TACOMA — The Whitman College women’s cross country team splashed through some soggy conditions to place second in the team scoring in Saturday’s Puget Sound Invitational at Fort Steilacoom Park in Tacoma, Wash.
"There was a really tight turn that made for unstable footing and a couple of our people went down, and a number of people from other schools went down," Whitman coach Malcolm Dunn said.
"It was almost an adventure race rather than a cross country course."
Heavy rainfall preceded the women’s 6,000-meter race, causing the poor conditions. The rain subsided for the race.
Senior Yasmeen Colis led the Whitman effort, finishing fourth overall in 22:54.54. Sophomore Kristen Ballinger followed in sixth with a time of 23:07.56.
Seniors Michela Corcorran (9th, 23:24.25), Sara McCune (12th, 23:37.67) and Emily Rodriguez (21st, 24:16.99) filled out Whitman’s top five.
"We had a bit of a hole between our fourth and fifth runners that we’re hoping to fill, but the gap from our first runner to our fourth runner was right about 40 seconds, which is great," Dunn said.
Whitman’s depth should tighten the gap between the top five in future races, Dunn added.
"The exciting thing is we really have three or four runners that in any given race could step up and be our fifth runner."
Emily Gilbert, one of Whitman’s first-year runners, finished 26th in 24:32.94 to lead the second half of Whitman’s top ten. Next in line for the Missionaries were senior Heather O’Moore (28th, 24:55.48), junior Sara Levy (29th, 24:58.19), and two more first-year runners, Katri Gilbert (35th, 25:18.33) and Christine Kiely (40th, 25:25.15).
Whitworth was first in the team scoring with 37 points. Whitman, second with 51 points, finished ahead of Lewis Clark 74, Linfield 82, Pacific Lutheran 133, and Puget Sound 164.
The next races for Whitman are the Northwest Conference Championships on Saturday, Oct. 31, and the NCAA Division III West Regional on Saturday, Nov. 14. Both of those races take place at McIver Park (Estacada, Ore.), where the Whitman women won the Lewis Clark Invitational earlier this season. Whitworth did not run in that race.
The McIver Park course will "favor us a little bit better because it’s more on grass and not as much on pavement and gravel roads like today’s race," Dunn said.
Whitman will spend the next two weeks focusing on speed drills as a key part of its training, Dunn said.