Bearcats Selected for National Championships

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

INDIANAPOLIS, IN -- The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has announced its selections for the 2007 NCAA Division III National Track and Field Championships. Willamette University will be represented by two members of the men's team and six members of the women's squad, plus both women's relay teams. The National Championships will be held May 24-26 at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

"We're really excited because ... we're bringing a large group, a fine mix of newcomers with veterans," Willamette University track and field Head Coach Matt McGuirk said. "It should be a very fun weekend. And, after not having any men's team members with previous experience at nationals, we had two guys get into the meet, so that's exciting, too."

Leading the list of selections for the Bearcats is Sarah Zerzan (Jr., San Carlos, CA/Notre Dame HS). Zerzan, who won the NCAA Division III individual women's national championship in cross country this past fall, achieved the top time among all athletes selected to compete in the women's 5,000-meter run. Her qualifying time of 16:28.54 also set Willamette University and Charles Bowles Track records.

Zerzan, who also earned an automatic qualifying time in the 1,500-meter run at 4:31.52, will be competing only in the 5,000-meter run at the National Championships. Likewise, Ellen Davis from Wesleyan College, who led Division III with a time of 16:28.22 in the 5,000-meter run during the regular season, is entered only in the 10,000-meter run at the National Championships, and is seeded 10th at 36:20.77.

Mariah Hanson (Sr., Poulsbo, WA/North Kitsap HS) will compete in the 400-meter dash. Her qualifying time was 56.86 seconds. Jordyn Smith (Jr., Henderson, NV/Green Valley HS) will run for the Bearcats in the 800-meter run, after registering a qualifying time of 2:10.87. Smith also qualified in the 400-meter hurdles at 1:02.34, but will concentrate on the 800 at the National Championships. She is seeded sixth in the race.

Other individual competitors set to compete for the Willamette women's team next weekend are Maddie Coffman (So., Boise, ID/Boise HS) in the 1,500-meter run, Andrea May (Sr., Bellingham, WA/Sehome HS) in the 100-meter hurdles and Jena Winger (So., Bonney Lake, WA/Sumner HS) in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Coffman's top time in the 1,500 was 4:32.99. May qualified in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 14.72 seconds, while Winger registered a time of 10:52.71 in the steeplechase to set a Willamette record and qualify for the National Championships.

Both of the Willamette women's relay teams will compete in Oshkosh for national titles. The 4 x 100-meter relay team of Autum Schmeck (Fr., Beaverton, OR/Aloha HS), Lydia Marsalli (Fr., Klamath Falls, OR/Klamath Union HS), Kaitlin St. John (Fr., Bend, OR/Mountain View HS) and May earned its entry with a time of 48.19 seconds at the Western Oregon Last Chance Meet. The time set a new Bearcat record.

"Three-quarters of the relay (4 x 100) is freshmen," McGuirk said. "It's great for them to get in .. to be in their first year and be going to nationals."

WU's 4 x 400-meter relay team includes Hanson, Jennifer Luecht (Fr., Milwaukie, OR/Rex Putnam HS), Marsalli and May. Willamette's qualifying time in the 4 x 400 relay was 3:50.19 during the Western Oregon Twilight Meet on April 27.

The actual makeup of the relay teams will be determined by McGuirk and his assistants later in the week. Any of Willamette's female athletes who have already been selected for the National Championships may run in one or both relay events. Also, Katie Klein (So., Forest Grove, OR/Forest Grove HS), a sprinter who has participated on Willamette's relays this season, will make the trip to the National Championships as a relay alternate.

Grant Piros (So., Newberg, OR/Newberg HS) in the javelin throw and Julio Vieyra (Sr., Salem, OR/McKay HS) in the 1,500-meter run will represent the WU men's team at the National Championships. Piros is seeded seventh in the javelin with a throw of 199' 3". Vieyra qualified in the 1,500 by achieving a time of 3:52.57.

Willamette has an outstanding history in track and field competition. The men's team has benefited from the efforts of 25 All-Americans in NCAA Division III. Willamette's men tied for third at the National Championships in 2004 and finished fourth in 2005. The Bearcat men have won nine individual national championships in Division III to go with five individual national titles in the NAIA.

The Bearcat women's team has included 33 All-Americans in Division III. Willamette's women tied for 11th at the National Championships in 2005. WU athletes on the women's team have claimed one individual national title in Division III plus four individual national titles in the NAIA.

Willamette's National Championship Entries:

Men:
Grant Piros, Javelin Throw, 199' 3"
Julio Vieyra, 1,500-Meter Run, 3:52.57

Women:
Mariah Hanson, 400-Meter Dash, 56.86
Jordyn Smith, 800-Meter Run, 2:10.87
Maddie Coffman, 1,500-Meter Run, 4:32.99
Sarah Zerzan, 5,000-Meter Run, 16:28.54
Andrea May, 100-Meter Hurdles, 14.72
Jena Winger, 3,000-Meter Steeplechase, 10:52.71

Relays:
Women's 4 x 100-Meter Relay (Autumn Schmeck, Lydia Marsalli, Kaitlin St. John, Andrea May), 48:19
Women's 4 x 400-Meter Relay (Lydia Marsalli, Jennifer Luecht, Mariah Hanson, Andrea May), 3:50.19

Sarah Zerzan is seeded first in the women's 5,000-meter run at the NCAA Division III National Championships.

Sarah Zerzan is seeded first in the women's 5,000-meter run at the NCAA Division III National Championships.