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Freeby earns fourth place in steeplechase at NCAA championships in 10:33.34

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Michaela Freeby earned All-America status by placing fourth in the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase at the NCAA Championships.

Michaela Freeby earned All-America status by placing fourth in the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase at the NCAA Championships.

Michaela Freeby took fourth place in NCAA Division III in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

Michaela Freeby took fourth place in NCAA Division III in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

Michaela Freeby (So., Milwaukie, OR/Rex Putnam HS) took fourth place in the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase at the 2013 NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Saturday, May 25 at Roger Harring Stadium.

Freeby achieved a personal record time of 10:33.34, while earning All-America status. Alyssa Smith from SUNY Geneseo (N.Y.) won the steeplechase in 10:17.38. Sammi Bruett from Wartburg College (Iowa) was second in 10:26.60, edging out defending champion Keri Lambert from Amherst College (Mass.), who finished third with a time of 10:27.14.

While taking fourth place Freeby broke her previous personal best of 10:37.36, set in the preliminary heats on Thursday. Ashlyn Maur from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire was fifth in the finals at 10:34.84. The top seven finishers completed the race in less than 10:40.

Freeby was a contender throughout the race. She was among the leaders early and stayed within striking distance over the first several laps. I bit later, she was among the top three runners. Eventually she moved into second place, and was even with Smith entering the final lap.

Smith pulled away down the back stretch, while Freeby held a good lead in second. As Smith rounded the final curve, Freeby slipped going over the next to last barrier and fell into the water hazard. It took her a few seconds to recover, which allowed Bruett and Lambert to move past. Even so, Freeby reduced her personal record by 4.02 seconds while easily securing All-America honors.

The top eight finishers in each event earn All-America status.

It was Freeby's second consecutive trip to the NCAA Championships in the steeplechase. She earned a time of 10:57.24 in the prelims of the 2012 NCAA Championships to set a personal record at the time, and then placed 13th in the finals at 11:05.65.

In addition to Freeby, three other runners among this year's top five finishers competed in the finals last year. Lambert won the 2012 steeplechase title, while Bruett placed fourth and Maur was 12th.

A total of four Bearcats competed at this year's NCAA Championships.

Joining Freeby were Kit Kingstad (Jr., Beaverton, OR/Beaverton HS), Carson Kennedy (So., Forest Grove, OR/Forest Grove HS) and Taylor Ostrander. Kingstad was 17th in the men's 1,500-meter run in 3:55.89. Kennedy finished 18th in the decathlon with 5,488 points and Ostrander placed 22nd in the women's steeplechase in 11:22.31.

Khoury '06 uses Willamette skills along the way to regional vice president appointment

Megdy Khoury '06 played linebacker for the Bearcat football team from 2002 through 2005. He is a regional vice president for Wells Fargo Bank.

Megdy Khoury '06 played linebacker for the Bearcat football team from 2002 through 2005. He is a regional vice president for Wells Fargo Bank.

While playing football for the Bearcats, Megdy Khoury achieved 241 career tackles.

While playing football for the Bearcats, Megdy Khoury achieved 241 career tackles.

Megdy Khoury ’06 knows there’s more to college than acing a test or winning a particular football game.

For him, college is about developing relationships.

“You realize that your friends and teammates are going through the same things you are going through, and you learn to rely on each other for support,” he says.

Today, Khoury attributes his success as a regional vice president/relationship manager with Wells Fargo Bank to the interpersonal skills he gained at Willamette University — as a member of the football team, a fraternity brother, a mentor for high school students and a work study student in the Development Office.

“At Willamette, I learned how to work with other people, stay disciplined and remain focused on what I was trying to accomplish, which really helped me as I transitioned into my professional career,” he says.

Ready to work

Coming to Willamette as a first-generation college student, Khoury didn’t take the opportunity for granted.

“My parents immigrated to the U.S. from Palestine in the 1970s with literally nothing, and they ended up with a pretty comfortable life,” says Khoury, who grew up in Elko, Nev. “I witnessed that their success was all from hard work, which has driven me to do the same.”

On the football field, Khoury’s determination caught the eye of Head Football Coach Glen Fowles, who was an assistant coach at the time.

“Megdy had the amazing combination of natural athletic ability and a tireless work ethic,” Fowles says. “He was very athletic — fast and powerful — and there was no one more invested in preparation.” 

Khoury’s hard work paid off, earning him Second Team All-Conference honors his junior year and First Team All-Conference recognition as a senior. During his four years as a linebacker at Willamette, he helped the team achieve a combined record of 25-15, including 14-5 in the NWC. He played in 39 of a possible 40 games, missing just one game as a freshman.

He served as a team captain his senior year. He was named Willamette’s defensive MVP in 2005 after ranking second in the the Northwest Conference with 83 tackles. Overall, he registered 241 total tackles, including 28.5 tackles for losses and 7.5 quarterback sacks. He recorded two interceptions, broke up 10 passes, forced four fumbles and recovered four fumbles.

Not only did Khoury excel athletically, he also worked as an intramural sports supervisor, participated in Willamette’s annual lu’au, interned at Northwestern Mutual and joined the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

Khoury says his teammates helped him learn to balance his social, athletic and academic commitments.

“When I was younger on the football team, the older guys took me under their wings and helped me along,” he says. “Those guys, who I’m still pretty close with now, really looked after me, in a big brother atmosphere.”

Leveraging connections

The football team wasn’t the only network Khoury found at Willamette.

As a work study student for Judy Basker in the Development Office, Khoury learned communication skills and how to leverage alumni connections.

“Megdy took advantage of every time there was a placement workshop, or anything about resumes and how to make contacts,” Basker says. “He observed the way I interacted with people and potential donors, and he recognized the importance of face-to-face communication.”

Through conversations with alumni, and other connections, Khoury discovered his interest in banking. When he graduated from Willamette, he was accepted into Wells Fargo Bank’s training program in Seattle, a 10-month program that prepared him for a commercial banking role.

After three years at Wells Fargo, Khoury worked his way up to his current position as regional vice president and real estate relationship manager in Portland, where he sources and underwrites construction loans for tax credit projects in the Northwest.

In 2014, Khoury will complete an MBA from Duke University, which will allow him to continue moving up within Wells Fargo.

“It doesn't surprise me that Megdy is highly successful,” Fowles says. “He was a guy that we counted on and trusted while he was here, and I bet it didn't take people at Wells Fargo long to realize what a terrific person they have in Megdy.”

Khoury, a sociology and economics double major, says Willamette’s liberal arts education gave him the skills to move up within his company.

“Writing so many papers at Willamette helps you develop great writing skills and the ability to think critically about problems and explain things logically,” he says.

Giving back

Throughout his many personal successes, Khoury has continued to live by Willamette’s motto, “Not unto ourselves alone are we born.”

While a Willamette student, he volunteered at Barbara Roberts High School, where he worked with students who had been expelled from their previous schools. Khoury developed a close relationship with a class of seventh-graders and eighth-graders, and brought them to Willamette to experience the college environment.

“None of them had ever thought about going to college,” he says. “Seeing the campus really opened their eyes to the idea that maybe college was something they wanted to do.”

Today, Khoury continues to give back to the community as a board member for Hacienda Community Development, a large affordable housing program in Portland. He has served on the advisory board of Willamette Academy and has mentored a teenager through Minds Matter.

“Megdy has exceptional integrity, follow-through and a sense of wanting to pay back and help others,” Basker says. “All of those qualities make him a highly desirable friend, employee, mentor and board member.”

Khoury says the most rewarding part of his job at Wells Fargo is financing low-income housing projects to provide safe and decent affordable housing to those in need.

“I was fortunate enough to grow up in a good environment with my parents, friends and everything I had,” he says. “I enjoy having the opportunity to help build communities, especially by supporting populations that are less fortunate.”