Symmonds to be Honored at Halftime of WU Football Game

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University will honor WU graduate and Olympic 800-meter runner Nick Symmonds '06 (Boise, ID/Bishop Kelly HS) at halftime of the Willamette versus Lewis & Clark College football game on Saturday, Oct. 11. After being honored, he will be available to sign autographs. Symmonds ran for the United States at the Beijing Olympics this summer.

Symmonds, who won a total of seven NCAA Division III national championships in the 800-meter run and the 1,500-meter run while attending Willamette, reached the semifinal heats of the 800 in Beijing. He won his preliminary heat in a time of 1:46.01. He finished fifth in his semifinal heat in 1:46.96.

His career-best time in the 800 of 1:44.10 was recorded during his exciting win at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., earlier in the summer. Symmonds, running for the Oregon Track Club/Nike, claimed victory by nearly a second and was just .09 seconds off the Hayward Field record.

What fans will remember, however, is his tremendous comeback during the race. Symmonds was in sixth place and appeared to be boxed in with about 100 meters remaining. Even so, he closed with the powerful kick that has been his trademark, as he worked his way forward on the outside, then returned to the inside lane.

As a Willamette runner, Symmonds won four national titles in the 800-meter run and three in the 1,500-meter run. He helped the Bearcats achieve four Top 10 finishes in NCAA Division III in track and field, including a third place tie in 2004 and fourth place in 2005.

The WU football team, ranked #18 by the American Football Coaches Association and #21 in the D3Football.com Top 25, is 5-0 on the season. The Bearcats and the Pioneers of L&C will kickoff Saturday's game at 1:30 p.m. (PDT) at McCulloch Stadium.

Willamette University graduate Nick Symmonds reached the semifinals of the 800 at the Olympic Games in Beijing.