Willamette Set to Host 33rd Annual Charles Bowles Invitational

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

SALEM, ORE. -- The tremendous reputation that Charles Bowles brought to the Willamette University cross country teams as the long-time coach of the Bearcats continues with the 33rd Annual Charles Bowles Invitational Cross Country Meet, to be hosted by Willamette on Saturday, Sept. 29 at Bush’s Pasture Park in Salem, Ore. This year’s Charles Bowles Invitational features 1,352 entries, with 1,122 runners expected in the College/Open races and another 231 runners entered in the newly-added high school division. Although Bowles passed away in 2005, his memory continues to be honored by this exceptional event, that annually draws some of the top collegiate teams from the West Coast and throughout the nation.

“It’s our biggest meet. It’s a home meet. We need to make it important,” Willamette Head Coach Matt McGuirk said about the motivation for his team this weekend.

The talent level in this year’s College/Open races remains high. A total of seven nationally-ranked men’s teams
and eight nationally-ranked women’s teams will participate in the Cardinal Races, featuring NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III and NAIA teams. The Gold Races, which include NCAA Division I, NJCAA, club teams and unattached runners will be highlighted by two nationally-ranked Division I men’s teams and one nationally-ranked Division I women’s team.

Overall, 31 men’s teams and 32 women’s teams will run in the Cardinal Races, while 23 men’s teams and 20 women’s teams will compete in the Gold Races. A total of nine boys’ and girls’ teams are entered in the high school events.

“It’s exciting to see that on the same day of the University of Oregon meet -- and Stanford has their meet -- we still have our second highest number of entrants,” McGuirk said.

Action gets underway at 9 a.m. (PDT) with the Men’s 8K Cardinal Race, followed by the Women’s 5K Cardinal Race at 9:45 a.m. The Men’s 8K Gold Race is set to start at 10:20 a.m., with the Women’s 5K Gold Race scheduled for 11:05 a.m. The Girls’ 5K High School Race will begin at 11:45 a.m. and the Boys’ 5K High School Race will start at 12:15 p.m.

Willamette will compete in the Men’s 8K Cardinal Race and the Women’s 5K Cardinal Race. The Willamette men’s team is ranked 10th in NCAA Division III and the WU women’s team is ranked 11th in NCAA Division III. Other nationally-ranked Division III squads participating in the meet will be the St. John’s University (Minn.) men’s team, ranked 5th, and the University of Puget Sound women’s team, ranked 20th. The University of Alaska-Anchorage men’s team is ranked #19 in NCAA Division II.

Men’s teams competing that are ranked in the NAIA are Aquinas College (Mich.), ranked #2, Lewis-Clark State College (Idaho), ranked #5, Concordia University (Calif.), ranked #7, and Eastern Oregon University, ranked #9. Women’s teams entered in the meet and ranked in the NAIA are the University of British Columbia (Canada), ranked #8, Concordia (Calif.), ranked #13, Aquinas (Mich.), ranked #14, Point Loma Nazarene University (Calif.), ranked #15, Lewis-Clark State (Idaho), ranked #16, and Northwest University (Wash.), ranked #28.

The Gold Races will feature three nationally-ranked NCAA Division I teams from the Pacific Northwest. They are the University of Portland men’s squad, ranked #11, the University of Washington men’s squad, ranked #30, and the University of Washington women’s squad, ranked #17.

Willamette’s top runner in the Women’s 5K Cardinal Race will likely be Sarah Zerzan (Sr., San Carlos, Calif./Notre Dame HS), who won last year’s Cardinal Race with a time of 17:11.0. Zerzan went on to win the Northwest Conference and NCAA West Regional titles, before claiming the NCAA Division III Women’s Individual National Championship.

“It’s her first race (this fall),” McGuirk said. “We’re just happy she’s running (after recovering from a foot injury). Whatever she does, I’m sure it’s going to be fine.”

Other top competitors from Willamette’s women’s team include Maddie Coffman (Jr., Boise, ID/Boise HS) and Jena Winger (Jr., Bonney Lake, WA/Sumner HS). Also expected to perform well from the Northwest Conference is Emily Timmer of Puget Sound. Last year, Timmer finished second behind Zerzan at the NWC Championships.

In the Men’s 8K Cardinal Race, Willamette is anticipating a strong race from Ian Batch (Sr., Eagle, ID/Capital HS). Batch won the NWC championship last season and placed eighth at the NCAA West Regional. He was 11th at the 2006 Charles Bowles Invitational with a time of 24:54.05.

Other runners on the WU men’s team who are likely to challenge for top finishes include Tristan Knutson-Lombardo (Jr., Juneau, AK/Juneau-Douglas HS), Lucas May (So., Portland, OR/Franklin HS) and Kellen Peters (Jr., Forest Grove, OR/Forest Grove HS/Pacific University). Peters placed third for Pacific at last season’s NWC Championships before transferring to Willamette.

“I expect those four to be at the front for us,” McGuirk said, “but we have a lot more right up there ... you could mention another 12 guys who have a shot at being in our Top 10.”

33rd Annual Charles Bowles Invitational, Hosted by Willamette University
Saturday, Sept. 29, 2007 • Bush’s Pasture Park • Salem, Ore.

Schedule of Events (All Times are PDT)
9:00 a.m. - Men’s 8K Cardinal Race (NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III, NAIA)
9:45 a.m. - Women’s 5K Cardinal Race (NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III, NAIA)
10:20 a.m. - Men’s 8K Gold Race (NCAA Div. I, Jr. Coll., Clubs, Unattached)
11:05 a.m. - Women’s 5K Gold Race (NCAA Div. I, Jr. Coll., Clubs, Unattached)
11:45 a.m. - Girls’ 5K High School Race
12:15 p.m. - Boys’ 5K High School Race

Charles Bowles Invitational - Meet Information

Sarah Zerzan finishes the 2006 Charles Bowles Invitational in first place. Zerzan also is the defending NCAA Division III Women's National Champion.

Sarah Zerzan finishes the 2006 Charles Bowles Invitational in first place. Zerzan also is the defending NCAA Division III Women's National Champion.