Whitman women fifth, men seventh at NWC Cross Country Championships

News Release Date:
Saturday, October 27

FOREST GROVE, Ore. — The Whitman College men and women cross country runners will have two weeks to set aside Saturday’s rainy, muddy Northwest Conference Championships and focus in on their season-long primary objective.

The Missionary women ran fifth and the men finished seventh here Saturday at the Sunset Forest Grove Golf Course, places that were somewhat disappointing for Whitman coach Scott Shields but at the same time not entirely unexpected.

“We’re a little disappointed in how we finished as a team, both for the men and the women,” Shields said. “But ultimately, we know that the bigger picture is the race in two weeks.”

Emilie Gilbert, Sr.

That would be the NCAA Division III West Regional meet Nov. 10 at the Oak Knoll Golf Course in Independence, Ore. True, the Missionaries could run into another inclement day of racing in the Willamtte Valley south of Salem, but this time they’ll be in top racing form.

Because the regional race is the qualifier for the NCAA Division III national competition, Shields, as is his norm, did not taper his runners’ training regimen going into the conference meet. That begins today as the Whits zero in on regionals.

“We’re coming home to focus on having our best race of the season in two weeks,” Shields said. “We are pretty confident we can overtake some of the teams that beat us here Saturday, especially the guys.”

Conditions were not pretty Saturday, Shields said.

“It was wet and it rained the entire day,” the coach said. “It was kind of a mess. And the women ran after the men on the same course, so it was pretty beat up and chewed up.

“But the conditions were the same for every runner out there,” he added.

The highlight for Whitman came from senior twin sisters Emilie and Katri Gilbert of Bellevue, Wash., who finished two seconds apart in ninth and 10 places in the field of 82 women runners. That was good enough that they each earned all-NWC honoable mention.

“For the women’s team, it was wonderful to see Emilie and Katri earn all-conference, which is the top 14,” Shields said, noting that the first seven runners are first-team all-NWC and the next seven are honorable mention.

“Emilie was just two places out of first team,” Shields said. “And this year’s competition was really strong and dynamic.”

Katri Gilbert, Sr.

Meet host Lewis & Clark College’s women’s team  ruled the day on the soggy trail as Pioneers teammates Emily Thomas and Melissa Newton-Mora finished 1-2. Thomas won the race in 22:37, a 6:04-minute average over 6 kilometers, and Newton-Mora was 13 seconds behind Thomas in second place at 22:50.

Lewis & Clark runners filled five of the top eight spots in the field and the Pioneers’ top seven runners averaged 23:03 per kilometer for a 1:55:13 team time. That was one second shy of a two-minute advantage over second-place Willamette, which placed three runners in the top eight. 

Whitworth University placed third and Linfield College fourth before Whitman’s fifth-place finish with an average time of 23:56 for its top seven runners.

Emilie Gilbert finished ninth in a time of 23:26 and Katri was just two seconds behind her sister and in 10th place. The Gilberts helped Whitman to a combined team time of 1:59:38 for its top seven runners.

Senior Shannon McCarty (Seattle) ran third for the Missionaries in a time of 24:07, good for 24th place overall. Freshman Emily Williams (Saratoga, Calif.) was two spots back in 26th place in a time of 24:11.

Freshman Julie Wood (San Jose, Calif.) was 38th in 24:26, Sophomore Erin Campbell (Santa Barbara, Calif.) placed 42nd in a time of 24:30 and senior Lori Mendelsohn (Porotolo, Calif.) finished 46th and had a 24:40 time.

Whitman’s fifth place finish was one place lower than the fourth-place finish the Missionaries earned the last two years at this meet.

Whitman’s men’s team posted a combined time of 2:17:45 for its top seven runners over 8 kilometers. The Missionaries averaged 27:33 individually.

Senior Cory Rand (Mill Valley, Calif.) paced the Whits in a time of 26:55, which was good for 16th place. Senior Taylor Mesojednik (Bellevue, Wash.) was 10 spots back in 26th place in 27:22, and junior Spencer Corwin (Coto de Caza, Calif.) finished 35th in the 82-runner field in 27:39.

Rounding out Whitman’s seven-man team were sophomore Carl Garrett (Mercer Island, Wash.), 40th place, 27:53; junior Joe Mayo (Yorba Linda, Calif.), 45th, 27:56; sophomore Colin Domonoske (Claremont, Calif.), 51st, 28:10; and junior Chris Farley (Toppenish, Wash.), 53rd, 28:13.

Willamette’s Parker Bennett was the individual champion in 25:48, an average of 5:12 over the 8K race, and he led the Bearcats to the team championship. Willamette’s total time of 2:12:35 was more than two minutes faster than second-place Lewis & Clark, which totaled 2:14:53.