2017 Preview: Cross Country

2017 Preview: Cross Country

PALATINE HILL -- The Lewis & Clark Pioneers returned two runners to the national field for the first time in several years in 2016. As Director of Cross Country and Track and Field, Keith Woodard, begins his 11th season leading the program, the Pios have the potential to have a deeper year in 2017.

Women's Cross Country

Kori Groenveld returns as a senior captain, one of two Pios in their final year of competition. Groenveld was a consistent top-two runner for Lewis & Clark a season ago and is expected to be one of the top runners in the Northwest Conference again. Off overseas study last spring that had her miss the track and field season, Groenveld returns after an 11th place finish at last year's NWC Cross Country Championships. Amelia Jackson is Lewis & Clark's other senior, who like Groenveld, returns from overseas study. Jackson is back in impressive shape after summer training and should capitalize during her final year. She finished in the top 50 at the 2016 NWC Championships.

The women's team has no returning juniors, but brings back four sophomores who competed. The class includes Samantha Bowen, who spent much of her freshman year in Lewis & Clark's top three. At the NWC Championships, Bowen placed 16th and was in the top 50 at the NCAA Division III West Regional. She is a strong teammate who shows leadership and should spend much of the year in the top two. Keira Crabtree set a personal best in a 5K race at last year's Charles Bowles Willamette Invitational and was 40th at the conference meet. Additionally, Crabtree broke out during the track and field season, placing sixth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the NWC Track and Field Championships. Despite injuries, Dawn Mist Movich-Fields raced in five events as a freshman, setting a PR at the NWC Championships. She should continue to provide depth as a sophomore. Morgan Taylor spent much of her freshman season in the Pios' top five, finishing the year in the overall top 50 at the conference meet. She was the seventh-place finisher in the opening event of the year, the Westmoreland Dual, to begin her collegiate career. In addition to the returners, Nicole Godbout makes the transition from sprinter for the Pios track and field team to a cross country runner for the first time at the collegiate level.

Seven freshmen were added to the roster in the offseason. The farthest addition is Marcella Chavez from Worthington, Ohio. Chavez was an honorable mention selection and captain during high school and will benefit the team as she develops into the collegiate program. Alexandra Coons and Sam Daer are both from Arizona and move to the more moderate climate of the Pacific Northwest. Coons was selected all-region first team as a high school senior, while Daer competed at the state championships in her final season. Out of Kennewick, Wash., Brooke Hansen is an impressive 800-meter runner on the track and will bring that talent to the cross country world. She was a three-time all-conference choice in high school. Etta Moen is a two-time school record holder out of Kenmore, Wash., where she won the Spirit of Cross Country Award last season. Genevieve Serna joins the team from Clovis, Calif. and brings the fastest 5K personal best from the freshman class. Kara Wood was a team captain from Kelso, Wash. whose high school coach ran for Woodard when he was on the staff at Portland State. Wood joins the Pios after a gap year.

Men's Cross Country

Much like the women's team, the Lewis & Clark men have a returning mainstay in senior Blake Slattengren, who was selected captain this season. Slattengren qualified for the NCAA Div. III Championships as a junior and continues to improve steadily as he has throughout his career. Slattengren placed third at the NWC Championships, earning All-NWC honors, and later an All-West Region selection. Jeff Mullins has been a consistent top-three runner for the Pios. He ran to back-to-back personal bests to start 2016 and finished 23rd at the Lewis & Clark Invite last October. As a sophomore, Mullins was All-West Region. Ivan Ramos-King is back after racing in six events a year ago. Working on campus throughout the summer, Ramos-King enters 2017 with solid fitness. George Shoemaker returns to the team after several years away from the team. Having studied overseas, the team is excited to have him back. Shoemaker placed 63rd at his last NWC Cross Country Championships in 2015.

Ryan Nguyen is the Pios' lone junior. The Academic All-NWC selection raced in six events a year ago, setting a personal best at the Sundodger Invitational. Nguyen has shown a high level of fitness entering this year's fall practice.

Like Slattengren, sophomore Liam Monheim qualified for the national meet, capping off a stellar freshman season that included earning NWC Freshman of the Year honors. Monheim placed seventh at the NCAA Div. III West Regional and was named All-West Region, in addition to an All-NWC First-Team choice after placing as the top freshman at the conference meet. Miguel Haro Ruiz was a surprise addition as a freshman and quickly moved into the team's top five. He went on to place in the 800 meters during the track and field season, and after a good summer of training at home in Spain, should be poised to pick up where he left off. Sean Richardson had a breakout track and field season and is expected to bring that momentum into his second year of cross country. Also an Academic All-NWC pick, Richardson should be in the team's top three. He placed 60th at last year's conference cross country meet. Laurence Seabrook raced in six events as a first-year competitor and has improved over summer training. Seabrook's best showings of 2016 were 46th at the NWC Championships and crossing third at the season-opening Westmoreland Dual.

The Pioneers added two freshmen this year. Quinn Vinlove joins the team from Fairbanks, Alaska, where seasons are shorter. He was his high school team's most inspirational athlete as a senior and has shown promise in fall practice. Matthew White could be a top-five runner for the Pios as a freshman. The San Luis Obispo, Calif. native was twice picked all-league first team. White was also selected All-CIF Div. 4 Second Team.

Schedule

Following a dual with Pacific on Sept. 1, the Pioneers will take a week off before competing at the Sundodger Invitational in Seattle. The Charles Bowles Willamette Invitational ends September competition before Lewis & Clark hosts its L&C Invite on Oct. 14 at McIver Park.

The postseason meets begin on Oct. 28 with the NWC Championships in Walla Walla, Wash., followed by the NCAA Div. III West Regional on Nov. 11 and the national meet the following week.