WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Sophomores Yasmeen Colis, Sara McCune and Michela Corcorran for the women and senior Brian Woods for the men earned all-region honors as the Whitman College cross country teams ran in Saturday's NCAA Div. III West Region Championships at McIver State Park in Estacada, Ore.
Sparked by a strong showing from its top three, the Missionary women's team placed fourth in a field of 16 teams. Whitman, one of only two teams to put three runners in the top 20, totaled 133 place points for its top five finishers.
Colorado College edged Whitman for third place, scoring 121 points. As expected, Willamette dominated the women's race with 43 points while Puget Sound took second with 86 points. Willamette swept the top two individual spots and put five runners in the top 20.
The Whitman men's squad, slowed in recent weeks by a number of nagging injuries and bouts with illness, placed 11th in the team scoring with 269 points. Willamette also took first on the men's side with 50 place points. Occidental was second with 72 points, followed by Colorado with 86 and Linfield with 101.
The top two teams in both of Saturday's races gain automatic bids to the NCAA National Championships, slated for next Saturday in Northfield, Minn. One and possibly two women's teams from the West Region might also get at-large bids to nationals, Whitman coach Malcolm Dunn said. "We still have an outside shot at sending our women's team to nationals, but we won't know until Sunday," he said.
Colis paced the Whitman women, finishing 15th on the 6,000-meter course in 22:51.80. McCune and Corcorran were right behind, placing 16th and 17th, respectively, in near identical times of 22:54.55 and 22:54.65. "Sara and Michela were side by side as they crossed the finish line," Dunn said. "Officials had to look at the video tape to sort out which one finished ahead of the other."
Whitman's big three finished in the same order at last year's regional race, placing 19th, 21st and 28th to gain all-region honors in their first college season.
In the men's race Saturday, Woods closed out his running career in fine style by placing 28th in 26:20.65 for the 8,000 meters. Woods finished 50th at last fall's regional race.
"We're excited most today by how well our top three women ran," Dunn said. "They ran as a pack the whole way and had a great race. They performed admirably."
The top seven individuals not on national qualifying teams will also advance to the national championships. If Colorado, by virtue of its third-place showing on Saturday, gets an at-large berth but Whitman doesn't as the fourth-place team, Colis, McCune and Corcorran will be the first three alternates for the additional individual berths at nationals.
"Our women's team couldn't have run much better than it did today," Dunn said. "Most of the team returns, and if recruiting goes well for next season, we should make it onto the national stage soon."
Sophomore Amy Chapman, who placed 44th Saturday in 23:48.35, and senior Lisa Taylor, who was 59th in 24:04.80, rounded out Whitman's team score. Also running were sophomore Emily Rodriguez, who was 76th in 24:39.10, and first-year competitor Chelsea Momany, who was 86th in 25:04.95.
Sophomore Matthew Kelly ran second for the Whitman men on Saturday, finishing 52nd in 27:04.30. He was 81st a year ago as a freshman.
Rounding out the Missionary team score were senior Tim Marrinan, 58th, 27:12.05; junior Ian Bell, 66th, 27:31.70; and junior Nick Littman, 72nd, 27:47.25. Marrinan moved up 17 spots from his finish at last year's regional race. Bell, who didn't run last fall while studying off campus, placed 90th two years ago at regionals.
Senior Eli Asch and freshman Daniel Luecke also ran Saturday for Whitman, placing 75th and 88th, respectively, with times of 28:03.75 and 28:47.15. Asch last ran at regionals two years ago, finishing 91st.