SPOKANE, Wash. – Five individual top-20 finishes highlighted Linfield's trip to the 2013 Northwest Conference Championships, contested on a dreary Saturday morning at the Downriver Golf Course.
Collectively, the Wildcats finished fourth and fifth on the women's and men's sides, respectively, with the women matching their performance from a season ago and the men improving by one position in the team standings.
Michael O'Neil and Alex Mangan (Soph., Klamath Falls, Ore.) paced Linfield in the first race of the morning, taking 11th and 14th overall. O'Neil clocked in at 25:45.16 for his first career championship event, while Mangan completed the eight-kilometer course in 25 minutes, 49.21 seconds. Both were accorded second team all-conference honors.
Linfield's No. 3 runner, Calvin Howell (Jr., San Antonio, Texas), was the 22nd competitor to cross the finish line after 26 minutes, 12.26 seconds. Struggling to keep pace with the leaders due to an injury sustained three weeks previously, Joe Gladow (Sr., Shoreline, Wash.) finished 38th overall in 26:48.02.
Adrian Clifford (Fr., Sequim, Wash.) rounded out the scoring quintet for the Wildcat men with a 46th-place effort (27:05.14).
Linfield scored 128 points, finishing fifth among the nine Northwest Conference programs. Willamette successfully defended its title, totaling 49 points to outdistance runner-up Puget Sound by 20 points. Bearcat Parker Bennett repeated as the individual champion, completing the course in 24 minutes, 30.62 seconds.
Over on the women's side, veterans Hannah Greider (Sr., Shoreline, Wash.), Siena Noe (Sr., Yakima, Wash.) and Katie Skinner (Sr., Portland, Ore.) posted top-20 finishes to lead the Wildcats to a second consecutive top-four team finish.
All enjoyed career-best showings in the individual standings: Greider was 11th in 23:00.58, Noe took 13th in 23:03.32 and Skinner placed 16th in 23:12.14. As two of the top 14 competitors, Greider and Noe received second team all-conference honors.
Brooke Niemann (Jr., Bellevue, Wash.) and Madison Trowbridge (Jr., Portland, Ore.) finished among the first 35 runners to complete the six-kilometer course. Niemann clocked in at 23:39.16 to take 29th while Trowbridge was 35th with a time of 23 minutes, 44.84 seconds.
As a team, the Wildcats totaled 104 points, three more than third-place Whitman. Led by individual champion Michaela Freeby (21:42.19), Willamette scored a meet-low 37 points, 15 fewer than Whitworth, to claim its first team title since 2008. Three-time defending champion Lewis & Clark took sixth (113).
COMING UP: Linfield has two weeks to rest up for the NCAA Division III West Regionals, contested Saturday, Nov. 16 in Claremont, Calif.
Records top-15 finish in first career NWC Championships
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