Willamette Track & Field Take Fourth Consecutive Title At Northwest Conference Championships

McMINNVILLE, Ore. - Willamette University continued its reign of the Northwest Conference Track and Field Championships, as the Bearcats captured men's and women's team titles for the fourth consectutive season at Linfield College's Maxwell Field.

The Bearcats men scored 274 points to more than double runner-up Linfield's 130 1/2. Following in order were Pacific Lutheran (98.5), Puget Sound (97), Whitworth (92), George Fox (88), Lewis & Clark (18), and Pacific (13).

The Bearcats women were nearly as dominant, scoring 225 1/2 points to run away from second-place Whitworth (125). Next, in order, were Linfield (117 1/2), George Fox (103), Puget Sound (71 1/2), Lewis & Clark (66 1/2), Pacific Lutheran (54), and Pacific (53).

Willamette senior Aaron Hollingshead, who captured the NWC crown in the 5,000 and eclipsed the NWC Championship meet record in the 3,000 steeplechase, was honored as Men's Athlete of the Meet. Willamette coach Matt McGuirk, in his second season was selected men's and women's NWC Coach of the Year.

Pacific sophomore Brooke Barker laid claim to two titles Saturday in the 200 and 400 and earned Women's Athlete of the Meet honors.

Although the steady rain on Saturday slowed down many times in the running events, two NWC Championship meet records were set in the field events. George Fox's Lindsey Blankenship established a new NWC championship meet record in the women's hammer. Her toss of 164-5 broke the existing standard of 159-6 set by Pacific Lutheran's Leslie Seelye in 2001. George Fox's Michelle Forbes set a conference meet record of her own in the high jump, clearing 5-7 1/4. That broke the old record of 5-7 set by former Bruin JoEllen Boatright in 2002. It also earned Forbes an automatic trip to the NCAA Division III championship meet.

MEN'S HIGHLIGHTS
In the 1,500, Willamette athletes claimed five of the top six spots to earn 30 team points in the event. Willamette sophomore Julio Vieyra won the race in 4:01.42, just ahead of teammate Doug Neill at 4:02.68. Finishing third was Ben Brown of PLU.

Linfield's Dayson Tiogangco (Sr., Papaikou, Hawaii) recaptured the NWC pole vault title he won as a freshman in 2002. Tiogangco recovered sufficiently from a hand injury that sidelined him for the last month to clear a winning height of 14-5 1/4. Greg Gause of Puget Sound and Ben Dillow of George Fox each vaulted 13-11 1/4, but Gause placed second by virtue of fewer attempts.

Tyler May of Willamette prevailed in the 110 high hurdles in 15.07, beating Willamette teammate and defending NWC champion Brennan Garrelts, who finished in 15.64. Whitworth's Benjamin Spaun was third in 15.79. PLU's Jon Payne earned the 400 intermediate hurdles championship, racing to a time of 53.80. Pacific's Lucas Setare was next at 54.90, and Linfield's Donald Law (Jr., Portland, Ore.) collected third (55.10).

Willamette All-American Nick Symmonds was a double-winner in the 400 and 800. The Bearcats sophomore turned in a season-best time in the men's 400 (48.41), winning that event by more than a second. Symmonds also was a runaway winner in the 800, clocking 1:52.60. Brad Bates of George Fox was runner-up in the 400 (49.82), just in front of UPS's Pete Van Sant. Whitworth's Brandon Howell took second in the 800 (1:54.10) and Jarrod McCann of Lewis & Clark claimed third place (1:55.10).

Van Sant came back to take the 200 title in 22.50, edging Vanassche (22.70) by a narrow margin. K.C. Gillespie of Willamette was third at 23.00.

Linfield nailed downed the men's 4x100 relay title (42.33), topping contenders George Fox (42.62) and Puget Sound (43.44). In the long relay, Willamette was a clear-cut winner (3:16.80). George Fox (3:22.40) beat Whitworth (3:22.70) at the wire to collect second place.

Chris Boock (Sr., Salem, Ore.) and Scott Vanassche (Fr., Milwaukie, Ore.) led Linfield to a 1-2 finish in the 100. Boock (11.00) won the title for the second time in his career. Vanassche (11.29) nipped PLU's James Burnett (11.30) in a photo finish.

In the shot put, Nate Matlock topped defending NWC titlist Austin Richard of Whitworth. Matlock's mark of 52-2 1/2 was a season-best performance for the Willamette senior. Richard (46-8) settled for second place, while PLU's Michael Johnson was third (44-11).

PLU's Dan Haakenson unseated Matlock as defending champion. Haakenson recorded a conference-best mark of 177-1, more than three feet better than Matlock's 173-7. Derrick Dewindt from Whitworth garnered third at 171-1.

Puget Sound's Brian Kramer leaped a season-best 44-0 3/4 to win the men's triple jump. Ian Hinton of Whitworth took second place (43-7 1/4), while NWC leader Steve Bianchi finished third (42-9 3/4).

Hollingshead beat defending NWC champion Frank Prince of Puget Sound in the 5,000. Hollingshead finished in 15:09.80 to edge Pierce's time of 15:12.00. Doug Blackburn from Whitworth was third at 15:19.10.

WOMEN'S HIGHLIGHTS
Barker raced to a 26.20 finish in the 200, and won the 400 title in 57.66. Willamette's Andrea May was second in 26.40 in the 200 and Jody Swan took third 26.50. In the 400, Jody Swan of Lewis & Clark was the runner-up (58.20) and Willamette's Alicia Andrews finished third (58.89).

Andrews came back to take the 800 championship in 2:17.80. GFU's Rachel Giffey-Brohaugh was second (2:19.40) and Whitworth's Elaine Heinemann was third (2:20.60).

Shannon McGrane of Willamette won both hurdles events. The Bearcats senior fended off Whitworth's Sarah Marken for the 100 intermediate hurdles crown. McGrane recorded a season-best performance of 15.32 while Marken clocked in at 15.76. Linfield freshman Maura Williams (Fr., Philomath, Ore.) was third in 15.97 seconds. In the 400 hurdles, McGrane's time of 1:01.20 easily outdistanced teammate Jordyn Smith at 1:03.40. Kate Ross from Lewis & Clark picked up third place in 1:04.60.

McGrane also anchored Willamette's 4x400 relay squad, which won in 3:56.70.
George Fox was a distant second at 4:03.20, followed by Lewis & Clark at 4:03.50.

Andrea May claimed the championship in the 100 in 12.92 seconds, edging Whitworth's Nicole Brown at 12.98. Marken was third in 13.13.

In a close race, Carly Killam of Willamette nipped Linfield freshman Casey Stepan (Fr., Vancouver, Wash.) at the wire to claim the women's 1,500 championship. Killam finished in 4:51.55, just ahead of Stepan's time of 4:51.95. Lewis & Clark's Carla McHattie was third in 4:52.84.

Whitworth won the women's 4x100 relay by a wide margin (49.64). Linfield (50.97) was runner-up, followed by Willamette (51.13).

As expected, Linfield throwers finished 1-2 in the women's shot put. Joni Claypool (Jr., Stayton, Ore.) beat teammate and defending NWC champion Danielle Bielenberg (Jr., Albany, Ore.). Claypool managed a throw of 40-6 in the less-than-ideal conditions. Bielenberg tossed 39-7 1/4 to hold off Willamette's Autumn Helmick (39-1 1/4).

In the women's triple jump, George Fox's Whitney Kolb was crowned champion (35-9 1/4), bettering runner-up Danielle Page of Willamette (35-2) and third-place finisher Kristen Dormaier from Whitworth (34-4).

Matt McGuirk

Matt McGuirk