4th Annual Pete Steilberg Open has top competition for Evergreen
October 21 , 2006
OLYMPIA, Wash. - While this years edition of Evergreen's home meet did not have the number of teams participating in the past, there was no lack of competition for Evergreen runners.
Because of this years late meet date, NCAA institutions were unable to attend as they are into their conference championship season. Simon Fraser, who has participated in this meet all four years, returned with the defending national champion women's team and nationally ranked men's team. Current NAIA 13th ranked Concordia University's men's team was in attendance as well.
On a sunny, crisp fall morning the women's 5k race charged off the line first at 10 AM. Simon Fraser quickly went to the front as a pack, towing a few club runners and Evergreen's Kelly Beckham along. Geoduck Emily Uhlig eventually moved on to Beckham's shoulder to help her teammate who seemed to struggle to keep pace today.
Rebecca Johnstone of Simon Fraser ('05 XC All-American and '06 800 meter National Champion in track and field) ran the third best time on the course. She took the win by 17 seconds over teammate Kristen Kolstad in time of 17:53. A 5:46 mile pace. SFU easily took the team title with a perfect score (unattached/club individuals taken out of scoring) of 15 points. Evergreen was second with 60 points and Concordia 3rd with 67 points.
Kelly Beckham held on to her lead Evergreen runner position in 12th place followed closely by Emily Uhlig in 13th. Their times were 20:10 and 20:14 respectively. They were the 2nd and 3rd fastest times on this course by Evergreen runners. Evergreen improved on their '05 performance at this meet with a team combined time 9 seconds better in '06.
Other Evergreen runners had strong races. Kelsey Blair (15th) had a 31 second improvement over last years time on the course. Amanda Kirklin (18th)had her best race of the season and improved on her '05 course time by 39 seconds. Newcomer Megan Edwards, in her first race of the season, rounded out the top 5 with a 24th place finish in 23:51.
Three former geoducks participated in the race. Candy Owens (ESC '03) finished 9th overall. Rachel Williams ('06) and Liesl Plomski ('06) finished 16th and 25th respectively.
The men's 8k featured a deep field with two nationally ranked teams taking part. Concordia won the men's title with 22 points, Simon Fraser was the runner-up with 44 points and Evergreen finished 3rd with 61 points.
A large lead pack went out fairly conservative the first mile. Evergreen's James Hudson and Brian Rakestraw hung on to the main field before SFU's David Wambui strung the pack out with a strong move just before 3 miles. Only Concordia's Tim Badley was able to maintain contact. Wambui's pace was eventually too much for Badley and he went on to win by 22 seconds. His time of 25:31 was just 4 seconds off the previous course record set by Richard Mosley, also of SFU, in 2004.
Hudson was the first finisher for Evergreen in 7th place (26:56) and the third best time for an Evergreen runner on this course. Brian Rakestraw was 10th in 27:20. Eric Jones (13th), Miguel Pineda (14th) and Jason McConnell (19th) comprised the top 5 finishers for Evergreen. Their times were 28:02, 28:20 and 28:52 respectively. Pineda's race was his first race since early September, having spent a month nursing a foot injury. The men's team pack time was encouraging. With a 1:56 spread, they vastly improved on the teams '05 pack time which was over four minutes. Their combined time was also a big 2 minute plus improvement over last year.
Evergreen's home course is one of the more challenging and spectator friendly courses in the northwest, with mud, steep hill climbs and barriers to navigate. Times in 5k race are usually 20-30 seconds slower than a flatter courses. The 8k race adds 45-60 seconds. Evergreen will host two meets at home in 2007 including the NAIA Region I Championships.
The next event for Evergreen Cross Country will be the Cascade Conference/NAIA Region I Championships hosted by Eastern Oregon University in La Grande on November 4th.