Freshman Powers Whit Men to Strong 4th
News Release Date:
Saturday, October 31
WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Led by freshman Cory Rand and his 11th-place finish, a young Whitman College men's cross country team placed a strong fourth at the Northwest Conference Championships Saturday morning at McIver Park near Estacada, Ore.
It was Whitman's best team finish since 1994, when the Missionary men were co-champions.
Whitman took fourth in the team scoring with 111 place points, 30 points in front of fifth-place Lewis & Clark. Willamette captured the team title with 32 points while Whitworth was second with 71 points and Linfield third with 89.
Filling out the lower half of the field were Puget Sound 160, Pacific Lutheran 166, Pacific 212, and George Fox 225.
Rand finished the 8,000-meter course in 26:03.20. His 11th-place showing, good enough for a spot on the All-NWC Second Team, was Whitman's best performance since Sam Clark placed ninth at the 2006 championships.
"Cory ran a very strong race," Whitman coach Malcolm Dunn said. "He ran a minute 40 seconds faster than he did on the same course back in September."
Hugh Parker, another freshman, had Whitman's second-best effort, placing 25th in 27:07.11. Close behind were junior Sam Hennessey, who was 27th in 27:14.72, and a third freshman, Fredo Villasenor, who was 28th in 27:18.41.
Hennessy also placed 27th at last year's championships.
Senior Curtis Reid completed the Missionary team score, placing 32nd in 27:28.89. Reid finished 11 spots higher than he did a year ago.
"Our No. 2 through No. 5 runners all finished within 20 seconds of one another," Dunn said. "That was a great team effort by the men."
Three of Whitman's top four finishers were freshmen, which "bodes well for our team's future," Dunn said.
"It's also encouraging to see just how much the freshmen have improved this season."
Senior Matt Kelly and junior Daniel Luecke finished back to back, placing 43rd and 44th, respectively, in 27:54.63 and 27:57.30. Luecke also finished 44th in last year's championship race.
Also running for Whitman were sophomore Brendan Boyer (47th, 28L04.40), sophomore Yonas Fikak (50th, 28:13.23) and junior John Callow (54th, 28:23.03).
"Both Brendan and Yonas had good races," Dunn said. "Brendan was supposed to be our alternate, but one of our freshmen (Taylor Mesojednik) came down with the flu right before we left for the race."
Whitman now turns its training toward the NCAA Division III West Regional, slated for Saturday, Nov. 14, on the Pomona-Pitzer campus in Claremont, Calif. That race will decide automatic team and individual berths for the national championships.
"We're excited about where our men's team is at right now," Dunn said. "We finished just 22 points out of third place. We're looking forward to seeing how much more we can improve at regionals."
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CONTACT: Dave Holden
Sports Information Director
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
509 527-5902; email@example.com