After finishing ahead of the pack during last week's NCAA Division III West Regional in cross country, Michaela Freeby '15 was named the West Region Women's Athlete of the Year by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
Freeby became 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 in 2007 on her way to earning National Women's Athlete of the Year honors.
For Freeby, the award comes after finishing the 6-kilometer course at the West Regional, hosted by Pomona-Pitzer, in a time of 21:37.66 on Nov. 16. She finished 11 seconds in front of California Lutheran University's Melissa Skiba, who came in second.
The West Regional victory marked Freeby's fourth win of the season. She won the Northwest Conference Championship meet on Nov. 2 to go along with victories at the Oak Knoll Loop run on Sept. 21 and at the 39th Annual Charles Bowles Invitational on Oct. 5. She finished third at the prestigious Brooks Invitational in Winneconne, Wisc., on Oct. 19.
Freeby will compete at the NCAA Championships as part of a full Willamette squad, as the Bearcats earned a team automatic bid after finishing second in the standings at the West Regional.
Parker Bennett finished the 8-kilometer men's race at the West Regional in a time of 24:52.14. His second place finish earned him an individual automatic bid to the NCAA Championships.
After success at the NCAA West Regional event, the Bearcats will set their sights on the NCAA Championships on Nov. 23. The meet will be hosted by Hanover College, with the women's race set to start at 11 a.m. (EST) followed by the men's race at 12 p.m.