Western Washington University women’s basketball team emerged as champions from the Great Northwest Athletic Conference tournament. The track and field outdoor season is underway and Western has a new 10,000-meter record holder. Men’s golf leaves its California trip as No. 24 in the nation. Softball won by mercy rule. Rowing returns to the water after its national runner-up season last year.
Don’t miss these highlights from Western sports teams over the past week.
The Vikings walked away from two contentious postseason matchups last week as GNAC tournament champions, punching their ticket to the regional tournament hosted by West Region No. 1 seed California State University Dominguez Hills.
On Friday, March 3, Western was met by Seattle Pacific University in the semifinals of the GNAC Championships. The top two defenses in the GNAC showed they were just that in the first half.
The game remained tight through its duration and Seattle Pacific entered the final quarter with a three-point edge. However, the Vikings — fueled by the home crowd — outscored the Falcons 18-10 to end Seattle Pacific’s season and head to the championship.
Western squared off against Montana State University Billings in the title match. The Yellowjackets bested the Vikings twice in the regular season and started the game hot, getting up 22-17 in a high-scoring first quarter.
MSUB grew the lead to 17 in the second quarter before Western reigned the deficit back to 44-32 heading into halftime.
Western emerged from the half with a reinvigorated defense which finally let the offense unleash its potential. Western torched MSUB 24-14 in the third quarter and kept the pressure on in the fourth to walk away with a 76-71 win.
The Vikings were given the No. 2 seed in the West Region as they head to Carson, California, for the NCAA West Regional Tournament.
They will face No. 7 Azusa Pacific University in the opening round at 2:30 p.m. Friday, March 10.
Track and field (outdoor)
Western’s track and field team kicked off the outdoor season at the Ed Boitano Invitational in Tacoma, March 3-4.
The Western men’s team combined to finish in second place behind Whitworth, while the women placed eighth.
Viking distance runners led the way for Western.
Sophomore distance runner Andrew Oslin’s 29:41.91 time in the 10,000-meter set the Viking program record. Western sophomore Ryan Clough finished second in the same event with a 29:55.94, the fifth-best in program history. Both runners earned an NCAA Division II provisional qualifying mark and hold the top two times in the nation as of March 6.
Sophomore Jeret Gillingham recorded an 8:55.62 time in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, setting the top mark in the nation. The time earned him a provisional qualifying mark.
Sophomore Kevin McDermott took first place in both the 1,500-meter and 5,000-meter.
The women’s side was highlighted by Meaera Shannon’s second-place, 37:23.82 finish in the 10,000-meter. The pace puts her eighth all-time among Vikings.
Junior Marian Ledesma placed third in the 400-meter (1:00.75) and freshman Elie Bassett placed third in the 800-meter (2:23.47).
The outdoor season continues March 11, at the Pacific Lutheran University Open in Tacoma.
The Vikings moved up to No. 24 in the Bushnell/Golfweek Division II Coaches Poll’s March 3 installment after an eighth-place finish in the Battle in the Desert tournament in La Quinta, California.
The three-day outing on the PGA West Mountain Course saw Western swing for 884 as a team, 20 over par.
Senior Jordan Lee finished the tournament with a team-high, even-par performance of 216. Sophomore Seth King tied for 21st, finishing four strokes over par.
Men’s golf will return for the Hanny Stanislaus Invitational in Turlock, California, March 27-28.
Western’s bats came alive during its 10-2 win against Simon Fraser University on Saturday, March 4.
Junior pitcher Mareena Ramirez posted another strong outing to lead the Viking defense. The righty threw a complete game while only giving up three hits. The transfer from Idaho State has been dominant in the circle, posting a 1.18 ERA through her first 10 games with the Vikings.
Before the runs started coming on the other side of the plate, Western started down 1-0 after Simon Fraser put up a run in the top of the 3rd inning.
Western responded mightily with five runs in the bottom half of the inning via a fielder’s choice and RBIs from sophomore third baseman Brooke Fesenbek, sophomore infielder Amaya Davis and senior catcher Rachel Christensen.
The Vikings scored a run in the bottom of the fourth, then piled on four more runs in the bottom of the sixth to force the end of the game a la the eight-run-rule.
Western senior utility Kinzey Williams hit 2-for-2 with an RBI and a run at the leadoff spot. Junior outfielder Isabel Cargill also had a 2-for-2 day with a run and a double.
The team plays at home on March 11 against Simon Fraser.
The Vikings hit the water for the first time this year at the Pacific Lutheran University Invitational in Lakewood, Pierce County, on March 4. Last year, the crew ended the season as the NCAA Division II national runner-up.
At the invite, Western walked away with a first-place finish in the afternoon session’s Varsity 8 matchup over Gonzaga and Pacific Lutheran.
In the morning session, Western’s Varsity Eight, Varsity Four and Second Varsity Four finished second, each time finishing behind Seattle Pacific University.
In the afternoon, Western’s Second Varsity Eight finished second to Seattle Pacific as well.
The crew rows next at the Husky Open in Seattle on March 25.