Whitworth Track & Field Opens Season in Idaho

Photo by Naji Saker
Photo by Naji Saker

by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant 

SPOKANE, Wash. – Whitworth track and field opens its 2018-19 campaign this weekend at the Lauren McCluskey Memorial Open, which is hosted by the University of Idaho.

The meet opens on Friday, January 11 with Pentathlon and Heptathlon events. The first event is at 10:40 a.m. and the final one is scheduled to begin at 4:25 p.m. Both of Whitworth's outdoor multi-event All-Americans, Izzy Clark and Nick McGill, will compete on Friday.

The rest of the meet's events take place on Saturday, beginning with the women's weight throw at 9 a.m. and concluding with the women's 4x800-meter relay at 6:30 p.m. The majority of the Pirates competing at the meet will do so on Saturday.

More information, including parking and the complete events schedule, is available on the McCluskey Memorial information page.

The Northwest Conference does not include an indoor component as part of its track & field season, but the indoor component remains an important part of the overall season. The Pirates will attempt qualify for the indoor national championships and set new personal and school records.

Indoor Schedule: Including the McCluskey Memorial, the Pirates compete at four indoor meets this season. After this weekend's meet, Whitworth travels to Washington State University for the WSU Indoor Open (January 18-19) and the Cougar Indoor (February 1-2). The Bucs last indoor meet before the Indoor National Championships will be the SPU Final Qualifier on February 23. 

The outdoor track & field season officially begins March 2 with the Ed Boitano Invitational, which is hosted by Puget Sound. The full season schedule is available here.

Indoor National Championships: The 2019 NCAA Division III Indoor National Championships will take place in Boston, Mass. on March 8-9.

Recent Championship History: The Pirates have a proud history of competing at the indoor national championships with eight All-Americans since 2012. Whitworth has qualified a student-athlete for the indoor national championships in six of the last seven indoor seasons.

2018 – Kayla Leland placed fifth in the 5,000-meter run to earn All-America honors for the second straight season.

2017 – Leland earned All-America honors in the mile and 800-meter run, finishing fourth in the mile and eighth in the 800-meters. Kayla Brase just missed an All-America mark in the triple jump, finishing ninth.

2016 – Katie McKay earned All-America honors in the 800-meter run, finishing sixth.

2014 - Casey Monahan represented Whitworth at the indoor national championships, finishing sixth in the 60 meter hurdles and earning All-American recognition. 

2013 - Christina Dobbins and Carter Comito qualified and each earned top-five finishes. Both took home All-American honors, as Dobbins finished third in the high jump and Comito placed fifth in the shot put.

2012 - Carter Comito, Frank Lima and Jheri Gates represented the Pirates at the national championships. Lima placed 10th in the men's high jump while Gates finished 11th in the women's high jump. Comito finished seventh in the shot put to earn All-America honors. 

Looking Ahead: The Pirates return to the Palouse to compete at the WSU Indoor Open on January 18-19.

The Coach: Now in his 21st season as the head Track & Field coach at Whitworth, Dr. Toby Schwarz has transformed the Whitworth Track & Field team into one of the top programs in the nation.

Since the 2008 season 95 student-athletes earned a spot in the the NCAA Division III outdoor track and field championships and come home with 48 All-America (top-8) performances.  Schwarz has coached Pirate athletes to eight individual national titles over the same time frame (nine outdoor and one indoor).  The Whitworth men have finished among the top 20 teams in the nation six times since 2008, including a third place finish at the 2008 NCAA Division III Outdoor Championships, a third place finish at the 2009 NCAA Division III Indoor Championships and a sixth place finish at the 2009 outdoor meet.

Schwarz has earned 31 Coach of the Year awards, including the 2016 NCAA West Region men's outdoor award and 2016 Northwest Conference honors (men and women). In 2009 Schwarz was selected as the NCAA Division III Men's Coach of the Year. Members of Schwarz's coaching staff have also won the NCAA DIII West Region Assistant Coach of the Year awards for the past six years including the 2015 outdoor men's assistant coach of the year (Joe VanHoomissen).