Cross-country competes in Inland Empire classic, ISU Pre-Nationals

By Elohino Theodore, Senior Reporter

Sarah Reiter, EWU sophomore, racing at the ISU Pre-Nationals on Oct. 18. Photo contributed by
Sarah Reiter, EWU sophomore, racing at the ISU Pre-Nationals on Oct. 18
Photo contributed by

The EWU cross country team traveled to Lewiston, Idaho, and Terre Haute, Indiana, to compete in the Inland Empire Classic and the ISU Pre-Nationals on Oct. 18.

“Pre-Nationals ended up turning out really well for us,” Head cross country coach Chris Zeller said. “The big thing is learning how to run as a team in that big of a race in terms of the numbers of people. It’s hard to keep contact with your own teammates [because] there’s so many people.”

Eastern’s top six male and female cross country athletes competed at the ISU Pre-Nationals. Eastern’s six male representatives were senior Chris Schroll, junior Vince Hamilton and sophomores Alex Kimsey, Stephen Bottoms, Isaac Kitzan and Austin Oser.

The ISU Pre-Nationals women’s top six were juniors Berenice Penaloza, Katie Mahoney, Emily Hazen and Mayra Chavez and sophomores Sarah Reiter and Paula Gil-Echevarria.

The women’s team placed sixth out of 33 with 252 points. Reiter was among one of the highlights, she placed fourth in the women’s 6,000 meter race with a time of 21:42.0. Penaloza finished in 22nd place with a time of 22:14.6. Mahoney placed 34th with a time of 22:31.2.

It was our first [6,000 meter race] this season so that was exciting,” Reiter said. “It was good to have lots of good competition. I felt a lot stronger compared to last year.”

Paula Gil-Echevarria came in 58th place with a time of 23:01.2. Chavez finished in 137th place with a time of 23:54.6. Hazen had a time of 24:39.5 with a 176th-place finish.

The men’s team placed seventh in the Pre-Nationals with 233 points. Kimsey finished in 18th place in the men’s 8,000 meter race at a time of 25:28.4. Hamilton had a 21st-place finish with a time of 25:31.9, and Bottoms came in 35th place, clocking in at 25:53.8.

Kimsey shared his experience at the Pre-Nationals. “It was fun, it was worth making the trip down there,” Kimsey said. “It was a great experience.”

“Just seeing all the big schools ranked in the top 10 nationally and regionally, just being in the same race and competing with those guys is a great experience,” Kimsey said.

Kitzan ended the race at a time of 26:16.8 placing 70th. Schroll came in 100th place with a time of 26:35.2. Oser finished with a time of 26:35.3 with a placing of 101st.

The rest of the team traveled to Idaho to compete in the Inland Empire Classic hosted by Lewis-Clark State College. Eastern competed alongside schools such as the University of Montana, the University of Idaho, Washington State University, and Gonzaga University.

“Down in Lewiston, a lot of people had [personal records],” Zeller said. “They ran really well, not having the top end runners there with them, sometimes it just creates opportunities for some of them to step up.”

The women’s team placed fifth with 141 points, while the men’s team could not place due to the lack of athletes finishing the race. Sophomore Katie Lynch came in 63rd place with a time of 19:01; she was the top performer for the women’s team.

Eastern’s other female athletes at the Inland Empire Classic included junior Brittney Swanson who finished in 89th place at a time of 20:10. Junior Cynthia Guzman came in at 95th place with a time of 20:29. Sophomore Michaela Chucka was right behind her with the same time, so she came in at 96th place. Senior Danie Moon finished with a time of 21:00 and came in at 106th place.

The top performers for the men was Senior Aaron Brenton who came in 58th place at a time of 25:52. Eastern’s other Inland Empire Classic male athletes were freshman Nik Taylor who finished in 65th place at a time of 26:13. Freshman Austen Frostad came in 108th place; his time was not recorded.

Zeller explained his team’s current condition going into the conference championships. “I definitely saw some improvements,” Zeller said. “We’re always a really aerobically fit team. By this point in the year you want to see kids getting sharper.”

The cross country team will be competing at the Big Sky Conference Championships on Nov. 1 in Grand Forks, North Dakota.