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MSU Billings to host NCAA West Region Championships Saturday at Amend Park

Posted at 6:11 PM, Nov 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-14 21:56:13-05

(MSUB Athletics release)

BILLINGS – Over 30 cross country teams will converge on Amend Park Saturday for the NCAA Division II West Region Meet hosted by Montana State University Billings. The Yellowjackets are hosting the event for the third time and will welcome teams from Montana, Utah, California, Hawai’I, Idaho, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon.

The men are set to start at 10 a.m. in a 10,000-meter race. The women’s 8,000-meter race takes place at 11:15 a.m.

Teams and individuals qualify for the national championships (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) through participation in the regional meet. A total of 34 teams and 24 individuals will be selected. The top region team from each of the eight regions will automatically advance to the NCAA DII National Championships while eight at-large selections will also advance.

On the women’s side, the top three teams in 2017 were Cal Baptist, Alaska Anchorage, and Chico State. Chico State is the top ranked west region team at No. 5 in the nation this fall.

For the men in 2017, Chico State, Cal Baptist, and Western Oregon were the top three team finishers. Chico State is ranked No. 4 nationally and Alaska Anchorage registers at No. 7.

Last season, the NCAA DII West Region Meet was held at Ash Creek Preserve and hosted by Western Oregon.

“Billings does a great job of promoting the event and really supporting it,” commented MSUB head coach Jon Woehl. “Visit Billings and the community always gets involved and they meet all the teams and welcome everyone to town. There will be a banner on the skywalk downtown again and this event has become something that the whole city knows about and supports.”

THE FORECAST: Early week weather models have indicated temperatures in the high 20’s at race time with partly cloudy skies and a slight breeze from the southwest. There is little change in elevation on the grassy Amend Park race course and runners will mostly trek around the outer rim of the park before ending up around 50 yards from the starting line.

“It will be nice to have everybody else coming to us, especially if the weather conditions are cold and snowy,” commented Woehl. “It’s nothing we haven’t seen before in training but it might be new for some of the other teams. Hopefully the weather conditions will be a little bit of an advantage for us.”

FOR THE YELLOWJACKETS: Both men’s and women’s teams at MSU Billings have made steady improvements this fall and 12 of 14 Yellowjacket runners posted personal best times at the GNAC Championships, which took place November 3.

“Our team is getting more confident,” said Woehl. “The conference meet was a big confidence booster for us. They are starting to realize that the training is working and the goals we’ve set out to achieve are pretty much accomplished. We just want to make sure we go into the off-season on a high note this weekend.”

The men are led by senior Ivan Colmenero. Colmenero has one top five finish and ran his last 10,000-meter race at Amend Park in 33:10.92 on October 12. Ronald Venema has three top-tens and will likely be a contender in Saturday’s event Saturday. Mark Hovland, Carson Jessop, Ase Ackerman, Drake Henson, and Logan Straus are the other competitors for the MSU Billings men’s cross country team.

For the women, Ruth Chepsat has continued to make great improvements for the Yellowjackets. Chepsat ran 6,000-meters in 22:50.6 at the GNAC Championships on November 3 and has finished as high as sixth place among races this fall. Junior Nikki Aiken has been a strong runner for MSUB and will likely be in friendly competition with Chepsat for the top finish on the team Saturday. Kailee Stoppel, Sierra Durbin, Rachel Hiner, Miranda Livingston, and Maddy Terwilliger round out the women’s lineup.

“If we get really good conditions, we think everyone on the women’s team is capable of running in the 26 minute range,” said Woehl. “On the men’s side it’s a similar feeling because I think everyone can be in the 34 minute range or even a little bit faster than that. 12 of our 14 runners had personal best times at the GNAC Championships and I think we certainly have a chance to do that again. If we can go out and execute the way we have been running in practice, I think it’s a possibility.”

IF YOU ARE GOING: Admission is free to the event and the course at Amend Park is located at 5101 King Ave. East, Billings, MT 59101. Public restrooms will be available on site.

Men’s NCAA Division II Cross Country West Region Rankings
Rank Team Conference

1 Chico State CCAA
2 Alaska Anchorage GNAC
3 Simon Fraser GNAC
4 Western Washington GNAC
5 Cal State San Marcos CCAA
6 Cal Poly Pomona CCAA
7 Western Oregon GNAC
8 Academy of Art PacWest
9 UC San Diego CCAA
10 Central Washington GNAC
11 Northwest Nazarene GNAC
12 Cal State Stanislaus CCAA
13 Cal State East Bay CCAA

Women’s NCAA Division II Cross Country West Region Rankings
Rank Team Conference

1 Chico State CCAA
2 Alaska Anchorage GNAC
3 Simon Fraser GNAC
4 Seattle Pacific GNAC
5 Azusa Pacific PacWest
6 Point Loma Nazarene PacWest
7 Cal State Stanislaus CCAA
8 Western Washington GNAC
9 Cal State San Marcos CCAA
10 Central Washington GNAC
11 UC San Diego CCAA
12 Humboldt State CCAA
13 Cal Poly Pomona CCAA