The women’s and men’s XC team both find success early in the season.
The women’s cross-country team has placed top five in the first three meets of the season, while the men’s team is making strides to be a top five competitor in the future.
Both teams have traveled to the same meets, first the Central Washington XC Invitational, second the Charles Bowles Invitational and finally the most recent meet, which happened last Saturday, Oct. 13, the Inland Empire Championships.
In all of these meets, the women’s team found themselves near the front of the pack. In the Central Washington XC Invitational they placed first out of three teams, in the Charles Bowles Invitational they placed fourth out of 22 teams and in the Inland Empire Championship they place fourth out of 16 teams.
Leading the charge on the team is a freshman, Kaylee Mitchell. She has finished first for Seattle Pacific University in every meet so far this season, including the first race, where she placed first out of all the runners competing.
“For the women, every single returner has come back stronger and more confident than last season. That’s huge. And Kaylee Mitchell is a national-caliber athlete who adds so much to our team in many different ways,” the Falcons’ cross country coach, Chris Reed, said.
Mitchell has made other strides this year, for instance, in the second meet she broke the 18-minute mark for the first time in her college career, finishing the 5-kilometer race in 17 minutes and 24.8 seconds.
Along with Mitchell two other Falcons on the women’s team broke 18 minutes, Kate Lilly with a time of 17:49 and Dania Holmberg cutting it close with a time of 17:59.9.
The 18-minute mark has only been broken by one runner on the women’s team before, Anna Patti, who clocked 17:35.3 during her 2015 senior season.
“I feel pretty good about it, I got to PR finally which is always fun, and a good performance is always made so much better when the whole team is successful,” Mitchell said.
Reed said freshman tend to be hard to gauge on how they will perform coming into their first season, “Some are ready to go right away, and some take a little while to get going. Kaylee Mitchell is in the former category. We knew she had the talent and drive to make us better from day one, and we’ve been thrilled with the early results. And she brings so much to the team outside of her results.”
As for the men’s cross-country team, Reed said that “The men have improved once again this season. We have a few sophomores who have stepped up, using their experience to aid their progress. And of course, our new freshmen have made an immediate difference here early on.”
The men’s team also has a freshman leading the way. Freshman Colby Otero has been the front runner, but sophomore veterans Elius Graff and Colin Boutin have been not too far behind him.
Otero’s times have broken the 26-minute mark in the 8k, but he has yet to pass the 25-minute mark.
Both the men and women’s team are heading to the Western Washington Classic on Saturday, Oct. 20.
Moving forward Mitchell said that, “Our team goal is to make it to nationals. Our big saying is ‘nationals is now,’ and we think about that a lot during our workouts and races when things get hard. My goal is to do whatever I can to help my team and I get there.”