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WWU sweeps back-to-back team titles at GNAC Championships

Kevin McDermott takes 1st in men's race, Ashley Reeck takes 4th among women

Western Washington University's Kevin McDermott starts out ahead of the pack Sept. 23 during the Bill Roe Classic at Lake Padden. McDermott finished first overall in the men's 8
Western Washington University's Kevin McDermott starts out ahead of the pack Sept. 23 during the Bill Roe Classic at Lake Padden. McDermott finished first overall in the men's 8 (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)
By Connor J. Benintendi Sports Editor

The Western Washington University men’s and women’s cross country teams swept the team titles at the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Cross County Championships for the second straight season and third time in program history on Saturday, Oct. 21 at Kincaid Park in Anchorage, Alaska.

Western was led by a first-place finish from junior Kevin McDermott out of 83 runners in the men’s 8,000-meter race, clocking a time of 24:43.5 and improving on his eighth-place finish from a season ago. 

Coming off a personal best performance (21:40.7) on Oct. 7 at the Lewis Crossover, sophomore Ashley Reeck once again crushed her previous 6,000-meter best by posting a time of 21:16.9 — finishing fourth overall in the women’s race out of 78 runners. Reeck finished 21st at last year’s championship meet.

photo  Western Washington University’s Ashley Reeck heads to the finish line as the top Vikings finisher in the women’s race Sept. 23 during the Bill Roe Classic at Lake Padden. Reeck finished fourth overall and first among Western runners in the women’s 6,000-meter race at the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Cross Country Championships. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)  

The Vikings’ women’s team finished first as a group by a wide margin, posting a team score of 49 to beat second-place finisher Saint Martin’s (71). Alaska Fairbanks (86) rounded out the top-3 women’s teams.

Western’s men’s team posted a team score of 37, beating second-place finisher Alaska Anchorage (51) and third-place Simon Fraser (80).

Three other men’s runners finished in the top 10 alongside McDermott, as senior Andrew Oslin took fifth (25:07.9), junior Ryan Clough came in ninth (25:21.2) and fellow junior Jeret Gillingham finished 10th (25:21.6). 

Clough’s finish was identical to his performance at last year’s meet, while Gillingham dropped from third place a year ago and Oslin finished one spot lower than in 2022.

photo  Western Washington University’s Andrew Oslin gives a thumbs up Sept. 23 during the men’s race at the Bill Roe Classic at Lake Padden. Oslin finished fifth at the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Cross Country Championships. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)  

Also running well for the women’s team was junior Ila Davis, who finished seventh with a time of 21:30.0 — beating her previous personal best of 22:17.5 by more than 47 seconds.

Senior Marian Ledesma (11th, 21:46.3), freshman Ella Edens (15th, 21:54.7) and juniors Meaera Nystrom (13th, 21:50.2) and Sophie Wright (14th, 21:51.2) all finished top 15 in the women’s race. Ledesma jumped up from 40th at last year’s meet while Wright fell six spots from eighth last season.


Next up for Western is a trip to Monmouth, Oregon for the NCAA Division II West Regional Championships at the Ash Creek Preserve on Saturday, Nov. 4. The top-3 teams from each race at regionals will automatically qualify for the NCAA Division II National Championships on Saturday, Nov. 18.

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