Klette and Marks pace LCSC at nationals
VANCOUVER, Wash. – Junior Kelsey Klettke recorded the best finish by a Lewis-Clark State College women’s runner at the NAIA National Championships when she placed 11th in the women’s meet to help the Warriors place 18th as a team on Saturday at the Fort Vancouver Historical Site.
For the Warrior men, sophomore Dave Marks finished 20th in the 8-kilometer race in 25:34, but the Warriors fell short of their goal of finishing in the top 10 and had to settle for 19th overall. Marks’ placing is the second-best by a Warrior male in the event.
Klettke, who was in the lead pack for most of the race, finished the 5-kilometer course in 18 minutes and 16 seconds to help the Warrior women finish two spots ahead of their final NAIA ranking of 20th.
“Kelsey ran very well,” LCSC coach Mike Collins said. “To be honest with you, I was pretty nervous. She came around the turn in the small loop before the big loop and she was in the top 3-4 girls. I was a bit nervous that she had bit off a little more than she could chew at that point because there was a lot of the race left. But that was a really nice outing for her.”
Collins said Klettke stayed after the leaders broke away, Klettke was in a small group in the second pack with a group of about 30 runners trying to close the gap in the third back.
“I didn’t get to see the finish because there is a big curve before the final 200 meters but there was a pack of girls closing in right behind her and they were making up some ground,” Collins said. “If they catch her, she might not finish in the top 30 so she showed how competitive she was and held them off.”
The previous best finish by a LCSC women runner was 16th by both Tausha Kuzmic in 2004 and Lacey Way in 2002.
“Kelsey ran a great race and has a lot to be proud of,” Collins said.
Madison Randall, a junior, finished 82nd for LCSC in 19:28, while Lapwai sophomore Chelsey Leighton was next for LCSC in 119th in 19:50. The performances helped LCSC avenge losing the Frontier Conference title to Carroll because the Warriors finished two spots ahead of the Saints at the national meet.
.”For us not winning the conference title for the first time on the women’s side in itself was disappointing and there was certainly high stress level until we were selected as an at-large team (to nationals),” Collins said. “I know the girls took it personally and wanted to finish in their minds as the best team in the Frontier Conference. Today also was about beating Carroll as well and I think the girls feel pretty good. They feel they proved at the one meet that really matters they are the best team in the conference
“And I think this is going to be an interesting rivalry. I’ve heard some talk about next year. If nothing else, I like it because I think it will keep our girls personally motivated as well. We were ranked 20th and finished 18th and had the best finish in the conference. I think that’s a heckuva way to finish the season.”
Collins also is optimistic with the Warrior women because he had only one senior of the seven runners that went to nationals. The group included three juniors, two sophomores and a freshman.
California State-San Marcos and Shorter's Justyna Mudy defended their national titles by winning the team and individual women’s championships.
Marks’ placing is second only to the 10th place finish by Calin Hantau in 2006 in the Warrior men’s program. As with Klettke, Collins was worried that Marks may have spent too much energy early in the race.
“The first mile they ran in 4:40 which is a pretty phenomenal pace on this course,” Collins said. “I think Dave probably paid the price. He struggled about halfway or two-thirds of the way through the race, but he put himself in a position to finish real well. He’s a very good racer and was able to regather himself at the end. He was about 26th or 27th with 200 meters left and he really finished well.”
His finish helped LCSC have an All-American in both the male and female race in the same year for the first time. The top 30 finishers in each race earned NAIA All-American honors.
The Warrior men had hopes of a top 10 finish, but just didn’t get the breaks they needed. Senior Sean Huey, who has been a top runner in the program all four years, missed the meet because of illness that knocked him out of the conference race as well. Then during the race, senior Chris McConnell had his heel stepped on and lost his shoe. He had to turn around and fight his way through runners to get his shoe and then put it on before being able to continue to race.
“That probably cost him conservatively 50-60 spots in the race,” Collins said. “He lost the shoes and then took probably 15 seconds to get it back on. It’s one of those high stress situations where you are trying to hurry. He then had to spend the rest of the race weaving his way through runners that he’s better than, but this is not a course that is conducive to coming from behind.”
McConnell wound up third for LCSC and 135th overall in 26:56. Jake Miller was 95th in 26:49.
“Once we had some pretty high expectations for sure but we just weren’t clicking as we normally click,” Collins said. “The kids ran hard and competed, but we just didn’t seem to be the same team out there. I know that’s not the way the seniors wanted to go out, but I’m proud of them. There are things you run into that you just can’t control.”
Outside of Marks, most of LCSC’s upper echelon runners were juniors and seniors this season. Freshman Hayden Randall joined Marks as the only underclassmen at the national meet for the men.
“I’m pretty excited about the future on both teams,” Collins said. “The women’s team has almost everyone back while the men’s team lost a lot. But this season they took a few steps to creating an atmosphere that has very high expectations. With that frame of mind, they’ve created the atmosphere that we will win a national title. And it won’t happen without the people we have now. So I’m real excited.”
This is the 10th straight year the LCSC women have competed at nationals and the ninth straight for the men.
Freshman Kennedy Kithuka of Wayland Baptist won the men’s race, while Southern Oregon captured the team title.
Team scores – 1, Cal St. San Marcos 88. 2, Biola 127. 3, Black Hills St. 151. 4, Malone 164. 5, Simon Fraser 177. 6, Azusa Pacific 209. 7, Southern Oregon 255. 8, Concordia 279. 9, Indiana Wesleyan 290. 10, Cedarville 292. 11, Olivet Nazarene 305. 12, College of Idaho 324. 13, Aquinas 334. 14, British Columbia 385. 15, Morningside 415. 16, Kansas Wesleyan 4156. 17, Point Loma 461. 18, Lewis-Clark State 478. 19, Lee 485. 20, Carroll 493. 21, Park 544. 22, Viterbo 546. 23, Embry-Riddle 556. 24, Milligan 558. 25, Shawnee State 593. 26, Baker 664. 27, Wayland Baptist 668. 28, Holy Names 888. 29, Union 903. 30, Oklahoma Wesleyan 943. 31, Berea 978. 32, Langston 1056.
Top 10 finishers – 1, Justyna Mudy, Shorter, 17:42. 2, Karlee Coffey, Eastern Oregon, 17:46. 3, Obise Birru, Grand View, 17:51. 4, Eric Curran, Black Hills State, 17:52. 5, Lauren Jimison, Azusa Pacific, 17:53. 6, Racheal Steil, Aquinas, 18:00. 7, Danielle Brenon, Houghton, 18:04. 8, Katie Conlon, Jamestown, 18:13. 9, Kelsey Gasner, Biola, 18:14. 10, Helen Croft, Simon Fraser, 18:15.
LCSC finishers – 11, Kelsey Klettke, 18:16. 82, Madison Randall 19:28. 119, Chelsey Leighton 19:50. 135, Jessie Gulsvig 20:01. 136, Stephanie Shuel 20:02. 137, Shalie Edwards 20:02. 138, Amanda Palmer 20:02.
Team scores – 1, Southern Oregon 105. 2, Wayland Baptist 124. 3, Malone 251. 4, Shawnee State 254. 5, Eastern Oregon 276. 6, Oklahoma Christian 291. 7, Bryan 296. 8, British Columbia 309. 9, Graceland 323. 10, Shorter 327. 11, The Masters 331. 12, Cal St. San Marcos 356. 13, College of Idaho 389. 14, St. Francis (Ill.) 397. 15, Cedarville 398. 16, Aquinas 401. 17, Southwestern (Kan.) 407. 18, Black Hills St. 423. 19, Lewis-Clark State 437. 20, Concordia (neb.) 455. 21, Azusa Pacific 465. 22, Cornerstone 477. 23, Embry-Riddle 489. 24, Siena Heights 511. 25, Concordia (Ore.) 534. 26, McKendree 570. 27, Indiana Wesleyan 598. 28, Union 733. 29, Berea 749. 30, Northwood 761. 31, Mount Mercy 924. 32, Holy Names 957.
Top 10 finishers – 1, Kennedy Kithuka, Wayland Baptist, 24:02. 2, Abednego Magut, Azusa Pacific, 24:41. 3, Paul Chelimo, Shorter, 24:44. 4, David Laney, Southern Oregon, 24:57. 5, DJ Flores, Eastern Oregon, 25:00. 6, Zach Ripley Cornerstone, 25:02. 7, Western Nelson, Cal. St. San Marcos, 25:06. 8, Edward Taragon, Wayland Baptist, 25:08. 9, Anthony Pizzo, The Masters, 25:10. 10, Silas Kisorio, Oklahoma Christian, 25:10.
LCSC finishers – 20, Dave Marks 25:34. 95, Jake Miller 26:49. 135, Chris McConnell 26:56. 143, Grant Eldridge 27:01. 161, Fernando Esperanza 27:10. 199, Hayden Randall 27:30. 220, Mickael Testa 27:46.