Given the nature of his team, which relies on strength, stamina and strategy rather than sheer foot speed, Whitman coach Keith Jensen had hoped for foul weather and a sloppy rather than fast track for Saturday's championship event.
"The weather was bad on Friday -- it was cold, windy and wet," he said. "By Saturday morning, though, the weather was just beautiful. It was 45 degrees, sunny and no wind."
The women's field, which included 339 runners from 35 schools, took full advantage of Wisconsin's unusually mild weather. Nearly half of the pack -- 165 runners in all -- finished the 5,000-meter course in under 20 minutes. A year ago, less than 70 runners accomplished that feat.
Simon Fraser's Cari Rampersad won the race in 17:14 to lead her school to the national team title. Whitman's best finish came from senior Oni Ogsbury, who placed 39th in a time of 18:47, just 10 seconds out of the 30th spot. The top 30 runners earn All-American honors.
Running for the fourth time at nationals, Ogsbury recorded her best-ever time. Her placing (34th) was higher in 1994 but her time was slower (19:13) that year.
Whitman's other senior, Emily Anderson, also had a good race, placing 43rd in a time of 18:50. A four-time competitor at nationals, Anderson also ran her best-ever national time and matched her best previous placing from 1994.
"As they have all season, Oni and Emily ran hard and well," Jensen said. "A year ago, their times would have earned them All-American honors."
While Ogsbury and Anderson ran well enough to keep Whitman in the top 10, scoring from the remainder of the team suffered due to health problems or simple inexperience. Senior Dorothy Metcalf, a three-time national competitor who placed 84th last year, missed this year's race because of injury. Melissa Thorne, a junior who placed 100th last year, struggled with a case of the flu and slipped all the way to 253rd this year in a time of 20:44.
Faye Hutchison, a sophomore who placed 130th last season, was slowed this fall by leg problems and finished 213th on Saturday in a time of 20:26.
Whitman's two healthy freshmen ran well in their first trip to nationals, Jensen said. Taylor Dale broke the 20-minute mark, placing 147th in 19:52, while Kitty Rasmussen finished 198th in 20:18. A third Missionary freshman, Elisa Bobnes, who missed much of the season with a foot injury, ran a 20:48 to place in the 262nd spot.
|Oni Ogsbury||Emily Anderson||Taylor Dale|
Keith Jensen, Whitman Cross Country Coach, (509) 527-5263
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Dave Holden, Whitman College Sports Information, (509) 527-5902
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