VANCOUVER, Wash. – Dave Marks and Kelsey Klettke became the 50th and 51st All-Americans in the long and storied history of the Lewis-Clark State College cross country program after the NAIA National Championships, held Saturday at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.
Klettke (pictured left), a Vancouver native running her final collegiate race in her hometown, finished 11th overall in the 5K women’s race with a time of 18 minutes, 17 seconds.
After missing the 2011 national meet due to injury, Klettke went out on a high note, ending her LCSC career with her second All-America selection.
Led by Klettke and fellow senior Chelsey Leighton, who finished one spot out of All-America contention at 31st overall in 18:35, the Warrior women placed eighth overall in the team standings, the top result ever for the program. The 2004 women’s squad finished ninth at nationals.
“For the women, I think this was a great outcome,” said Lewis-Clark State coach Mike Collins. “Their goal was to finish in the top eight and have that best finish in school history. They set that goal and beat that goal, which was nice to see.”
Leighton, from Lapwai, Idaho, entered her final collegiate season with the goal of being an All-American as well, but finished just .05 away from the 30th place finisher and the cutoff.
“I’m disappointed for her,” Collins said of Leighton, who was the team’s top finisher at nationals last season in 48th place (38th among scoring runners. “She’s worked really hard.”
The University of British Columbia won its first-ever national championship on Saturday, recording 98 team points and placing four of its five scoring runners inside the top 20.
Junior Hillary Holt of the College of Idaho became the Coyotes’ first-ever individual national champion with a winning time of 17:00.
Sophomore Sophie Bush was the third finisher for LCSC, placing 48th in 18:51. It’s the second top-50 finish in as many seasons with the Warriors for the Newport, Wash. product after coming in 44th as a freshman in 2011.
Seniors Amanda Palmer and Whitlee Young rounded out the scoring five for the Warriors. Palmer was 146th in a time of 19:53 and Young placed 160th in 19:58.
Marks (pictured right) led the way for the men’s squad at nationals, as the Lake Oswego, Ore. product has throughout his final collegiate campaign.
A four-time Frontier Conference Runner of the Week during the regular season as well as the Frontier Conference champion, Marks placed sixth overall on Saturday in a time of 24:36 to end his LCSC career as an All-American. The sixth-place finish was the highest ever for an LCSC runner, male or female.
On the whole, the men finished 15th overall in the team standings as they were once again bitten by the injury bug.
Sophomore Sam Atkin, who managed to return for nationals after missing the conference meet two weeks ago with an ankle injury, had to be pulled from the starting lineup 30 minutes before the race due to illness.
Atkin was 28th at nationals among scoring runners in 2011.
The men were hoping to rebound from their second-place finish at the conference meet after having two key runners (Atkin and Pauric McLaughlin) get injured in the week leading up to the meet at Carroll College.
“It was tough, but I’m proud of the effort,” Collins said. “Speaking for the guys, we’re disappointed. We came back and ran better than we did at the conference meet, but we’re still not healthy. Things got a little derailed at the end of the season. We’re going to digest it, suck it all up and be better next year. If we were a No. 15 team all year long that’s one thing, but if we have everyone healthy we think we have a chance to win this thing.”
Behind Marks, junior Hayden Randall was the second finisher for the Warriors, completing the 8K course in 25:58 to finish 62nd.
Junior Nick Pierson, who was tapped by Collins as the emergency replacement for Atkin, responded by finishing 76th in 26:10 as the Warriors third finisher.
“He stepped up and deserves an awful lot of credit,” Collins said of Pierson, a Hayden native. “If wasn’t where he was we would have been even further back.”
St. Francis of Illinois captured the team title in the men’s division, accumulating 138 team points. Southern Oregon was second with 153, followed by Cal St. San Marcos with 165.
John Gilbertson of The Master’s won the individual title in 23:56.
Senior Jimmy Oribo, who finished third at the conference meet after winning it in 2011, was LCSC’s fourth finisher on Saturday, crossing the line in 86th place in a time of 26:18.
Senior Andy Keim (151st place, 27:13) rounded out the scoring five for the Warrior men.
The men were the top Frontier Conference team in the national field, as conference champion Carroll placed 24th. The Carroll women finished fifth at nationals.
Both Lewis-Clark State squads ran better than their respective national rankings on Saturday. The women entered Saturday slotted 12th in the NAIA Coaches’ poll and the men were 19th. It was the 12th consecutive trip to nationals for the women and the 11th straight trip for the men’s squad.
All of the runners competing at nationals on Saturday had to navigate a course that was slicked down from wind and rain in the Vancouver area this week. It’s the final installment of a three-year run of national championships at Fort Vancouver, as the event will move to Lawrence, Kan. in 2013.
Complete Men's Results | Complete Women's Results