by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
SPOKANE, Wash. – After running one of their best races of the year at the Lewis & Clark Invite two weeks ago, the Whitworth Pirates return to the same course for the Northwest Conference Championships this weekend.
The Pirates will look to take home the NWC men's and women's titles on Saturday, Oct. 27. The Whitworth women race for their fourth consecutive title at 12:00 p.m., and the men compete for their first championship in seven years at 1:00 p.m.
Lewis & Clark hosts the 2018 Northwest Conference Championships at Milo McIver State Park in Escatada, Ore. More information about the race is available on the championship website.
Last Time Out: Marissa Mount won the individual title in the Lewis & Clark Invitational's women's race two weeks ago to lead the Pirate women to the best finish among Division III teams. Krystal Roberts and Ellie Shoop followed Mount in 12th and 18th place, respectively. Isabelle Snyder and Mary Neder rounded out the scorers for the Pirates, who finished 45 points ahead of their closest competition.
On the men's side, Joel Mott set a personal record in the 8-kilometer race to finish 21st overall, leading Whitworth to a third place result among Division III teams. Aidan Smith was the second Buc across the finish line, coming in 38th. Gabriel Meek (41st), William Glick (44th), and Jacob Clark (61st) were the Bucs final three scorers on the day.
Regional Rankings: The most recent in-season USTFCCCA regional rankings were released Tuesday and both Pirate teams own spots in the top-ten. The Whitworth women are ranked seventh in the West, and the men were picked tenth.
Woman of the Year: Former Pirate cross country runner Kayla Leland was selected as one of the nine finalists for the NCAA's Woman of the Year Award. Leland is the first Pirate to be chosen as a finalist for the award and the second Buc in three years to be the Northwest Conference's Woman of the Year.
National Championships: The 2018 NCAA Division III National Championships are hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh on November 17 in Oshkosh, Wis.
Recent National Championship History: Whitworth has a proud history of competing at the cross country national championships, including two All-America performances and top-20 finishes for the women's team in each of the last three seasons.
2017 – Kayla Leland took home All-American honors by finishing 19th and led the Whitworth women to an 11th place finish, the team's second-best in school history.
2016 – Leland placed 11th in Whitworth's best ever individual performance at the Division III National Championships. Leland's All-American performance helped the Bucs place 17th, the third-best result in school history.
2015 – Allison Wood and Kellyn Roiko finished in 85th and 86th place respectively to lead the Pirates to a 20th place team finish. Christopher MacMurray earned an individual bid to the meet and finished 217th.
Looking Ahead: The Pirates travel south to compete in the NCAA Division III West Regional in Walla Walla, Wash. on Saturday, Nov. 10.
The Coach: The fall of 2018 marks Dr. Toby Schwarz's 21st season as head coach of the Whitworth Cross Country program. During his time at Whitworth Schwarz has been named West Region Coach of the Year four times and Northwest Conference Coach of the Year on seven occasions. Schwarz was selected as the NWC Women's Coach of the Year in 2017 after leading Whitworth to its third straight conference title.