Men's and Women's XC Reach Program-Bests in Regional Rankings

Men No. 3 in West, Women No. 5

SPOKANE, Wash. — Following strong performances against some of the nation's top-ranked teams at the Nuttycombe Invitational Meet in Madison, Wisc., Gonzaga women's and men's cross country both reached their highest regional rankings in program history in this week's USTFCCA Regional Polls, with the women slotting in at No. 5 and the men at No. 3 in the West Region, respectively.

The men's squad, which took seventh overall at Nuttycombe, came in behind Stanford and Oregon in the West after knocking off Washington and Boise State in the team standings. GU knocked off 10 teams ranked in the most recent USTFCCA national polls in that race — including six ranked above them — even without top-three runner Yacine Guermali, who was the Zags' highest finisher at the Bill Dellinger Invite three weeks previous. Wil Smith (11th, 23:37.1) and James Mwaura (14th, 23:38.2) paced the Bulldogs at the front, making GU one of only three teams with two runners in the top 15.

"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 women's 21st-place finish, led by a 50th-place time overall from Kristen Garcia (20:55.6), also featured wins against nationally-ranked squads to generate a boost in the polls. The Bulldogs outraced No. 26 UConn, No. 28 Furman and West Region rivals No. 30 Oregon State, who they moved ahead of for the No. 5 Regional spot this week.

"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."

Ahead of the Bulldogs in the West are Washington, Stanford, Portland and Oregon, who all raced in Nuttycombe over the weekend and finished in that order.

Both squads now prepare for the WCC Championships in Concord, Calif. on Oct. 29. Check GoZags.com for up-to-date race day information, results, recaps and more coverage.

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