by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
SPOKANE, Wash. – With the Crimson vs. Black Intrasquad meet canceled due to inclimate weather, only a select few Whitworth track & field athletes will be competing this weekend.
The Bucs travel across the state for the final time in the indoor season to compete in the SPU Final Qualifier on Saturday, Feb. 24. The meet is scheduled to begin at 4:00 p.m and takes place at the University of Washington's Dempsey Indoor Track facility.
Last Time Out: The Pirate women had a record-breaking afternoon at the Husky Open. Kayla Leland led Whitworth by posting the best marks in school history in the 3,000-meter and 1,000-meter runs. Sarah Martinez set a new record in the 400-meter dash, breaking a nine-year-old mark set by Elizabeth Mattila in 2009. She also ran the first leg on the school-best 4x400 relay team. Isabel Clark, Sarah Cool, and Kameha Medallada joined Martinez on the record-breaking relay.
National Rankings: Several Bucs are currently in 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.
Kayla Leland is the only Pirate woman in qualifying position. Leland's record-breaking 17:01.65 time in the 5,000-meter is eighth-best in the country. She also sits in 10th in the 3,000 meter run and 16th in the mile run. Isabel Clark and Kayla Brase are knocking on the door of a qualifying spot. Brase posted a 37' 5.25" mark in the triple jump at the Cougar Indoor, placing her 24th in country. Clark's 3132 points in the pentathlon are also enough for 24th.
Nicholas McGill is the lone member of the men's team near a qualifying spot. McGill has the 17th-best performance in the Heptathlon
Indoor Schedule: This weekend's meet concludes the indoor schedule for the majority of the Pirates. 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: The outdoor season begins at the Ed Boitano Invite, which is hosted by Puget Sound on Feb. 3. The next indoor meet of the year is the Indoor National Championships, which are Feb. 9-10.
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).