The cross country teams are approaching the conclusion of their season and each meet is starting to be more indicative of where they are talent-wise compared to other NWC teams. At the Lewis & Clark Invitational last Saturday, those results were true to form, Head Coach Toby Schwarz said.
The women finished first of 12 teams and the men finished eighth of 14 teams behind conference opponents Whitman and University of Puget Sound.
The women won the invitational for the second year in a row despite not having three of their top five runners to finish in scoring position. Of those three, the Pirates were missing senior Christina Williams due to a stress fracture in her pelvis. Williams won the meet as an individual last year.
Junior Kellyn Roiko finished third overall for the 6K course with a time of 22:47.6, followed closely by sophomore Kristen Schoenike in sixth place with a time of 23:22.9. Freshman Bailey Scott had one of the best races of her season after finishing 12th overall with a time of 23:34.8. Sophomore Kendall Chin and junior Katie McKay were within seconds of Scott, finishing in 23:36.1 and 23:37.3, respectfully.
“There are two 3K laps on this course, and so it’s especially hard to stay focused and make the choice to keep trying to move up on the second lap,” Schoenike said. “I think that was the biggest factor for me was just staying focused during the second lap.”
The women finished first despite sophomore Allie Wood finishing 10th on the team and junior captain Amanda Blankenship finishing in the 12th team spot.
On the men’s side, the team had uncharacteristic finishes from their top five scorers. Senior Taylor Steele crossed the line in 28th place for the Bucs in a time of 26:35.2 for the 8K course. Junior Colton Berry was next through the tape in 26:47.5 for 34th place, followed closely by senior Trent Dudley in 26:48.2 for 35th. Freshman Logan Veasy finished well with a 27:11.5, while junior Matt Ferris rounded out the men’s team scoring with a 27:21.8.
“I kind of got out slower, but Trent [Dudley], Chris [MacMurray] and Taylor [Steele] were leading it for the guys up through the first mile,” junior Colton Berry said. “The race got out a little bit slow for the first mile, but our top guys came through at five [minutes] flat.”
“We’re pretty much the fourth-best team in the conference and we’ve kind of proved that over the last several meets,” Schwarz said.
The difference came with the finishes of junior Chris MacMurray who came through outside of the team scoring with a 27:28.4, and of freshman Grant Bingham who finished with 28:58.4.
“We just need those people to run what they’ve done earlier in the year and other people to do what they did today and we should be fine,” Schwarz said.
Both teams will take their customary break from competition and return for the NWC Championship meet in Salem, Oregon on Nov. 1 at 10 a.m. The women will be looking to take on defending conference champion Willamette, while the men will look to move up and improve on their fourth-place ranking in conference as they eye Whitman, UPS and the defending men’s champion, Willamette.