Women’s XC has nationals in sight

Alex Jensen, Sports editor

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The women’s cross country team made strides in the division III circuit to finish second among the eight competing Northwest Conference teams.

The men’s team, still struggling with lack of depth, finished sixth among conference teams.

The Wildcats raced in the 43rd Charles Bowles Willamette Invitational Saturday morning. Both teams raced against division I, II and III schools.

The women’s team took sixth out of 18 teams in the 5-kilomter race, just 20 points shy of strong conference competitor, Whitworth. Linfield scored 179 points. The Wildcats edged out all other NWC teams.

Emma Knudson, ’18, had a stellar performance placing 14th with a time of 18 minutes and 14.3 seconds. Courtney Beard, ’19, finished 16th with a time of 18:17.8. Both of them placed in the top 20 out of a field of 166 racers.

“The meet at Bush Park showed us that we are strong, fit, and that if we push our limits a bit further that we are capable of being the first NCAA Linfield girls team to qualify for nationals,” said Ana Ramirez, ’18, who placed seventh for Linfield.

“As long as we continue to run together and pick girls off during the second half of the race, we will be in contention for our season goal, which is to make it to nationals.”

Nicole Bissey, who was Linfield’s fourth runner to cross the line and top freshman, said several members of the team ran personal bests.

“It was a great improvement and step toward the conference race,” Bissey said.

“Our team goals are to work on getting more girls into the front of the pack and work together in the latter half of the race.”

Humboldt State won with a score of 65 points, and Whitworth’s Kayla Leland topped the course in a time of 17:37.1.

Linfield’s men’s team finished 15th out of 17 teams in the 8k with 393 points. Jeff Lee, ’18, was the first Wildcat to cross the line in 32nd place with a time of 26 minutes and 6.6 seconds.

With only six runners – just one more than what the league requires for a scoring team – Linfield is lacking depth. Lee is the lone senior on the team.

University of Portland won the meet with 59 points, and Pacific Lutheran’s Brad Hodkinson topped the other 155 competitors with a time of 24:48.3.

Next, the Wildcats are at the Lewis and Clark Invitational at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, in Estacada.