by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth track and field team travels west this weekend to compete in the Northwest Conference Championships, which are hosted by Pacific Lutheran.
The championship meet begins at 2 p.m. on Friday, April 27 with the steeplechase and four field events. The starting gun will be up for Saturday's events at 10:30 a.m. More information, including a full schedule and live results links, is available here.
Last Time Out: Between the Northwest Conference Combined Events Championship and Whitworth Twilight meet, the Bucs had a stellar run-up to the conference championships. At the NWC Combined Events, Nick McGill climbed his way back up the standings to earn a win in the decathlon and Izzy Clark was the runner-up for the second straight season. McGill outraced his previous career-best in the 1,500 meters to secure the win and Clark put forth strong performances in the 200-meter dash and 100-meter hurdles.
At the Whitworth Twilight meet he Pirates racked up more than 15 new career-best marks last week en route to earning three of the Northwest Conference's four student-athletes of the week in track and field. Nathaniel Drotts was the NWC men's field athlete of the week with a 15-foot 5-inch leap in the pole vault, the top mark in the conference. Rhett Streeter earned NWC men's track athlete of the week honors with a pair of top-five conference marks, and career-bests, in the 100 and 200-meter dashes. Kameha Medallada rounded out the strong week with by earning NWC women's track athlete of the week recognition for top-10 times in the same events. The Pirates also set five career-bests last week in the hammer throw and four in the discus.
How the Bucs Stack Up: Entering the NWC Championships, the Pirates own the top marks in several events and rank in the top-three in several more. Izzy Clark owns two of the three top times for the Whitworth women, ranking first in the 100 and 400-meter hurdles. Marissa Mount claims the other with the top time in the steeplechase. Mount also owns the NWC Championship meet record in the steeplechase after running the event in 10:25.87 last year.
The Pirate men also own three of the top individual performances in the conference and the best time in the 4x400-meter relay. Jacob Hubbard leads the NWC in the hammer throw after setting a new career-best in the event at the Whitworth Twilight. Drotts also already topped the conference in the pole vault, but extended his lead last week. Nick McGill owns the final top spot for the Whitworth men with a 195-foot 3-inch javelin throw.
National Rankings: A few 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.
The Whitworth women currently boast two student-athletes in national qualifying position. Izzy Clark leads the Bucs with qualifying marks in the heptathlon, 100-meter hurdles, 400-meter hurdles, and javelin. Kayla Rambo joins Clark in qualifying position with the 13th-best discus throw in the nation.
Nick McGill is the only Pirate man in national qualifying position after the Twilight meet. McGill maintains the third-best decathlon total in the nation in addition to the 14th-best javelin throw.
Record-Breaking Bucs: Between the two of them, Izzy Clark and Nick McGill now own five new indoor and outdoor records. Clark set new school records in the pentathlon and 60-meter hurdles during the indoor season and owns best the heptathlon point total for the outdoor season. McGill set an indoor record in the pentathlon and a Boppell Track record in the decathlon.
Coaches Poll: Northwest Conference coaches foresee both Pirate teams remaining among the best in the NWC in 2019. Both the men's and women's teams were picked to finish second in the conference coaches poll and the men earned one of the nine first place votes.
Up Next: The Bucs will be all over the Northwest next weekend, competing at the Portland Twilight, Spokane Falls Memorial, and Linfield Open.
The Coach: Now in his 23rd 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 95 student-athletes earned a spot in the the NCAA Division III outdoor track and field championships and come home with 48 All-America (top-8) performances. Schwarz has coached Pirate athletes to eight individual national titles over the same time frame (nine 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 31 Coach of the Year awards, including the 2016 NCAA West Region men's outdoor award and 2016 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).