2006 Cross Country Season Preview

As another season begins the Willamette University Bearcats cross-country programs look to continue their success at the conference, regional and national level. In 2005, the Bearcats won both the men's and women's Northwest Conference titles as well as the NCAA West Region titles. The men finished 16th at the national meet and the women's team ran to a 14th place finish. The Bearcats look to continue their streak of five straight men's Northwest Conference titles and the women look to continue their run of four straight Northwest Conference titles.

Leading the charge for the 2006 men's team are returnees Travis Harris (Sr., Bellingham, WA), Ian Batch (Jr., Eagle, ID), Josh Clough (So., Auburn, WA), and Tristan Knutson-Lombardo (So., Juneau, AK) who all finished in the top nine at the Northwest Conference meet. Also looking to contribute after standout track seasons are returnees Lucas Nebert (Jr., Cincinnati, OH), Alex Jimenez (So., Parkdale, OR), Steven Millard (Jr., Port Orchard, WA), Ben Leipzig (Sr., Waban, MA), Everett Ottinger (So., Albequerque, NM) and Julio Vieyra (Sr., Salem, OR). Along with these returnees is a talented group of newcomers who will look to break into the top seven.

The women return All-American Sarah Zerzan (Jr., San Carlos, CA) as well as national competitors Elizabeth Hart (Sr., Spokane, WA), Alison Maki (So., Shoreview, MN), Mara Engle (So., Bellingham, WA), and Maddie Coffman (So., Boise, ID). Also looking to help push the pack are returnees Edith Polanco (So., Salem, OR), Katrina Brett (Jr., Longview, WA), Carly Killam (Jr., Kaiula, HI), Melissa Ostermick (Jr., Talkeetna, WA), Alison Shives (Sr., Seattle, WA), and Jena Winger (So., Bonney Lake, WA). An eager group of Bearcat newcomers is looking to help continue the programs' tradition.

"This is going to be an exciting year for the entire conference and region. Several teams have improved dramatically and we will have to be on top of our game to repeat as conference and regional champions," said Willamette Coach Matt McGuirk. "Both squads are young but several leaders have already emerged and we're really excited to see both teams develop throughout the season."

The Bearcats open the season at the University of Portland's Pier Park Invitational on September 8th and then hosts the Willamette Invitational on September 30th at Bush Park in Salem, OR.