leader’s pace was hardly brisk, so the large pack remained in place for the most part and, when they began the second loop, the Oregon duo of Hasay & Kosinski remained at the front along with Maier & Erdman, who had been joined by Stephanie Wilson of Santa Clara. Right behind the leaders were Sheree Shea of Loyola Marymount, Alex Dunne & an Arizona State runner. Kathy Kroeger of Stanford & Elvin Kibet of Arizona moved into contention at that time as well.

The small loop found Erdmann, Maier & Kroeger heading the field, while Hasay & Kosinski had dropped back just a tad & Sheree Shea was the next runner we could determine & she held 11th place. There would be little change after another kilo, which found Tara Erdmann with a short lead over Kosinski & Maier, while Hasay & Kroeger were in hot pursuit.

There must have been a fair amount of pressure on Jordan Hasay, who won the PAC 10 Championship earlier this fall, yet she ran a seemingly controlled race, and, when she made her move with around 400 meters to go, she seemingly simply strolled away with authority. Her winning time of 20:01 saw her finish five seconds ahead of Deborah Maier of Cal. Alex Kosinski, who had a smile on her face early in the race, looked relaxed, although fast, when she followed in third in a time of 20:09. Tara Erdmann of Loyola placed 4th two seconds later & was followed in turn by Kathy Kroeger (20:13) plus Washington’s Katie Flood (20:17) & Justine Johnson, who was credited with the same time.

Amanda Moreno of UC Santa Barbara earned 8th in 20:20 and Jennifer Bergman of Arizona came home three seconds later. Zoe Buckman of Oregon claimed 10th to aid the Duck cause & Stephanie Marcy of Stanford by way of Washington state, earned 11th (20:26). Earning at-large individual berths were Amanda Moreno of UC Santa Barbara & and Breanne Stenkowski also from SB. Just missing was Sheree Shea of Loyala, who placed 14th in a time of 20:30. Other finishers of note included Alex Dunne (17th – 20:31), Christine Babcock of Washington (19 – 20:32) & Marie Lawrence of UW (20th – 20:37).

Washington won the team battle with a low of 73 points & Oregon’s 77 points was good for 2nd. The Stanford women took third with 86 points to edge Arizona, which had 90. The good news for both Stanford & Arizona is that they received at-large bids on Sunday & will head to Terra Haute for next Monday’s national race. Cal had 159 points to garner 5th, as their season ended. Of note also is the team from Oregon State University, which placed 17th in the 31 team field in spite of the fact that they ran without two of their top runners. Jennifer Macias, who was pushed and almost fell early in the race, when the runners made their first turn, led the team with her 66th place finish & Sandra Martinez of OSU placed 74th. Incidentally five of the top ten finishers were former Foot Locker runners & FL alumni scored four of the top six places in the event.

The men’s race saw another rather slow pace with no one really interested in pushing the tempo. That resulted in a very ungainly pack, which saw even more pushing than had been witnessed in the young women’s race. There was so much in fact that Chris Derrick of Stanford, one of the pre-race favorites, went down as he began to round the turn. Looking both a bit stunned & a bit miffed, he took a good five seconds to get back up, yet he still had not lost a great deal of yardage & even more surprisingly his team mates Jake Riley & Elliott Heath remained but a bit ahead of him.

Chad Hall, running for UC Riverside, handled a goodly part of the pace-setting chores, but he was pursued by a large trail pack. In third early was Oregon’s Luke Puskedra. Puskedra moved into the lead for a bit & was challenged by Cal ‘s Michael Coe during the second loop. With the men’s race being 10K no one was still willing to push the pace and for a time the lead alternated between Chad Hall & then Luke Puskedra & even for a time Lars Erik Malde of Portland led the way.

The race was made more interesting by the announcer calling out intermediate team totals at the various kilometer marks and early in the race it appeared as if Oregon would romp. They held a 33 point margin at one time but, as the race went on the gap began to narrow, and the Stanford men moved their way through the pack. Pictures showed the same thing for the most part with Oregon runners Puskedra, Matt Centrowitz, Danny Mercado & AJ Acosta always seemingly ahead of Stanford’s trio of Derrick, Riley & Heath. Even more interesting was the fact that Stanford had a pair of runners, Andrew Berberick & Miles Unterreiner, shadowing their first trio but never too far removed.

The leaders went through the two mile mark in 9:57 and the Oregon team still had a huge lead. Still the Stanford team kept chipping away at the lead and by the five mile mark they actually were reported to have held a slight lead. Still, when they felt sure of controlling their own destiny, the Cardinal runners seemingly backed off the throttle, while Oregon was seemingly leaving nothing to chance.

Somewhat surprisingly the individual race appeared to have the same flavor for, although Chad Hall finally dropped back, a quartet of runners still all had a chance to think of victory, when they rounded the final turn and had but 100 meters to go. At that point Michael Coe had a five yard lead over Trevor Dunbat, who had spent most of the race not far off of the lead yet always ready to respond to changing circumstances. Just off of his shoulder was Arizona’s Stephen Sambu & Luke Puskedra ran another three meters back.

Although Dunbar played down the importance of the race later, when the opening occurred he grasped it by speeding past Coe, while Sambu followed suite. In the end there was not much daylight, literally as well as the rain had begun to let loose in the last mile, but Dunbar secured an ever so slight victory with a time of 29:57.89 – just 6/100 ahead of the Arizona challenger. Michael Coe finished in 20:59 & Luke Puskedra claimed 4th in 30:03. Jonathan Peterson of UC Davis took 5th (30:07) and Matt Centrowitz of Oregon earned 6th in 30:14. Next followed the Stanford contingent of Chris Derrick (30:14.57), Elliott Heath (30:14.71) & Jake Riley (30:14.75). Chad Hall placed 10th and qualified for nationals as an individual (30:16.40) and Danny Mercado earned 12th with 30:16.58. Lars Erik Malde took 12th in 30:19.

The men’s team results showed Oregon victorious with a low of 63 points, as they edged Stanford by two points. California with 78 & Portland with 131 points placed 3rd & 4th but earned at-large bids on Sunday. Arizona State had 179 to garner 5th but will end its season in Springfield. Individual at-large bids were scored by Stephen Sambu, Jonathan Peterson of UC Davis, Chad Hall of Riverside & Ben Englehardt of Arizona State (30:21).