NWC WOMEN’S CROSS COUNTRY | Pirates Tabbed to Win Third Straight NWC Title

The Northwest Conference’s head cross country coaches have tabbed the Whitworth Pirates to win its third straight conference title, according to a poll of the nine NWC head coaches.
The Northwest Conference’s head cross country coaches have tabbed the Whitworth Pirates to win its third straight conference title, according to a poll of the nine NWC head coaches.

Rk.

Team (1st)

Pts.

’16 NWC Score

’16 West Region

’16 NCAA

1.

Whitworth (8)

72

42

1st

17th

t2.

Linfield (1)

53

105

12th

---

t2.

Willamette

53

51

5th

---

4.

Whitman

35

130

14th

---

t5.

Lewis & Clark

33

129

11th

---

t5.

Puget Sound

33

129

9th

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7.

George Fox

25

157

16th

---

8.

Pacific (Ore.)

20

155

13th

---

9.

Pacific Lutheran

9

272

18th

---

(Points awarded on an 9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Coaches could not vote for their own teams.)

 

HILLSBORO, Ore. — The Northwest Conference’s head cross country coaches have tabbed the Whitworth Pirates to win its third straight conference title, according to a poll of the nine NWC head coaches. 

The back-to-back NWC champion Pirates received eight first place votes and 72 total points to top the preseason coaches’ poll entering the 2017 season. The Pirates won the NWC title in 2016 by nine points over second place Willamette, thanks in-part to three top-five individual finishes. Kayla Leland (So., Spokane, Wash.) and Bailey Scott (Sr., North Bend, Wash.) will lead the Pirates into 2017 after finishing second and fifth at last season’s NWC Championships, respectively. Leland finished third at the NCAA Division III West Regional, which also saw the Pirates win the regional team title. The Pirates would go on to finish 17th at the NCAA Division III National Championships in Louisville, Ky., and Leland posted a 12th place finish individually.

The Linfield Wildcats picked up the remaining first place vote available in the preseason poll and 53 total points, as the conference coaches have slated the Wildcats to finish tied for second this season. The Wildcats finished third last season at the conference meet led by Emma Knudson (Sr., Billings, Mont.), who returns to the Linfield roster this season after finishing eighth in the conference a year ago. The Wildcats finished 12th at the 2016 regional meet in Salem, Ore.

Following back-to-back second place finishes at the NWC Cross Country Championships, the Willamette Bearcats were projected to finish tied for second with 53 points in the preseason coaches’ poll. The Bearcats have played runner-up to the Pirates in the last two conference meets, but were led by Olivia Mancl (Seattle, Wash.), who finished second in 2015 and won the 2016 individual championship. The Bearcats will not have Mancl in the lineup this season as the All-American has graduated, which leaves the Bearcats to look to Hannah Swanson (Sr., Seattle, Wash.). Swanson finished third in the NWC last season and 18th in the west region.

Whitman was picked fourth with 35 points after finishing sixth at the conference meet last season. The Blues’ Whitney Rich (So., McMinnville, Ore.) will be looked upon to lead Whitman following her 14th place finish last season in the NWC and a 28th place finish at the west regional competition.

A second tie in the preseason poll placed the Lewis & Clark Pioneers and Puget Sound Loggers, both in the fifth-place spot with 33 points each. Lewis & Clark and Puget Sound finished tied for fourth at last season’s NWC Conference Championships, with the Loggers earning fourth on tiebreakers. Kori Groenveld (Sr., Thousand Oaks, Calif.) returns to Lewis & Clark after finishing 11th last season, while Puget Sound’s Hannah Eshelman (Sr., Eugene, Ore.) will look to bring senior leadership to the Loggers’ roster following her 32nd place finish last season.

The NWC coaches slotted George Fox at No. 7 with 25 points after the Bruins finished eighth at last season’s conference meet. The Bruins’ top returner from last season is Kayla Moore (Sr., Tigard, Ore.), who finished 15th at the 2016 NWC Championships.

Pacific (Ore.) was picked eighth with 20 points, following a seventh-place finish at the 2016 NWC Championships. Senior Stephenie Spencer (Bothell, Wash.) returns to the Boxers’ lineup after finishing fifth at the regional meet and running in the NCAA Division III National Championship meet.

The Pacific Lutheran Lutes were picked to finish ninth with nine points to round out the preseason poll. The Lutes finished ninth at the conference meet last season, led by returner Sararose Gallo (So., Grayland, Wash.) and her 56th place finish.

After picking up its second straight NWC title, Whitworth finished the season ranked No. 14 nationally and No. 3 in the west region according to the USTFCCCA. 

The 2017 NWC women’s cross country slate gets underway on September 1, when Lewis & Clark and Pacific meet in a dual meet, George Fox and Linfield compete at the Linfield Harrier Classic and Whitworth travels to Montana for the Clash of the Inland Northwest. Pacific Lutheran and Puget Sound get started on Sept. 2 at the Puget Sound Invitational, while Willamette opens in Monmouth, Ore. at the Ash Creek Invitational on Sept. 8. Whitman will begin its season at the Sundodger Invitational in Seattle on Sept. 16.

The Northwest Conference Championship is scheduled for October 28 at Veterans Memorial Golf Course in Walla Walla, Wash., hosted by Whitman.