SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. – Led by strong performances by Dave Marks and Sam Atkin, the No. 6-ranked Lewis-Clark State College men’s cross country cruised to the title at the highly competitive Erik Anderson Invitational at Plantes Ferry Park on Saturday.
“I’m real pleased with the outcome,” said LCSC head coach Mike Collins. “We beat two other highly ranked teams, and we beat them pretty handily and we beat them without being at full strength so that is very encouraging.”
With 16 schools from the junior college, NAIA, and NCAA ranks in attendance, the Warriors blew away the competition with a team score of 44. No. 11-ranked College of Idaho was second at 93, and No. 13 Eastern Oregon third at 94. Fellow Frontier Conference member Carroll College finished with a score of 157 to take eighth overall.
Marks, a senior from Lake Oswego, Ore., finished second among NAIA runners and third overall with an 8-kilometer time of 24:42.60. Atkin, a sophomore from Lincolnshire, England, ran the course in 25:31.81 to take fourth in the NAIA and sixth overall.
“Marks is running pretty well,” said Collins. “He’s got a shot at going under 24 minutes next week at Willamette and we’ve never had a guy do that.”
Despite being without last year’s No. 1, Jimmy Oribo, who is dealing with a hamstring injury, as well as a couple of other runs because of minor injuries, Collins was very pleased with the effort of his team overall.
“We ran well as a group, and we had a couple nice things happen in that our top five ran real strong and a lot of our freshman really stepped up. Dylan (Crevelt) dropped out with shin pain, and if Conor (Smith) isn’t there closing the door for us then the outcome is a lot different.”
Among NAIA runners, LCSC’s Pauric McLaughling claimed seventh with a time of 25:48.44, Hayden Randall was eighth at 26:09.58, and Smith was 13th with a time of 26:15.55.
“We hope to have Oribo back next weekend. It would be nice to have him and Dylan in there, but overall the men’s team is running real well right now.”
College of Idaho’s Greg Montgomery, who took sixth at nationals last year, took home the individual medalist honors with a time of 24:17.61.
On the women’s side, No. 9 Lewis-Clark State claimed third overall with a team score of 130. No. 4 College of Idaho won with 47 points, and No. 5 Carroll was second with 89. Frontier member No. 19 Rocky Mountain College was fifth with a score of 138.
“Obviously Carroll is the best team in the conference,” said Collins. “But the other thing real concerning is that Rocky was right on our heels.”
College of Idaho’s Hillary Holt won the 6k race with a time of 17:23.37, Eastern Oregon’s Karlee Coffey took second in 17:39.33, and Carroll’s Rhianna Gross was third with a mark of 17:59.78.
Nine of the top finishers were from NAIA schools, and three of these were Warriors. Kelsey Klettke was fifth with a time of 18:28.76, Chelsey Leighton took seventh in 18:37.90, and Sophie Bush had a time of 18:40.89 to take eighth.
“We were the first team to have three girls in. Where we have to get better is to bridge that gap between our third finisher and our No. 4, 5, and 6. That’s the challenge. If we can bridge that gap not only are we capable of being a top 10 team, we’re capable of being a top five team.”
Next Saturday both Warrior teams will compete at the Willamette Invitational in Salem, Ore.
“The men’s team wants to win Willamette,” Collins said. “We’ve never won that meet, so that’s a big star on our goal sheet.”