Warrior harriers claim own Invite titles
LEWISTON, Idaho – With each team having five runners finish in the top 11, the Lewis-Clark State College men’s and women’s cross country teams rolled to titles in the 14th annual Warrior Invitational, held at Hells Gate State Park on Saturday.
Junior Jimmy Oribo ran away from the men’s field in a winning time of 24 minutes and 50 seconds over the 8-kilometer course and helped the Warrior men totaled 25 points to outdistance second-place Eastern Oregon University’s total of 49. LCSC is ranked No. 6 in the NAIA, while Eastern Oregon is No. 20.
On the women’s side, LCSC freshman Sophie Bush, junior Chelsey Leighton, and senior Francis Rojas finished second through fourth, respectively, to help the Warriors claim the title with 28 points. Eastern Oregon again was a distance second at 53. Spokane Falls Community College was third at 59, while Rocky Mountain, which was without its three top runners because of the flue, was fourth at 84. The Warrior women are ranked No. 14 in the country, while Rocky Mountain is No. 22.
Oribo won the men’s race by 30 seconds and was running himself the final three-fourths of the race. He said his time was his fourth-fastest 8k time he’s run.
“I just wanted to win today,” Oribo said of his goal. “It’s our only home meet and I wanted to lift our spirits with a win. I wanted to go below 25 minutes, which I did. There was no one there to run with or motivate me so I had to do it. That’s being a Warrior; you fight to meet your goals.”
“He’s only had two races this season where he’s had someone to run with,” LCSC coach Mike Collins said. “I think we have some elite guys on our team who can run with him, but they just haven’t been healthy enough.’
Oribo had more than a 25 second lead less than halfway into the race and kept his steady pace on the course, which features a number of hills and a finish in the sand along the Snake River. He easily outdistanced Rocky Mountains Noah Kiprono, who was second in 25:20.
Freshmen Cody Larson and Cody Glad, were fourth and sixth in the race, respectively, but because an unattached runner finished fifth (and also seventh), Glad moved up to the No. 5 spot for scoring purposes. Larson finished in 25:33, while Glad crossed in 25:37. Junior Dave Marks finished ninth overall in 25:47, while Hayden Randall was 10th in 25:58. Marks continues to make big strides in recovering from a foot injury suffered last spring. The injury forced him to stop running for more than three months. He is the defending conference champion and finished 20th at the national meet a year ago.
“Dave’s getting there and working on bridging that gap between Jimmy and everyone else,” Collins said. “He’s certainly capable of being right there.”
Overall, Collins said the Warrior men fell short of their goal Saturday.
“They wanted to sweep the top five spots, but we decided to hold out Sam (Atkin) today because it’s a brutal up and down course and we want him to get healthy,” Collins said. “I think they wanted seven runners in the top 10 and we had five. They know what they are capable of doing.”
On the women’s side, Collins was pleased with the team’s effort.
“Our goal all year has been that we have to pack together well and in our pre-race talk, we wanted no gap bigger than 10 places (between LCSC finishers). I think we had a few bigger gaps than 10, but I also thought we ran real well.”
Mikel Elliott of Spokane Falls ran away from the field and covered the 5-kilometer course in 17:51, while Bush was second in 18:22. Leighton was third at 18:31, while Rojas was timed in 18:37. Madison Randall (18:46) was eighth, while Stephanie Shuel (19:07) was 11th. Bush, Leighton and Randall all set personal bests and Randall finished under 19 minutes for the first time in her career.
“Outside of Chelsey and Sophie, our finishers have been interchangeable this year,” Collins said. “Last week Amanda Palmer was our fourth finisher and today she’s our sixth. I think our girls ran extremely well today. They have been really consistent all year.”
The Warriors are now off until the Frontier Conference championships on Nov. 4 at Billings, Mont. The men will be going for their fifth straight league title and try to remain the only team that’s won the conference meet, while the women look to avenge last year’s setback to Carroll. LCSC won the first three meets before it finished second last year.