by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
SPOKANE, Wash. – Whitworth track and field will look to continue its strong start to the indoor season with a successful showing at the WSU Cougar Indoor meet this weekend.
The first event of the meet begins at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 2. and the day's final event starts at 6:00 p.m. On Saturday, events open at 10:00 a.m. and the last event is scheduled for 3:55 p.m. Fans can learn more about the Cougar Indoor on its information page.
Last Time Out: Several Pirates posted excellent performances at the WSU Indoor Open. Kayla Leland won both the 800-meter and 3,000-meter races, marking the second straight week where Leland won the 3,000-meter. John-Robert Woolley set a new school record with a 37.02 time in the 300-meter dash, and ran the first leg of Whitworth's 4x400 relay, which finished second. Sarah Martinez also picked up a second place result in the 400-meter dash, coming in second by just .02 seconds.
In addition to her accolades from the WSU Indoor Open, Leland traveled to the UW Invitational last weekend to compete with Division I runners. She broke the Whitworth record in the 5,000-meter run by over 40 seconds with a time of 17:01.65.
National Rankings: Several Bucs are currently in or near a position to qualify for the Indoor National Championships. To qualify, individual women must have one of the best 17 performances in the nation, men must have one of the best 15 performances, and relay teams must have a top-10 performance.
On the women's side, Kayla Leland is the only Pirate in qualifying position. Leland's 5:04.25 Vandal Indoor performances in the mile run places her 15th in the nation, and her record-breaking 17:01.65 mark in the 5,000-meter is fifth-best in the country. Isabel Clark is knocking on the door of a national championship spot. Clark's 3132 points in the pentathlon are good enough for 18th, just 16 points from a qualifying position.
Nicholas McGill is the lone member of the men's team near a qualifying spot. McGill has the 24th-best performance in the Heptathlon
Indoor Schedule: Whitworth is spending its first three weekends of the indoor season in the Palouse. The Bucs opened the season at the Vandal Indoor and traveled to Washington State for the WSU Indoor Open the next weekend. After the Cougar Indoor, Whitworth travels to the west side for the UW Husky Open on Feb. 11 and SPU final qualifier on Feb. 24.
The outdoor track & field season officially begins March 3 with the Ed Boitano Invitational, which is hosted by Puget Sound. The full season schedule is available here.
Indoor National Championships: The 2018 NCAA Division III Indoor National Championships will take place in Birmingham, Ala. on March 9-10.
Recent Championship History: The Pirates have a proud history of competing at the indoor national championships with seven All-Americans since 2012. Whitworth has qualified a student-athlete for the indoor national championships in five of the last six indoor seasons.
2017 – Kayla 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.
Up Next: Whitworth heads to the west side of Washington to compete at the UW Husky Invite on Sunday, Feb. 11.
The Coach: Now in his 22nd 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 Whitworth has sent 84 student-athletes to the NCAA Division III outdoor track and field championships and come home with 43 All-America (top-8) performances. Schwarz has coached Pirate athletes to eight individual national titles over the same time frame (seven 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 29 Coach of the Year awards, including the 2015 NCAA West Region men's outdoor award and 2015 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).