Bearcat Runners to Compete at NCAA Cross Country Championships

Races Set for Saturday, Nov. 23 at Hanover College in Hanover, Ind.

By Timothy Walsh, Assistant Athletics Communications Director

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University women's cross country team, plus one runner from the Bearcat men's cross country team, will compete at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships, hosted by Hanover College, on Saturday, Nov. 23 in Hanover, Ind., at the L.S. Ayers Athletic Complex.

It is the third consecutive team trip to nationals for Willamette's women, ranked #25 in the nation in the NCAA Division III Poll released this week by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

The Bearcats earned an automatic bid to the championships after taking second place at the NCAA West Regional on Nov. 16 in Claremont, Calif.

Michaela Freeby (Jr., Milwaukie, OR/Rex Putnam HS) won the West Regional women's individual championship with a time of 21:37.66 in the 6-kilometer race, beating Melissa Skiba from California Lutheran University by more than 10 seconds.

It was Freeby's fourth win of the season. She also won the Northwest Conference Championship meet on Nov. 2, the Charles Bowles Invitational on Oct. 5, and the Oak Knoll Loop run on Sept. 21.

Last week, Freeby was named West Region Women's Athlete of the Year by the USTFCCCA. She is the first Bearcat to receive the award since Maddie Coffman ('09) was selected in 2008. Sarah Zerzan ('08) was the West Region Women's Athlete of the Year in 2006 and 2007.

Taylor Ostrander (So., Soldotna, AK/Kenai Central HS) was Willamette's next best finisher at the West Regional, coming fourth place. Also joining Freeby and Ostrander among the 35 runners who received All-West Region Honors were Olivia Mancl (Fr., Seattle, WA/Roosevelt HS) and Annette Marinello (Jr., Corvallis, OR/Philomath HS). Mancl placed ninth, while Marinello was 28th.

Freeby, Ostrander, Mancl, and Marinello will be joined at nationals by Ami Boucher (Fr., Concord, CA/Northgate HS), Hannah Bressler (So., Oak Harbor, WA/Oak Harbor HS), Iris Dowd (Fr., Portland, OR/St. Mary's Academy), and Juliet Farnan (So., Lafayette, CA/Campolindo HS).

Ostrander, Marinello, and Farnan will all be making their second trip to the national competition, while Freeby will return for the third time. The first five Bearcats to complete the 6-kilometer course will comprise Willamette's team score.

Willamette's men's team placed third at the West Regional and did not receive an at-large bid to the championships. The Bearcat men will still be represented during the championship race, however, by senior Parker Bennett (Sisters, OR/Sisters HS).

Bennett qualified as an individual after finishing second at the West Regional. The top seven runners in each regional who were not on teams chosen for the NCAA Championships earned individual bids to the national race.

This trip to nationals will be Bennett's third. He first qualified as part of the men's team in 2010, when the Bearcats placed 23rd in the overall men's standings, and received an individual bid last year after placing sixth at the West Regional.

The NCAA Championships will begin on Saturday with the women's 6-kilometer race at 11 a.m. EST/8 a.m. PST. The men's 8-kilometer race is scheduled to start at 12:30 p.m. EST/9:30 a.m. PST.

CHAMPIONSHIPS WEBSITE

NCAA Division III
National Championships
Hosted by Hanover College
L.S. Ayers Athletic Complex
Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013

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Michaela Freeby was named the West Region Women's Athlete of the Year after winning the women's individual championship at the NCAA West Regional.

Michaela Freeby was named the West Region Women's Athlete of the Year after winning the women's individual championship at the NCAA West Regional.

Parker Bennett placed second in the NCAA West Regional. He received an individual at-large bid to the NCAA Championships.

Parker Bennett placed second in the NCAA West Regional. He received an individual at-large bid to the NCAA Championships.