by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth track and field team has a busy week ahead of it with members of the team competing for three of the next four days at two different meets.
The Pirates decathletes and heptathletes travel to Linfield College for the Northwest Conference Combined Events Championships on Monday and Tuesday, April 15-16. Then, the rest of the Bucs compete in the Whitworth Twilight meet on Thursday, April 18. The twilight meet is the Pirates' final tune-up before the rest of the NWC Championships next week.
Live results for the combined events championships are available here. A tentative meet schedule for the twilight meet is available on the track and field schedule and will be updated later in the week.
Last Time Out: Several Pirates qualified for the Northwest Conference Championships in a rain-shortened day at the Pelluer Invite. Among the Bucs who qualified were freshmen Ryan Wagar, who set a new personal record in the triple jump as well, and Mary Neder, whose steeplechase time was also a career-best. Marissa Mount and Stephen Haugland will return to the championships after posting qualifying marks in the 1,500 meters and discus, respectively. Nathaniel Drotts and Olivia Lytle each improved their standing within the NWC at the Pelluer Invite. Drotts' 14-foot 11-inch pole vault now ranks first and Lytle's 35-foot 6 ¾-inch triple jump now sits in the top-five.
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 12th-best discus throw in the nation.
Nick McGill is the only Pirate man in national qualifying position after Pelluer. McGill maintains the second-best decathlon total in the nation in addition to the 13th-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.
USTFCCCA Rankings: The Pirate women are a top-15 team in Division III according to the USTFCCCA rankings released last week. The Bucs earned a second-week ranking of 15th, and the Pirate men ranked 65th. Whitworth men rank fifth in the west region and the women rank sixth. Updated rankings will be released on Tuesday.
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 Pirates travel to Tacoma, Wash. for the Northwest Conference Championships, which are hosted by Pacific Lutheran on April 26 and 27.
The Coach: Now in his 21st 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).