Women’s cross country runs at local meet

The women’s cross country team took a more conservative approach than usual during the Runner’s Soul/Erik Anderson Invitational last Saturday at Plantes Ferry Park in Spokane Valley. Beginning with their most recent race, the Sundodger Invitational on Sept. 15 in Seattle, head coach Toby Schwarz’s squad has races for three consecutive weekends. With conference competition yet to begin, the women’s cross country team used a more conservative approach for last Saturday’s race, giving some runners a chance to rest and others a chance to get into better form.

“We had a great meet last weekend, and next weekend will be very competitive with a lot of teams from our conference,” Schwarz said. “We used this meet as more of a practice.”

Freshman Olivia Newman (20:12.05) came across the line first for the Pirates, followed closely by junior Elisabeth Spencer (20:12.63). Newman had arguably her best race of the year so far, thanks in part to the running style coach Schwarz implemented for this tune-up race. The plan was to only run 14 out of the 18 runners on the roster, and pair one girl from the top seven on the team with one girl from the next seven, which explains why Newman and Spencer finished so closely.

“It gave some of our runners with a little bit less experience to run at more of a varsity level,” Schwarz said. And without a doubt, the runner that benefited the most was Newman, who ended up with a personal record for the race.

“She ran a great race with a more experienced runner,” Schwarz said.

As for the more experienced runners themselves, this race was much less intense than the Willamette Invitational will prove to be be next weekend. In fact, four runners did not even participate Saturday, one of whom was Joy Shufeldt. Shufeldt injured her groin at the beginning of last week, and was unable to participate in either of the team’s previous two events. The senior captain of the squad did, however, get to see some positive elements about her young teammates.

“I’m really excited to see how we do, we have such a young team,” Shufeldt said. “There is so much potential.”

Shufeldt hopes to compete with her team this Saturday, when the Pirates travel to Salem for the Willamette Invitational.

Korey Hope Staff Writer

Contact Korey Hope at khope16@my.whitworth.edu