CLAREMONT, Calif. – Scott Gage became the first Linfield runner to qualify for the NCAA Cross Country Championships in two seasons after placing seventh overall at the West Region Championships held Saturday on a twisty course that wound around the campuses of Pomona-Pitzer Colleges.
As a team, the Wildcat men placed seventh among 20 squads; the Linfield women finished fifth overall.
Gage completed the eight-kilometer course in 25 minutes, 35 seconds. He was the second competitor from the Northwest Conference to cross the finish line after Willamette’s Leo Castillo, who was fourth overall.
“Scott ran really well,” said head coach Travis Olson. “He really backed up his performance at the conference meet [where he finished second]. Right from the get-go, he looked comfortable and looked like he belonged up front.”
Also earning all-region honors for Linfield was Joe Gladow (Jr., Shoreline, Wash.), who finished 31st in a time of 26:23.8.
Rounding out the top five scoring runners for the Wildcats were seniors Alex Van Slyke, Arian Anderson and Eric Weinbender. Van Slyke was 40th (26:36.6), Anderson placed 46th (26:52.6) and Weinbender took 50th (26:56.5).
Linfield scored 174 points to finish seventh, two places better than the team fared at the 2010 regional meet. The ‘Cats were the third-fastest team from the Northwest Conference, behind Willamette (fourth overall) and Whitworth (sixth).
The Colorado College and Occidental teams are both headed to the national championship meet after finishing 1-2 to earn the region’s two automatic-qualifying berths. Colorado College placed two runners in the top five, including individual champion Jackson Brainerd, who topped the field with a time of 24 minutes, 53.4 seconds.
Nelly Evans paced the Wildcat women, who placed fifth overall in the team standings. She finished 20th in a time of 22 minutes, 36.6 seconds. Close behind were Mimi Seeley (Jr., Redmond, Ore.) and Shanna Peaden, who finished 24th and 26th, respectively. All three runners earned all-region honors by placing in the top 35.
“Nelly did a great job staying composed through the race,” Olson said. The junior passed teammate Seeley over the last few hundred meters to finish first for the ‘Cats.
Olson said he was also impressed with Peaden, who overcame a nagging hamstring injury to finish third among the Linfield runners.
Also contributing to the final team score were newcomers Madison Trowbridge (Soph., Portland, Ore.) and Audrey Lichten (Soph., Sequim, Wash.). Trowbridge was 39th (23:07.5) and Lichten took 51st (23:21.2).
The fourth-place Linfield women significantly improved upon their regional performance a season ago, when they placed 10th. The ‘Cats also placed higher among Northwest Conference schools (second) than they did at the league championships two weeks ago (third).
Pomona-Pitzer’s Annie Lydens won her second straight individual crown, covering the six-kilometer course in 21 minutes, 26.1 seconds. She finished nearly seven seconds ahead of the runner-up, Illana Livstrom of Lewis & Clark. Livstom, who was won the Northwest Conference meet, posted a time of 21:33.0.
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps repeated as the team champion, scoring 39 points after placing three runners in the top 10. Willamette was second with 131 points. Both teams will compete at the national meet.
NEXT: The NCAA Championships, hosted by UW-Oshkosh, will be held next Saturday at the Lake Breeze Golf Course in Winneconne, Wis. In addition to the top two teams from the West Region along with the top seven finishers not part of those two clubs, at-large spots for individuals and teams will be announced Sunday.
First trip to NCAA Championships
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