Willamette Men Move Up to #13 in National Rankings

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

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University men's cross country team, which edged out the University of Oregon to win the team title at the Mike Hodges Invitational this past weekend, has moved up three spots in the NCAA Division III Top 35 Coaches' Poll. The national rankings were released on Wednesday, Oct. 21 by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) .

Willamette's men remained #1 in the West Region rankings. The Willamette women's team is ranked #7 in the West Region.

The #1 team in the men's national rankings is still North Central College (Illinois), which received all eight first place votes and 280 points in the coaches' poll. Cortland State (N.Y.) moved remained at #2 with 272 points. The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse held onto the #3 position with 264 points.

Geneseo State (N.Y.) stayed at #4 and received 256 points. The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point edged up one spot to #5 with 242 points. Allegheny College (Pa.) fell one position to #6 with 232 points. The biggest upward move in the poll this week was by New York University, which surged forward 11 spots to #7 at 230 points.

Willamette's three-position improvement to #13 was due in part to the Mike Hodges victory by the Bearcats. WU achieved a team score of 63 at the meet for a one-point win over Oregon, which finished second with 64 points.

Matt Parker (Jr., Portland, OR/Lincoln HS) of Willamette took 10th place overall, and was 7th among scorers at the meet, in 20:24.93. Leo Castillo (So., Parkdale, OR/Hood River Valley HS) of Willamette finished 12th (8th among scorers) with a time of 20:26.91.

In this week's West Region rankings, the Willamette men were followed by Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (Calif.) at #2 and Whitworth University at #3. Pomona-Pitzer and Linfield College were tied for #4.

On the women's West Region list, Whitworth was #1, with Whitman College at #2 and Occidental College (Calif.) at #3. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps was fourth, while Lewis & Clark College was fifth, Linfield was sixth and Willamette was seventh.

Up next for the Bearcats is the Beaver Classic in Corvallis, Ore., on Saturday, Oct. 24. Willamette's top runners will compete at the Northwest Conference Championships on Saturday, Oct. 31 at McIver Park in Estacada, Ore.

Ben Donovan (left) and Chris Platano (right) finished 15th and 16th, respectively, among scorers at the Mike Hodges Invitational.

Ben Donovan (left) and Chris Platano (right) finished 15th and 16th, respectively, among scorers at the Mike Hodges Invitational.