Willamette Cross Country Runners to Challenge at NWC Championships

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

FOREST GROVE, ORE. -- Cross country teams from Willamette University and the other eight members of the Northwest Conference will converge on the Sunset Grove Golf Course in Forest Grove, Ore., for the 2012 NWC Cross Country Championships on Saturday, Oct. 27. The men's 8-kilometer race will start at 11 a.m. (PDT), followed by the women's 6-kilometer race at 12 p.m.

The Willamette men's team, ranked #3 in the West Region of NCAA Division III, is among the contenders for the team championship. Willamette has won 22 NWC men's titles overall, including eight championships since 2001.

Leading the men's team will be Kevin Aubol (Sr., Ellensburg, WA/Ellensburg HS), Parker Bennett (Jr., Sisters, OR/Sisters HS) and Nathan Conrad (Fr., Bothell, WA/Bothell HS). Aubol, who has not yet competed this season due to injury, finished in eighth place at the 2011 NWC Championships, helping Willamette earn second place in the team standings.

Bennett took 14th place at last year's NWC meet. Aubol and Bennett each earned Second Team All-NWC honors. Bennett was WU's top finisher at the 38th Annual Charles Bowles Willamette Invitational earlier this season, as he achieved 15th place out of 170 runners. Conrad placed 52nd out of 506 runners competing in the men's race at the Brooks Invitational in Winneconne, Wis., on Oct. 13.

As a team Willamette was fifth out of 19 squads in the 8K Cardinal Race at the Willamette Invitational. The Bearcats finished 11th out of 38 teams at the Brooks Invitational.

Last year, Leo Castillo '12 of Willamette won the NWC individual title with a time of 25:02.52 for the 8-kilometer course at Willamette Mission State Park. Whitworth University claimed the men's team championship with a score of 45, four points in front of Willamette in second place at 49. Linfield College was third at 84.

The top returning runner from the 2011 NWC meet is Alan DenAdel from Pacific Lutheran University. He took fourth place last year with a time of 25:30.93

In this year's West Region rankings, Willamette's men are #3, with the University of Puget Sound at #4 and Whitworth at #5. Lewis & Clark College is listed at #9 and George Fox is ranked 10.

The Willamette women's team, ranked #32 in NCAA Division III and #3 in the West Region, also has the strength to compete for top team honors. WU has won eight NWC women's team titles since 2000. The Bearcats will battle with Lewis & Clark, ranked #22 in Division III and listed #2 in the West Region.

Top runners for Willamette are Theresa Edwards (Sr., Lake Tapps, WA/Bonney Lake HS), Michaela Freeby (So., Milwaukie, OR/Rex Putnam HS) and Juliet Farnan (Fr., Lafayette, CA/Campolindo HS). Edwards earned third place at the 2011 NWC Championships with a 6-kilometer time of 22:01.61. Freeby placed fifth in the NWC last year in 22:15.20.

Edwards, Freeby and Farnan all ran successfully at the Brooks Invitational this year. Freeby earned 20th place, Edwards placed 40th and Farnan attained 46th place out of 500 runners in the women's race. Willamette gained eighth place out of 37 women's teams.

At the Charles Bowles Willamette Invitational, Willamette took sixth place out of 20 teams in the 6K Cardinal Race. Freeby registered seventh place in the individual standings.

Illana Livstrom from Lewis & Clark won the 2011 NWC individual title with a time of 21:50.04 over the 6-kilometer course at Willamette Mission State Park. She led L&C to first place in the team standings with a score of 64, as the Pioneers won by two points over Willamette in second place at 66. Linfield was third with a team score of 74.

Livstrom, now a senior, is back to defend her title. Also returning are the next top four finishes from a year ago. Joy Shufeldt, a senior at Whitworth, took second place in 2001, while Edwards from Willamette placed third. Emily Thomas, a senior at L&C, achieved fourth place last year. Freeby earned fifth place for the Bearcats.

Teams included in the women's West Region rankings are Lewis & Clark at #2, Willamette at #3 and Linfield at #6, as well as Whitworth at #7 and Whitman College at #9.

NWC Championships Website

Northwest Conference
Cross Country Championships
October 27, 2012
Sunset Grove, Golf Course
Forest Grove, Ore.

Theresa Edwards from Willamette earned third place at last year's NWC Championships.

Theresa Edwards from Willamette earned third place at last year's NWC Championships.