Nine Athletes to Represent Willamette at NCAA National Championships

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

INDIANAPOLIS, IND. -- Willamette University will send nine athletes to compete at the NCAA Division III Men's and Women's Outdoor Track and Field Championships, set for May 22-24 at J.J. Keller Field on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Two members of the Bearcat men's team and seven members of the WU women's team were among the 688 athletes chosen to participate.

Ian Batch (Jr., Eagle, ID/Capital HS) and Grant Piros (Jr., Newberg, OR/Newberg HS) will compete for the Willamette men's team.

The Bearcats will be represented by women's team members Jordyn Smith (Sr., Henderson, NV/Green Valley HS), Carly Killam (Sr., Kailua, HI/Punahou School), Jena Winger (Jr., Bonney Lake, WA/Sumner HS), Brooke Smith (Jr., Idleyld Park, OR/Glide HS), Kaitlin St. John (So., Bend, OR/Mountain View HS), Jennifer Luecht (So., Milwaukie, OR/Rex Putnam HS) and Lydia Marsalli (So., Klamath Falls, OR/Klamath Union HS).

Batch is scheduled to see action in the 5,000-meter run. He qualified for the National Championships with a time of 14:31.79 in the 5,000-meter run at the Willamette Invitational on April 4.

Piros will throw the javelin. He registered a toss of 200’4” during Willamette’s home meet against Western Oregon University and Southern Oregon University on March 14. He is seeded seventh out of 17 javelin throwers selected for the National Championships.

Jordyn Smith's qualifying time in the 800 was 2:11.38.Jordyn Smith earned her fourth trip to Nationals with an automatic qualifying mark in the 800-meter run. Her time of 2:11.38 ranked her fifth among the 20 runners chosen for next weekend’s championship field. Smith has the distinction of earning All-America status each of the past three seasons, after finishing fifth in the 400-meter hurdles in 2005, second as part of the 4 x 400-meter relay in 2006 and seventh in the 800-meter run in 2007.

In addition to the 800-meter run, Smith also qualified for this year’s National Championships as part of WU’s 4 x 400-meter relay team. The Bearcats recorded a qualifying time of 3:53.39. Fellow Northwest Conference opponent George Fox University also qualified in the 4 x 400 relay with a time of 3:53.48.

Joining Smith on the relay team will be St. John, Luecht and Marsalli. Luecht and Marsalli were members of the Bearcats’ 4 x 400 relay team that placed fifth at Nationals in 2007.

Winger is set to participate in two individual events in Wisconsin. She qualified in both the 5,000-meter run and the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Her time in the steeple of 10:46.5h set a Willamette record and has her seeded eight out of 18 runners at the National Championships. She registered a time of 17:21.59 in the 5,000 at the Willamette Invitational -- more than five seconds faster than any other women’s runner in the NWC this season.

Brooke Smith also will compete in two events. She recorded a school record score of 4,462 to qualify in the heptathlon. She’s eight out of 18 qualifiers in the event. Smith also earned a berth in the javelin with a throw of 129’8” at the NWC Championships on April 18.

Carly Killam qualified for Nationals in the 1,500 with a time of 4:37.66 on May 10.Killam is prepared to represent Willamette in the 1,500-meter run. Her qualifying time was 4:37.66 at the John Knight Twilight, hosed by Western Oregon University on May 10. Killam also will serve as the alternate for WU's 4 x 400-meter relay team.

The run by Killam in the 1,500 at WOU was significant. It cut a bit over two seconds from her previous top time and allowed her to become the last runner selected to compete for the national title. Winger was the last entrant chosen in the 5,000, while Brooke Smith was the 16th selection out of 17 athletes in the javelin.

Melinda Fahey (Sr., Salem, OR/McKay HS) barely missed qualifying in the women’s hammer. Her provisional mark of 162’4” was just six inches away from the cutoff point of 162’10”.

Willamette has the chance for a strong showing in each of the nine events that will feature the Bearcats at the National Championships. Last year, Jordyn Smith earned All-America honors in the 800, while Sarah Zerzan (Sr., San Carlos, CA/Notre Dame HS) achieved All-America status in the 5,000. Luecht and Marsalli combined with Mariah Hanson ’07 and Andrea May ’07 to receive All-America honors on the 4 x 400-meter relay team.

2008 Willamette NCAA Track and Field Participants

Men's Team
Ian Batch, 5,000-meter run
Grant Piros, Javelin

Women's Team
Carly Killam, 1,500-meter run, 4 x 400-meter relay alternate
Jennifer Luecht, 4 x 400-meter relay
Lydia Marsalli, 4 x 400-meter relay
Kaitlin St. John, 4 x 400-meter relay
Brooke Smith, Heptathlon, Javelin
Jordyn Smith, 800-meter run, 4 x 400-meter relay
Jena Winger, 5,000-meter run, 3,000-meter steeplechase

Ian Batch will make his first trip to the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the 5,000-meter run later this week.

Ian Batch will make his first trip to the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the 5,000-meter run later this week.