by Korey Hope
The Whitworth women’s cross country team finished in 10th place out of 18 teams at the NCAA Division III West Region Championships hosted by Willamette last Saturday. The team needed a second place finish overall to get a national bid, and therefore saw their season come to an end.
The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps of California took first in the event, followed by the Lewis & Clark. Host Willamette finished in third, just over 30 points away from winning a berth at Nationals.
Sophomore Christina Anderson led the Pirates with a 27th place finish overall and a 6k time of 22:25.71. The top seven individual runners not already on one of the two teams advancing, had the opportunity to compete at Nationals individually, leaving Anderson and her 27th place finish a mere eight runners from a national bid. Anderson has run strong all year for the Bucs, always finishing among the top four Pirate finishers.
Freshman Kellyn Roiko finished second for the Pirates, coming in at 22:43.29 and 41st overall, followed by senior Celeste Northcott and junior Elisabeth Spencer at 49th and 56th overall, respectively. Although there was a lot on the line, Anderson said the only difference in the Regionals race as opposed to regular season race were the opportunities to advance to the national meet.
“It was different in the sense that we went in knowing we had a chance to make it nationals,” Anderson said.
Rounding out the top five Pirates at Regionals was freshman Katie McKay, who was an alternate at the beginning of the week. Sophomore Jaclyn Geyer was originally Whitworth’s fifth runner, however she could not compete at regionals due to a lower leg injury.
“She has been running through a foot problem all year,” McKay said. “She has been a trooper, but knew she wouldn’t be able to race at Regionals.”
McKay, who ran in just one race in this year’s regular season, was called upon to race at the NWC Championships as well as Regionals last Saturday, where she finished with a personal best time by over a minute and a half.
“I felt like I was running for Jaclyn, so I ran the race with that on my shoulders,” McKay said. “You have a choice on how you want to perform every race, as long as you keep picking people off.”
With two freshman finishing in the top five for the Pirates at such a big race, and four of their top five finishers returning next year, the team recognizes the promise with their squad.
“We are a really young team, and we all put in a lot of hard work and effort,” Anderson said. “There is a lot potential with this team.”
Roiko, who was the top-performing freshman for the Pirates this year, had nothing but positive things to say about the team’s future she said the valuable experience gained at a race such as Regionals will benefit the squad in the future.
“Now we know the atmosphere of Regionals,” Roiko said. “So we know what it will take to make it to Nationals next year.”
Contact Korey Hope at firstname.lastname@example.org.