Led by a fourth-place finish by Erik Barkhaus (Whitefish Bay, Wis.), the Seattle University men's cross country team finished in fifth place, while the women's cross country squad finished in eighth place at the National Catholic Championships, hosted by the University of Notre Dame Friday at the Notre Dame Golf Course.
"This was the biggest field we've experienced in a long time and probably the biggest most, if not all, of our runners have ever raced in at the collegiate level. It's priceless preparation for our first year competing in the Division I West Regional meet," Seattle U head coach Trisha Steidl said.
Barkhaus finished the five-mile course in 24:33, just 17 seconds behind individual champion Jeremy Rae of Notre Dame. Fellow redshirt senior Matthew McClement (Bellingham, Wash.) crossed the finish line in 27th place with a time of 25:31, followed by Collin Overbay (Spokane, Wash.) in 38th place in 25:56.
Graham Kinzel-Grubbs (Portland, Ore.) finished in 63rd place with a time of 26:20, just ahead of teammates Baxter Arguinchona (Spokane, Wash.) and Jeff Baklund (Auburn, Wash.), who clocked in with an identical time of 26:22 while finishing in 67th and 68th places, respectively.
As a team, the Redhawk men finished in fifth place overall among 34 teams with 191 points. Among the 13 Division I schools that competed, Seattle U finished in fourth place, behind meet champion Notre Dame, Duquesne, and Marquette, but ahead of schools such as Xavier, Dayton, Canisius, DePaul, Detroit Mercy, Saint Louis, and Holy Cross.
"The guys had some very good races, and also learned what can be improved upon. They finished where I thought they would, but they were really close to third place, and I hope that pushes them to fight for every point even harder in the future," said Steidl. "Barkhaus's race was solid. He ran exactly how I expected him to, and I'm thrilled he was able to move up during the race into fourth place."
Hannah Mittelstaedt (Maple Valley, Wash.) was the top finisher for the Seattle U women, completing the five-kilometer course in a time of 18:17.8, crossing the finish line in 21st place. Jennifer Stolle (Seattle, Wash.) finished in 40th place with a time of 18:45.8, and Sophie Curatilo (Honolulu, Hawaii) posted a time of 18:59.3 to finish in 55th place.
Freshman Becca Lassere (Boise, Idaho) finished in 77th place with a time of 19:12.6, with Madison Davis (Camano Island, Wash.) earning a 96th-place finish with a time of 19:24.6 and Taylor de Laveaga (Gilbert, Ariz.) crossing the finish line in 146th place in 20:10.8.
The Redhawk women totaled 273 points, eighth place among all 34 schools competing and seventh place within the 13 Division I schools in the event. Notre Dame placed six runners in the top 10 to easily win the team competition, but Seattle U did finish ahead of Holy Cross, St. Bonaventure, Canisius, Detroit Mercy, DePaul, and Saint Francis University.
"The women ran well. We will take a lot from this race in not only learning how to race in a big, fast field, but also figuring out where our fitness is along with our strength and weaknesses," Steidl said. "For both the men and the women, we continue to be much stronger than we've ever been. We want more, but this is a great start."
The rest of the Seattle University cross country team will compete in the open races at the UW Sundodger Invitational at Lincoln Park in West Seattle Saturday, Sept. 15, with the women's race at 9:00 a.m. and the men's open event scheduled for 9:40 a.m. The next event for Friday's competitors is the Bill Dellinger Invitational, hosted by the University of Oregon at the Springfield Golf Course in Springfield, Ore., Saturday, Sept. 29, beginning at 10:30 a.m.