WOU Cross Country Recap

Written by:Nicholas Sarysz

Western’s men’s and women’s cross-country teams toed the line of their home cross-country course for the Greater Northwest Athletic Conference championship meet on Sept. 5. Despite higher hopes, both of the teams finished in fourth place.

Western Washington University won the men’s meet with a score of  31 points —they have not lost to a conference opponent the entire 2022 season.

Western Washington also won the women’s meet with a score of 64 points, having all of their scoring runners finishing within one minute of each other.

The men’s side was led by Hunter Hutton, who finished the 10-kilometer race in 24 minutes and 23 seconds. The other scorers on the men’s team were Bailey Smith, 22nd, Easton Pomrankey, 25th, Logan Parker, 27th, and Miguel Villar, 31st.

Caitlin Heldt, in just her second race of the season, led the women’s team with her third-place finish. Heldt  ran the 6-kilometer race in 21 minutes and 9 seconds. The rest of the scorers on the women’s side were Luz Garcia, 12th, Riley Smith, 13th, Holly Hutton, 29th, and Lindie Larson, 30th.

This was the first full-length cross-country season for the National Collegiate Athletic Association since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. When asked about how that has affected the group, Senior Bailey Smith only had good things to say. 

“From the start of the season, the group of guys has been really focused. This season is two weeks longer than last year’s which requires a lot of focus on taking care of ourselves. Coach Holloway has done a great job of keeping us fresh and feeling like we can get ready for both the 8k and 10k.”

Throughout all of the ups and downs of the season, the comradery of the group has remained strong. A key part of this team’s comradery has been transfer sophomore Kolby Spink, who had a lot to say when asked about his transition into being a Western Oregon University athlete.

“Transitioning from my previous institution to WOU has been really great. When I got to Western the guys’ team was very welcoming and supportive of anything that I needed. If I needed help taking my bags to the dorms, everyone would be there willing to help. If I was ever not feeling too good on a workout my teammates would be there to tell me ‘you got this’ and to keep working towards our goals. Our team is like a family, we’re always there to support one another and be there for each other. The coaches here have been really good at helping me get better as an athlete. When I was at my previous institution I kind of struggled with being able to get to my goals and some of the training got to be too much. Here I’m able to trust the coach with the training and I’m able to achieve the goals that I want while pushing myself and not having that be too much. The races have been a lot of fun so far. Our team is so close to each other each time that our 3-7 runners change almost every race. Our team is looking pretty strong as we head into Regionals in Billings Montana. We are hoping to be able to qualify for Nationals. The team has what it takes and we are looking ready to take on the competition. We took 4th in GNAC a couple of weeks ago but we know as a team we can run better and beat some of these teams,” said Spink.

The Wolves look to bounce back this upcoming Saturday, November 19th, as they travel to Billings, Montana for the NCAA Division II West Regionals meet. There, the Wolves will compete against the other 20 teams in the region. The men were ranked 10th in the preseason polls, but have since fallen out of the rankings, whereas the women have never ranked in any of the top spots.

Contact the author at howlstaffwriter@wou.edu