Willamette Cross Country Teams Win NWC Titles

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

WHEATLAND, ORE. -- The Willamette University men's and women's cross country teams extended their Northwest Conference winning streaks at the NWC Championships, held at Willamette Mission State Park on Saturday, Oct. 27. Willamette's men's team won its seventh straight conference title with a team score of 21, while the Bearcat women's team claimed its sixth consecutive NWC title with a score of 39.

The Bearcats also won both individual titles. Sarah Zerzan (Sr., San Carlos, CA/Notre Dame HS) repeated as the women's champion and Tristan Knutson-Lombardo (Jr., Juneau, AK/Juneau-Douglas HS) took first place in the men's race.

"The coaching staff was very pleased with the efforts of the Bearcat teams today," Willamette University cross country Head Coach Matt McGuirk said. "The plan was to get to the front and establish a strong Bearcat presence and then apply some pressure to make sure it's an honest pace. The kids did a nice job of following the race plan."

McGuirk was named NWC Coach-of-the-Year in both men's cross country and women's cross country. He has been chosen NWC men's cross country Coach of the Year six times (2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007) and has been named NWC women's cross country Coach of the Year twice (2004 and 2007).

Zerzan won the women's 6-kilometer race with a time of 20:36.01 and achieve a margin of victory of almost 30 seconds. Maddie Coffman (Jr., Boise, ID/Boise HS) of Willamette finished in second place at 21:05.80. Amanda Phillips of Lewis & Clark College was third in 21:13.77.

In the men's race, Knutson-Lombardo edged out teammate Ian Batch (Sr., Eagle, ID/Capital HS) by 8.36 seconds. Knutson-Lombardo finished in 25:00.34 over the 8-kilometer course. Batch crossed the finish line in 25:08.70 Willamette also took third place, as Taylor Roholt (So., Albuquerque, NM/Sandia Prep) clocked in at 25:17.90. Fourth place went to Nicholas Gallagher of Whitworth University, who was timed at 25:19.98 and fifth place was earned by Francis Reynolds, from the University of Puget Sound, who finished in 25:23.17.

Willamette's women's team score also included Jena Winger (Jr., Bonney Lake, WA/Sumner HS) in ninth, Carly Killam (Sr., Kailua, HI/Punahou HS) in 13th and Ashley Sharratt (Jr., Union, OR/Union HS) in 14th. Winger completed the race in 22:00.67, while Killam recorded a time of 22:27.46 and Sharratt was clocked at 22:28.29. Runners placing in the top seven earned First Team All-NWC honors and runners placing between eight and 14th were named Second Team All-NWC.

Other runners for the WU women's team who placed in the top 20 were were Edith Polanco (Jr., Salem, OR/McKay HS), Molly Lewis (So., Gig Harbor, WA/Gig Harbor HS) and Hannah Vietmeier (So., Shoreline, WA/Shorewood HS). Polanco took 15th place with a time of 22:30.58. Lewis was 18th in 22:50.11 and Vietmeier finished 20th in 22:57.62.

In the women's teams standings, Willamette's score of 39 was followed by Puget Sound, which took second with a score of 58. The Loggers had the fifth, sixth and seventh place runners, but also had to count the 21st and 22nd scoring runners to complete their team score. Lewis & Clark took third place with a score of 121 and Whitman College was fourth a 131. Whitworth and Pacific Lutheran University tied for fifth at 140, with Linfield College in seventh at 143, George Fox University in eighth at 184 and Pacific University in ninth at 222.

The Bearcat men's team, paced by the 1-2-3 finish of Knutson-Lombardo, Batch and Roholt, won by 49 points.
WU's team score of 21, also included Josh Clough (Jr., Auburn, WA/Auburn Riverside HS) in sixth place at 25:23.97 and Lucas May (So., Portland, OR/Franklin HS) in ninth at 25:27.59.

Willamette was following in the team scoring by Linfield College with a score of 70. Third place went to Whitworth at 83. Puget Sound placed fourth at 85, George Fox was fifth at 126, Whitman took sixth at 153, Lewis & Clark was seventh at 183, Pacific Lutheran finished eighth at 251 and Pacific placed ninth at 272.

Lucas Nebert (Sr., Cincinnati, OH/Wyoming HS) of Willamette took 10th with a time of 25:33.67. Kyle Kotaich (So., Florence, OR/Siuslaw HS), also running for the Bearcats, was 14th in 25:51.52. Also in the top 20 for Willamette, were Kellen Peters (Jr., Forest Grove, OR/Forest Grove HS/Pacific University) in 15th at 25:59.71 and Chris Platano (So., Myrtle Point, OR/Myrtle Point HS) in 18th at 26:06.96.

Knutson-Lombardo, Batch, Roholt and Clough earned First Team All-NWC recognition. May, Nebert and Kotaich received Second Team All-NWC honors.

The Bearcats will return to action on Saturday, Nov. 10 at the NCAA Division III West Regional at McIver Park in Estacada, Ore. Race time is set for 11 a.m. (PDT).

NWC Cross Country Championships
Tristan Knutson-Lombardo won the individual men's title at the NWC Championships.

Tristan Knutson-Lombardo won the individual men's title at the NWC Championships.

Sarah Zerzan

Sarah Zerzan