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Westmont Men’s and Women’s Cross Country competed in the NAIA Cross Country National Championships held at the North Farms Cross Country Course outside north of St. Louis. Westmont’s Women finished 20th out of 36 teams while the men placed 23rd out of 37.
“It was a beautiful course,” said Westmont head coach Russell Smelley, “all grass, with rolling hills – a really good challenging course. The weather was a little windy and a bit chilly, but nothing intolerable.”
In the women’s 5,000 meter race, Westmont senior Emily Williams finished first for the Warriors, posting a time of 18:28 and taking 67th place out of 334 runners. Senior Kelly Collins finish just four seconds later in 70th place. Senior Olivia Wood posted a time of 19:16 to finish 165th. Mala Halvorson, a freshman, notched a 170th place finish in a time of 19:18. Junior Dominique Delgado completed the Warriors’ scoring in 175th place with a time of 19:20.
Westmont Men’s Cross Country finished second at the GSAC Championship today at Springview Park while the women’s team placed third. Six Warriors brought home All-GSAC honors by finishing in the top 14 – three from the men’s team and three from the women’s.
In the men’s race, The Master’s claimed the GSAC Championship by scoring 29 points. Westmont and Biola tied for second with 63 points, but the Warriors won the tie breaker which is determined by the sixth finisher for each team. For the Warriors, that was Michael Conant who finished the 8,000-meter race in 19th place in a time of 25:56 – four places and 12 seconds ahead of Biola’s Robbie Gleeson.
“The men ran strong, but we had a couple of lapses that would have given us a clean win over Biola,” noted Westmont head coach Russell Smelley. “The team spread was only 37 seconds. We had a couple of people step up and replace a couple of people who didn’t run as strongly.”
Michael Oldach was the first to cross the finish line for the Warriors, placing seventh in a time of 25:03. Oldach earned All-GSAC honors along with 11th place finisher Blake Fonda (25:16) and Roberto Bazan (25:20).
In its final meet before the Golden State Athletic Conference Championships, Westmont Men’s and Women’s Cross Country both claimed a second place finish at the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational. The meet featured mostly NCAA Division II and Division III teams.
The 14th ranked women’s team scored 80 points to finish second among 13 teams. The Broncos of Cal Poly Pomona scored 56 to finish first. Senior Emily Williams was Westmont’s top finisher, claiming seventh place with a time of 22:35 in the 6,000 meter race.
Senior Olivia Wood completed the race in a time of 22:45 to finish 10th while freshman Maia Halvorson took 17th in a time of 23:02. Senior Terri Baker notched 22nd place with a time of 23:24 and senior Kayla Darnbrough ran a time of 23:27 to close out the Warriors’ scoring in 24th place.
The top-five Westmont women finished within 52 seconds of each other.
Westmont’s men took their NAIA number nine ranking into the race and scored 64 points to claim second place among 12 teams. Host Pomona-Pitzer won the competition with 19 points.
Westmont Men’s Cross Country took first place at the Vanguard Invitational on Saturday at Irvine Park while the women’s team claimed second.
Westmont freshman Michael Oldach took first place in the 8,000 meter men’s race, finishing in a time of 25:44, eight seconds ahead of Jeronimo Brito of Vanguard.
“Michael Oldach put together a strong race plan that put him at the front pack through three miles,” reported Westmont head coach Russell Smelley. “It was at that point that he decided he would make a move to push the pace and find what kind of mettle he has for tough racing.
“When he encountered the second long and challenging hill on the course leading to four miles, he had a 20-meter lead on second place. At the top of the hill he had a 50-meter lead and was running confidently. Michael maintained his pace and his composure to win his first collegiate race.”
Sophomore Blake Fonda placed sixth in a time of 26:09 while freshman Michael Conant ran the course in a time of 26:11 to claim seventh.
Westmont Men’s and Women’s Cross Country competed in the Mustang Challenge on Saturday. The 17th-ranked men’s team finished fourth among the nine competitors and first among NAIA teams. The ninth-ranked women’s team finished sixth of 13 teams and second among NAIA competitors.
The men’s 8,000 meter race was won by UC Irvine who recorded 35 points. The Anteaters’ Isaiah Thompson won the race in a time of 24:59.6. UCLA finished second with 58 points while Cal State San Marcos scored 73 points to claim third.
Sophomore Blake Fonda was the first Warrior to cross the finish line, completing the course in 26:01.4 for 18th place. Three more Warriors followed closely behind: junior Roberto Bazan was 22nd in a time of 26:07.7, freshman Michael Oldach took 23rd in a time of 26:09.4 and sophomore Kyle Fredrickson was 24th with a mark of 26:13.5. Junior Thomas Hamlin completed the Westmont’s scoring with a time of 26:44.1 and a 33rd place finish. The result was a team spread of 42.7 seconds.
Westmont scored a team total of 120 points, three better than fourth-ranked The Master’s who finished fifth. The Master’s had a team spread of over 64 seconds. Embry-Riddle (Ariz.) took sixth place with 130 points.
Westmont Cross Country opened the 2016 season by hosting Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) on Saturday in the Nationball Classic at Santa Barbara’s Chase Palm Park. The annual event has become a tradition for both teams that includes not just a cross country race, but a friendly game of nationball (or dodge ball). This year, the event included a surprise for Westmont’s head coach Russell Smelley.
Before the race began, Smelley was unexpectedly greeted by nine members of the 1996 Westmont Men’s Cross Country team. They came to run in the race and to renew memories of comradery from 20 years ago.
The group included 1996 graduates Paul Ashby, Jim Drake, Todd Farrington and Philip Livingood and Matt Nealon; Matt Thomson from the class of 1997; and 1998 alumni Andy Morales, Matt Pelascini and Kevin Sturm.
“I had a great time at Westmont and had a great time in particular running cross country and track,” said Livingood about his motivation for organizing the event. “Some of my best friends to this day are the guys from the team. We’ve been to each other’s wedding and seen each other’s kids grow up. (The Nationball Classic) seemed liked a great opportunity to try and get everyone together. Westmont is a setting that fosters deep relationship that can last a lifetime.
By Kaci Mexico
November 21 2015
In the NAIA Cross Country National Championship Race held in Charlotte, North Carolina, out of 36 men’s and women’s teams, the Westmont Women’s and Men’s Cross Country Teams placed tenth and eighteenth respectively. Each team placed higher than the final Top 25 Coaches Poll ranking they held prior to the race – the men jumped from 26 to 18 and the women from 13 to 10.
“We wanted to run as well at nationals as we did at conference and today they actually ran better than they did at conference,” explained head coach Russel Smelley. “We had our best team spreads of the year – under one minute for both teams – and that gave them a good spread towards finishing well. This season has been a process of getting better and working towards running up to their potential and I think today they ran up to their potential which feels really good.”
A team spread is the time difference between the first and fifth runners on a single team. The score of each of the top five runners, out of the seven women and men that run for each team, is combined to create the team total. Thus, a great team spread (a low time) is crucial for overall team success.
In the men’s 8k race, Westmont had a spread of 51 seconds with senior Evan Kramer finishing first for the Warriors at 25 minutes and 52 seconds and sophomore Jacob Grant finishing fifth at 26 minutes and 43 seconds. Finishing second, third, and fourth respectively were sophomore Thomas Hamlin (26:08), freshman Blake Fonda (26:36), and senior Nate Evans (26:36).
In the women’s 5k race, Westmont had a spread of 54 seconds with senior Jessica Meyers finishing first for the Warriors at 18 minutes and 27 seconds and senior Sierra Wallen finishing fifth at 19 minutes and 21 seconds. Finishing second, third, and fourth respectively were junior Kelly Collins (18:38), senior Alexandria Adams (19: 01), and junior Olivia Wood (19:03).