’Cats within running distance of historic milestones after strong conference meet

Alex Jensen, Staff writer

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The women’s cross country team edged out all other competitors but Whitworth at the Northwest Conference Championships on Saturday at the Veterans Memorial Golf Course. The team came in second place with 61 points, which is the highest place the team has had since 1988.

“I think we showed that we are a really good team and that we a have a great chance to go to the national championships and to make some good things happen,” said head coach Mike Blackmore.

Three wildcats finished in the top 10 out of 81 competitors. Senior Kaelia Neal sprang her way to second place with a time of 22 minutes and 23.4 seconds over the 6,000 meter course. She was only 27.4 seconds short from beating Whitworth competitor Kayla Leland, who came in first.

“We have been waiting for it to happen and it finally came through today,” Blackmore said of Neal’s performance.

Junior Courtney Beard closely followed finishing in fourth place in a time of 22:34.6 and senior Emma Knudson followed finishing in seventh place with a time of 22:43.6.

“Courtney just does what Courtney does and ran great, and Emma had a 95 percent effort so when she’s on we have a solid top three,” Black- more said.

Neal, Beard and Knudson joined only five other Wildcats who gar- nered first team cross country all-conference for a 6,000 meter course.

Senior Jaime Rodden finished right outside of all-conference honors,

which is the top 14 runners. Rodden placed 18th in a time of 23:52.2.

“I felt very strong individually. I felt like I had a really good kick and I am really excited about that. We all raced our hardest and all gave it our all. I don’t think that any of us had any regrets,” Rodden said.

Freshman Nicole Bissey finished 30th in a time of 24:21.1, senior Ana Ramirez finished 36th in a time of 24:30.7 and Kuhns rounded out the scoring in 37th in a time of 24:33.5.

“Our four through seven are getting a little better each week. If they run a complete race and fol- low through, there’s no reason we shouldn’t finish third or maybe second (at regionals) and get that automatic spot,” Blackmore said.

The men’s team finished in seventh place with 196 points. Senior Jeff Lee was just shy of the top 10 with a time of 26 minutes and 32.2 seconds. However, he still earned second-team all-conference.

Blackmore said he was happy to see Lee earn all-conference after hav- ing a rough season last year.

Teammate junior Calvin Ong came along in 33rd place with a time of 27:23.5.

Sophomore Liam Pickhardt placed 48th in a time of 28:04.8, sophomore Asa Richerson placed 58th in 28:28.2, junior Grant Blodgette placed 64th in a time of 29:14.1 and freshman Josh Ramirez placed 70th in a time of 31:12.3.

Out of the 73 runners, Pacific Lutheran’s Brad Hodkinson won his second straight conference title in a time of 25:13.4.

Blackmore’s goal for regionals is for the women’s team to do well enough to go to the national championships. His goal for the men’s team is “to continue learning to compete and racing well and finishing higher than they did as a team last year.”

The Wildcats’ next race is at the NCAA III West Regionals at 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 11, in Claremont, California.

“I think that we are all going into regionals with a lot of confidence. I think we all have a lot left in us. I think we are going to surprise ourselves,” Rodden said.