Bearcat Cross Country Teams are Ranked 14th in NCAA Division III

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University has a history of success in men's and women's cross country and the Bearcats appear headed for continued success in 2007, as both of WU's teams are ranked in the top 15 in the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Preseason Polls. The Willamette women's team, led by returning national champion Sarah Zerzan (Sr., San Carlos, CA/Notre Dame HS), is ranked 14th and is the highest ranked Northwest Conference team in the NCAA Division III Poll. WU's men's squad, led by returning NWC champion Ian Batch (Sr., Eagle, ID/Capital HS), is tied for 14th with Carnegie Mellon in the NCAA Division III Poll. No other NWC men's program is ranked in the Preseason Poll.

Amherst College (Mass.) tops the women's poll with seven of eight first place votes. The remaining first place vote went to Calvin College (Mich.), ranked #2. Washington University (Mo.) holds down the #3 position. In addition to Willamette, other NWC teams ranked in the Top 35 are the University of Puget Sound at #26 and Whitman College in a tie for 35th.

Calvin ranks first in the men's poll with all eight first place votes. New York University is #2 and the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse is #3.

Willamette is set to open the 2007 season by hosting the Willamette Grass Course meet on Saturday, Sept. 15 at Bush's Pasture Park in Salem, Ore. Last year, both of Willamette's teams won NWC and West Region titles. The women's teams took 20th place at the NCAA Division III National Championships, while the men's team placed 27th at nationals. This year's NCAA Championships will be hosted on Nov. 17 by St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn.

USTFCCCA Preseason Polls