Contact: Mark Albanese, Director of Sports Communication
TACOMA, Wash. - The postseason continues for the Pacific Lutheran University men's and women's cross country teams on Saturday, toeing the line at the NCAA Division III West Region Championships hosted by Willamette University at Pasture Park in Salem, Oregon.
The women's 6,000-meter race kicks things off at 10 a.m. with the men's 8,000-meter race getting underway at 11 a.m. The top two teams in each gender will automatically qualify for the NCAA Division III Championships held on Nov. 19 in Louisville, Kentucky along with the top seven individual runners not associated with the qualifying teams. The PLU men's squad enters the meet ranked fifth in the West Region while the women come in unranked. A total of 19 teams will compete in the men's race while the women's race will consist of 21 institutions representing California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington.
Since the beginning of the season Head Coach Adam Frye has had the expectation of the team to "work hard, have fun, and get better," with a heavy emphasis on preparing for the three championship meets at the end of the season.
Two weeks ago the Lutes began the postseason at the Northwest Conference Championships and both the men's and women's squads posted performances that reflected Frye's expectations and philosophy.
Paced by NWC Champion Brad Hodkinson, the Lutes placed second overall in the men's team standings at the conference meet, Pacific Lutheran's best finish since the 1998 season. The sophomore claimed NWC Runner of the Year accolades after touring the course in 24 minutes, 56.3 seconds and has his sights on a return to the NCAA Championships after qualifying last season as an individual. Kyle Rapacz also turned in a strong showing for the Lutes, crossing the tape 10th overall to secure All-NWC honors. Both Hodkinson and Rapacz earned All-Region honors last seaosn at the West Region Championships with Hodkinson finishing fourth overall while Rapacz was 34th.
For the women, seven of the Lutes' top 10 runners earned personal best times at the NWC Championships on Oct. 29 led by Mekenzie Voellger who clocked a 24:39.9. Making strong showings in their first season were Maddy Smith and Sararose Gallo along with sophomore Annika Pederson with all three finishing among PLU's scoring five, helping the team place ninth in the team standings.
The Lute men will look to improve on last season's 11th place showing while the women return to Regionals after not sending a squad to the meet in 2015. The women last competed at Regionals in 2014, placing 14th.