by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
SPOKANE, Wash. – After racking up individual honors and two strong team finishes at the Northwest Conference Championships, the Whitworth Pirates travel to Walla Walla, Wash. this weekend for the NCAA Division III West Regional.
Whitman College hosts the regional, which will be run on Veterans Memorial Golf Course. Veterans Memorial GC was the site of the 2017 Northwest Conference Championships, which Whitworth won.
The women's 6-kilometer regional is scheduled to begin the day at 9:00 a.m. The 8-kilometer men's race starts at 10:00 a.m., and an awards ceremony closes the day at 11:30 a.m. More information about the regional is available on the race's information page.
Last Time Out: The Pirate women finished second and the men finished third behind some sterling individual performances at the Northwest Conference Championships two weeks ago. Marissa Mount was the meet's individual women's champion, placing 16 seconds in front of her closest competition. Krystal Roberts joined Mount on the All-NWC first team with a fourth place finish, and Ellie Shoop's eighth place result earned her NWC Freshman of the Year. On the men's side, Joel Mott and Aidan Smith earned all-conference second team honors. Mott and Smith finished 13th and 14th, respectively, just edging teammate William Glick for their All-NWC selections.
Regional Rankings: The most recent in-season USTFCCCA regional rankings were released Tuesday and both Pirate teams own spots in the top-ten. The Whitworth women are ranked eighth in the West, and the men were picked ninth.
Woman of the Year: Former Pirate cross country runner Kayla Leland was selected as one of the nine finalists for the NCAA's Woman of the Year Award. 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 are hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh on November 17 in Oshkosh, Wis.
Recent National 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: Any Pirates who qualify for the NCAA Division III National Championships travel to Oshkosh, Wis. on November 17. The top-two teams and top-seven individuals who aren't on a top-two team from each regional will qualify.
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.