Cross Country | Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Willamette Set to Host NCAA West Region Championships in Cross Country
Twenty Teams will Compete at Oak Knoll Golf Course
SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University will host the 2012 NCAA Division III West Region Cross Country Championships on Saturday, Nov. 10 at the Oak Knoll Golf Course near Independence, Ore. Willamette and 19 other colleges and universities will participate in the event, which will crown men's and women's team and individual champions.
The men's 8-kilometer race will begin at 11 a.m. (PST), with the women's 6-kilometer race to follow at 12 p.m. An awards ceremony is slated for 1 p.m.
The top two men's teams and top two women's teams will earn automatic bids to the NCAA Division III National Championships, set for Saturday, Nov. 17 at the LaVern Gibson Course in Terre Haute, Ind. Teams placing third through fifth will be eligible for at-large bids to the championships. At large bids will be announced on Sunday, Nov. 11.
Also, the top seven runners whose teams are not selected for the NCAA Championships will receive individual berths.
In the men's race, the battle for first place will likely be between Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (Calif.), Willamette University and Pomona-Pitzer (Calif.). CMS, ranked #10 in NCAA Division III, won the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) title by just six points over Pomona-Pitzer. Willamette, ranked #28, handily won the Northwest Conference championship by 50 points over Lewis & Clark College.
Parker Bennett (Jr., Sisters, OR/Sisters HS) of Willamette and Rafer Dannenhauer of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps are two of the favorites in the men's race. Several other runners appear ready to challenge for the individual title, including Alex Johnson from Pomona-Pitzer, Nick Hall of Colorado College, Alan DenAdel of Pacific Lutheran University and Matt Klein from University of Puget Sound.
Last year, Colorado College and Occidental College (Calif.) tied for first place. Jackson Brainerd from Colorado College won the men's individual championship.
Top returning West Region competitors in the men's race will be Dannenhauer of CMS, Johnson from Pomona-Pitzer, Colin Smith from Occidental and DenAdel of Pacific Lutheran. Dannenhauer was second a year ago, while Johnson placed eighth, Smith was 10th and DenAdel was 12th.
The women's race features a probable favorite in Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, which is ranked #4 in NCAA Division III. Their top opposition might be Lewis & Clark College, ranked #24 in the nation. Willamette, ranked #3 in the West Region behind CMS and L&C, would like to move up one or two spots to claim an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships.
Challenging for the women's individual title will be Lenore Moreno from University of La Verne. She won the SCIAC championship by nearly a minute. Allison Barnwell of CMS, who took second place in the SCIAC, and Melissa Skiba from California Lutheran University, who placed third, also will contend for a top finish.
The NWC will be strongly represented in the battle for individual honors by Emily Thomas and Melissa Newton-Mora from Lewis & Clark, and by Michaela Freeby (So., Milwaukie, OR/Rex Putnam HS) from Willamette.
In 2011, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps won the West Region women's title. Annie Lydens from Pomona-Pitzer earned the women's individual championship.
Runners who placed in the top 10 during the women's race at the West Region Championships last year and are returning this season are defending champion Annie Lydens of Pomona Pitzer, as well as Illana Livstrom and Thomas from Lewis & Clark, Joy Shufeldt from Whitworth, Sara Mostatabi and Allison Barnwell from CMS, and Freeby from Willamette.
Livstrom placed second at last year's meet, while Thomas was fourth and Shufeldt was fifth. Mostatabi earned seventh place, Barnwell was eighth and Freeby finished ninth.
The cross country course at Oak Knoll is a relatively flat 3-kilometer loop. The men's race will include two 3-kilometer looks followed by a 2-kilometer loop. The women's race will be two full 3-kilometer loops.
At the start of the race, runners will head north and slightly downhill. After about 300 meters there is a gradual incline. At 800 meters there is a left turn heading slightly downhill. The course winds around the north end of the golf course for about 1200 meters and then heads slightly uphill. A left turn leads the course south and downhill before heading slightly uphill and back to the start line.
The men’s last loop will be two kilometers and will cut off from the larger loop after about 1000 meters. The 2-kilometer loop heads north from the start slightly downhill then slightly uphill. After about 800 meters, the course turns left and makes a big rolling u-turn. After cutting off 1000 meters of the full loop, the 2-kilometer loop heads south and back to the finish line.