Freeby Named Women's West Region Athlete of the Year

Women's Cross Country Moment of the Year

By Brandon Chinn, Student Assistant Athletics Communications Director

SALEM, ORE. -- It has been a career filled with impressive accolades for junior Michaela Freeby (Milwaukie, OR/Rex Putnam HS), and the 2013 cross country season only added to it.

After winning both the Northwest Conference individual championship and the West Regional title, Freeby was named the West Region Women's Athlete of the Year in 2013.

By receiving that honor, she became the first Bearcat to obtain the award since Maddie Coffman ('09) was selected in 2008.

After placing third at the NWC Championships in 2012, Freeby propelled herself to the front of the pack this season. Her time of 21:42.19 allowed her to finish over 17 seconds ahead of the field in the 6-kilometer race.

Her performance also ensured the WU women's team its first Northwest Conference team title since 2008.

Freeby's success continued onto the regional stage, as she cruised to a first place finish with a time of 21:37.66.

She and three of her teammates: Taylor Ostrander (So., Soldotna, AK/Kenai Central HS), Olivia Mancl (Fr., Seattle, WA/Roosevelt HS) and Annette Marinello (Jr., Corvallis, OR/Philomath HS), were named All-West Region.

After being named to the All-West Region team, Freeby was then given the honor of West Region Athlete of the Year just five days later on Nov. 21.

Freeby's excellence didn't stop there. Competing in the NCAA Championships in Hanover, Ind. on Nov. 23, Freeby was named All-America after finishing eighth out of 280 competitors.

"It was really exciting," Freeby said of her finish back in November. "I'm really happy about it."

Freeby also placed a large portion of the credit for her success this season on the Bearcat coaching staff. "I just can't thank my coaches enough," Freeby said. "Everything the coaches tell me is always right. It's just apparent how much they care about us and care about the team."

For Freeby and the team, the strong finish to the year represents a building block to the 2014 season. "Our whole mentality this season has changed," she said. "We are always talking about running for each other. And everyone is really excited because we will have the same starters next season. Everyone is so dedicated."

Fans of the Willamette University women's cross country team, will remembers Freeby's accolades as representing yet another great moment in the program's long line of success.

Michaela Freeby was named Women's West Region Athlete of the Year after winning the West Regional title and the NWC Championship this fall.

Michaela Freeby was named Women's West Region Athlete of the Year after winning the West Regional title and the NWC Championship this fall.