Willamette Wins Men's and Women's NWC Team Titles, as Batch and Zerzan Claim Individual Championships

Willamette Wins Men’s and Women’s NWC Team Titles, as Batch and Zerzan Claim Individual Championships

TACOMA, WASH. -- Led by individual championships from Ian Batch (Jr., Eagle, ID/Capital HS) and Sarah Zerzan (Jr., San Carlos, CA/Notre Dame HS), Willamette University won the men’s and women’s team titles at the Northwest Conference Cross Country Championships on Saturday, Oct. 28 at the Pacific Lutheran University Golf Course. It was the sixth consecutive NWC title for the Willamette men’s team, while the WU women’s team claimed its fifth straight NWC championship. The Willamette women’s team is ranked #10 in NCAA Division III. The Bearcat men’s team is ranked #15 in NCAA Division III.

Batch won the 8-kilometer men’s race with a time of 24:30.70 for a 15.19-second margin over Harrison Wilson of Linfield College in second place. Batch set a record for the PLU Course. Zerzan took first place in the women’s 6-kilometer race with a time of 20:32.66, as she won by an impressive 53.14 seconds over Emily Timmer from the University of Puget Sound, who took second place in 21:25.80.

Zerzan set the Willamette school record, the NWC Meet record and the PLU Course record with her victory. She eclipsed WU’s previous record of 21:28.3, set by Danya Rumore in 2004. Zerzan’s time was 55.64 faster than Rumore’s previous record. Zerzan’s father, Terry Zerzan, won individual NWC titles for Willamette in 1974 and 1977.

In three seasons at Willamette, Zerzan has earned three Top 5 finishes as the NWC Championships. She was fourth at the NWC meet in 2004 and took second place in 2005 before this attaining this year’s individual title in a field of 83 runners.

The WU women earned a close victory in the team standings, as they scored 50 points to hold of Puget Sound, which finished in second with a score of 54. Lewis & Clark College was third at 115 and was followed by George Fox University in fourth at 118, Whitworth College in fifth at 123, Whitman College in sixth at 126, Linfield College in seventh at 155, Pacific Lutheran University in eighth at 222 and Pacific University in ninth at 225.

Willamette placed four runners in the top 12. After Zerzan crossed the finish line first, the Bearcats received a ninth place finish from Maddie Coffman (So., Boise, ID/Boise HS) in 22:07.77, plus an 11th place finish from Jena Winger (So., Bonney Lake, WA/Sumner HS) at 22:13.06 and a 12th place showing from Elizabeth Hart (Jr., Spokane, WA/Lewis & Clark HS) in 22:14.88.

The Bearcats completed their team score with Ali Maki (So., Shoreview, MN/Mounds View HS) in 17th place at 22:40.10. She finished seven spots in front of the fifth runner for UPS, Ali Garel, who took 24th in 22:48.66. Helping drop Garel to 24th were Willamette’s sixth and seventh finishers, Katrina Brett (Jr., Longview, WA/Mark Morris HS), who placed 18th with a time of 22:40.80, and Edith Polanco (So., Salem, OR/McKay HS, who took 22nd at 22:47.05.

In the men’s team standings, the Bearcats posted a score of 40 to win by 18 points. Puget Sound was second at 58 and Linfield took third with a score of 95. George Fox was fourth at 119, while Whitworth took fifth at 133, Whitman was sixth at 138, Lewis & Clark finished seventh at 182, Pacific was eighth at 191 and Pacific Lutheran took ninth at 256.

WU had its top five runners among the first 12 finishers (1, 6, 10, 11, 12). Batch led everyone in the field of 81 athletes, while Josh Clough (So., Auburn, WA/Auburn Riverside HS) took sixth with a time of 25:00.01. Kyle Kotaich (Fr., Florence, OR/Siuslaw HS) placed 10th in 25:13.35, Alex Jimenez (So., Parkdale, OR/Hood River Valley HS) was 11th with a time of 25:14.64 and Steven Millard (Jr., Port Orchard, WA/South Kitsap HS) clocked in at 25:15.14 for 12th place.

The Bearcats’ top seven runners all reached the finish line in the top 14. Less than one-half second after Millard crossed the finish line, Willamette’s Lucas Nebert (Jr., Cincinnati, OH/Wyoming HS) took 13th place at 25:15.56. Travis Harris (Sr., Bellingham, WA/Sehome HS) of WU placed 14th in 25:15.99.

Like Zerzan, Batch has recorded three Top 5 finishes at the NWC Championships. This year’s individual championship performance was preceded by a fifth place finish from Batch in 2004 and a fourth place finish in 2005. Batch was the fifth consecutive NWC individual champion to come from the Bearcats’ roster.

Willamette’s men’s team has now garnered 17 NWC cross country titles since 1963. The WU women’s team has won a total of six NWC cross country championships in the past seven years. The Bearcats’ first women’s title was recorded during the 2000 season.

The next action for the Willamette cross country teams is set for Sunday, Nov. 5 at the Pre’s Trail XC Meet in Eugene, Ore. The event will be held at Alton Baker Park.

After the Pre’s Trail races, the Bearcats will travel to Chino, Calif. for the NCAA Division III West Regional Championships, hosted by Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on Saturday, Nov. 11 at Prado Park. Last year, Willamette won both team titles at the Regional Championships, which were hosted by the Bearcats at Bush’s Pasture Park in Salem, Ore.

Both of WU’s teams appear headed for trips to the NCAA Division III National Championships again this season. A field of 32 teams, plus top individual runners, is set to compete for national titles at the Voice of America Park in West Chester, Ohio, on Saturday, Nov. 18. In 2005, the Willamette women’s team placed 14th in the NCAA, while the men’s team took 16th place.