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Smelley Honored as Coach of Character

Submitted by: Ron Smith - April 12th, 2015
Track & Field and Cross Country Head Coach Russell Smelley received the 2014 NAIA Coach of Character Award.

Westmont’s Russell Smelley was honored today as the 2015 NAIA Coach of Character award winner at the NAIA National Convention.

The NAIA Coach of Character award is given annually to an NAIA head coach who has embraced the five core values of the NAIA Champions of Character program, demonstrated through sport and instilled a culture of community leadership through volunteering or service.

Since 1979, Smelley has served as the head coach of Westmont’s Track and Field and Cross Country teams.

As the Coach of Character recipient, Smelley was honored as “the epitome of the Coach of Character award; he believes that coaches have the unique opportunity to help develop the character and resilience of their athletes.”

Cross Country Takes Eighth, Collins Earns All-American

Submitted by: Ron Smith - November 23rd, 2014
Kelly Collins 200 meters from the finish.

Westmont Women’s Cross Country finished eighth out of 38 teams at the NAIA National Championship in Lawrence, Kansas. The Warriors scored 316 points and moved up three places from their number 11 ranking.

“It was a nice day with good weather for Kansas,” said Westmont head coach Russell Smelley. “The race temperature was 47 degrees.”

Sophomore Kelly Collins finished 21st in the field of 336 to earn All-American honors. Collins completed the 5,000 meter race in a time of 18:28.

“Kelly was in a pack but just kept moving and never panicked,” reported Smelley. “About 800 meters from the mile to about 600 meters after the mile, she moved from about 45th into the top 25.”

Jessica Meyers finished in 57th place with a time of 19:03 while Corinne Cherne placed 92nd in a time of 19:20.


Women’s Cross Country Wins GSAC Championships

Submitted by: Ron Smith - November 8th, 2014
GSAC Cross Country Champions

For the first time since 1999, #9 Westmont Women’s Cross Country has claimed the Golden State Athletic Conference championships. The Warriors tallied 41 points at the 5,000 meter race; beating #16 The Master’s who claimed second place with 54 points. Biola, ranked #13, notched third place with 78 points.

“They were never really in danger of falling behind,” said Westmont head coach Russell Smelley who was named the GSAC Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year. “They were in good position the whole way and improved their position over the last mile. They were challenged, but they did what they needed to do.”

Four Warriors were named to the All-GSAC team as a result of finishing in the top 14. Kelly Collins placed second in a time of 18:12 while Jessica Meyers was fourth in a time of 18:22. Corrine Cherne claimed seventh place with an 18:36 finish while Heidi Nichols was 12th crossing the finish line in a time of 19:02. It is the first time since 1998 that four Warriors have earned all-conference honors.

“Heidi and Corrine, as senior leads, really were the spark plugs of this success,” credited Smelley. “For the first three years, they had good days and mediocre days and average days. This whole season they have had good races because they focused in, decided they could do it and decided that they wanted to do it. They made it happen and the team followed their leadership.”

[men’s results] [women’s results] [photos]

Cross Country Shines at Biola Jamboree

Submitted by: Ron Smith - October 26th, 2014
Biola NAIA Far West Jamboree

Westmont Men’s and Women’s Cross Country performed well at the Biola NAIA West Coach Jamboree held at Irvine Park on Saturday. The seventh ranked women’s team took third place out of 14 teams despite the absence of top runner Kelly Collins who was held out due to a sore hamstring.

“The women did not blink at the challenge,” said Smelley. “Corinne Cherne, Jessica Meyers, Emily Williams and Heidi Nicholls came in 35 seconds apart to hold off their conference rivals Biola and The Master’s.”

Biola is ranked nationally at #13 while The Master’s is ranked at #10. The women’s team finished behind #5 Cal State San Marcos that finished first and #9 Carroll (Mont.) that took second.

“The Warriors will have to wait for NAIA Nationals to have their next opportunity to face off with Carroll at full strength,” said Smelley.


Collins Named NAIA Runner of the Week

Submitted by: Ron Smith - October 15th, 2014

Westmont’s Kelly Collins of Pleasant Hill has been named the NAIA Women’s Cross Country Runner of the Week after finishing first at the Vanguard Invitational on Saturday. The sophomore completed the 5,000 meter course in a time of 17:40 – more than seconds ahead of her nearest competitor.

“Kelly has worked hard for the last year to become a college level runner and not be so anxious,” said Westmont head coach Russell Smelley. “As she has become less anxious she has run faster, gained more confidence and not put so much pressure on herself.”

The Warriors, ranked at number 17 at the time of the race, finished first of 18 teams at the event with 42 points. Then second-ranked Biola finished in second place with 63 points. Westmont’s first two runners – Collins and Corinne Cherne (fifth place, 18:07) – helped secure the Warrior victory by finishing ahead of Biola’s first two runners who came in sixth and eighth.

“We were more purposeful in planning individual and team goals,” said Smelley about the reasons for his team’s success. “I think the athletes took more ownership of it. When they got out there and felt that part where it is hard to keep going, they had a purpose different than just wanting to finish.

Women Win at Vanguard Invitational

Submitted by: Ron Smith - October 12th, 2014
Kelly Collins

Westmont Women’s Cross Country will be looking to see their #17 ranking improve after winning the Vanguard Invitational and finishing ahead of second-ranked Biola on Saturday.

Westmont sophomore Kelly Collins won the 5,000 meter race in a time of 17:40. Collins finished 3.5 seconds ahead of Loyola Marymount’s Kyra Burke.

“It all kind of clicked for the runners this week,” said assistant coach Lindsey Connolly. “This is what we thought they could do the whole season. They were at the front the whole race and mixed it up with Biola.”

Senior Corrine Cherne finished sixth for the Warriors in a time of 18:07. Junior Jessica Meyers claimed 13th place in a time of 18:23 and senior Heidi Nicholls notched 14th, completing the course in a time of 18:29. Sophomore Hailey Alexander completed the scoring for the Warriors finishing 18th in a time of 18:41

“Our team spread was 1:01, which was an improvement from 1:16 the previous Saturday at the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational,” said Connolly.


Cross Country Performs Well Despite Travel Woes

Submitted by: Ron Smith - October 4th, 2014

Westmont men’s and women’s cross country athletes had a rough start to the day as they traveled south for the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational on Saturday. The Warriors were scheduled to leave campus at 4:15 a.m. However, the bus that was scheduled to pick them up broke down on its way up the Montecito foothills.

”We had to send the men on in their own cars,” reported Westmont head coach Russell Smelley. “It was a little bit helter-skelter.”

The women, along with Smelley, waited for a replacement bus which eventually departed at 5:30 a.m.

“When we arrived, the men were through the first mile and the women’s only had 40 minutes to warm up,” said Smelley.

Such is the life of traveling for the student-athlete. It doesn’t always go as smooth as coaches and athletes would like. Despite the change in travel plans, the men’s team turned in a good performance.

[men’s results] [women’s results] [photos]

Smelley to be honored as the 2014 NAIA Coach of Character

Submitted by: Ron Smith - September 15th, 2014
Track & Field and Cross Country Head Coach Russell Smelley received the 2014 NAIA Coach of Character Award.

Westmont’s Russell Smelley has been honored by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) with its 2014 Coach of Character Award. Smelley is in his 36th year as head coach for Westmont’s track and field and cross country teams.

“What I personally appreciate about Coach Smelley is his consistent pursuit of excellence without compromising the character values he makes the priority of his coaching philosophy,” said Westmont athletic director Dave Odell. “He is a fantastic example of how to be competitive and achieve success in athletics while remaining unwavering in a commitment to teach character and being a role model for both student athletes and coaches alike.

“In my 30 year history with the NAIA, I cannot think of a more deserving candidate for this honor,” continued Odell. “Coach Smelley is deeply imbedded in the fabric of all that is great about the NAIA. He was a champion of character before the term became a part of our culture.”

Asked what the award means to him, Smelley replied, “I hope that it reflects a growing faith and living out a faith in Jesus Christ.

[NAIA National Award Day video]

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