Men's Preview by John Cusick
Women's Preview by Grace McLaughlin
The West region has the potential to be one of the best meets in terms of the team and individual battles within it.
This race likely runs through TSR #5 Chico State. They've won this meet for the last three years and are looking to add to their resume. They won their CCAA meet with ease, scoring just 33 points. In fact, Chico has dominated the entire season. They finished runner-up at the Capital Cross Challenge behind only Cal Poly and followed that up with a win at the Western Washington Classic.
The spread time at Capital Cross?
The spread time at Western Washington?
How about CCAA's?
It's been a team effort all year long led by Trad Berti, Matthew Herrera, Wyatt Baxter, and Jhavan Holston. They have a great, consistent group of runners that will overwhelm their competition with depth. There isn't much more we need to say about Chico and their ability to take home the title.
The team that should come in 2nd place this weekend is Western Washington. They just took home the team title at the GNAC Championships in a snow-laden race in Montana. They placed four inside the top 10 and all five of their scorers in the top 20.
The top four at GNAC's were within four seconds of each other while their #5 was 16 seconds back of their #4 runner. They have been putting together a strong team in recent years and it looks to be paying off.
We could say they have a chance at knocking off Chico State, but after losing by 72 points at their home meet (where they ran a 10k) it's hard to say that they could pull off the upset.
Cal St. San Marcos, UC San Diego, and Cal Poly Pomona should be the teams rounding out the top five. We've mentioned Cal St. San Marcos and UC San Diego quite a bit this year after some early strong performances and they should find themselves in a good position heading into the weekend.
Joshua Litwiller just won the CCAA title over Chico State's Trad Berti and could potentially be a top five finisher this weekend. He was a big reason why the Cougars finished 2nd two weeks ago while his teammates finished 12th, 19th, 22nd and 27th.
The Cougars finished 7th at the Lewis Crossover earlier this season behind Litwiller's 7th place finish and Shea Vavra's 16th place finish. However, they saw a big drop off in their 3-4-5 runners (who all finished in the 70's) and they can't afford that to happen if they want to be in the top three this weekend.
UC San Diego is led by Samuel Blake and Aren Johnson. They've interchanged between the 1-2 spots this season, but achieve the goal of a strong scoring duo. At the Capital Cross Challenge earlier this season, they finished 3rd despite a poor showing from Blake (47th). Johnson finished in 22nd place and Elijah Horwitz stepped up and finished 26th. Blake should return to form this weekend (he was 7th at CCAA's) and if Horwitz replicates his performance, we could see them finish in the top three.
The last team here is Cal Poly Pomona. They've certainly had a quiet year, but finished only six points back of UC San Diego and 14 points back of Cal St. San Marcos. Eamon Smythe leads this team and did so finishing 8th overall at CCAA's. The final four scorers finished within 13 seconds of each and give the Mustangs a strong chance at usurping the two teams mentioned before them.
1. Chico State
2. Western Washington
3. Cal Poly Pomona
4. Cal St. San Marcos
5. UC San Diego
1. Wesley Kirui (Alaska Anchorage)
2. Joshua Litwiller (Cal St. San Marcos)
3. Trad Berti (Chico State)
4. Felix Kemboi (Alaska Anchorage)
5. Matthew Herrera (Chico State)
6. James Jasperson (Western Washington)
7. Aren Johnson (UC San Diego)
8. Edward Kiolbasa (Western Washington)
9. Justin Crosswhite (Western Oregon)
10. Eamon Smythe (Cal Poly Pomona)
The West Regional Championships will be a combination of the top CCAA and GNAC schools. Chico State has dominated the CCAA all season and won the conference title with a score of 23 points. Cal State East Bay placed 2nd in that race with 81 points and are looking to earn a top five finish this weekend.
The GNAC has three strong schools fighting for national qualifying spots in Western Washington, Alaska Anchorage, and Seattle Pacific. Western Washington upset Seattle Pacific and Alaska Anchorage for the GNAC title, but Seattle Pacific was missing their top runner, Kaylee Mitchell.
Chico State is ranked TSR #7 and Western Washington entered the rankings at TSR #10 in our last update to knock Seattle Pacific off. It is pretty safe to say that Chico State will take home the title, but there are four teams competing for the next two spots to earn an automatic bid to Nationals.
The Chico State Wildcats showed their depth and talent at the CCAA Championships. Destiny Everett won the race, followed by Gracie Dupuis (3rd), Talia Swangler (4th), Nora Pizzella (5th), and Haley Boynton (10th) for their scoring five. Desirae Jones (12th) and Carrie McDonough (14th) also had solid performances as Chico’s #6 and #7 runners. Talia Swangler has led the team most the season, but freshman Destiny Everett had an impressive race to win the title.
The Western Washington Vikings will look to carry their momentum into their regional meet this weekend. Earlier in the season, they placed 4th at Griak and finished runner-up at their home meet behind Chico State. They won the GNAC Championships with an impressive pack of four finishing together.
Alaska Anchorage has easily the most impressive 1-2 punch in this region, but their backend scorers are too far back for the Seawolves to be in contention for the title.
Seattle Pacific could be as far up as 2nd, but they need front-runner and TSR #5 Kaylee Mitchell in order to accomplish that. Mitchell has not raced since the Capital Cross Challenge over a month ago and sat out at her conference meet. We have reason to believe that she will not be racing this weekend.
The Cal State East Bay Pioneers have had a solid season so far with a 2nd place finish at the Southern Stampede, 11th place at the loaded Capital Cross Challenge, and a runner-up finish at CCAA's. They have a very quiet, but strong, squad that should be competitive against this top West region competition.
On the individual side of things, Kaylee Mitchell is the favorite, but we don't expect her to toe the line. Assuming that's the case, then the Alaska Anchorage duo of Emmanuelah Chelimo and Nancy Jeptoo should easily go 1-2 this weekend.
Angelina Ranquillo of Cal State East Bay has built an impressive resume this season and I predict that she will finish in the top five. Talia Swangler and Destiny Everrett of Chico State should also be up there.
There are clear front-runners in both the individual and team aspects, but the race should be a fun one to watch as the path to Nationals is loaded with a handful of exciting battles.
1. Chico State
2. Western Washington
3. Seattle Pacific
4. Alaska Anchorage
5. Cal State East Bay
1. Kaylee Mitchell (Seattle Pacific)*
2. Emmanuelah Chelimo (Alaska Anchorage)
3. Nancy Jeptoo (Alaska Anchorage)
4. Angelina Ranquillo (Cal State East Bay)
5. Destiny Everett (Chico State)
6. Talia Swangler (Chico State)
7. Kate Lilly (Seattle Pacific)
8. Hasna Kaarour (Academy of Art)
9. Dania Holmberg (Seattle Pacific)
10. Grace Knapp (Western Oregon)
*Mitchell is not expected to toe the line this weekend