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Sports roundup: WWU track and field sweeps GNAC Indoor Championships

Vikings softball remains undefeated; basketball teams near end of regular season

Western Washington University's Ashley Reeck runs during the UW Indoor Preview Jan. 13 at the Dempsey Indoor athletic facility on the University of Washington campus. (Photo courtesy of Anders Norman/WWU Athletics)
By Connor J. Benintendi Sports Editor

With all winter prep postseasons wrapped up other than basketball, the spotlight is shifting back onto Western Washington University’s athletics teams.

The Vikings’ indoor track and field teams each won team titles at the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Indoor Championships, marking the first-ever sweep for the program.

Western’s softball team remains undefeated after a pair of home wins, while its basketball teams are nearing the end of the regular season.

Here’s an overview of what you may have missed from the last week of winter sports.

WWU

Track and field

The Western women’s track and field team won its first-ever team title at the GNAC Indoor Championships and the men’s team captured its first championship since 2022 on Feb. 19–20 at The Podium in Spokane.

Western won 10 event titles across both teams, led by three from junior Kevin McDermott in the men’s 5,000-meter run (14:38.28), 3,000-meter run (8:25.11) and mile run (4:06.63).

Western Washington University’s Kevin McDermott runs during the UW Indoor Preview Jan. 13 at the Dempsey Indoor athletic facility on the University of Washington campus. (Photo courtesy of Anders Norman/WWU Athletics)

The Vikings also swept the 5,000-meter finals, as sophomore Ashley Reeck won the women’s race with a time of 17:30.87. Junior Ila Davis captured the women’s mile title with her time of 4:52.81.

Western’s third women’s title came via the distance medley relay, as senior Marian Ledesma, juniors Mia Crocker and Evelyn Collins-Winn and Davis clocked a time of 11:50.82.

Sophomore Hunter Flick won the men’s 60-meter hurdles (8.11 seconds), and the Vikings’ men’s 4X400 relay team of freshman Owen Windrope, senior Ryan Greenwalt and juniors Brian Le and Lucas Brenek ran the race in 3:17.11.


On the field side, freshman Troy Roberson took first in the men’s long jump with a mark of 7.11/23-3.5. Fellow freshman Noah Turner won the men’s shot put with a 15.24-meter mark.

Western’s men’s title was its eighth in program history after finishing second last season.

The Vikings won’t have much of a break, as they return to action at the Ken Shannon Last Chance Invite Feb. 23–24 at the Dempsey Indoor athletic facility on the University of Washington campus — their final meet before indoor nationals March 8–9 in Pittsburg, Kansas.

Women’s basketball

After Western Oregon forfeited Western’s regularly scheduled Thursday game on Feb. 15, the Vikings remained home and beat Saint Martin’s, 85-63, in their only contest of the week on Saturday, Feb. 17.

The victory extended the Vikings’ win streak to four games with just three games remaining on the schedule for Western (20-4, 13-2 GNAC), which is currently in second place in the league standings. 

Five double-figure scorers led Western in the win over Saint Martin’s, and senior forward Brooke Walling topped the group with 19 points, 12 rebounds and three assists. 

Junior forward Aspen Garrison added 16 points, while guards Riley Dykstra (13 points), Stephanie Peterson (12) and Mason Oberg (11) all contributed offensively. Dykstra also had a game-high five assists. 

Western has already secured a bid to the six-team GNAC Championships, which run March 7–9 in Ellensburg on Central Washington University’s campus. The Vikings’ next game is against first-place MSU Billings (22-4, 13-1 GNAC) at 6 p.m. PT on Thursday, Feb. 22 — a team they beat by eight earlier in the season.

Men’s basketball

Western lost both games on its annual Alaskan road trip, and the second was a 71-69 defeat at the hands of Alaska Anchorage on Feb. 17 — dealing the Vikings their third consecutive loss.

Alaska Anchorage held Vikings junior guard Kai Johnson to a season-low 10 points, though he added six assists and two blocks. Johnson is the 12th-ranked scorer in the nation among NCAA Division II players (21.6 points per game).

Junior forward Nic Welp led Western with 22 points, nine rebounds and two steals. Fellow junior Will Wilson finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds and three assists.

Western (14-12, 6-9 GNAC) is now in must-win mode for its final three games of the season, and even that may not be enough. The Vikings fell to seventh place in the GNAC standings, just outside the six-team postseason bracket. 

They will have to hope No. 4 Central Washington (15-8, 8-6 GNAC), No. 5 Alaska Anchorage (17-8, 7-7 GNAC) or No. 6 Seattle Pacific (14-14, 7-8 GNAC) begin to lose. Western will host one of the three, Central Washington, at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24. 

The Vikings’ next game, however, is another home game versus third-place Northwest Nazarene (14-8, 10-4 GNAC) at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 22.

Softball

Western softball swept the University of British Columbia in its first home doubleheader of the season on Saturday, Feb. 17 at Viking Field.

The Vikings moved to 11-0 on the season — their second-best start in program history (12 games in 2011). The first game was a narrow 4-3 win for Western before earning a more dominant 7-3 victory in the latter game.

Western Washington University freshman pitcher Kaiana Kong winds up for a pitch Feb. 17 during a home game against the University of British Columbia. (Photo courtesy of Phil Montgomery/WWU Athletics)

Freshman Maleah Andrews led the Vikings in the doubleheader, combining to go 4-for-5 at the plate while being walked three times. She also scored two runs.

Right-handed pitcher Kaiana Kong, also a freshman, pitched four total innings across both games and earned a win in the first — moving to 5-0 on the season. Kong, in her first collegiate season, has now pitched 21.1 innings this year, possessing a 0.66 ERA while striking out nine batters.

Western will play four games Feb. 23–24, beginning with a doubleheader on the road versus Saint Martin’s at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 23. The Vikings will play two games against Western Oregon, also at Saints Field, the next day.

GNAC men’s basketball standings Feb. 21
GNAC women’s basketball standings Feb. 21
Men’sLeagueOverall
TeamW-LW-L
Montana State
Billings
13-219-6
Saint
Martin’s
10-420-4
Northwest
Nazarene
10-414-8
Central
Washington
8-615-8
Alaska
Anchorage
7-717-8
Seattle
Pacific
7-814-14
Western
Washingon
6-914-12
Alaska
Fairbanks
5-97-15
Simon
Fraser
4-116-20
Western
Oregon
2-125-17
Women’sLeagueOverall
TeamW-LW-L
Montana State
Billings
13-122-4
Western
Washington
13-220-4
Alaska
Anchorage
9-515-8
Central
Washington
8-717-10
Simon
Fraser
8-715-12
Seattle
Pacific
7-710-14
Northwest
Nazarene
6-99-13
Western
Oregon
3-1110-13
Saint
Martin’s
3-115-16
Alaska
Fairbanks
2-124-20

Connor J. Benintendi is CDN’s sports editor; reach him at connorbenintendi@cascadiadaily.com; 360-922-3090 ext. 104.

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