Bearcats Sweep at NWC Cross Country Championships * Bearcat Men Win Third Straight Championship; Women Garner Their Second Straight Crown

FOREST GROVE - Willamette came up just one champion short of a clean sweep Saturday as the Bearcats dominated the Northwest Conference Cross Country Championships Saturday at Lincoln Park in Forest Grove.
The Bearcat men, led by individual champion Jacob Stout, placed their top six runners in the top ten to win the meet with 25 points. It is the third straight championship for Willamette and the 14th in school history. Puget Sound finished second with 50 points, followed by Whitworth with 115.

Willamette's women performed a similar feat in winning their second straight championship. The Bearcats placed their top five runners in the top 11 to finish with a team score of 33. Whitworth finished second with 79 points, followed by Lewis & Clark with 100.

Stout led a front pack of five runners, dominated by Bearcats, for most of the race. The pack held together until just after the fourth mile when Stout and teammate Aaron Hollingshead surged to build a 10-seocnd lead. Stout held the pace over the final loop and took away the championship by running the 8,000-meter course in 24:57.69.

Hollingshead was second in 25:06.85 and Puget Sound's Dan McLean finished third in 25:13.26. Willamette's Aaron Young, who was vying for his third NWC championship in four years, was fifth in 25:25.25.

The women's race saw a close race between three runners that broke away from the pack early and competed the entire race for the championship. Whitman's Laura Matsen led the breakaway most of the way and surged at the end to win the 6,000-meter race in a conference meet and course record 21:36.78.

Whitworth's Leslie Nelson finished just behind Matsen in 21:39.42 for her second straight NWC runner-up finish. Willamette's Kari Holbert, who won last year's meet, was third in 21:41.86.

Matsen and Stout were both recognized as the conference's Athletes of the Year in an awards ceremony that followed the meet in the Pacific Athletic Center. Willamette's Matt McGuirk was recognized as Men's Coach of the Year. Willamette's Kelly Sullivan was honored as Women's Coach of the Year.

Willamette will be the favorite as all nine teams meet their other Division III brethren from the west in the NCAA West Regional Championships, which will be held next Saturday at McIver State Park in Molalla.

MEN'S TEAM SCORES: Willamette 25, Puget Sound 50, Whitworth 115, George Fox 118, Linfield 127, Pacific Lutheran 146, Whitman 178, Lewis & Clark 207, Pacific 217.

MEN'S ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Jacob Stout, Willamette

COACH OF THE YEAR: Matt McGuirk, Willamette

WOMEN'S TEAM SCORES: Willamette 33, Whitworth 79, Lewis & Clark 100, Linfield 106, Puget Sound 139, George Fox 147, Pacific Lutheran 154, Whitman 181, Pacific 234.

WOMEN'S ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Laura Matsen, Whitman

COACH OF THE YEAR: Kelly Sullivan, Willamette