Willamette sweeps track and field titles; Sullivan named NWC Coach of the Year, twice

SPOKANE, Wash. - Willamette University head coach Kelly Sullivan was part of a Bearcat track and field dynasty as an athlete. Now he could be creating one as coach. He directed Willamette to a sweep of the Northwest Conference track and field titles this weekend at Whitworth College, the first Bearcat men's title since 1987 and the first women's crown since 1978.

Sullivan, who ran at Willamette in the late 1970's and still holds the NWC record in the 3,000 steeplechase, was named the 2002 Men's and Women's Coach of the Year.

The Willamette men won nine out of 10 NWC titles from 1978 through 1987. The Bearcat women won four out of five conference titles between 1974 and 1978.

The Bearcat men finished with 254 points, well ahead of runner up Linfield (165.5) and third-place Pacific Lutheran (141.5).

The Bearcat distance runners scored 43 points on Saturday. WU took three of the top five places in the men's 1,500 meters and finished second through fifth in the 5,000 meters.

Displaying depth across all events, the Bearcats also had three event winners on the day in non-distance events. Toby Dean won the 110 high hurdles in 15.59. Nathan Matlock won the shot put with a mark of 50'-3.5". Jason Holmgren won the discus with a throw of 156'-10".

PLU's Mike Houston won two individual events on Saturday. He repeated as champion of the 800 with a time of 1:53.30. He also came from behind to win the 1,500 with a time of 4:01.12. Other Lute winners included Chris Berholf in the 400 hurdles (53.88) and John Wolfork in the triple jump (45'-7.25").

Runner-up Linfield's only winner on Saturday was freshman Dayson Tiogangco, who cleared 14'-7.25" in the pole vault.

Whitworth, the defending champions, did not score a point on Friday. But the Pirates finished with 100 points after winning four events Saturday. Ben Roram won the 100 (10.85) and anchored the winning 4x100 relay (42.23). Leo Suzuki won the 400 (48.27) for the second straight year and anchored the Pirates to a victory in the 4x400 relay (3:18.71).

The other men's event winners on Saturday were Ben Salisbury of George Fox, who won the 200 in 21.77 seconds, and Neil Weare of Lewis & Clark who won the 5,000 in 15:17.92.

Linfield's Ray Lions was named the 2002 Men's Athlete of the Year. He won the javelin in NCAA automatic qualifying on Friday and also finished third in the long jump. Two weeks ago he finished second in the decathlon.

The Willamette women also won handily, scoring 225 points. The only drama was the battle for second place, as Pacific Lutheran won the final relay to take second place (141 points), just ahead of 2001 champion Whitworth (138 points).

Willamette was deeper, both on the track and in the field. The Bearcats had four event winners. Alicia Andrews won the 800 meters (2:18.56), while Natalie Wright was victorious in the 1,500 (4:46.54).

Willamette scored big points in the shot put and the discus. Nancy Weyler led a 1-2-3 Bearcat finish in the shot with a mark of 41'-0.5". Monique Reed and Kasey Sorensen were second and third. Weyler also won the discus with a throw of 141'-0" and Reed again finished right behind.

Pacific Lutheran's Jill Wilmovsky swept to victory in the 200 (25.72) and 400 (58.18) for the second consecutive season. She was the anchor on the Lutes' winning 4x400 relay (3:58.52). Carrie Larson won the Lutes' fourth event of the day in the 400 hurdles (1:02.33).

Kristen Shields of Whitworth won the 100 (12.31) for the second straight year and led the Pirates to a win in the 4x100 relay (48.88).

George Fox had three winners on Saturday. Joellen Boatright won both the 100 hurdles (15.25) and the high jump (5'-7"). Her high jump mark tied both the NWC record and the Boppell track record. The Bruins' Kelsey Baron won the triple jump with an NWC-record mark of 39'-1".

The other event winner on Saturday was Dana Boyle of Puget Sound, who won the 5,000 in 17:20.34, over one minute faster than the runner up.

George Fox's Boatright was chosen as the 2002 NWC Women's Athlete of the Year. In addition to her Saturday wins in the 100 hurdles and high jump, she finished second in the triple jump and was third in the heptathlon a week and a half ago.

Final Men's scores: Willamette 254, Linfield 165.5, Pacific Lutheran 141.5,
Whitworth 100, George Fox 88, Lewis & Clark 40, Puget Sound 17, Pacific 8, Whitman 0.

Final Women's Scores: Willamette 225, Pacific Lutheran 141, Whitworth 138, George Fox 132, Puget Sound 62.5, Lewis & Clark 40, Pacific 13, Whitman 10.