WALLA WALLA, WA - Sophomore Benjamin White (La Habra Heights, Calif.) was the first among seven individual qualifiers to earn a ticket to the NCAA Division III National Cross Country Championships after competing in a field of approximately 120 at the NCAA West Regional hosted Saturday by Whitman College.
Runners raced not only one another but temperatures in the 30's at Veterans Memorial Golf Course, Walla Walla, Washington. After the gun, White shared the lead with a large pack of front-runners through the first 2000m of the 8000m race. As the pace intensified at about 3000m, the lead pack decreased in number to about 12. Near 4000m, halfway into the race, White pushed the pace even harder leading a break-away group of Andy Reischling (Pomona-Pitzer), Keith Carlson (Willamette), and Miles Christensen (Claremont-Mudd-Scripps).
The rest of the field was unable to match the mid-race surge. At 5000m White shadowed Reischling while Christensen and Carlson raced 10-15 meters off pace. At 6000m Reischling gapped White by about eight seconds and the Willamette/Claremont duo trailed White by a similar margin. A final kick for 3rd place closed the gap to White but with 800m to go the Poets' fine 2nd place finish was never in doubt. "My jaw is so cold after finishing it's hard to open my mouth"; commented White regarding his first experience with cold-weather racing. Sophomore David Del Carmen (Huntington Beach, Calif.) also represented Whittier at the NCAA Regional with a solid race and an 82nd place finish in the competitive field of runners that tends to represent the top 40% of West Region cross country runners.