By Dominic Baez
With a core group of proven returning runners and a bounty of freshmen to bolster its forces, the women’s cross country team is off to a fast start this year.
Leading the pack is junior Marci Klimek, who powered through the Whitman Invitational on Sept. 6, earning first place and securing a fourth place finish for the team. She ran the four-kilometer race in 14 minutes, 30 seconds.
Freshmen Nelly Evans, Brooke Keudell, Shanna Peaden and Lindsey Thomas, also ran for Linfield.
Evans finished 14th with a time of 15:39.
Klimek also excelled at the Summer’s End Invitational, hosted by Western Oregon University on Aug. 29.
Klimek placed first, winning the meet with a time of 18:39 for the 5K course. She finished the race with a 20-meter lead, a distance not easily surpassed by the runners behind her.
Klimek also placed 68th at the NCAA championships last year.
However, she is not the only standout returning athlete on the team.
Junior Frances Corcorran said she is looking forward to racing this season, as she was injured for both the cross country and track seasons last year. She has goals for herself and the team.
“For the team, I am looking forward to hopefully competing in the conference and regional championships as a whole team,” Corcoran said. “Everyone is working hard, and so we just need to keep doing that and then we will be able to get stronger and faster and work on closing gaps between our runners.”
Because of the larger-than-normal freshman class this year, the team is jam-packed with freshmen.
“There are a lot of freshmen on the team on both the girls’ and guys’ sides,” Corcorran said. “That brings new talent to the team and just an overall new team dynamic, both of which have been very positive for us this year. I am really excited about the women participants on the team. We have a lot of potential.”
Also returning is junior Amanda DeHass, who earned All-Region acclaim in 2005.
The core of freshmen running behind Klimek’s leadership and strong performances shows promise for the cross country program.
Placing a dissapointing sixth in the NWC last year, it’s likely that the team will finish near the top of the conference this fall, stacked with raw talent and under the direction of head coach Gary Killgore.
Next, the Wildcats will travel to the Lewis & Clark Collegiate Invitational Saturday, Sept. 13.
After that, they host the Linfield Open, which is open to anyone who enters the $50 team fee, on Sept. 26 at Joe DancerPark.