Bearcats Take Lead After First Day of NWC Championships

McMINNVILLE, Ore. - Willamette senior Aaron Hollingshead set a new meet record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, Zach Larsen defended his high jump title, softball player Kelsey Stolz won the javelin throw and Nate Matlock repeated as discus champion as the Bearcats took solid leads in both the men’s and women’s 2005 Northwest Conference Track and Field Championships Friday afternoon here at Linfield College’s Maxwell Field.

In the men's standings, Willamette led with 101 points followed by George Fox (38), Linfield (35 1/2), Pacific Lutheran (34 1/2), Puget Sound 34, Whitworth 26, Lewis & Clark (1).

After seven events in the women's team competition, Willamette leads with 67 1/2 points, followed by Whitworth (45), Linfield (40 1/2), Puget Sound (31), George Fox (24 1/2), Pacific and Pacific Lutheran (22), and Lewis & Clark (20 1/2).

Action resumes Saturday at 10:30 a.m. with five field events. The first running event of the day, the women's 4x100 relay, starts at noon.

Hollingshead raced to a record time of 9:01.55, bettering the previous record of 9:08.14 set by Willamette's Kelly Sullivan in 1979. Hollingshead easily outdistanced runner-up Scott Overby of Willamette (9:40.36) and third-place finisher Jake Moe of George Fox (9:40.51).

Matlock successfully defended his NWC title in the men's discus, tossing a season-best effort of 153-2 (46.68m) to edge Linfield's Derrick Gleason. Gleason was runner-up at 151-10 (46.27) and Dan Haakenson of Pacific Lutheran was third at 144-1 (43.91). The top three qualifiers in all event finals earn All-Northwest Conference honors.

2005 NWC high jump champion Zach Larson of Willamette was a repeat winner by a wide margin, soaring 6-9 (2.06m) to better runner-up Ben Dillow of George Fox at 6-3 1/4 (1.91m). Brian Kramer of Puget Sound equaled Dillow's mark, but was awarded third when he needed more attempts to achieve the same height.

Kelsey Stoltz highlighted a 1-2 finish for Willamette in the women's javelin. Stoltz achieved a season-best effort of 136-7 (41.63m) and teammate Sophia Dentzel was second at 132-10 (40.50m). Defending champion DeeDee Arnall of Pacific was third at 131-5 (40.05m). Stolz will play for the Bearcat softball team Saturday and Sunday as they host Linfield in a four-game set to determine the NWC champion.

In the men’s 400-meter preliminaries, the best time was posted by Nick Symmonds of Willamette (49.99). Tyler May of Willamette recorded the day's best mark in the 110 hurdles with a hand time of 14.2.

Other first-day leaders included Shannon McGrane in the 400 hurdles (1:01.45) and WU's Carly Killam in the 800 (2:19.05). Best times in women’s preliminaries included a 58.27 by Brooke Barker of Pacific in the 400, a 12.75 by Nicole Brown of Whitworth in the 100, and a hand-timed 15.7 by McGrane of Willamette in the 100 intermediate hurdles.

The men’s long jump crown went to Pete Van Sant of Puget Sound with a leap of 21-10 (6.65m), followed by Drew Maves of George Fox at 21-7 1/4 (6.58m) and Steve Wilbon of Willamette at 21-6 (6.55m).

Puget Sound junior Frank Prince defended his NWC title in the men's 10,000, winning in 31:16.60. Doug Blackburn of Whitworth was second in 32:01.44, followed by UPS's Taylor Hallvik in 32:54.15.

Liz Peterson of Lewis & Clark captured the women’s discus title with a season-best throw of 130-1 (39.64m). Megan Wochnick of Pacific Lutheran was runner-up at 128-10 (39.28m) and Linfield's Joni Claypool placed third at 125-2 (38.15m).

Katie Heaton repeated as women’s pole vault champion by clearing a height of 10-8 1/4 (3.26m), the same as Laura Fisher of Pacific Lutheran, but in fewer attempts. Third place went to Linfield's Juli Huddleston at 9-8 1/2 (2.96m).

In the women's long jump, Lindsey Patterson reclaimed her NWC championship with a mark of 17-6 3/4 (5.35m), runner-up Sarah Marken of Whitworth at 17-3 1/2 (5.27). Kate Ross of Lewis & Clark was third at 17-0 1/2 (5.19).

Colleen Godfrey of Puget Sound topped the results in the women's 3,000 steeplechase (11:20.28), shaving more than 15 seconds off her previous best time. WU's Katie Pierce was second (11:30.04) and Linfield's Joanna Murphy was third (11:36.84).