Erik Barkhaus (Whitefish Bay, Wis.) won the Western Athletic Conference individual men's cross country championship Saturday morning in the WAC Championships hosted by Louisiana Tech Saturday morning at Lincoln Parish Park.
Barkhaus, the WAC Athlete of the Year based on his victory, became the first Seattle U male runner to win a cross country conference title since Casey Moriarty won the 2005 Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship during the Redhawks' Division II era. He posted a time of 24:02.90 over the eight-kilometer course, four seconds ahead of Kyle McKenna of Utah State.
"Barkhaus wasn't feeling well going into the race, so we changed race plans and focused solely on getting the win. He looked a little rough today, but ran smart. He'll be healthy and fully prepared in two weeks," Seattle U head cross country coach Trisha Steidl said.
Matthew McClement (Bellingham, Wash.) earned a fourth-place finish and First Team All-Wac honors by outkicking two runners at the end, posting a time of 24:46.78. Collin Overbay (Spokane, Wash.) and Ryan Dennison (Pacifica, Calif.) also finished in the top 20, with Overbay crossing the finish line in 18th place in 25:10.08 and Dennison finishing in 20th place with a time of 25:13.65.
Graham Kinzel-Grubbs (Portland, Ore.) finished in 26th place with a time of 25:23.97, followed by Jeff Baklund (Auburn, Wash.) in 34th place in 25:41.10. Baxter Arguinchona (Spokane, Wash.) was close behind in 36th place with a time of 25:44.80, and Peter VanNuland (Newcastle, Wash.) posted a time of 26:18.99 to finish in 45th place.
As a team, the Seattle U men finished in third place with 69 points, behind WAC champion UT Arlington and runner-up Utah State. It is the third top-three finish for the Redhawk men in four years at a conference meet after finishing in second place at the Great West Conference Championships in both 2009 and 2010.
Hannah Mittelstaedt (Maple Valley, Wash.) finished in 10th place in the women's five-kilometer race, posting a time of 17:59.15. Thanks to that finish, she earned Second Team All-WAC recognition. Jennifer Stolle (Seattle, Wash.) also finished in the top 20 with a 19th place finish in a time of 18:21.28.
Sophomores Sophie Curatilo (Honolulu, Hawaii) and Madison Davis (Camano Island, Wash.) crossed the finish line together, with Curatilo finishing in 32nd place in 18:45.06 and Davis right behind her in 33rd place in 18:45.84. Becca Lassere (Boise, Idaho) finished in 42nd place with a time of 19:03.79.
Amy Tolentino (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) continued her strong late-season push, finishing in 55th place in 19:47.53, just ahead of teammate Elena Smith (Seattle, Wash.) in 56th place in 19:48.00. Justine Bates (Arlington, Wash.) crossed the finish line in 60th place with a time of 20:09.51.
The Seattle U women finished in sixth place as a team with 132 points. Idaho won the team championship by just three points over UTSA, with Hannah Kiser of the Vandals earning the individual championship.
"I saw some very good fight from both the men's and women's teams today. It was a solid start in our new conference," said Steidl. "There are things to learn from this race that we can and will need to perfect heading into (NCAA) Regionals."
The Seattle University cross country team will take the next two weeks to get ready for the NCAA Division I West Regional, to take place at Jefferson Park Golf Course in Seattle Friday, Nov. 9. The women's six-kilometer race will start at 12 noon, and the men's 10-kilometer event is scheduled to begin at 1:15 p.m.