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October 31, 2007

07 NAIA Region I XC Champs

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Evergreen will host the 2007 NAIA Region I Cross Country Championships this Saturday, November 3rd beginning at 10:00 AM. Seventeen colleges and universities will be represented by over 250 athletes in the two races.

Saturday's events have much at stake as teams and individuals in the men's and women's races will be battling for qualifying places into the NAIA National Championships to be held in Kenosha, WI on November 17th. The top team will automatically qualify for the championships and teams finishing in the top four will have a shot at an At-Large berth. Just five individuals not on a qualifying team will earn a spot on the starting line at Kenosha.

Region I has proved to be one of the most competitive regions in the NAIA, with five teams on the men's and women's side ranked in the top twenty-five in the nation. The final ratings on November 6th will determine which teams earn an at-large berth and the five individual spots.

The women's 5k race gun will fire at 10:00 AM. Defending Region and National Champions Simon Fraser are again expected to be the top contenders and remain at the number one spot in the most recent NAIA ratings. Their team will be led by All-American Kristen Kolstad (5th '06 NAIA), who finished second at the October 6th Pete Steilberg Open at Evergreen and was the individual champion at the '06 region meet. SFU has won the last three national titles and eight total. The University of British Columbia, Lewis and Clark State, Eastern Oregon and The College of Idaho will be in a tight battle for at-large team spots.

Coming off a sixth place team finish at the October 20th Cascade Conference Championships, the women's Geoduck team will be led by All-Conference junior Emily Uhlig. Uhlig finished eighth at the CCC Champs. Expect sophomore Kelly Beckham to be close on her heels as the two contend for an individual trip to nationals.

In the 10:45 men's 8k, expect anything as the team and individual titles appear to by wide open. Defending region champions Concordia University is not in their '06 form and will be out of the title battle between LC State, EOU and Southern Oregon University. Look for UBC and the C of I to contend as well.

All-American and '06 Region I Champion David Wambui (8th '06 nationals) of SFU will be back to defend but two of his teammates finished ahead of him at Pete Steilberg. Oregon Tech's Korey Humberston surprised many at the CCC Champs as he ran away from the field, forcing everyone to catch him. He held on for a one second win.

Evergreen sophomore Brian Rakestraw is having an excellent year, improving steadily each race. His eighth place conference champs finish ties the best finish by an Evergreen athlete at that event. Twenty-fourth at the '06 Region I meet, Rakestraw will be Evergreen's best hope on the men's side for an individual spot to nationals.

The Geoduck men's and women's teams have both been ranked 10th in the most recent Region I ratings.

Full results and recap of the event will be available at www.evergreen.edu/athletics shortly following the awards ceremony.