Wildcats improve career highs but struggle with weather at Conference Championship

Sara Levering

10 Linfield runners matched or set new career highs during their conference championship on a very windy and wet outing at Pacific Lutheran University’s South Field.

The women ended the season in fifth place and the men attempting for a top-three finish, finished seventh in team standings. There were 84 women running and 79 men running at conference championships.

Kaelia Neal, ’18, took ninth place overall with a time of 23 minutes 28 seconds on the 6-kilometer course. Emma Knudson, ’18, claimed 13th place overall with a time of 23:41.

Compared to last season, both Neal and Knudson improved immensely by at least 10 places. Neal took 24th and Knudson took 29th in the 2014 season. Neal registered Linfield’s first top 10 since 2011.

For the women, the top five women were Neal, Knudson, Courtney Beard, ’19 (24:44), Sarah Rasmussen-Rehkopf, ’17 (25:50) and Hanna Trailer, ’19 (25:52).

Neal said, “It was a hurricane out there. Everyone ran slow and the course was tough. And I wish I would have placed higher but it gives me more of a reason to be hungry at regionals.”

The weather was definitely a factor in their race. That being said, Neal is eager to prepare for regionals.

Beard finished in the top 30 in her first ever conference event, claiming 27th place.

As a team, Linfield totaled 147 points, 21 points more than fourth place University of Puget Sound.

For the men, Linfield placed only two runners in the top 20, finishing seventh with four points more than rival George Fox.

Alex Mangan, ’16, tied his conference career best with a 14th place finish. Chris Roth, ’17, and Tyler Griffin, ’17, both registered conference career-best efforts placing 35th and 39th.

Roth’s time gained him 10 spots from last season to this season with a time of 28:07 in the 8k, while Griffin gained himself 25 spots with a time of 28:17. In his championship debut, Randy Mena, ’19, placed 42nd in 28:26.

The top five men were Mangan (27:09), Adrian Clifford, ’17 (27:29), Roth (28:07), Griffin (28:16) and Mena (28:25).

The Wildcats has two weeks to gather themselves and prepare for the NCAA Division III Regionals on Saturday, November 14 at Pomona College in Claremont, California.