BROOKS, Ore. – Reigning Northwest Conference champions Lewis & Clark and Whitworth successfully defended their cross country titles in the women’s and men’s races, respectively, on a foggy Saturday morning at Willamette Mission State Park.
Proving that every runner matters, both clubs won by slim margins; only two points separated the champion from the runner-up in the women’s race, and four points on the men’s side.
On the women’s side, both Lewis & Clark and Willamette placed three runners in the top 10, but the Pioneers held a 64-62 advantage over the Bearcats in the final team scores.
Lewis & Clark’s Illana Livstrom paced the two-time team champions. A clear favorite to win the individual title, Livstrom led the race from start to finish and topped the women’s field by a full 10 seconds. After running with a pack throughout most of the race, Livstrom finally pulled away over the third and final two-kilometer loop to complete the six-kilometer course in 21 minutes, 50.04 seconds.
Livstrom was the first of three Lewis & Clark runners to finish in the top 10, along with Emily Thomas (fourth) and Corrine Innes (eighth).
Joy Shufeldt of Whitworth placed second overall (22:00.44) and Willamette’s Theresa Edwards was third (22:01.61). Bearcat teammates Michaela Freeby and Kaitlin Greene finished 5-6 to help lead Willamette to a second-place finish.
Mimi Seeley (Jr., Redmond, Ore.) was the top placer for the third-place Linfield club, finishing seventh overall in a time of 22:29.42. Rounding out the top 10 were Erin Campbell of Whitman and Linfield’s Nelly Evans.
After Lewis & Clark and Willamette, placing third through ninth in the final team standings were Linfield (73), Whitman (75), Puget Sound (117), Whitworth (171), Pacific Lutheran (171), Pacific (200) and George Fox (261).
The men’s race was also a nail-biter, at least according to the team results. Once the top five runners were accounted for, Whitworth edged Willamette for the second straight year, totaling 45 points to the Bearcats’ 49.
But as far as the individual results were concerned, it wasn’t even close.
Leo Castillo of Willamette was hardly challenged on his way to a repeat title. The senior quickly broke away from the rest of the field and ran alone for the final three loops, winning the race by a whopping 19 seconds at 25:02.52.
Crossing the line first for team champion Whitworth was Trevor Berrian, who finished third overall in a time of 25 minutes, 26.33 seconds. Also placing in the top 10 for the Pirates were Aaron Jenkins (fifth) and Tyler Dudley (seventh).
Linfield’s Scott Gage ran extremely well for the host team, placing second overall in a time of 25:21.74. Alan DenAdel of Pacific Lutheran was fourth.
In addition to Castillo, two other Bearcats placed in the top 10: Ben Donovan (sixth) and Kevin Aubol (eighth). Caleb Sturgill of Lewis & Clark and Daniel Flora of Pacific placed ninth and tenth, respectively.
Whitworth and Willamette held the top two spots in the team scores, and were followed by Linfield (84), Lewis & Clark (124), Pacific (138), Whitman (145), Pacific Lutheran 9182), Puget Sound (189) and George Fox (208).
The top seven finishers in each race were accorded all-Northwest Conference first team honors; finishers eight through 14 received second team recognition. Lewis & Clark’s Keith Woodard and Whitworth’s Toby Schwartz were selected by their peers as women’s and men’s coaches of the year, respectively.
NOTES: The Lewis & Clark women won just their second league championship in program history…the Whitworth men won their third crown in four seasons and fifth title overall...Castillo became the sixth back-to-back men’s champion in Northwest Conference history…temperature at race time was in the low-50s…team champions received a trophy and t-shirts.
COMING UP: Teams have two weeks to prepare for the NCAA Regionals, held Saturday, Nov. 12 on the campus of Pomona-Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif.
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