Cross Country Championships
The sloppy, rainy conditions at the Northwest Conference Cross Country Championships in Forest Grove, Ore. highlighted what turned out to be a sub-par day for both the Whitman men’s and women’s cross country teams.
The men finished in seventh place as a team, while the women finished in fifth. Strategy, however, has to be factored in when considering the results of the past weekend. Two weeks from now, both the men’s and women’s cross country teams will travel to Independence, Ore. to compete in the NCAA DIII West Regional meet. This meet will determine who qualifies for the NCAA DIII National meet, which is naturally the ultimate goal for both of Head Coach Scott Shields’ teams.
Shields believes his Missionaries will use these two weeks to get fully rested and ready for Regionals on Nov. 10, which is the season’s most pivotal meet. If an athlete is fortunate enough to do well in Regionals, he or she may earn a ticket to Nationals, where they have a chance to compete for a National Title as well as All-American honors.
“Our team results do not show our strength, but our team is focused on a big finish to the season at the Regional race in two weeks. I’m confident the women’s team can move up into the top three in our conference and our men into the top five,” said Shields.
Despite the mediocre team results, there were individual performances on both the men’s and women’s teams that merit cause for excitement.
On the women’s side, the dynamic sister duo of seniors Emilie and Katri Gilbert led the Missionaries with finishes of ninth and 10th, respectively. Senior Shannon McCarty finished in 24th while first-year Emily Williams was close behind in 26th. With their top-10 finishes, Emilie and Katri Gilbert earned second team all-conference honors.
For the men, senior Cory Rand led the charge with a 16th place finish. Senior Taylor Mesojednik finished 26th while junior Spencer Corwin finished 35th. Rand’s efforts left him just short of earning a spot on the NWC All-Conference team.
“Individually, we had a very good day,” said Shields.
Emilie Gilbert believes that the solid individual performances this past weekend will hopefully be joined by more exceptional races from the rest of the deep roster that the women’s team possesses.
“Our team has so much potential and depth, as two of our freshmen, Julia Wood and Emily Williams, have been improving every race. Shannon McCarty has stepped up so much this season, with some phenomenal races, and our entire top five has their eyes on an All-Region medal,” said Gilbert.
The Whitman cross country teams will suit up once again in two weeks at the DIII West Regionals Nov. 10, where the Missionaries will have chances to qualify both teams and individuals for DIII Nationals Nov. 17 in Terre Haute, Ind.