Willamette Women Claim Seventh Consecutive NWC Title

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

NEWBERG, ORE. -- The Willamette University women's track and field team won its seventh consecutive Northwest Conference title as action concluded at the NWC Championships on Saturday, April 19 at George Fox University. Willamette took third place in the men's team standings, with Whitworth University earning the title. Conditions varied from occasional sun to steady rain to frozen precipitation.

Jena Winger (Jr., Bonney Lake, WA/Sumner HS) was chosen the Women's Athlete of the Meet. Winger won the 3,000-meter steeplechase on Friday and added wins in the 1,500-meter run and the 5,000-meter run on Saturday.

Willamette Head Coach Matt McGuirk was selected NWC Women's Track and Field Coach of the Year. It was the fifth season in a row that McGuirk received the award.

Winger's winning time of 10:46.5 in the steeplechase broke her own school record and improved her provisional qualifying time for the NCAA Division III National Championships. Winger won the 1,500-meter run in 4:42.98 and took first place in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 18:01.06.

The Bearcats won the women's championship with 224.5 points for a margin of victory of 43 points. George Fox finished second with 181.5 points and Whitworth University was third with 97.5 points. Linfield College placed fourth at 86.5 and was followed by the University of Puget Sound in fifth at 79, Pacific Lutheran University in sixth at 72, Pacific University in seventh at 40 and Lewis & Clark College in eighth at 37.

In the men's team standings, Whitworth's winning score was 196. The Pirates held a 15-point lead over Linfield and a 18.5-point lead over the Bearcats. Linfield claimed second place with 181 points and Willamette was third with 177.5 points. George Fox concluded the meet in fourth place at 115.5, with Puget Sound in fifth at 78, Pacific in sixth at 37, Pacific Lutheran in seventh at 26 and Lewis & Clark in eighth at 8.

Winger led a 1-2 finish for the Bearcats in the women's 1,500. Carly Killam (Sr., Kailua, HI/Punahou School) finished in second place just 0.72 seconds behind Winger with a time of 4:43.70.

The Bearcats won the women's 4 x 400-meter relay in a close race with George Fox, with both teams well in front of the other six relay squads. Willamette reached the finish line in 3:58.12 for first place, while GFU was timed at 3:58.55 for second place.

WU's relay team included Jennifer Luecht (So., Milwaukie, OR/Rex Putnam HS), Jordyn Smith (Sr., Henderson, NV/Green Valley HS), Kaitlin St. John (So., Bend, OR/Mountain View HS) and Lydia Marsalli (So., Klamath Falls, OR/Klamath Union HS)

Winger was one of four Willamette women to earn individual conference titles on Saturday. Also winning events were Luecht, Smith and Melinda Fahey (Sr., Salem, OR/McKay HS).

Luecht won her second consecutive NWC title in the 200-meter dash with a time of 26.09 seconds. She won last year's championship in 26.16 seconds. Marsalli trailed only Luecht for the second year in a row, as she claimed second place in 26.23.

Smith took first place in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:20.20. She won by 1.75 seconds over Rachel Giffey-Brohaugh of GFU, who clocked in at 2:22.05. Killam was third in the event at 2:22.29.

Fahey easily won the discus for the second consecutive year. Her winning throw this weekend was 135'5". She won by 24'5". Fahey placed second in the hammer throw with a distance of 154'9", as she finished seven inches behind the winner, Taylor Hacker of Pacific Lutheran. Hacker's throw was measured at 155'4".

Willamette also claimed championships in three women's events on Friday. Winger won the steeplechase, while Sarah Zerzan (Sr., San Carlos, CA/Notre Dame HS) won the 10,000-meter run in 37:37.35 and Christina Edholm (So., Pleasanton, CA/Foothill HS) took first place in the shot put at 37'7.25".

The Willamette men's team earned a total of four individual titles, with two winners on Friday and two more on Saturday. During Friday's action, Ian Batch (Jr., Eagle, ID/Capital HS) crossed the finish line first in the 10,000-meter run with a time of 31:18.8 and Taylor Roholt (So., Albuquerque, NM/Sandia Prep) won the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 9:29.9.

On Saturday, Batch added a second championship over the weekend by taking first place in the 5,000-meter run. His winning time was 15:08.84, as he led a 1-3-4-5 finish for the Bearcats. Batch also recorded double wins last year in the 5,000 and 10,000-meter races.

Kyle Kotaich (So., Florence, OR/Siuslaw HS) helped WU finish 1-4-5-6-8 in the 1,500-meter run, as he beat the entire field with a time of 3:59.26. He won the event by 4.9 seconds. Kotaich also claimed fourth place in the 800-meter run at 1:56.30.

NWC Championships at George Fox University, Newberg, Ore.
Jena Winger won the steeplechase, the 1,500 and the 5,000 and was chosen Women's Athlete of the Meet at the NWC Championships.

Jena Winger won the steeplechase, the 1,500 and the 5,000 and was chosen Women's Athlete of the Meet at the NWC Championships.