September 30, 2011

Men and Women Place Fourth at Montana Invitational

Women have solid showing, lack of depth hurt men's overall finish 

The Eastern Washington University men's and women's cross country teams had their first look at Big Sky competition Saturday (Sept. 30), as both teams placed fourth overall at the Montana Invitational in Missoula, Mont. The women ran 5,000 meters, while the men ran 8,000.

Montana and Montana State were the other Big Sky schools in action. The Bobcats won both races, while the Montana women finished second and the men third, just ahead of EWU.

Whitworth transfer Tonya Turner continued to impress while wearing the red and white, finishing sixth overall in the women's race. Freshman Katie Mahoney finished second for Eastern (23rd overall), followed by senior Stephanie Dye (26th), sophomore Angelica Rodriguez (34th) and sophomore Kimberly Macias (36th).

"Tonya was behind the leaders early on," said head coach Chris Zeller. "But she maintained her pace and was able to climb a little bit. She was in the second pack of women, but she ran very well. Stephanie hasn't been able to practice much the past couple of weeks, so I was really impressed with her finish as well."

There were a couple solid finishes on the men's side, but Zeller was frustrated with the team's depth.

Eastern's top three runners competed well, including seniors Graham Vaux and Bowe Ebding, who placed fifth and eighth, respectively. Sophomore Simon Sorenson finished 13th overall. But according to Zeller, the lack of roster spots really had a negative impact in this race. With the injury to junior Drake DaPonte, the Eagles were only able to run five men. 

After those top three, freshmen Quin Olivas and Nathan Fall placed 40th and 51st, respectively.

"Having only five guys in the race killed us," said Zeller. "Without Drake, who's nursing his calf, we don't have much depth. But I am confident about the conference championships once he's healthy."

Eastern's next race will be closer to home, as the teams compete at the Inland Northwest Cross Country Classic Saturday (Oct. 15) in Spokane, Wash.

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