WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Based on its strong performance at last Saturday's race in Spokane, the Whitman College women's cross country team has risen to No. 1 in the regional rankings and No. 18 in the NCAA Division III national rankings.

               Kristen Ballinger #88, Katri Gilbert #99

Whitman, which came within a few points of beating NCAA Division I Gonzaga last Saturday, jumped two spots in the latest national poll, which was released Tuesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. 

Junior Kristen Ballinger had Whitman's best individual performance last Saturday, but the top five Missionary runners all finished within 30 seconds of one another.

Seniors Yasmeen Colis, Michela Corcorran, Heather O'Moore and Sara McCune rounded out the top five.

The Missionaries supplanted Whitworth as the top-ranked Northwest Conference school in the national poll. Whitman finished second in last Saturday's race while Whitworth was fourth in the eight-school field. 

Whitworth, which slipped to No. 27 in the national poll, is the only other NWC women's team in this week's top 35.

In the latest West Region poll, Whitman is No. 1 and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps No. 2. Whitworth, Lewis & Clark and Willamette round out the top five.

"We're excited to have moved up in the rankings," Whitman coach Malcolm Dunn said. "I think it's reflective of how well we're running right now, and we're very much looking forward to the racing this weekend."

The Whitman men's and women's teams compete this Saturday in the 35th Annual Charles Bowles Invitational at Bush's Pasture Park in Salem, Ore. The Charles Bowles Invitational is one of the largest collegiate cross country meets on the West Coast each season.

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CONTACT: Dave Holden
Sports Information Director
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
509 527-5902; holden@whitman.edu