Bearcats Travel to California for NCAA West Region Championships

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

CLAREMONT, CALIF. -- The Willamette University cross country teams are in Claremont, Calif., to compete at the 2013 NCAA Division III West Region Championships on Saturday, Nov. 16. Pomona-Pitzer is hosting the meet, which will include 20 men's team and 21 women's teams.

Action will get underway with the women's 6-kilometer race at 9 a.m. (PST), with the men's 8-kilometer race to follow at 1:15 a.m. An awards ceremony is slated to start at 11:30 a.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. 23 at the L.S. Ayres Athletic Complex in Hanover, 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. 17.

Also, the top seven runners whose teams are not selected for the NCAA Championships will receive individual berths.

The women's race includes several strong teams. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (Calif.) is ranked #8 in the NCAA Division III Poll and Willamette is ranked #28. The Athenas are ranked #1 in the West Region and the Bearcats are #2. Also ranked in the top five in the West Region are Whitworth University at #3, Occidental College (Calif.) at #4 and California Lutheran University at #5. 

Runners who are among the favorites in the women's race include Michaela Freeby (Jr., Milwaukie, OR/Rex Putnam HS) and Taylor Ostrander (So., Soldotna, AK/Kenai Central HS) from Willamette , Melissa Skiba from California Lutheran University, and Adele Eslinger and Allison Barnwell from CMS. Freeby and Ostrander placed first and second, respectively, at the NWC Championships, while Skiba, Eslinger and Barnwell earned the top three spots at the SCIAC Championships.

Skiba placed second in the West Region last season, while Freeby was ninth.

The women's team champion in 2012 was Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Lewis & Clark College finished second and Willamette was third. The Bearcats earned an at-large bid to the 2012 NCAA Championships. Last year's individual title in the women's race went to Lenore Moreno, who was a senior at La Verne.

In the men's race, several teams are capable of winning the championship. Willamette is ranked #23 in the nation in the NCAA Division III Poll, while Claremont-Mudd-Scripps is ranked #29. Pomona-Pitzer (Calif.) is tied with two other teams at #35 in the national poll. WU, CMS and Pomona-Pitzer are ranked 1, 2, 3, respectively, in the West Region. Other top teams in the West Region are the University of Puget Sound at #4, the University of California-Santa Cruz at #5 and Occidental at #6.

Willamette won the Northwest Conference men's title with a score of 49. The Bearcats won by 20 points over Puget Sound, which took second place. At the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) championships, CMS took first place at 51 points, while Pomona-Pitzer was second at 57 and Occidental was third at 60.

Parker Bennett (Sr., Sisters, OR/Sisters HS) of Willamette, as well as John Guzman and Colin Smith of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, and Nick Hall from Colorado College are four of the favorites in the men's race. Bennett won the NWC men's individual title for the second year in a row, while Guzman claimed first place at the SCIAC meet. Smith was second in the SCIAC race.

Other top runners include Benjamin Girodias from Pomona-Pitzer, Bryan Hayes from University of La Verne, Tyler Shipley from Pacific University, David Santillon from Puget Sound and Tyler Hoyt of UC-Santa Cruz. Willamette runner Jacob Shafi (So., Pleasanton, CA/Amador Valley HS) placed fifth at the NWC Championships.

Last year, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps won the men's team title. Pomona-Pitzer finished second, with La Verne in third and Willamette in fourth.  Zorg Loustalet from CMS won the men's individual championship. Bennett placed sixth last season.

This year's course at Pomona-Pitzer will center around the Strehle Track. The men's race will loop by the track four times and the women's race will loop past three times, as the runners work their way around the Pomona-Pitzer campus. The finish line is along the eastern side of the track.


NCAA Division III
West Region Championships
Hosted by Pomona-Pitzer
At Claremont, Calif.
Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013


LIVE VIDEO (through 4G modem) rudimentary coverage, single camera at the finish line, with audio feed of PA announcer. Both the women’s race and the men’s race pass by the camera multiple times

Michaela Freeby won the Northwest Conference women's championship on Nov. 2.

Michaela Freeby won the Northwest Conference women's championship on Nov. 2.