Bearcat Men Leap 15 Spots to #15 in NCAA Division III Poll

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Bolstered by a strong performance at the Charles Bowles Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 3, the Willamette University men's cross country team has moved up 15 spots in the national rankings. The Bearcats are now tied for #15 in this week's NCAA Division III Top 35 Coaches' Poll, released on Wednesday, Oct. 7 by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

The Bearcat men's team also moved up two spots to #1 in the NCAA West Region. The Willamette women's cross country team is ranked #7 in the West Region.

The top-ranked men's team remained North Central College (Illinois), which received all eight first place votes and 280 points in this week's poll. Cortland State (N.Y.) moved up one spot to #2 with 269 points, while the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, dropped one position to #3 with 267 points. Williams College (Mass.) stayed at #4 with 253 points and Geneseo State (N.Y.) advanced one spot to #5 with 253 points. Willamette was tied for #15 with Calvin College (Mass.).

The Bearcats finished third behind Chico State and Boise State in the men's Cardinal Race at the Charles Bowles Invitational. Willamette, ranked #30 a week ago, ended the race in front of three teams ranked higher than the Bearcats at the time: Nebraska Wesleyan University was ranked #16 and placed fifth at the Bowles Invitational, while Whitworth University, ranked #27, placed seventh, and St. John's University (Minn.), ranked #23, placed 11th.

This week, Nebraska Wesleyan is ranked #19, Whitworth is #26 and St. John's is #29. Willamette and Whitworth are the only Northwest Conference teams in the Top 35.

In the West Region men's rankings, Willamette is followed by Claremont-Mudd-Scripps from the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC). CMS is ranked #24 in the nation this week. Whitworth is #3 in the Region, with Pomona-Pitzer in fourth and Linfield College in fifth.

The West Region women's rankings are topped by Whitworth. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps is second and Whitman College is third. Lewis & Clark College holds fourth place, with Occidental College (Calif.) in fifth, Linfield in sixth and Willamette in seventh.

At the Bowles Invitational, top runners for the Willamette men's squad in the men's Cardinal Race (8K) were Leo Castillo (So., Parkdale, OR/Hood River Valley HS) in 14th place at 24:245.35, Matt Parker (Jr., Portland, OR/Lincoln HS) in 15th place at 24:45.84 and Stefan Redfield (Jr., Sisters, OR/Sisters HS) in 19th place at 24:51.70. There were 198 entries in the race.

In the women's Cardinal Race (5K), Willamette placed 15th in the team standings. Tina Patel (Jr., Bend, OR/Summit HS) was WU's top finisher in 59th place with a time of 18:46.76. The race featured a total of 203 runners.

Willamette's next competition will be at the Mike Hodges Invitational on Friday, Oct. 16. Race time in Oregon City, Ore., is set for 3:30 p.m. (PDT).

Leo Castillo took 14th place individually to lead the Bearcats to a third place finish at the Charles Bowles Invitational.

Leo Castillo took 14th place individually to lead the Bearcats to a third place finish at the Charles Bowles Invitational.