Westmont XC off and running
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Westmont is back up and, well, running. The Warriors men’s and women’s cross country teams both opened up their seasons this past weekend at the Biola Invitational in Fullerton, California, posting some promising results as the Warriors shook off the jitters for the first true meet of the season.
Although the Warriors competed in the Nationball Classic the weekend prior, the team considers that race to be a tune up before the competition season truly opens. In Fullerton, the Warriors donned full competition kit and laced up, some for the first time, to toe the line bearing the name “Westmont” across their chests.
In the men’s race, junior Michael Oldach came away with his second outright victory, winning the men’s 8,000m race with a time of 25:26. Oldach has won two out of two thus far in the season, and is coming off of a photo finish second place at the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Following closely behind in fifth, senior Blake Fonda finished with a time of 25:47. Rounding out the top three was senior David Peterson, finishing in 28th with a time of 27:24. Sophomore Thaddeus Kowalik (36th) and junior Patrick Malberg (39th) rounded out the scoring five for the Warriors.
Of the race, Fonda said “It went well. We have things to work on, obviously, but the team is looking sharp.” Indeed, the team has high hopes for the season. Head Coach Russell Smelley believes the men’s team can finish in the top ten at the National Championship, and with a lot of young talent, that goal could very well be within reach.
In the women’s race, freshman Savanna Salmons led the charge for the Warriors as she did in the Nationball Classic, finishing the 5,000m race in 33rd, with a time of 20:05. Seniors Dominique Delgado and Morgan Erickson finished in 47th and 48th, with times of 20:41 and 20:51, respectively. Freshman Katie Nili finished in 49th, and sophomore Casey Jensen finished in 53rd to round out the Warriors’ top five.
Westmont ran an excellent and tactical race, with all five of the scoring runners finishing within fifty-eight seconds of one another - the goal being under a minute from the first runner to finish to the fifth. Delgado said, “It was really nice to be able to compete. It was a good race back and I’m excited about the team’s prospects this season.”
After two back-to-back races, the Warriors will have some time to recuperate and get some solid training under their belts before taking on The Master’s, which have traditionally been Westmont’s biggest rival in the Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC). With such solid performances already this season, look for the cross country teams to be strong competitors in the GSAC and at the national level.