Bears conclude season at NCAA West Regionals

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Phillip Downey/Senior Staff

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On Friday, Cal cross country ran its last race of 2021, taking on the West Regional meet in Sacramento. In their last stand of the season, the Bears put forth a valiant effort and took 17th and 18th place in the women’s and men’s races, respectively.

For most parties that were involved in both races, regionals played out similarly to the Pac-12 championships on the men’s side. Stanford, which finished second at the conference championships, took advantage of 2021 Pac-12 champion Colorado’s residence in the Mountain Region by taking the West Region crown. Led by junior Charles Hicks’ second-place finish, the Cardinal edged out Washington 61-66 to secure the regional title.

Washington senior Kieran Lumb, who hails from Canada and ran for the University of British Columbia before joining the Huskies, earned the individual title and led his squad to a hard-fought, second-place finish. Lumb was something of a wild card heading into the race. While he achieved astonishing times and national collegiate titles in Canada, in his first year racing in the United States he finished only No. 10 at the Pac-12 Championships.

Stanford and Washington automatically secured spots at the NCAA National Cross Country Championships by finishing in the top two, and fellow West teams Oregon, Portland and Gonzaga will be joining them after they were awarded at-large spots in the national meet.

Cal, meanwhile, placed three runners in the top 100: sophomore Garrett MacQuiddy, senior Colin Fitzgerald and sophomore Carrick Denker. Fellow sophomores Cole Sawires Yager and Gabriel Abbes rounded out the scoring.

The blue and gold finished ahead of Arizona State — a team that had narrowly topped them at the Pac-12s — but was a ways behind UCLA. Given the youth of their core, though, the Bears are primed for future success.

On the women’s side, Stanford again benefited from being in a region without Pac-12 rival Colorado and turned in a dominant performance. After finishing fifth at the conference championships, Stanford was victorious thanks to top-nine placements by its first four runners. Graduate student Julia Heymach also captured the individual title for the Cardinal.

Washington finished second to claim a heralded automatic qualifying spot, while Oregon grabbed the lone at-large spot that was granted to a women’s team in the West Region.

The Bears were led by graduate student Erin Archibeck, for whom regionals was the second race of the season (after the Pac-12 championships). Archibeck traversed the 6K course in 20:59 and placed 53rd. She was followed by seniors Jessica Nye and Meredith Corda, who have been consistent scorers for Cal throughout the season. Nye and Corda were followed by senior Marea Zlatunich and sophomore Piper Wilson.

As it did at the conference championships, the Cal women’s team finished ahead of Arizona State and USC, but behind UCLA.

For the Bears, the West Regional meet shared many similarities with the Pac-12 championships. Cal’s men’s team benefited from promising performances by several runners who will be returning next year, while the women were led by veterans — some of whom have just concluded their collegiate careers.

Ultimately, the Bears ought to be proud of the fight they put up in a brutal West Region.

Ethan Moutes covers cross country. Contact him at [email protected].