Eastern Men Place Fifth and Women are Seventh at Big Sky Championships

Chris Schroll paces the men with a 14th-place finish in EWU’s final meet before competing in the NCAA West Regional Championships

The Eastern Washington University men’s cross country team placed fifth and the women placed seventh at the Big Sky Championships Saturday (Nov. 2) at Bridger Creek Golf Course in Bozeman, Mont.

The Eagle men scored 137 points, finishing ahead of Idaho State, Sacramento State, North Dakota, Montana, Portland State and Northern Colorado. Northern Arizona, who had the top three individual finishers, claimed its sixth-consecutive Big Sky title with 25 points. Southern Utah (39), Montana State (89) and Weber State (114) rounded out the top four.

Chris Schroll was the top finisher for the Eagles, covering the 8,000-meter course in 25:20.38 for a 14th-place finish. Vince Hamilton followed closely in 17th with a time of 25:25.92. Freshman Stephen Bottoms was 20th with a 25:46.45. Coming in next for Eastern was Alex Kimsey (29th, 26:08.32), Steven Kutsch (57th, 27:15.48) and Isaac Kitzan (64th, 27:43.54).

“The men rank a really gutsy race and took some risks,” said Eastern head coach Chris Zeller. “I loved how aggressive they were today. Stephen Bottoms had his best race of the year.”

The Eastern women scored 181 points, beating Northern Colorado, Idaho State, Portland State and North Dakota. They were just edged by Montana, which scored 177 points. Weber State claimed the team title with 55 points, and Northern Arizona (64) and Montana State (101) rounded out the top three.

Berenice Penaloza led the way for the Eagles with a 23rd-place finish and a time of 17:50 on the 5,000-meter course. Freshman Paula Gil-Echevarria was close behind in 25th, running 17:52.6. Other finishers were Katie Mahoney (40th, 18:08.9), Sarah Reiter (42nd, 18:11), Catie Arrigoni (51st, 18:21.8), Mayra Chavez (68th, 18:54.8), Katie Lynch (79th, 19:30.3) and Keeley Davidson (80th, 19:36.4).

“Our top five placers had a 31-second spread, which is solid,” said Zeller. “It just wasn’t enough up front to beat the two teams we needed to in order to finish in the top five. I’m really proud of how well they ran together.”

The next meet for Eastern is the NCAA West Regional Championships on Nov. 15 in Sacramento, Calif.

“Both squads finished better than their pre-season rankings and where they came in on paper, so they definitely progressed nicely throughout the year,” added Zeller.

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