While most of Westmont was busy moving back onto campus, both the men’s and women’s cross country teams were in Santa Clarita gearing up for the first meet of the season. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the races were split into two sections in order to keep the runners separated and safe.
The women were in the second race going up against Arizona Christian University (ACU) and San Diego Christian University (SDCU). Westmont finished the race with a total time of 1:50:07, the combined time of their top five runners. Leading the way for the Warriors — and the rest of the field — was freshman Kacie Kwan, who ran her 5K in 20:22. Right behind her in third, with a time of 21:27, was fellow freshman Gretchen Scherrei. Coming in sixth, ninth and tenth with times of 22:28, 22:49 and 23:00 were freshman Janae Mcinnes, junior Abigail Stradtlander and sophomore Abby Edwards.
Though Westmont’s total time was faster, ACU’s runners finished closer together, leaving Westmont to take second place overall.
Still, Coach Smelley praised the team, specifically Stradtlander, saying “[she] is providing important leadership for the team.”
The men took first place in their 8K race against ACU with a total time of 2:19:51. Much like the women’s team, the underclassmen led the race for the Warriors. Freshmen Caleb Mettler and Mitch Groff competed alongside sophomore Adam King and finished with a total of 17 seconds apart in the race — 27:30, 27:45 and 27:47 respectively.
“[They] create a dynamic threesome at the front of races,” Smelley acknowledged.
Behind those three came senior Chris Hanessian at 28:12 and freshman Ben Reasner with 28:34.
In regards to the young team, Smelley noted, “Hanessian is providing strong team leadership and effectively running the team development.”
Following a strong performance, the Westmont runners were on home soil last Friday in the Westmont Tri-Meet. This time they ran against William Jessup and Hope International University (HIU).
The men took five of the top six spots in the 6K. Coming in first, second and third place were King (20:28), Hanessian (20:32) and Reasner (21:05). To round out the top five, freshman Ryan Daedler (21:31) came in fifth and senior Thaddeus Kowalik (21:35) came in sixth.
“Mettler and Goff were running 1-2 … when they missed a turn … which I did not have manned properly,” Smelley admitted, “Otherwise, they likely would have finished 1-2.”
In the women’s 4K race, Kwan took first once again with a time of 16:02, and sophomore Madden Hundley came in second 11 seconds later. To round out Westmont’s victory, Scherrei (16:35), Stradtlander (16:49) and Edwards (17:27) came in seventh, eighth and ninth.
Overall, Coach Smelley was pleased with the team’s performance, especially Kwan’s: “Kacie Kwan has been outstanding in winning both of her races. She is running with confidence for a first-year team member.”
In a week and a half, these Warriors will be in Rocklin, CA, for the William Jessup Invitational, which is also the course for the GSAC Championships.
Coach Smelley praised the teams, saying, “Their camaraderie and commitment to mitigating the COVID risks to protect themselves and their team have been admirable.”