by Brandon Loiler, Sports Information Assistant
SPOKANE, Wash. - The Whitworth track & field teams will look for their seventh (mens) and third (women's) straight conference title while hosting the 2017 Northwest Conference Championships at the Whitworth Pine Bowl on Friday and Saturday, April 21-22. Events will begin at 2:30 p.m. on Friday and 10:30 a.m. the following day.
Click here for the official NWC Championships Website.
The Whitworth Women: Searching for a three peat, the defending Northwest Conference Champion women hold top marks in eight of the 18 events that will decide the 2017 conference champion. Coming out of the Twilight Meet on April 13, Whitworth had athletes qualify for conference in 18 events including four apiece in the triple jump and the 400-meter hurdles.
After dominating throughout the indoor and the outdoor track & field seasons, Kayla Leland enters the championships with the fastest time in the 800, 1500, and 5000-meter runs. In the 800, her time of 2:11.60 that she ran at the 6th Annual Whitworth Twilight meet puts her three seconds ahead of Puget Sounds Emery Bradlina (2:14.68) and for the 1500, Leland's time of 4:33.73 gives her the fastest time in the NWC by almost seven seconds. Similarly, her 5000-meter run school-record shattering time of 17:07.11 gives her 34 second edge on second-fastest Stephenie Spencer (Pacific, 17:41.95).
Sarah Cool enters the conference championships with top five marks in the 100, 200, and 400 dashes at 12.68, 26.01, and 58.44, respectively.
In the 400 hurdles, Sarah Martinez and her time of 1:02.53 from the Puget Sound Shotwell Invitational gives her a near second lead over George Fox's Sarah King. She is joined in the top five in the conference by teammate Maggie Callan who ran a 1:04.10 at the Whitworth Twilight meet.
The 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams sit at first and second, respectively in the conference. The two teams ran times of 49.22 and 4:05.74 at the Shotwell invitational. The Bruins are first in the 4x400 relay in 3:54.43.
While breaking her own school-record by over a foot, Kayla Brase took the top mark by 1' 1.75." She enters the event as one of four Pirates that qualified. Brase also qualified in the long jump at the combined event championships with a distance of 4' 11.75."
The Pirate Men: Heading into conference as seven-time defending conference champions, the men hold eight top three marks. At the final meet before the NWC Championships, Whitworth had 16 individuals qualify for conference.
John-Robert Woolley with his time of 55.15 in the 400-meter hurdles leads the conference. Woolley also ranks second in the 110 hurdles in 15.50, less than half a second behind Puget Sound's Matt Wells.
The 4x100 (42.84) and 4x400-meter (3:25.91) relay teams both rank third in the conference. In 42.84 seconds, the 4x100 relay team is less than a second behind first place George Fox in 42.12. The Bruins also hold the fastest time in the 4x400 relay in 3:22.18.
Jacob Hubbards distance of 169' 7" (51.68m) is .02 meters behind Lucas Hatton from Pacific Lutheran.
After holding the top mark in the javelin for almost the entire season, Andrew Bloom (218' 1", 66.63m) now ranks second in the conference behind Seth Nonnenmacher (226' 9", 69.11m).
The Coach: Entering his 20th season as head coach, Toby Schwarz has earned 29 Coach of the Year awards. Since 2008, Schwarz has sent 84 athletes to the Division III National Championships where 43 earned All-America honors in addition to leading the men to six straight NWC crowns and the women to back-to-back titles.