Warriors fare well against top competition at home meet
LEWISTON, Idaho – Led by a pair of top-10 finishes from their senior leaders, the Lewis-Clark State men’s and women’s cross country teams more than held their own against a field fraught with NCAA Division I programs on Saturday at the Inland Empire Championship.
The LCSC men, ranked ninth in this week’s NAIA rankings, placed fifth in their lone home meet of the season, run on a new course in the Lewiston Orchards.
Dave Marks (pictured left) placed fourth overall but third in team point scoring with a time of 24:44 on the 8K course, outlasting Gonzaga’s top runner down the home stretch.
“We were excited when we found out that teams like WSU and Gonzaga were coming with their ‘A’ squads,” Marks said. “It was fun to mix it up with those guys and it felt good for me to run in a group with all those top runners.”
The Warrior women, which were 11th in the nation in this week’s coaches’ poll, got a ninth place finish from senior Kelsey Klettke and finished fifth in the team standings as well.
“My goal was to lead our team to the best spot I could,” said Klettke, who recorded a time of 18:20 on the 5K course that was tops among NAIA runners. “There was some good competition here, but we competed well against the Division I teams.”
Warrior coach Mike Collins feared the course might turn into a mud bog after rain on Thursday and Friday, but the precipitation helped hold down the dust and pack the dirt into a fairly fast running surface.
“The course was deceptively tough,” Collins said. “Once you start running on it, you can tell it’s more uphill than you might think. It’s not familiar to us yet even though it’s our home course. Hopefully we get to keep it and we can host the conference meet here next year.”
Collins was proud off his teams’ performances today, but acknowledged there’s still work to do in the three weeks before the Frontier Conference Championships on Nov. 2 in Helena, Mont.
“We were OK today. Not great, but OK,” he said. “We put a lot of pressure on our athletes, and they put pressure on themselves, to reach the goals that we set.”
The women’s race opened the action on Saturday, and Washington State’s Caroline Austin held off teammate Ruby Roberts and Gonzaga’s Emily Thomas to win the individual title.
Klettke (pictured right) typically likes to run from out front, but the Cougars and Bulldogs were more assertive at the outset of the race, and she found herself caught up in the pack for the first half of the race.
“At about the two-mile mark everybody starts to feel that backpack on their back and starts to struggle mentally,” she said. “I just tried to hold my position, but I was in nowhere-land for a while when the top two or three girls broke away from the pack.”
Near the halfway point Klettke started to move forward and crossed the finish line in the second cluster of runners surrounded by a throng of fans.
Both Warrior teams had their annual banquet later Saturday evening, so there were plenty of friends and family members in attendance.
“It means so much to us that the community supports us the way they do,” Klettke said.
Chelsey Leighton was LCSC’s second finisher, 23rd overall in a time of 18:50. Sophomore Sophie Bush was close behind in 19:15, good enough for 31st overall. Amanda Palmer (54th, 19:52), Whitlee Young (72nd, 20:27), Nicole Dillavou (74th, 20:30) and Kayleigh McCoy (85th, 20:55) rounded out the Warrior lineup.
In the men’s race, which marked the return of senior and reigning Frontier Conference champion Jimmy Oribo to the Warrior lineup, Marks was part of a five-man pack that controlled the race almost from the outset.
Paul Limpf, running unattached, led almost wire-to-wire to win in 24 minutes, 28 seconds, with Washington State teammates Drew Jordan and Todd Wakefield crossing the line together at 24:35.
Marks and Gonzaga’s Tate Kelly were stride-for-stride in the final two kilometers, but Marks pulled away in the final 500 meters to take fourth place.
“I know him a little bit personally, so when we were running together like that we tried to push each other,” Marks said of Kelly. “It’s nice to have somebody to run with, but since we worked out here this week I knew what to expect and knew when to make a move and hold him off.”
Sam Atkin was the second Warrior to cross the finish line, placing 19th overall in 25:35. Oribo was 37th in 26:15, Pauric McLaughlin was 42nd in 26:30 and Hayden Randall was right behind in 44th place with a time of 26:35. Dylan Crevelt (64th, 27:19) and Conor Smith (67th, 27:26) rounded out the LCSC lineup.
Both Warrior squads have two weeks of hard workouts ahead of them before they start tapering off before the Frontier Conference Championships, hosted by Carroll College.
“Hopefully there won’t be a foot of snow up there,” Collins said.
LCSC results – 4, Dave Marks, 24:44; 19, Sam Atkin, 25:35; 37, Jimmy Oribo, 26:15; 42, Pauric McLaughlin, 26:30; 44, Hayden Randall, 26:35; 64, Dylan Crevelt, 27:19; 67, Conor Smith, 27:26; 68, Andy Keim, 27:30; 75, Nick Pierson, 27:55; 83, Jacob Wimpenny, 28:36.
LCSC results – 9, Kelsey Klettke, 28:20; 23, Chelsey Leighton, 18:50; 31, Sophie Bush, 19:15; 54, Amanda Palmer, 19:52; 72, Whitlee Young, 20:27; 74, Nicole Dillavou, 20:30; 85, Kayleigh McCoy, 20:55; 87, Ashley Barnes, 21:02; 93, Shelby Beaudoin, 21:41; 94, Kate Olson, 21:48; 97, Hannah Maus, 22:05; 100, Ashlie Renfro, 22:17; 103, LaDawn Vinson, 22:58; 105, Kendra Graber, 23:29.
Complete Results (pdf) | Race Photos | Interviews: Dave Marks, Kelsey Klettke