By Kyle Fang
Runners, take your mark, get set, go!”
The shout could be heard echoing across the Sudden Valley Golf Course on Saturday, Oct. 20 as the Vikings cross country teams took off for their last race before the Great Northwest Athletic Conference championships.
A cloudy morning set the scene for the 45th annual Western Washington University Classic as the men’s team came into the race ranked 19th nationally and the women ranked 14th overall.
After thousands of meters of competition, the men’s team finished third and the women’s team came in fourth.
Sophomore Eric Hamel led the way for the men’s team, coming in 9th overall with a time of 32:18.
Hamel was satisfied with his efforts, but said there were things in the race he could have improved on.
“After a big race like this, you’re immediately asking yourself why you didn’t cover the move those Alaska guys made, or I should have placed higher,” Hamel said.
Despite his doubts about his own work, Hamel said after a team performance like this, he is confident that the men’s team can succeed in the postseason.
“There’s a tremendous amount of depth on this team and it really helps motivate me to know these guys will be out there giving it their all,” Hamel said. “I believe we can toe the line at nationals and compete with the best.”
As for the course that the Vikings ran at, Hamel loved it.
“This was our first time racing at the Sudden Valley golf course and I loved it. This was the perfect course to give the spectators a chance to see you, and every one of their cheers helped.”
Sophomore Wilson Turk, who came in as a redshirt freshman, competed in his first ever 10K at Western, finishing with a time of 37:54.
Turk said that he believed this home meet was crucial in determining where the Vikings would fit in amongst the top teams in the GNAC.
“The home meet was important for a couple of reasons. There were a couple teams who are high on the DII National rankings and it was important to do well against them,” he said
Junior Alec Bridges attended the home meet to show support, and was shocked at how intense the race was.
“I could see the faces of the runners, and they looked exhausted, but the fact that they could still push harder when they were tired was amazing,” Bridges said. “I have never watched a WWU cross country meet but since this meet was in Bellingham, I thought it would be a good opportunity to cheer on my school.”
The Vikings will head to Monmouth, Oregon to compete in the GNAC cross country championship on Nov. 3.