Cross Country | Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Bennett Wins Second Consecutive NWC Cross Country Title
Men's Cross Country Moment of the Year
SALEM, ORE. -- Winning one conference title in cross country is hard enough, but winning two titles in a row is exceptionally difficult. Even so, that's what happened in the fall of 2013 when Willamette University's Parker Bennett (Sr., Sisters, OR/Sisters HS) achieved his second consecutive Northwest Conference title while leading the Bearcats to their second straight team championship.
Bennett prevailed in the men's 8-kilometer race at the Downriver Golf Course in Spokane, Wash., after finishing in 24:30.62. He took first place with a margin of victory of 30.98 seconds.
He set a personal record, improving by roughly 18 seconds on his previous best time of 24:48.54, recorded at the 2012 West Regional. He also moved into ninth on Willamette's all-time list for 8-kilometer races.
The Bearcats won the team title with a score of 49. Puget Sound placed second with 69 points and Whitman was third with 82 points. WU has won 21 NWC championships in men's cross country, including 10 titles since 2001. The Bearcat women's team also took first place.
Willamette Head Coach Matt McGuirk was named NWC Men's Coach of the Year and NWC Women's Coach of the Year.
Bennett took his momentum from winning the NWC title and earned second place at the NCAA West Region in Claremont, Calif., in a time of 24:52.14. He received an individual bid to compete at the 2013 NCAA Division III Championships in Hanover, Ind.
At the NCAA Championships, Bennett received All-America honors by placing 32nd in the men's 8-kilometer race. His time was 25:20.3. The top 35 finishers earned All-America status.
Bennett made a tremendous comeback in the men's race at the national meet. The lead pack went out at a very fast pace and Bennett found himself in about 150th place after the first mile. He gradually moved up until he was in a position to earn All-America honors.
"I just slowly took people off (passed them) throughout the race," he said.
Bennett's second straight NWC title was a great moment for the cross country team and set-up a tremendous end to the season for the top runner on the men's team.