(MSU Billings release)
Monmouth, Ore. – The cross country season came to an end on Saturday for the Montana State University Billings cross country team as they competed in the NCAA West Region Championships in Monmouth, Ore. The Yellowjackets finished 19th in the men’s race and 29th in the women’s division.
“There were a lot of fast teams on the course today,” head coach Jonathan Woehl noted about the 30 schools that took part in the meet. “It’s always a good challenge for our team to get out here and compete with some of the top runners in the country.”
Tyus Mendoza led the pack for the men in the men’s race as the junior completed the 10K course with a time of 31:35.8, his personal-best in a 10K collegiate race. Mendoza place 49th followed by Jorey Egeland who crossed the line with a time of 31:55.3. Egeland improved his time by over 30-second from his previous race at Ash Creek Preserve.
“Tyus ran great for us today,” Woehl said. “He was moving up through the pack for the entire race. I am really happy with the way he finished the season. I am really disappointed for Jorey. He ran so well for us all season and he still competed well today but I know he was hoping for a better finish. I’m sure this will motivate him for our upcoming track season”
Sophomore Nikki Aiken set a new personal best on the 6K course and finished with a time of 23:06.3 in 96th place. Aiken improved her placing by 64 position compared to last season’s regional meet in Bellingham, Wash.
“We had our goal set for 23-minutes for Nikki and she came through,” Woehl said of the team captain. “I know she wanted a higher finish but she put together a great season for us and we couldn’t be happier with her progression.”
Senior Bailey Bomar finished second for the ‘Jackets with a time of 24:33.6 and improved her time by over 30-seconds from her last performance at the West Region Championships when they were held at Ash Creek Preserve in 2015. Fellow senior Kelby Wegner set a personal-record time with 25:20.2 on 6K course.
Ronald Venema (32:47.7) and Ivan Colmenero (33:24.5) finished in the thick of the 188 person field for MSUB. The ‘Jackets freshman trio was led by Carson Jessop’s 33:47.4 as he finished ahead of Drake Henson (35:29.2) and Jack Pickell (35:59.7).
Jerrica Martin led the MSUB’s women underclassmen with a time of 25:46.6 followed by Catrina Schuchard (25:53.8) and Kateri Bridges (25:59.5). Sarah Beatty was the final finisher for the ‘Jackets with a time of 27:55.4.
“We saw strong performances across the board for our team,” Woehl added. “I thought Jerrica and Carson had impressive races for their first time at an event of this magnitude. Drake has a lot of speed and is used to shorter distances so to see him gut out a 10K is a great sign. Overall we improved all season and now we have to carry that through the track season and come back better for next year.”
Cal Baptist took the women’s division with a score of 68 followed by the University of Alaska Anchorage with 84. Anchorage’s Caroline Kurgat won the meet with a time of 20:26.1, 38.5-seconds ahead of the second place finisher. Kurgat also took home the GNAC title two weeks ago in Bellingham, Wash. Chico State was the third automatic qualifier with a score of 105.
Chico State was the top men’s team outpacing Cal Baptist by 29 points to finish first. GNAC rivals Western Oregon and Simon Fraser tied for third with 121 points apiece with the Wolves taking the tiebreaker by having three of the top-five finishers between the teams. WOU’s David Ribich was the top overall finisher on his home course with a time of 29:49.2.