XC: Zag men and women knock off ranked competition at Nuttycombe

Men 7th overall, Women 21st

MADISON, Wisc. — In what has been called the nation's biggest regular-season cross country race, Gonzaga's men's and women's squads did battle against a bevy of ranked teams Friday morning at the Nuttycombe Invitational.

Wil Smith and James Mwaura led the Zag men with 11th and 14th-place individual marks — good for a seventh-place team finish that knocked off 10 teams ranked in the most recent USTFCCA polls, including six ranked above them. Smith crossed the finish line in 23:37.1, the second-fastest 8K of his career after breaking his own program record at the Bill Dellinger Invitational in Springfield, Ore., three weeks previous.

"I think we knew if we all ran our race and ran confident, we could probably run as well as we did at Dellinger, maybe better," Smith said. "We had three weeks to prepare for this and knew we were ready."

GU was one of only three programs with two men's runners in the top 15, joining second-place Stanford, fourth-place Wisconsin and sixth-place Oregon — all without experienced veteran Yacine Guermali, who finished third overall at Dellinger but was out with injury for this race.

"Getting into the top 10 without Yacine was pretty cool," Tyson said. "in many ways they committed when the going got tough on the course — they committed to Yacine. What would Yacine do? He's such a great leader for this team."

The GU women, led by a 50th-place finish overall from Kristen Garcia with a time of 20:55.6, took 21st overall in the most competitive field they've ever raced against. The Bulldogs outraced No. 26 UConn, No. 28 Furman and West Region Rivals No. 30 Oregon State in the process.

"Unquestionably the best regular season meet in program history," said head women's coach Jake Stewart. "Our ladies ran a really mature race. We had a game plan and we executed it. Beat some really big names nationally and in our region."

Garcia rose 12 spots over the final 2000 meters to crack the top 50, followed by Sadie Tuckwood (87th, 21:12.3), Elisabeth Danis (114th, 21:23.9), Rosina Machu (143rd, 21:35.2), Alicia Anderson (145th, 21:36.7), Makenna Edwards (245th, 22:48.8) and Liz Hogan (251st, 23:03.5) as the Zags' top point-getters.

" We were better than we were three weeks ago," Stewart said. " And we have a chance to be better in two weeks. A really exciting day for us."

Up Next

GU's men's and women's squads return to action Saturday for the Inland Empire Classic in Lewiston, Idaho. Check GoZags.com for up-to-date race day information, results, recaps and more coverage.

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