Warriors come away with upsets at Willamette Invite
SALEM, Ore. – The Lewis-Clark State College men’s and women’s cross country teams proved that they belong in the NAIA’s upper echelon of programs this season as they both finished near the top of a mountain of teams at the Charles Bowles Willamette Invitational on Saturday. Dave Marks and Kelsey Klettke led the Warriors with third and eighth-place finishes, respectively.
The LCSC men, ranked No. 18 in the latest NAIA poll, claimed fourth out of 25 teams, many of which were NAIA schools. Second-ranked Southern Oregon earned the overall title with 48 points, the University of Victoria was second at 105, sixth-ranked British Columbia had 119 to take third, and the Warriors were just eight points behind UBC at 127.
“It was very competitive and we were right in the mix, so this is very encouraging for the future,” LCSC head coach Mike Collins said. “We were looking to beat a few teams ranked above us and we were able to do that.”
Lewis-Clark State’s fourth-place finish was good enough to handily outpace a number of NAIA ranked schools including No. 16 Eastern Oregon, which took fifth with 161 points, as well as No. 21 Vanguard and No. 24 California Baptist.
Frontier Conference member Great Falls, which received votes in the last poll yet was outside the top 25, also ran a strong race and earned sixth overall, one point ahead of Cal Baptist and seven points ahead of Vanguard.
Marks ran the 8-kilometer course in 24:13.11 and had a photo finish with David Laney of Southern Oregon who was clocked at 24:13.10. The overall winner was Mike Kilburg who came in at 23:39.57. Because Kilburg ran unattached Laney and Marks earned first and second in points.
“It was a great race,” Collins said about the sprint to the finish by Marks and Laney. “Dave was about 15-20 meters behind Laney when they entered the track near the finish line, but he was able to close the gap in a hurry.”
Fernando Esperanza, who had a time of 24:59.29 and was 23rd overall, was LCSC’s second runner, while Sean Huey was third on the team with a time of 25:24.01 which was good enough for 43rd overall.
On the women’s side, with 26 teams competing, topped-ranked Biola earned the title with 55 points, while the University of Victoria was second with 59, and ninth-ranked Point Loma Nazarene had 157 to claim third. Overall, of the five NAIA schools that finished in front of the No. 20-ranked Warriors, all of them were ranked No. 16 or better.
“This race is as close to nationals as we get during the regular season, and I’m very excited about the outcome,” Collins said. “The key for us on the women’s side is to run as a pack and run as close to the front as possible. With so many runners in a race like this, having a pack of runners near the front can make a huge difference.”
While the Warriors' seventh-place finish was not good enough to upset five of the NAIA schools they competed against, they were able to pull off a huge upset by clipping No. 6-ranked Concordia (Ore.) by one point. Concordia, which was ranked No. 4 in the NAIA two weeks ago, earned 237 points overall, while LCSC came away with 236.
Julia Tschanz of the University of Victoria was the individual champion with a time of 17:26.41, however, Klettke was not too far behind as she completed the 5k course in 17:49.99.
Shaelie Edwards, Chelsey Leighton, and Amy Watkins came in as a pack to earn the next three spots for the Warriors. Edwards was 64th overall at 19:11.28, Leighton 65th at 19:12.33, and Watkins was 68th with a mark of 19:13.84.
Next up on LCSC’s schedule is the Inland Empire Championships in Cheney, Wash., on Oct. 16.