SALEM, Ore. (Nov. 12, 2010) – The Occidental College men's and women's cross country teams packed their bags and set flight to the Pacific Northwest where the Tigers will compete in the Division III West Regionals tomorrow morning against the best in the West.
Occidental will race a field a seven man team on the men's side with eight women traveling for the Black and Orange. Willamette University will host the meet for the fourth time this decade, this year marking off a course at Busch Pasture Park .
A two week racing hiatus has allowed all harriers to recover from the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship at Prado Park in Chino, Calif. where junior Eric Kleinsasser earned his third consecutive individual title. The men's squad placed fourth in the conference in 2010.
In 2008 as a freshman, Kleinsasser ran at the front of the pack at the West Regional race (25:08.47), which was also hosted by Willamette. While it this year’s course in the same location, it is slightly modified it could prove to be a fast course should the elements cooperate. A light rain is predicted for early Saturday morning in Salem.
Kleinsasser's biggest competition will be Jackson Brainerd from Colorado College who outstepped the Tiger in the final 200 meters at last year's West Region meet hosted at Pomona-Pitzer. Another runner to watch on the men's side will be Claremont-Mudd-Scripps' Brian Sutter who has run atop the SCIAC pack this season.
Stepping up to the starting line for the Black and Orange tomorrow will be junior Sebi Delvin-Foltz, sophomores Mario Castillo, Charlie Sauter, Avery Mainardi and Thomas Cahuzac and freshman Javier Quiros.
For the women's team, that also finished fourth in the SCIAC, the junior crew of Sadie Mohler, Eliza Dornbush, Anna Dalton and Eugene, Ore. native Meghan Whalen will bring depth and regional experience to the course. Sophomores Sierra Walker and Tara Saxena travel to the Northwest for the first time for a regional while the freshman trio of Marnie Kinniard and Casey Warendorf will gain their first collegiate regional racing experience.
With nothing to lose and everything to gain, the Tigers will give their competition a run for their money tomorrow. Occidental has sent runners to Nationals each of the last five years.
There will be 17 full teams competing in the West Regional men's race and 17 teams in the women's race. Partial women's teams from Chapman, George Fox University and Pomona-Pitzer also will compete, along with a partial men's team from Chapman. Pacific Lutheran University and UC-Santa Cruz will be participating only in the women's race.
Each team is allowed to enter up to 10 runners and alternates. Seven runners will be allowed to compete per team, with the top five finishers determining the score.
The top two teams on each side earn automatic berths to the NCAA Division III Cross Country National Championships on Saturday, Nov. 20 in Waverly, IA. Additionally the top seven individuals (not affiliated with a qualifying team) punch tickets to Nationals as well.
Article by Tracy Maple, Sports Information Director