by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
SPOKANE, Wash. – After a pair of second place finishes at last year's Northwest Conference Championships, Whitworth track and field is looking to claim the 2018 conference crown this weekend in McMinnville, Ore.
The NWC championship meet is hosted by Linfield and takes place on Friday, April 20 and Saturday, April 21. A full meet schedule is available here. Linfield will also be posting live results at this link.
Last Time Out: The Pirates competed in three meets last week, the Northwest Conference Multi Event Championships, Whitworth Twilight, and Pelluer Invitational. In all three, Bucs put together standout performances. On Monday and Tuesday, Isabel Clark put together the second-best Heptathlon performance in the nation, finishing just behind Annie Wright, who set a new NWC record in the event. Nick McGill also picked up a second place finish, moving from fifth to second on the second day of the meet to earn the strong result. Two days later, Kayla Leland and Chloe Quinnett highlighted the Whitworth Twilight with excellent marks. Quinnett tossed the 17th-best shot put in the nation and Leland's steeplechase was the country's second-best time. Kayla Brase finished the week at the Pelluer Invite with a top-15 leap in the triple jump. Her 37' 9 ½" mark is the 11th-longest in the nation.
USTFCCCA Rankings: The latest USTFCCCA team track and field rankings were released on Tuesday. The Pirate women are ranked 5th in the nation and 2nd in the west region. Whitworth's men are ranked 43rd in the country and 3rd in the west region. The second set of rankings will be released on Tuesday, April 3.
National Rankings: Several Pirates are currently in position to qualify for the Division III National Championships in May. To qualify, men must have one of top-20 marks in the country, women must be among the best 22 and relays need to have one of the top-16 times in the nation.
On the men's side, Andrew Bloom and Nick McGill lead the Bucs with the two of the top-20 Javelin tosses in the country. Bloom's 226' 2" toss from World War XI ranks first, while McGill's 189' 4" from the Buc Scoring Invite is 18th. McGill also currently qualifies in the Decathlon with 6284 points. John-Robert Woolley rounds out the Pirate men who are qualified with a 53.66 time in the 400-meter hurdles, which ranks seventh.
The Whitworth women are currently set to qualify at least one athlete in 9 of the 18 outdoor track and field events, including two events with multiple potential qualifiers. Kayla Leland leads the Bucs with qualifying times in four events, including the second-best time in the nation in the steeplechase. Isabel Clark is the only other Pirate who qualifies in multiple events. Clark currently is in the top-22 in the 100-meter hurdles, javelin, and heptathlon. Four Whitworth women are currently in a qualifying spot in the heptathlon: Clark, Kayla Brase, Sarah Cool, and Sarah Martinez.
Northwest Conference Rankings: In addition to many sterling national marks, the Pirates have several student-athletes who rank among the best in the NWC heading into the conference championships.
Outside of the Pirate men who are already nationally ranked, Jacob Hubbard and Come Nzibarega look the most poised to make an impression at the NWC Championships. Hubbard's 161' 4" hammer throw and Nzibarega's 32:31.05 time in the 10,000 meters are both the second-best marks in the conference. Daniel Harper also brings a top-two mark into the meet with a 1:53.09 time in the 800-meter run. Travis Herrera and Nathaniel Drotts are both in the top-five in the pole vault. In addition to the individual marks, the Whitworth men also have the third-fastest 4x400 meter relay time in the NWC.
On the women's side, Sarah Martinez leads the Whitworth sprinters with the second-best 400-meter dash time in the NWC as well as the fourth-fasted 400-meter hurdles time. In the distance events, Marissa Mount and Bailey Scott own two top-five times in the steeplechase and a pair of top-ten times in the 5,000-meter run. The Pirates also feature two of the top throwers in the NWC in Chloe Quinnett, who leads the conference in the shot put, and Danielle Openiano, who is third in the discus. The Bucs' 4x100 and 4x400-meter relays are both in the top-three in the NWC.
Outdoor National Championships: The NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships take place May 24-26 in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.
Looking Ahead: The Pirates travel to Corvallis for the Oregon State High Performance meet.
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).