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Cross country roundup: Gonzaga men and women both finish second to BYU at WCC championships

UPDATED: Fri., Oct. 29, 2021

BYU three-time champion Conner Mantz runs ahead of Gonzaga's James Mwaura at the West Coast Conference cross country championships on Oct. 29, 2021 at Newhall Community Park in Concord, California.   (Courtesy/Gonzaga Athletics)
BYU three-time champion Conner Mantz runs ahead of Gonzaga's James Mwaura at the West Coast Conference cross country championships on Oct. 29, 2021 at Newhall Community Park in Concord, California.  (Courtesy/Gonzaga Athletics)
By Chuck Stewart For The Spokesman-Review

The Gonzaga men and women both finished second to BYU at the West Coast Conference Championships on Friday at Newhall Community Park in Concord, California.

GU junior James Mwaura finished second to BYU’s three-time champion, senior Conner Mantz, in the men’s 8,000-meter race, and Zags junior Cullen McEachern and freshman Wil Smith (Lewis and Clark) were sixth and seventh, respectively, as the Bulldogs placed three in the top 10 for the first time.

Mwaura timed 23 minutes, 17.1 seconds to Mantz’s 23:01; McEachern was 23:43.4 and Smith 23:44.3.

BYU had 24 points and won its seventh consecutive WCC title to GU’s program-record-low 50 points.

In the women’s 6,000 race, GU junior Kristen Garcia was seventh (20:30.6) for her best WCC finish and grad transfer Elisabeth Danis (20:51.4) was 10th as the Zags had five runners in the top 18 and scored 64 points for their best team finish since 2015.

BYU, with senior Whittni Orton winning (23:01), put its top five runners in the first eight spots and scored 21 points for its fourth consecutive women’s title.

GU’s men and women both finished in the top two for the first time since 1995.

Pac-12

Washington State’s men finished fifth and the women were seventh in the Pac-12 Championships in Salt Lake City.

The Colorado men didn’t have the individual champion – that was Stanford freshman Charles Hicks, who timed 23:34.9 for 8,000 – but the Buffaloes had their first five runners in the top 12 in outscoring runner-up Stanford 39-52. Washington, led by senior Brian Fay (12th, 24:00), was third with 68.

Junior Amir Ado (Ferris) led WSU, which scored 146 points, finishing 18th in 24:30.6.

Colorado’s women, led by senior Abby Nichols (20:25.4 for 6,000), went 1-2-4-5-12 for a 24-52 win over Utah. Washington, led by junior Haley Herberg (21:00), was fourth with 107.

The Cougars women placed seventh (179), with sophomore Neema Kimtai (23:23.1) their top finisher in 19th.

Big Sky

The Idaho and Eastern Washington men and women were among the chasers as Northern Arizona swept the team titles at the Big Sky Conference championships in Hillsboro, Oregon.

Eastern and Idaho both had top-20 finishers in the men’s 8,000 race won by NAU sophomore Drew Bosley (23:15.6). Eagles sophomore Justin Roosma was 16th (24:17.4) and Vandals sophomore Tim Stevens (24:21.3) was 18th.

NAU, the defending NCAA Division I men’s champion, outscored defending Big Sky champion Southern Utah 30-52 for the team title. Idaho placed fifth (137) and Eastern was eighth (217).

In the women’s 5,000, Idaho freshman Katja Pattis was 10th (16:55.9) and sophomore Kelsey Swenson 13th (17:01.7) as the Vandals scored 109 points to finish fourth behind the 50 of champion NAU. Eastern was 11th with 291 points. Freshman Nicole Deherrera led the Eagles, placing 50th in 18:15.17.

NAU junior Taryn O’Neill won in 16:31.6.

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