Bearcats are Set to Host 35th Annual Charles Bowles Invitational

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University will host more than 1,100 runners at the 35th Annual Charles Bowles Invitational cross country meet on Saturday, Oct. 3 at Bush's Pasture Park. The first race is set for 9:30 a.m. (PDT), while the last of four races is scheduled to get underway at 11:35 a.m.

Although long-time Willamette head coach Charles Bowles passed away in 2005, his memory is honored each year by this impressive event. Each season, the invitational features some of the top collegiate teams and runners on the West Coast, as well as teams from as far away as South Dakota, Minnesota and Nebraska.

The Charles Bowles Invitational is one of the largest collegiate meets in the Northwest. This year, entries have been received for 53 full teams and for more than 1,100 runners.

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

The Cardinal Races will include six nationally ranked men's team plus six women's teams that are nationally ranked or received votes in this week's USTFCCCA national rankings. Top teams in the men's race will include the University of Portland (#1 in NCAA DI), Chico State (#4 in NCAA DII), plus nationally-ranked NCAA Division III teams in Nebraska Wesleyan University (#16), St. Johns University, Minn. (#23), Whitworth University, Wash. (#27) and Willamette (#30).

The Cardinal women's race will include nationally-ranked teams from Chico State (#3 in NCAA DII), Augustana College, S.D. (#10 in NCAA DII) and NCAA Division III members Whitman College, Wash. (#18), University of St. Thomas, Minn. (#19), Whitworth (#27) and Lewis & Clark College, Ore. (received votes).

The Gold Races will feature several nationally-ranked NAIA teams. In the men's race, ranked teams are the University of British Columbia, Canada (#5), Southern Oregon University (#6), Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Fla. (#7), Lewis-Clark State College, Idaho (#14) and Azusa Pacific University, Calif. (#22). Men's teams receiving votes in the NAIA rankings but not in the Top 25 are Concordia University, Calif., Concordia University, Ore. and Eastern Oregon University

Nationally-ranked NAIA teams in the women's Golf Race will be Azusa Pacific (#1), Biola University, Calif. (#4), Concordia, Calif. (#8), Lewis-Clark State, Idaho (#11), Concordia, Ore. (#13), Point Loma Nazarene University. Team receiving points in the NAIA rankings without entering the Top 25 are British Columbia and Northwest Christian College.

In previous years, the format of the meet placed NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III and NAIA teams in the Cardinal Races. NCAA Division I, junior college and club teams were in the Gold Races along with unattached runners. This year, all of he NCAA teams, regardless of division, will compete in the Cardinal Races.

Nebraska Wesleyan, ranked #16 in NCAA Division III in men's cross country and ranked in women's cross country until falling out of the poll this week, will travel one of the longest distances to compete. Nebraska Wesleyan also will field one of the largest entries with 47 runners representing its men's and women's teams.

"They were really excited about the new format" and the chance to compete against NCAA Division I and II teams, McGuirk noted.

The changes also have evened out the numbers in the four races. In the past, one of the races might have less than 200 entries, while the other three were in the high 200's or over 300.

"All the races are 220 entries or more," Willamette Head Coach Matt McGuirk said. "The men's Gold Race is the largest with 364 entries, in part because of 50 individual runners. Overall, we have a whole bunch of new teams."

There are fewer NCAA Division I teams than in recent years, but the University of Portland, Portland State University, Boise State University, the University of Idaho, and San Jose State University (men) will be running. A large group of NAIA teams will battle it out with junior college teams in the Gold Races.

As for the Cardinal Races, with all of the NCAA runners, "both races should be pretty solid," McGuirk said.

Willamette's women, ranked fifth in the West Region of NCAA Division III, will field a strong group. Top competitors for the Bearcats so far this season have been seniors Tina Patel (Bend, OR/Summit HS) and Hannah Vietmeier (Shoreline, WA/Shorewood HS).

"For the women, we're healthier than we've been," McGuirk commented. "We should have just about everybody there."

The Willamette men's team, ranked #30 in NCAA Division III, will have most of its runners entered in the meet. The Bearcats look forward to a successful men's Cardinal Race.

"On the men's side, it's a chance to run against a number of teams that are ranked higher than we are," McGuirk said. "A couple of guys probably won't run (for Willamette), but we have good depth and we should still run well."

Three runners have been leading the Bearcat men so far this season. They are juniors Matt Parker (Portland, OR/Lincoln HS) and Stefan Redfield (Sisters, OR/Sisters HS), along with sophomore Leo Castillo (Parkdale, OR/Hood River Valley HS).

Admission to the Charles Bowles Invitational is free. Spectators are asked to be cautious near the course and to avoid interfering with participants. Although most of the course will take runners throughout Bush's Pasture Park, all of the races will finish inside McCulloch Stadium.

35th Annual Charles Bowles Invitational
Saturday, Oct. 3., 2009
At Bush's Pasture Park, Salem, Ore.

Schedule of Events
9:30 a.m. - Men's Cardinal Race (8K), NCAA Divisions I, II, III
10:15 a.m. - Women's Cardinal Race (5K), NCAA Divisions I, II, III
10:50 a.m. - Men's Gold Race (8K), NAIA, Junior Colleges, Club Teams, Unattached
11:35 a.m. - Women's Gold Race (5K), NAIA, Junior Colleges, Club Teams, Unattached

Meet Information

Leo Castillo finished 25th out of 301 entrants in the men's Cardinal Race at the Charles Bowles Invitational last season.

Leo Castillo finished 25th out of 301 entrants in the men's Cardinal Race at the Charles Bowles Invitational last season.

Hannah Vietmeier has been one of Willamette's top runners this season.

Hannah Vietmeier has been one of Willamette's top runners this season.