by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
SPOKANE, Wash. – After opening its season in August at Clash of the Inland Northwest, Whitworth cross country is headed to the west side of Washington for Saturday morning's Pacific Lutheran Invitational.
The PLU invite takes place at the PLU Cross Country course in Tacoma, Wash. The women's race is scheduled to begin at 11:00 a.m. with the men's race following at 11:30 a.m. The meet is hosted by the Pacific Lutheran and more information is available here.
Last Time Out: The Bucs opened their season with a pair of seventh place team finishes at Clash of the Inland Northwest. Krystal Roberts led the Pirate women with a personal record and the top time among Division III competitors. She was followed closely by a pair of freshmen, Ellie Shoop and Emma Bates. William Glick posted the top time among Pirate men with Aidan Smith and Jacob Clark following closely behind.
Regional Rankings: The first in-season USTFCCCA regional rankings were released Tuesday and both Pirate teams own spots in the top-ten. The Whitworth women are ranked fifth in the West, and the men were picked in tenth.
Woman of the Year: Former Pirate cross country runner Kayla Leland was selected as one of the 30 finalists for the NCAA's Woman of the Year Award this week. Leland is the first Pirate to be chosen as a finalist for the award and the second Buc in three years to be the Northwest Conference's Woman of the Year.
National Championships: The 2018 NCAA Division III National Championships will take place on November 17 in Oshkosh, Wis.
Recent Championship History: Whitworth has a proud history of competing at the cross country national championships, including two All-America performances and top-20 finishes for the women's team in each of the last three seasons.
2017 – Kayla Leland took home All-American honors by finishing 19th and led the Whitworth women to an 11th place finish, the team's second-best in school history.
2016 – Leland placed 11th in Whitworth's best ever individual performance at the Division III National Championships. Leland's All-American performance helped the Bucs place 17th, the third-best result in school history.
2015 – Allison Wood and Kellyn Roiko finished in 85th and 86th place respectively to lead the Pirates to a 20th place team finish. Christopher MacMurray earned an individual bid to the meet and finished 217th.
Looking Ahead: The Bucs have a week off from competition before traveling to Salem, Ore. for the Charles Bowles Invitational on Sept. 29.
The Coach: The fall of 2018 marks Dr. Toby Schwarz's 21st season as head coach of the Whitworth Cross Country program. During his time at Whitworth Schwarz has been named West Region Coach of the Year four times and Northwest Conference Coach of the Year on seven occasions. Schwarz was selected as the NWC Women's Coach of the Year in 2017 after leading Whitworth to its third straight conference title.