Bearcats Ready for 34th Annual Charles Bowles Invitational

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University will host the 34th Annual Charles Bowles Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 4 at Bush’s Pasture Park, as the Bearcats continue an event made famous by its namesake during his many years as WU’s head coach. Although Bowles passed away in 2005, his memory is honored each year by this impressive event, which annually features some of the top collegiate teams and runners on the West Coast.

The Charles Bowles Invitational isn’t just an important event of high stature on the cross country calendar, it’s also a large event. This year, entries have been received for approximately 1,300 runners overall, with about 1,100 competing in the College/Open races and roughly 200 entered in the high school events.

There will be four College/Open races. The Cardinal Races (8K men’s, 5Kwomen’s) will feature NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III and NAIA teams. The Gold Races (8K men’s, 5K women’s) will include NCAA Division I, NJCAA, club teams and unattached runners.

In the Cardinal Races, a total of seven nationally ranked men’s teams and six nationally ranked women’s teams will compete. For the men, teams entered with national rankings are Chico State (#4, NCAA II), Willamette (#26, NCAA III), Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (#35, NCAA III), Concordia, Ore. (#9, NAIA), Southern Oregon (#11, NAIA), Lewis-Clark State, Idaho (#20, NAIA) and the University of British Columbia, Canada (#25, NAIA).

Women’s teams in the Cardinal Race that are nationally ranked are Chico State (#4, NCAA II), Whitworth (#21, NCAA III), Willamette (#26, NCAA III), Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (#33, NCAA III), Lewis-Clark State, Idaho (#13, NAIA) and Concordia, Ore. (#14, NAIA). Overall, a total of 31 men’s teams and 31 women’s teams will participate in the Cardinal Races.

The Gold Races will include the nationally ranked men’s team from the University of Portland (#7, NCAA I) and the regionally ranked women’s team from Portland (#6 in NCAA I West). A total of four NCAA Division I teams and 11 junior college teams will run in the men’s Gold Race, while five NCAA Division I teams and 11 junior college teams will compete in the women’s Gold Race.

Although the event will include many talented athletes, the top runner is probably Scott Bauhs from Chico State, who will participate in the men’s Cardinal Race. Bauhs enters the weekend with credentials as a solid competitor.

“He won the Stanford Invite last week and he was an Olympic Trials qualifier in the 10K this past summer,” Willamette Head Coach Matt McGuirk said. “He should be the class of the field.”

In the women’s Cardinal Race, McGuirk said he expects several runners to contend for top finishes. The list of exceptional runners includes Maddie Coffman (Sr., Boise, ID/Boise HS) and Jena Winger (Sr.,Bonney Lake, WA/Sumner HS) from Willamette.

“I think Maddie and Jena should be up near the front,” McGuirk said. He also anticipates strong showings from Mikayla Murphy of UC-Santa Cruz and Marci Klimek of Linfield College. Both have won at least one race this season.

Two of Willamette’s most experienced runners on the men’s team will not be competing this weekend. They are defending Northwest Conference cross country champion Tristan Knutson-Lombardo (Sr., Juneau, AK/Juneau-Douglas HS) and defending NWC 1,500-meter champion Kyle Kotaich (Jr., Florence, OR/Siuslaw HS). Also missing the meet will be Ali Maki (Sr., Shoreview, MN/Mounds View HS) from the WU women’s team. Knutson-Lombardo, Kotaich and Maki will compete later in the season.

Without Knutson-Lombardo and Kotaich, the Bearcat men’s team will rely on several younger runners during the Charles Bowles Classic. Leo Castillo (Fr., Parkdale, OR/Hood River Valley HS) took second place at the Willamette Grass Course Meet on Sept. 20 in his first collegiate race. Seniors Josh Clough (Auburn, WA/Auburn Riverside HS) and Alex Jimenez (Parkdale, OR/Hood River Valley HS) also ran well at the Grass Course Meet and finished fourth and eighth, respectively.

“We haven’t been led by a freshman in quite a while,” McGuirk said. “We’ve got a lot of good young kids. We still don’t have a couple of our top guys, so we’re going to have to rely on a lot of freshmen and sophomores. They ran well two weeks ago, so hopefully they’re excited about running at this meet.

“It’s just the second meet of the season for us, but it’s a big one,” McGuirk added. “We’re looking forward to a good meet.”

34th Annual Charles Bowles Invitational

Schedule of Events
9:30 a.m. - Men's Cardinal Race (8K)
10:15 a.m. - Women's Cardinal Race (5K)
10:50 a.m. - Men's Gold Race (8K)
11:35 a.m. - Women's Gold Race (5K)
The high school races will follow the College/Open events

Maddie Coffman of Willamette placed 11th at last year's NCAA Division III National Championships.

Maddie Coffman of Willamette placed 11th at last year's NCAA Division III National Championships.