WU Men's Cross Country Team Moves Up to #4 in Nation, Bearcat Women's Team Improves to Tie for #8

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

SALEM, OR -- Following a highly-successful weekend at the 33rd Annual Charles Bowles Invitational that featured an individual title for Sarah Zerzan (Sr., San Carlos, CA/Notre Dame HS) and team championships for both squads, the Willamette University cross country teams have made significant jumps in the NCAA Division III National Rankings as compiled by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). In the new rankings, released on Wednesday, Oct. 3, the Willamette men’s team has moved up to #4 in the nation, after holding the #10 spot last week. The WU women’s team has improved to a tie for #8 in the rankings, after begin ranked #11 a week ago.

Zerzan won the Women’s 5K Cardinal Race against NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III and NAIA competition. Her winning time was 17:20.15 and she won the race by 10.95 seconds. Zerzan also led the WU women to the top of the team standings, as WU took first place with a score of 101. The Bearcats placed three runners in the top 20 and six in the top 40. A total of 265 runners and 26 full teams were entered in the women’s race.

Ian Batch (Sr., Eagle, ID/Capital HS) led the Bearcat men’s team, as he finished the Men’s 8K Cardinal Race in fourth place with a time of 24:36.95. Willamette claimed the team title with a score of 63, as Aquinas College (#2 in the NAIA) claimed second at 123 and St. John’s University (#5 in NCAA Division III at the time) took third at 127. WU concluded the race with five runners in the top 20. Overall, there were 268 competitors and 27 full teams in the men’s race.

In the men’s rankings, Calvin College (Mich.) remains the #1 team with 280 points. New York University is #2 at 272, with the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in third at 264. Willamette is fourth at 254 and SUNY Cortland holds fifth place at 247. Haverford College (Pa.) is sixth at 236, St. John’s fell to seventh at 233, Augustana College (Ill.) is eighth at 222, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville is ninth at 220 and North Central College is 10th at 212.

The women’s rankings feature Amherst College (Mass.) in the #1 spot with 279 points. Calvin is #2 at 271 and Washington University (Mo.) is #3 at 266. SUNY Geneseo ranks fourth at 253 and Williams College (Mass.) is fifth at 241. SUNY Plattsburgh ranks sixth at 238, with Case Western Review University in seventh at 236. Willamette and Wisconsin-Plattteville share eighth at 219, with the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 10th at 209.

Willamette does not compete this weekend, but will return to action at the Mike Hodges Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 13 at Oregon City, Ore. The event, which will be hosted by Clackamas Community College, is set to get underway at 11 a.m. (PDT).

The Bearcats have an outstanding history in men’s and women’s cross country. Last year, Zerzan won an individual NCAA Division III national championship, while leading the women’s team to 20th place in the team standings. The WU men’s team took 27th place.

Willamette has won six consecutive Northwest Conference men’s titles and five straight NCAA Division III West Region men’s championships. The Bearcats have won five NWC women’s championships in a row and the women have claimed first place in the NCAA Division III West Region each of the past four seasons. This year’s National Championships are scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 17 in Northfield., Minn., and will be hosted by St. Olaf College.

USTFCCCA Rankings - NCAA Division III Men's Cross Country (Oct. 3, 2007)
USTFCCCA Rankings - NCAA Division III Women's Cross Country (Oct. 3, 2007)