September 16, 2001 11:00 pm

By The Observer

WALLA WALLA Northwest Nazarene snuck up on the Eastern Oregon mens cross country team Saturday.

The ninth-ranked Crusaders swept the top four places at the Whitman College Invitational, led by Aaron Matthias winning time of 25 minutes, 19 seconds on the 8,000-meter course.

We werent ready for Northwest Nazarene, Eastern Oregon cross country coach Ben Welch said. We knew NNU was much better than it had been in the past, but we didnt know they were that much better.

The Crusaders started with a fast pace, upsetting Easterns plan of running in a steady pack. Easterns plan was to run about a five-minute first mile, but Ian Schroeder, who was Easterns best finisher, started out in 4:40.

Where we are in our training, were just not ready to take it out that fast, Welch said. They showed up to control that race. We showed up to race.

Schroeder was fifth in 25:49, with Easterns Tim Riley and Dallas Kinch in seventh and eighth at 26:19 and 26:37.

Northwest Nazarene was one point off a perfect race, winning with 16 points.

Eastern had 42 points, a solid showing considering only one runner from a school other than Eastern or Northwest Nazarene finished in the top 14.

Ironically, Northwest Nazarene was not scheduled to attend Saturdays race.

The Crusaders had planned a home meet against Boise State, but Boise State canceled all weekend events after last weeks terrorist attacks on the East Coast.

Eastern will see Northwest Nazarene four more times this year: at Willamette, at the pre-regional meet, at regionals and probably at nationals.

We dont care if they beat us three out of four; we dont want them to beat us at the end, Welch said.

Eric Griffiths was fourth for Eastern, taking 10th place in 26:44. Ben Gall (12th, 26:53), David Terry (13th, 26:58) and Patrick Egelus (14th, 27:06) rounded out the top seven.

The Eastern women finished fifth as a team, well behind the winner, Lewis-Clark State, but the Mountaineers were competing without three runners. Kelsi Pelzer was sick and twins Ashley and Shelby Zacharias were stuck in Hawaii, victims of flight groundings imposed after last weeks events.

Debra Moyer led Eastern with a 14th-place finish at 20:02 over 5,000 meters.

For her, thats real close to her best 5K cross time ever, Welch said. To open the season like that is real encouraging.

Whitman College Invitational


Team scores Northwest Nazarene 16, Eastern Oregon 42, Spokane Falls Community College 100, Whitworth 114, Lewis-Clark State 128, Whitman 168, Treasure Valley CC 200.

Winner and Eastern Oregon results 1, Aaron Matthias, NNU, 25:19.62; 5, Ian Schroeder, 25:49.75; 7, Tim Riley, 26:19.23; 8, Dallas Kinch, 26:37.88; 10,

Eric Griffiths, 26:44.93; 12, Ben Gall, 26:53.48; 13, David Terry, 26:58.84; 14, Patrick Egelus, 27:06.80; 21, Sean Williams, 27:38.84; 24, Daniel McGourty, 27:48.95; 48, Jordan Baumgartner, 28:42.25; 55, Taylor Schmitz, 30:36.78; 65, Tyler Rux, 31:54.58; 67, Neil Peterson, 32:43.30.


Team scores Lewis-Clark State 33, Whitworth 43, Northwest Nazarene 68, Whitman 82, Eastern Oregon 130.

Winner and Eastern Oregon results 1, Tausha Kuzmic, LCSC, 18:51.69; 14, Debra Moyer, 20:02.63; 24, Lisa Muilenburg, 20:41.00; 37, Suzy Campbell, 21:17.43; 50, Laura Mortensen, 22:10.09; 52, Jennifer McGladrey, 22:43.68.