Cross country men conclude season in Oregon

MacMurray leads Whitworth to ninth-place finish at NCAA West Regionals

The men’s cross country team finished their season at the Northwest Conference Regionals Nov. 10 in ninth place out of the 17 qualifying teams.

Freshman Chris MacMurray finished in first place for the Pirates  and 35th overall with a time of 25:43.

“I don’t think I could’ve ended the season on a higher note,” MacMurray said.

MacMurray qualified for the NWC all-region team based on his race finish. Sophomore Taylor Steele finished with a time of 25:50, sophomore Matt Edwards with a time of 26:03 and junior Andrew Ryder with a time of 26:12. All three finished in the top 50 of the meet.

MacMurray said that after the race head coach Toby Schwarz told the team that they should count it as a win.

The Pirates will lose senior team captain Tim Hill, who finished with a time of 28:26. Hill was battling an ankle injury during Saturday’s race. The team is losing a leader and a great example in Hill, MacMurray said.

“Tim was my first captain and he was a great captain,” MacMurray said. “To love running you have to have a great love for the sport.”

MacMurray said that Hill’s passion for running was an inspiration to the team.

Hill thought the team did well at last Saturday’s race.

“I think overall the team did really well. We didn’t make nationals like we were hoping to but we had a lot of personal records for a lot of guys on the team,” Hill said. “It was just a tough field and we competed really well.”

Sophomore Colton Berry was happy with the team’s performance. He finished with a time of 27:02 .

“As a team, most of us got personal records,” Berry said. “We really wanted to go to Nationals, but it was a really tough race.”

The Bucs faced teams they ran against throughout the season, including Willamette University, Lewis & Clark College and Pacific University, as well as teams they hadn’t faced such as Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Pomona-Pitzer and La Verne. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps was the overall winner of the meet.

The Bucs worked on their race plan and got better as a team throughout the season. Their strategy was generally to run as a pack and the Bucs were able to improve in general this season, Hill said.

“I think we did well — not as well as we would have liked — because it was kind of a growing year for the team,” Hill said.

Hill was team captain this season and he mentioned the commitment of the team members to both the program and the team.

“[My favorite part was] getting a chance to work with all these guys,” Hill said.

Hill also has high hopes for the Pirate’s chances next year.

“I think we have a lot of hope for next year there’s a lot of talent on the team and we’re just going keep getting better,” Hill said.

Berry said the Bucs should have a solid team next year. He  plans to run track in the spring and come back for next season.  The Pirates are losing a  handful of seniors, but hope to come back next year and compete.

“We’re a really young team. I think we can be successful; we just have to put in the work,” Berry said.

Whitney Carter Staff Writer

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Men's cross country struggles at NWC championships

The men’s cross country team had a challenging race at the NWC championships last Saturday, hosted by Pacific University, and hopes to be more successful at the upcoming regional meet.

“It was pretty bad to be honest. As a team we didn’t really race that well. And I probably had the worst race of my life individually,” freshman Colton Berry said.

Berry usually finishes near the top for the Whitworth team, but he finished 7th for the team and 42nd overall. The Bucs finished in 4th place behind Willamette, Lewis & Clark and the University of Puget Sound.

The Bucs are ranked 8th going into the regionals race but have had high finishes all season.

“I definitely would say that [this race] wasn’t  a very good indication of what we’re capable of or how we’ve been racing all season,” Berry said.

Team captain, senior Tim Hill, blames the unsuccessful race on the team not sticking to the race strategy.

“We did really poorly this last weekend. We normally have a race strategy,” Hill said.”The race strategy that we normally have is running together as a pack and we didn’t do that at all so it kind of ended up hurting us a lot.”

He still has hope for the regionals race as the Pirates train to head to the NCAA Division III West Regionals, hosted by Willamette on Nov. 10.

“Hopefully we can figure out what we did wrong and improve on that and show the rest of the conference and region that conference was a fluke and we’re going to be a team contending for a top spot,” Hill said.

 According to head coach Toby Schwarz, the Pirates didn’t run to the  highest level of their capability.

“We didn’t get out very fast and that kind of hurt us because we spent the rest of the race trying to get back into the race and that made it tough,” Schwarz said. “One of the strengths of our team this year has been running as a group and we didn’t run as a group, we pretty much ran as a bunch of individuals out there, so that kind of hurt us.”

The Pirates have a little down time before the  next race. Currently ranked 8th, the goal is a top five finish.

“My hope is that it’s going to be a lot better. Hopefully we can show how good of a team we actually are,” Schwarz said. “As long as they stay healthy and train hard in the next couple of weeks and then execute on that day we should be able to do that.”

Korey Hope Staff Writer

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Men’s cross country competes for third consecutive weekend

The men’s cross country team competed at the Charles Bowles Invitational at Willamette University in Salem, Ore., last weekend. The invitational was the Pirates’ third consecutive meet in three weekends. After competing at the Sundodger Invitational hosted by the University of Washington and the Runner’s Soul last week in Spokane, the Pirates finished their consecutive weekend streak in Salem, Ore. The Pirates finished third at the Runner’s Soul.

“Last week was more of a practice race; last week definitely helped us prepare for this week,” head coach Toby Schwarz said. “Yesterday was very similar to the meet two weeks ago. It’s just guys had a little bit more experience and a little bit more fitness under them so they ran better.”

This week the team finished in eighth place out of   19 teams with a score of 221 in the 8k race.

“I would say it was a success,” senior team captain Tim Hill said. “We didn’t necessarily run the times we wanted, but everyone raced really well, so that was successful.”

Out of the Northwest Conference teams competing, the Bucs finished third, behind host Willamette University and the University of Puget Sound. The University of Portland won overall with a score of 16. Coming in first for the Pirates was freshman Colton Berry with a time of 26:07.28. Hill finished next for the Bucs with a time of 26:17.79 and junior Matt Edwards came in with a time of 26:19.41.   The average time for the Pirates was 26:19.95.

“It gives the guys confidence they can win,” Schwarz said. “It’s not going to be easy; UPS, Willamette and ourselves basically tied in all intents and purposes,” Schwarz said. “So, between those three teams, anyone has a chance of winning and that’s a good thing to be a part of that.”

Hill said he felt this was a good race for the team over all.

“As a team I think we finished well, but I don’t think we finished quite as high up as we would have liked,” Hill said. “Individually kind of the same thing - I feel like I ran a good race, but didn’t finish with the time I was looking for.”

The Bucs have one more race before conference and the team is not taking it lightly.

“Coaches will be taking into consideration who will be top 10, and as runners we’ll be taking it very seriously because we’re competing to see who will be running at conference,” freshman Chris MacMurray said.

The Pirates get some time off before the next meet, which is the Inland Northwest Challenge on Oct. 13.

“All these races that are for conference are kind of a good indicator of where we’re at and where the teams in our conference are at, but it doesn’t really mean a whole lot because it comes down to that conference race, the regionals race, the nationals race,” Hill said. “So it’s really just kind of practice of getting ready for conferences that championship race where how you score and how you place against your competitors really matters.”

Whitney Carter Staff Writer

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Men’s cross country competes as a unit

The men’s cross country team finished in third place at this week’s Runner’s Soul/Erik Anderson Invite in Spokane. “It was more of a workout than a race,” senior captain Tim Hill said.

This was the Bucs’ second of three consecutive weekends of races, on one of the Pirates more difficult courses of the season.

“We didn’t run this as a race,” coach Toby Schwarz said.

Schwarz said that Pirates viewed this race as more of a practice and a chance to recover.

“It is not a PR course at all and so what [Schwarz] had us do is run in a pack all together and just work on running as a team,” freshman Chris MacMurray said. “I’d find it very unlikely if that were to happen again this year, I could see us doing a lot of practices like that, but not any more meets.”

Running the race as a team meant there was less variance between the fastest and slowest times from Pirate runners.

First to cross the finish line was freshman Connor Soudani, but all 10 Pirate men finished within 3 seconds of each other with times from 28:30.78 to 28:32.75.

In a sport where personal times hold merit apart from team scores, the strategy gave the Bucs a chance to work together.

“I liked helping my teammates out, because for a few of them, it was a struggle to stay at that pace and it was just cool to actually help them meet their mark and not drop out.” MacMurray said. “It was just cool to be able to encourage my teammates during an actual race.”

With the event taking place in Spokane Valley, Whitworth students were able to come out to support their peers at the event.

“That was actually kind of fun, there were a lot of people there supporting and cheering us on,” MacMurray said.  “It was like happy cheering. It was really encouraging to have all of them supporting us.”

This was the team’s only meet in Spokane.

Next week the Bucs will compete at the Willamette Invite at Busch Pasture Park in Salem, Ore.

“I’ve been told that’s a really fast course,” Macmurray said. “It’s also the Willamette invite and Willamette is our rival for cross-country so that’s the first time we’re going to see them all season. So we’re going to go into it pretty amped and wanting to beat them and show them what’s up so it’s definitely going to be a good showdown.”

The Pirates have two more races before conference championships.

Whitney Carter Staff Writer

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