Whit women fourth, men fifth in NWC at XC invite

Whitman finishes 15th overall in team scoring.

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SALEM - Whitman's women finished fourth and its men fifth among Northwest Conference school here Saturday during the Charles Bowles Invitational cross country meet.

Kristen Ballinger and Emilie Gilbert broke the 19-minute mark to lead the women.

Sam Hennessey and Spencer Corwin were the Missionries' top finishers in the men's race.

Ballinger, a team captain whose early fall training was hampered by illness, finished 65th among 257 runners with a time of 18:45.44. Gilbert followed was 74th in 18:49.90.

Junior Jennifer Farley, plagued by an early season injury, placed 115th in 19:31.62. Rounding out Whitman's top-five team score were sophomore Lori Mendelsohn (129th, 19:44.65), and first-year Missionary Eliza Vistica (140th, 19:56.44).

"A big bonus for us today was Farley," Whitman coach Scott Shields said. "She's been slowly creeping up our ladder, and she made some big moves today. We also had a big contribution from Mendelsohn today."

Whitman finished 15th overall in the team scoring with 447 place points for its first five.

The University of Idaho was first with 55 points followed by the University of Alaska-Anchorage and Chico State in second and third, respectively, with 93 and 110 points.

Whitworth was first among the NWC schools with 256 points, good enough for seventh overall. Lewis & Clark was ninth with 268 points and Willamette 12th with 379 points.

Whitman finished ahead of Linfield (17th, 514), Puget Sound (19th, 531), Pacific Lutheran (20th, 544), Pacific (23rd, 642), and George Fox (24th, 703).

Christine Kiely (154th, 20:05.81) led Whitman's second five. Finishing in spots 157 through 160, in order, were Skye Pauly (20:08.03), Madeline Hess-Maple (20:09.38), Allie Wilson (20:09.42), and Kelly Jensen (20:10.27).

"There were a lot of strong runners out there today, and we're about where we want to be at this poin in the season," Shields said.

Miriam Kipng'eno, running for Alaska-Anchorage, won the race in a time of 17:19.04. Hawaii Pacific's Frida Aspnaes was second in 17:28.05.

Competing in a field that included NCAA Division I and Division II schools, along with a number of NAIA-affiliated schools, Whitman's men placed 15th among 23 teams.

The University of Portland was first in the team scoring with 25 place points for its top five runners. Chico State and Alaska-Anchorage were second and third, respectively, with 62 and 90 points.

The NWC's Willamette University, the host school, was fifth with 155 points. Other NWC schools finishing ahead of Whitman were Whitworth (10th, 269), Lewis & Clark (13th, 391) and Linfield (14th, 411).

With 474 place points, Whitman finished well ahead of Puget Sound (19th, 545), Pacific Lutheran (20th, 576), Pacific (21st, 580) and George Fox (22nd, 591).

With its top runner, sophomore Cory Rand, clocking a sub-par time because of illness, Whitman had three seniors, one sophomore and one freshman round out its top-five team score.

Hennessey, one of the team captains, paced Whitman by placing 104th in a time of 26:11.80. Following closely were Corwin (111th, 26:19.71), Daniel Luecke (122nd, 26:30.33), and Taylor Mesojednik (129th, 26:41.20).

John Callow, the third senior captain, finished 146th with a time of 26:58.11.

All four of the returning runners finished with times faster than when they ran the same course last October. Hennessey lowered his time by about 43 seconds.

"Our top guys did a really great job," coach Scott Shields said. "It was nice to see the pairing of our senior guys with our freshmen. We have some great leadership and I'm very pleased overall with our day."

Rand, one of several Missionaries slowed by head and chest colds this past week, led Whitman's second five, placing 163rd in 27:30.06.

"Cory knew going into the race that he wasn't going to run his normal time," Shields said. "He pretty much had nothing left in the tank, but he wanted to run."

Others in the Whitman top 10 were Michael Jorgenson (177th, 27:48.3), Taylor Nelson (186th, 27:58.67), Brendan Boyer (193rd, 28:04.48), and Whitney Griggs (195th, 28:08.58).

Griggs dropped his time from a year ago by about 47 seconds.

Marko Chesto, running for Alaska-Anchorage, won the race in 23:18.70. Portland's Trevor Dunbar was second in 23:22.67.

There were a total of 239 runners representing 23 schools in the race.

Whitman's next race is Saturday, Oct. 16, at the Pioneer Open at McIver State Park near Estacada, Ore. The men's 8,000 meters will start at 11 a.m. and the women's 6,000 meters will commence at noon that day.

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