by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
SPOKANE, Wash. – Kayla Leland of Whitworth track and field is the Pirates lone qualifier to the NCAA Division III National Championships and will compete on Friday afternoon.
Leland qualified in 8th in the 5,000 meter run, which takes place at 3:05 p.m. (PST). Fans can learn more about the Division III National Championships by visiting its information page. The NCAA will be streaming the event here.
The top seeded individual in the women's 5,000-meter run is Kathrine Cook of Bates College. Cook qualified with a time of 16:39.07. Leland posted a school-record 17:01.65 mark at the UW Invitational to earn a spot at the Indoor National Championships.
The 2017 national champion in the 5,000 meters, Taryn Cordani of Ithaca College, finished in 16:28.15 last season, setting a new NCAA Division III record. Cordani is seeded second entering this season's national championships.
Last season, Leland earned All-America honors in the mile and 800-meter run. She placed fourth in the mile and eighth in the 800-meters.
Looking Ahead: After the NCAA Division III Indoor National Championships, the outdoor season continues with the Buc Scoring Invite on March 17.
Recent Indoor 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.
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).