Bearcats to Host Willamette Invitational

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

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette Invitational has a history of being one of the most competitive small college meets on the West Coast. It also holds its own as the largest collegiate meet at all levels in the Pacific Northwest. As a result, the meet has grown to 1,600 entries involving 950 athletes this season. A total of 57 collegiate and club teams will be represented during the meet, set for Friday, April 4 and Saturday, April 5 at the Charles Bowles Track.

Even with scratches in some events, the total number of entries is expected to be over 1,500 when the meet gets underway. Almost every NCAA Division II, NCAA Division II, NAIA and junior college team in the Northwest will participate, as well as NCAA Division I athletes from Oregon State University, Portland State University and the University of Portland.

"It's by far our largest Willamette Invitational," WU Head Coach Matt McGuirk said. "All the races are going to be good."

Willamette (188 entries), Western Oregon University (173 entries) and Spokane Community College (169 entries) lead the way, each will well over 100 combined entries from their men's and women's teams. Among the NCAA Division I teams, Portland has 108 entries and Portland State has 82.

Even teams traveling quite a distance will be well represented. The University of Alaska-Anchorage has provided 87 entries. Humboldt State University is credited with 116 entries. Willamette's Northwest Conference rivals from George Fox University (102 entries) and Pacific University (70 entries) also will compete.

The weekend also includes a special evening for Willamette track and field alumni, who will be honored on Friday. In addition to attending a reception, WU's alums will be able to watch the Charles Bowles Celebration of Distance from 7:30 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. (PDT) at the end of Friday' schedule. The fastest heats in the women's and men's 3,000-meter steeplechase, 1,500-meter run, 800-meter run and 5,000-meter run will be held during the Celebration of Distance.

Attending Friday's festivities will be recent Willamette graduate Nick Symmonds '06, who won seven NCAA Division III individual National Championships and has placed second twice in the 800-meter run at the USA Track and Field Outdoor National Championships. Symmonds, a contender to qualify for this year's U.S. Olympic Team, will sign autographs in the early evening prior to the start of the Celebration of Distance. He will not be competing in any of the events at the Willamette Invitational.

On Saturday, area high school standout Ryan Bailey from McKay High School in Salem, Ore., will be competing in the men's 110-meter high hurdles and the men's 200-meter dash. Bailey was the OSAA State Champion in the 100-meter dash and the 200-meter dash in 2007.

The Celebration of Distance will feature some of Willamette's top track and field athletes. Ian Batch (Jr., Eagle, ID/Capital HS), Tristan Knuston-Lombardo (Jr., Juneau, AK/Juneau-Douglas HS) and Josh Clough (Jr., Auburn, WA/Auburn Riverside HS) will be competing in the men's 5000-meter run. Kellen Peters (So., Forest Grove, OR/Forest Grove HS/Pacific U.) is a top contender in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase, while Carly Killam (Sr., Kailua, HI/Punahou School) and Jordyn Smith (Sr., Henderson, NV/Green Valley HS) will battle for top finishes in the women's 800-meter run.

Killam and Smith each will attempt to achieve a provisional qualifying time in a second event this spring. Smith, who earned All-America honors in the 800-meter run last season, has already recorded a provisional qualifying time in the 400-meter hurdles (1:03.90). Killam has earned a provisional qualifying time in the 1,500-meter run (4:39.71).

Willamette also has solid runners in the women's 5,000-meter run, including Jena Winger (Jr., Bonney Lake, WA/Sumner HS), who recorded an NCAA provisional qualifying time and WU record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase (10:51.06) earlier this season. Although Winger has competed for Willamette in cross country, Friday's race will be her first 5,000-meter competition as a collegiate track and field runner.

Melinda Fahey (Sr., Salem, OR/McKay HS) will attempt to break her school record at Willamette in the hammer throw. Fahey's toss of 153'7" earlier this spring not only established a new Bearcat record, but also met the NCAA provisional qualifying standard.

The Willamette Invitational provides an opportunity for athletes throughout the region to earn national qualifying marks against quality competition. Running on their home course in the largest meet of the year is an added bonus for the Bearcats.

"Anybody who has the potential (to qualify for the NCAA Championships), this is their best shot," McGuirk said. "This is the best meet we've attended this season."

Action on Friday gets underway at 3 p.m. (PDT) with the men's and women's hammer throw behind the Math Learning Center at 1850 Oxford SE in Salem. Running events also start at 3 p.m. at the Charles Bowles Track with the slower heats of the men's and women's 5,000-meter run. The first day is set to end shortly after 9 p.m.

On Saturday, the field events will start at 10 a.m. (PDT) inside McCulloch Stadium, with the running events resuming at the Charles Bowles Track at 12 p.m. (PDT). The schedule for Saturday has the competition ending at about 5:30 p.m.

Willamette Invitational

Schedule for Friday, April 4

Field Events
(4 attempts and no finals)
3:00 p.m. - Men’s Hammer (Women to follow) 1850 Oxford SE (Behind the Math Learning Center)

Running Events
3:00 p.m. - Women's 5000M - C section
3:30 p.m. - Men's 5000M - C section
3:50 p.m. - Women’s 3000M Steeplechase - B section
4:10 p.m. - Men’s 3000M Steeplechase - B section
4:30 p.m. - Women’s 10K Women’s
5:20 p.m. - Men’s 10K Men’s
6:00 p.m. - Women’s 1500M - B section
6:08 p.m. - Men’s 1500M - D section
6:15 p.m. - Men’s 1500m - C section
6:22 p.m. - Men’s 1500m - B section
6:30 p.m. - Women’s 5000M - B section
6:55 p.m. - Men’s 5000M - B section

Charles Bowles Celebration of Distance -- Fastest Heats
7:30 p.m. - Women’s 3000M Steeplechase
7:50 p.m. - Men’s 3000M Steeplechase
8:05 p.m. - Women’s 1500M
8:13 p.m. - Men’s 1500M
8:20 p.m. - Women’s 800M [Invitation Only]
8:25 p.m. - Men’s 800M [Invitation Only]
8:30 p.m. - Women’s 5000M
8:50 p.m. - Men’s 5000M

Schedule for Saturday, April 5

Field Events (4 attempts and no finals in Throws, Long Jump and Triple Jump)
10:00 a.m. - Men’s Javelin (Women to follow)
10:00 a.m. - Men’s Shot Put (Women to follow)
10:00 a.m. - Women’s High Jump (Men to follow)
10:00 a.m. - Women’s Pole Vault (Men to follow)
12:00 a.m. - Men’s Long Jump (Triple Jump to follow)
12:00 p.m. - Women’s Long Jump (Triple Jump to follow)
12:30 p.m. - Men’s Discus (Women to follow)

Running Events
(NOTE: Fastest heats run first on Saturday)
12:00 p.m. - Women’s 4 x 100m Relay (2 heats)
12:10 p.m. - Men’s 4 x 100m Relay (2 heats)
12:25 p.m. - 100H (5 heats)
12:55 p.m. - 110H (5 heats)
1:20 p.m. - Women's 400M (3 heats)
1:30 p.m. - Men's 400M (7 heats)
1:55 p.m. - Women's 100M (7 heats)
2:15 p.m. - Men's 100M (7 heats)
2:40 p.m. - Women's 800M (5 heats)
3:05 p.m. - Men's 800M (5 heats)
3:40 p.m. - Women's 400H (4 heats)
3:55 p.m. - Men's 400H (5 heats)
4:25 p.m. - Women's 200M (7 heats)
4:40 p.m. - Men's 200M (8 heats)
5:00 p.m. - Women's 1600M Relay (2 heats)
5:15 p.m. - Men's 1600M Relay (3 heats)

Jordyn Smith will compete at 800 meters during the Charles Bowles Celebration of Distance at the Willamette Invitational.

Jordyn Smith will compete at 800 meters during the Charles Bowles Celebration of Distance at the Willamette Invitational.

Nick Symmonds '06

Nick Symmonds '06

WU distance runner Ian Batch

WU distance runner Ian Batch