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Saint Martin's runner on familiar ground

If there’s one advantage Kyle Van Santen has over fellow runners at this weekend NCAA Division II cross-country championships, it’s the fact he’s been there before.

No, he has never run at the national championships; this Saturday will be the Saint Martin’s University senior’s first time running at nationals. But he’s quite familiar with the course where it will be run.

Van Santen has ran the 10,000-meter (6.2-mile) course at Plantes Ferry Park in Spokane twice this season, including the NCAA West Regional championships Nov. 4. Van Santen’s third time on the course will be in the men’s race at noon on Saturday in the national championships.

“I know where I can improve compared to last race,” said Van Santen, who is from Lake Stevens. “And what things I can do differently.”

Van Santen qualified for nationals after placing seventh at the West Regionals, covering the course in 31 minutes, 10 seconds. He’s the fifth Saint Martin’s runner in the past six years to qualify for the national meet.

Teammate Spencer Hunt ran in the 2010 national championships in Louisville, Ky., but he narrowly missed qualifying for a second straight trip to the nationals after placing 15th at the West Regional.

The forecast for Saturday in Spokane calls for temperatures dipping to 12 degrees with the possibility of snow. Van Santen and coach Julie Sullivan took a flight to Spokane on Thursday, and despite the weather being unfavorable for cross-country, Van Santen plans to soak in every moment.

“This is one of the things I’ve always wanted to do,” he said. “Now that it’s happened, it’s really exciting.”

SAINTS NAMED TOP FRESHMEN

Two Saint Martin’s freshmen – Ashley Richardson and Kristyn Ross – were named the GNAC’s Co-Freshmen of the Year for women’s soccer and volleyball, respectively.

Richardson led the Saints with six points, scoring two goals and two assists, earning second-team all-GNAC honors for women’s soccer.

Ross, a 2011 Capital High School graduate, was fourth in the conference in total kills (340). Her 3.83 kills per set ranked 41st nationally. Ross helped the volleyball program to its best record since 2001.

GEODUCKS HONORED

Evergreen women’s soccer player Brianna Speed closed out her collegiate career, earning her fourth consecutive All-Cascade Collegiate Conference honor. Speed helped the Geoducks to their best finish since 2007 and was named a second-team selection after scoring four goals and assisting on three others. Teammates Anastasia Daniels and Shani Ramento were honorable mention. The men’s soccer team had four All-CCC players, including junior Brandon Wood and George Bundy, who were second-team selections. Caleb Phillips and Corey Johnson were honorable mention selections.

TALKIN’ HOOPS

The Saint Martin’s men’s basketball team dropped both its official first games of the season last weekend in Hawaii, falling to Hawaii-Hilo, 66-60, and Chaminade, 80-60. The Saints go on the road to the Western Oregon/Phoenix Inn Division II Shootout in Monmouth, Ore., this weekend to face Augustana University (5:30 p.m. Saturday) and Cal State East Bay (3:30 p.m. Sunday). Evergreen’s men’s basketball looks to end an official three-game losing streak when the Geoducks take on Walla Walla University (1 p.m. today) and Lewis-Clark State (2 p.m. Saturday) at the Duane Wolfe Memorial Golden Rule Shootout in Caldwell, Idaho. The Evergreen women travel to McMinnville, Ore., to play Linfield at 6 p.m. Saturday followed by an exhibition game against Central Washington at 5 p.m. Monday in Ellensburg.

LETTERS-OF-INTENT

Shanell and Kiana Sullenberger, who are home-schooled but swim for River Ridge High School, signed letters-of-intent earlier this week to Washington State’s women’s swimming program. The twins hold nearly every swimming record at River Ridge, and helped the Hawks to a fifth-place team finish at last weekend’s 2A state swimming and diving championships with top-four finishes in the 50 free, 200 free and 100 breaststroke.

Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 mwochnick@theolympian.com

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