Written by Student Assistant Eli Brown
TACOMA, Wash. – The Pacific Lutheran University cross country teams will travel to Brooks, Oregon on Saturday for the Northwest Conference Championships where Lutes across both the men's and women's team hope to have their strongest races of the season.
The NWC Championships are hosted by George Fox University at the Willamette Mission State Park. The women's 6,000-meter race is slated for 10 a.m. with the men's 8,000-meter race commencing at 11 a.m. The course is a 2,000-meter loop around the park with the women making three trips around while the men make four circuits around the park.
Both PLU men and women have had a taste of success this season; the former had an exceptional meet six weeks ago at the Sundodger Invitational in a strong showing led by sophomore Brad Hodkinson while the latter competed well at the Willamette Invitational in a push led by senior Shailee Woodard.
Hodkinson has twice earned NWC Runner of the Week accolades (Sept. 19 and Oct. 3) and has been a consistent presence at the front of the pack, finishing as the top Division III competitor in two races this season and leading the NWC contingent at another.
However, despite their success, the Lutes still feel like they have something to prove this weekend, considering the limiting effect of several factors on their performance so far this season.
"At the Willamette meet we had a couple folks under the weather" explains Coach Frye, "and Emerald City was a challenging course in challenging conditions."
Although illness and weather conditions have had an effect on performance this season, they haven't limited growth this season.
"It's been six weeks since [Sundodger] and we've definitely gotten better. Our athletes are really ready to get out and compete this weekend."
Expect the Lutes to have a breakout performance at the Northwest Conference Championships as athletes across the board are poised to race in good health, great conditions, and with perfect strategy this weekend, placing them in position to compete the best they have all year.
Both the men's and women's teams will take their first step of the postseason as they travel to the Northwest Conference Championships in Brooks, Oregon on Saturday. From there, PLU will continue its postseason competition, competing at the NCAA West Regional Championships in Salem, Oregon on Nov. 12.