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Gonzaga women’s XC reaches highest-ever USTFCCCA ranking at No. 21

by Contributed report/Gonzaga Athletics
| September 22, 2022 3:11 PM

SPOKANE — Gonzaga women's cross country earned its highest ranking in program history in this week's U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches' Association (USTFCCCA) Coaches' Poll, coming at No. 21 ahead of the Bulldogs' biggest race of the season so far on Friday at the Battle in Beantown in Boston, Massachusetts.

The Zag women were inactive over the last week, but are coming off a dual meet win against Eastern Washington in which the Bulldogs' top six runners all broke the 4K program record, led by a 12:50.7 finish from Kristen Garcia that earned her West Coast Conference Runner of the Week honors.

Head Coach Jake Stewart's squad has cracked the Top 25 in each poll this season after entering at No. 23 in the preseason ranking – the first time in program history both GU's men's and women's squads entered the season ranked, and the highest-ever preseason ranking for both. The men's and women's programs were ranked third and fourth, respectively, in the USTFCCCA's initial West Region rankings. Both teams also clocked in at second behind BYU in the WCC coaches' polls.

The GU women placed second as a team at the West Coast Conference Championships and fourth at NCAA West Regionals last fall, but were one of the first teams out for an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships. Head Coach Jake Stewart's squad reached a program-best of No. 3 in the West that fall after the Zags' strong showing at a stacked Nuttycombe (21st overall) and at WCC's.

Along with a three-time nationals competitor in Garcia, GU returns five of its top seven from 2021 and adds six freshmen and two transfers, including another runner with nationals experience in Caramia Mestler (Oregon). In the spring, Garcia (10K) and fellow returner Alicia Anderson (5K, 1500m) both qualified for NCAA Regionals and reached the semifinals for their events.

The Zags are set for a 9 a.m. start at Franklin Park in Boston on Friday. Check GoZags.com and @ZagRunning on IG and Twitter for live results and updates.

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