Bearcats Win NCAA West Regional Titles, Will Compete at National Championships

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

ESTACADA, ORE. -- Willamette University won the women’s and men’s team titles, and Sarah Zerzan (Sr., San Carlos, CA/Notre Dame HS) claimed her third consecutive individual championship, at the NCAA Division III Cross Country West Regional at McIver State Park in Estacada, Ore., on Saturday, Nov. 10. The Willamette women achieved first place with a score of 43 and the Bearcat men won with a score of 50.

It was the sixth consecutive West Regional title for the Willamette men's team and the fifth consecutive West Regional championship for the WU women's team. Both of Willamette's cross country teams are ranked #5 in NCAA Division III.

Zerzan won the women’s 6-kilometer race with a time of 20:51.65 and was followed by Maddie Coffman (Jr., Boise, ID/Boise HS) in second place at 21:40.85. Ian Batch (Sr., Eagle, ID/Capital HS) was the top finisher for the WU men’s team, as he took fifth place with a time of 25:04.65 over the 8-kilometer course.

In addition to taking first place with a score of 43 points, the Willamette women’s team also won by 43 points. The University of Puget Sound finished second in the women’s standings at 86, while Colorado College was third at 121, Whitman College took fourth at 133 and Lewis & Clark College was fifth at 169.

Occidental College was sixth with a score of 171, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps claimed seventh at 197, Whitworth University placed eighth at 200, the University of California-Santa Cruz took ninth at 204 and Redlands finished 10th with a score of 216. Overall, there were 16 full teams and 114 runners in the women’s race.

Zerzan, the defending NCAA Division III National Champion, won by nearly 50 seconds. Even so, Coffman’s second place finish was thrilling, as she edged out Kenna Patrick of Puget Sound for second place by just under one second. Patrick was third with a time of 21:41.80. Amanda Phillips of Lewis & Clark followed in fourth place at 21:42.85, while Brittany Hodgson of Puget Sound was fifth in 21:53.10.

The times for Zerzan and Coffman were the top two times in NCAA Division III West Region meet history. The previous record was 21:44. Patrick of UPS and Phillips of L&C also finished faster than the old record.

Willamette’s third individual finisher in the women’s race was Jena Winger (Jr., Bonney Lake, WA/Sumner HS), who took ninth place with a time of 22:18.20. Ashley Sharratt (Jr., Union, OR/Union HS) placed 19th in a time of 23:01.15 for the Bearcats. Edith Polanco (Jr., Salem, OR/McKay HS) placed 20th after clocking in at 23:02.45. Among runners who scored, Winger was seventh, Sharratt was 16th and Polanco was 17th, helping WU achieve it team score.

Also running for the Bearcat women’s team were Molly Lewis (So., Gig Harbor, WA/Gig Harbor HS) and Hannah Vietmeier (So., Shoreline, WA/Shorewood HS). Lewis took 21st place overall and completed the race in 23:05.35, as she finished just 2.9 seconds behind Polanco. Vietmeier was timed in 23:19.55 and achieved 29th place.

The top 35 runners in each race earned All-West Region honors. All seven women’s runners for the Bearcats and all seven men’s runners from Willamette received All-West Region status.

Batch was one of three Willamette runners in the top 10. All seven of Willamette’s runners in the men’s race finished in the top 19. Following Batch for the Bearcats was Luca May (So., Portland, OR/Franklin HS), who placed seventh and registered a time of 25:28.10. Lucas Nebert (Sr., Cincinnati, OH/Wyoming HS) was less than a second behind May, as he finished eighth in 25:28.95.

Taylor Roholt (So., Albuquerque, NM/Sandia Prep) of Willamette took 13th place with a time of 25:41.55, while the next three WU athletes placed 17th, 18th and 19th. Those runners were Josh Clough (Jr., Auburn, WA/Auburn Riverside HS), who was timed at 25:55.40, Kellen Peters (Jr., Forest Grove, OR/Forest Grove HS/Pacific University), who clocked in at 25:58.80 and Tristan Knutson-Lombardo (Jr., Juneau, AK/Juneau-Douglas HS), who finished in 25:59.45.

The individual men’s champion was Kevin Chaves of Occidental, who recorded a time of 24:34.85. Julian Boggs of Colorado College achieved second place with a time of 24:46.25. Third place went to Alex Nichols of Colorado College in 24:54.75 and fourth place was claimed by Alex Ramon of Occidental in 24:59.35.

Willamette’s team score of 50 was good for a 22-point margin of victory in the men’s team standings. Occidental placed second with a score of 72 and Colorado College was third at 86. Linfield College took fourth at 101, while Claremont-Mudd-Scripps was fifth at 133.

Sixth place went to Whitworth with a score of 136. Puget Sound was seventh at 183, Redlands finished eighth at 215, George Fox University placed ninth at 243 and Lewis & Clark was 10th at 246. A total of 13 full teams and 96 runners participated in the men’s race.

By winning the Regional titles, Willamette earned automatic berths into the NCAA Division III National Championships on Saturday, Nov. 17 at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. Two teams from each Regional gain automatic bids for next week’s races, so the Puget Sound women’s team and the Occidental men’s team also are guaranteed berths into the National Championships.

Each team placing third through fifth in a Regional Meet is eligible for one of 16 men’s at-large team bids or one of 16 women’s at-large team bids that will be filled by the NCAA. The top seven runners in each Regional race who do not qualify with their respective teams will receive individual berths into the National Championships.

NCAA Division III Cross Country West Regional at McIver Park in Estacada, Ore.
Sarah Zerzan wins her third West Region Championship.

Sarah Zerzan wins her third West Region Championship.

Senior Ian Batch

Senior Ian Batch