by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
CLAREMONT, Calif. – Kayla Leland's third place finish paced the Whitworth women to a second place finish at the NCAA Division III West Regional on Saturday morning.
The Pirates second place result means they advance to the NCAA Division III Championships on November 18 in Elsah, Ill. Whitworth edged Linfield 109-129 for the chance to compete with the best runners in the nation.
Leland was the first Pirate across the finish line in 21:41.51. She was closely followed by Bailey Scott, whose 22:42.42 time was good enough for 20th place. Krystal Roberts and Thais Pedro Trujillo were right on Scott's heels in 25th and 28th. Marissa Mount rounded out the Whitworth scorers in 33rd.
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps won the meet handily with all five scoring runners in the top-20 finishers. The Pirates won the regional meet over the Athenas in 2016 and both teams advanced to the national championships.
On the men's side, Whitworth exceeded regional expectations with an eighth place team finish. The Pirates entered the weekend as the tenth-ranked team in the region, but strong results from all five scoring runners earned a better finish.
The Pirates finished behind three Northwest Conference competitors: Pacific Lutheran, Willamette, and Lewis & Clark. They outpaced Linfield, Pacific (Ore.), George Fox, and Whitman.
Côme Nzibarega was Whitworth's top finisher, coming in 27th with a time of 26:24.39 in the eight-kilometer race. Grant Bingham and Gabriel Meek followed Nzibarega in 47th and 50th, respectively. Daniel Harper and William Glick rounded out the Pirate scorers in 55th and 57th.
Whitworth's strong group finish from Bingham, Meek, Harper, and Glick earned them the eighth place team result. The Pirates finished 11 points in front of Whittier and 31 spots in front of Cal Tech, points earned by strong finishes from the final scorers.
Between the men's and women's teams, the Pirates had six all-region runners. All-region finishers are all runners who finish in the top-35, which means all five scorers from the women's team and Nzibarega earned the honor.
Next up, the Pirate women head to the NCAA Division III National Championships in Elsah, Ill. The meet begins at 9:00 a.m. (PST).