Bearcats Travel to Fort Steilacoom for NWC Cross Country Championships

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

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University cross country teams will be in Lakewood, Wash., on Saturday, Oct. 30 to compete in the 2010 Northwest Conference Championships. Action at Fort Steilacoom Park is set to get underway at 10 a.m. (PDT) with the men's 8-kilometer race, which will be followed by the women's 6-kilometer race at 11 a.m. University of Puget Sound is hosting the event.

Willamette is the defending team champion in men's cross country. In 2009, Willamette claimed the men's title with a score of 32. The Bearcats have won eight of the past nine NWC men's titles under the direction of Head Coach Matt McGuirk.

Whitworth is the defending women's team champion, after taking first place in 2009 with a score of 37. Tonya Turner and Joy Shufeldt are top runners for the Pirates.

The Bearcat men's team is ranked #14 in the nation in NCAA Division III. Also ranked nationally in Division III men's cross country is Whitworth, listed at #35. Lewis & Clark College received votes but was not in the Top 35 in the most recent poll.

Lewis & Clark is ranked #19 in the nation in Division III women's cross country, while Whitworth is ranked #22.

Several conference teams are included in the West Region rankings. For the men, Willamette is #1, while Whitworth is ranked #4, Lewis & Clark holds #5, Linfield College is listed at #6, Whitman College sits at #8 and Pacific University is included at #10.

In the women's West Region rankings, Lewis & Clark is #2. Whitworth follows at #3, Willamette is listed at #4 and Whitman holds the #7 spot.

Leo Castillo (Jr., Parkdale, OR/Hood River Valley HS) has been Willamette's most consistent runner for the men's team this season. He took first place at the Willamette Grass Course, placed second at the Pier Park Invitational and recorded a career-best time of 24:24.31 at the 36th Annual Charles Bowles Willamette Invitational.

His top time moved him into second place on WU's all-time Top 10 list for 8-kilometer races. Dan Hall, who recorded a top time of 24:02.94 in 1975, holds the record for the Bearcats.

Although Castillo has led the way, Willamette has solid depth. Stefan Redfield (Sr., Sisters, OR/Sisters HS) placed fourth at Pier Park and was second at the WU Grass Course. He achieved a time of 24:31.69 at the WU Invite to move into 10th on Willamette's all-time 8-kilometer list. Kevin Aubol (So., Ellensburg, WA/Ellensburg HS) was sixth at Pier Park and third at the Grass Course meet.

Castillo, Redfield and Aubol will be joined by nine other Bearcats on the trip to Lakeland this weekend. Ten of the 12 runners will be selected to compete in the NWC Championships, while the remaining two will be alternates. Here is the complete list:

Kevin Aubol (So., Ellensburg, WA/Ellensburg HS)
Parker Benentt (Fr., Sisters, OR/Sisters HS)
Leo Castillo (Jr., Parkdale, OR/Hood River Valley HS)
Ben Donovan (Jr., Minneapolis, MN/South HS)
Brian Gnerre (So., Torrance, CA/Torrance HS)
Kit Kingstad (Fr., Beaverton, OR/Beaverton HS)
Ryan McLaughlin (Sr., Milwaukie, OR/Milwaukie HS)
Matt Parker (Sr., Portland, OR/Lincoln HS)
Nicholas Rebol (Sr., Cottonwood, CA/Red Bluff Union HS)
Stefan Redfield (Sr., Sisters, OR/Sisters HS)
Sean Sharma (So., La Canada, CA/La Canada HS)
Nate Smith (Sr., Colorado Springs, CO/Air Academy HS)

Castillo, Parker and Redfield each earned First Team All-NWC honors and Rebol received Second Team All-NWC recognition last season. Castillo was WU's top finisher with a second place finish.

The Willamette women's team is led by Kimber Mattox (So., Bend, OR/Bend HS/Cornell HS). Mattox won the WU Grass Course title, took second place at the Mike Hodges Invitational and was third at the Pier Park Invitational.

Mattox earned a time of 18:00.56 for the 5-kilometer race at the 36th Annual Charles Bowles Willamette Invitational to move into eighth on WU's all-time Top 10 list.

A total of 10 runners will participate for the Bearcats in the women's race at the NWC Championships. The list of runners who will compete for WU this weekend:

Theresa Edwards (So., Lake Tapps, WA/Bonney Lake HS)
Stevie Gildehaus (So., Spokane Valley, WA/University HS)
Kaitlin Greene (Jr., Pullman, WA/Pullman HS)
Kimber Mattox (So., Bend, OR/Bend HS/Cornell Univ.)
Sarah McSweeney (Jr., Petaluma, CA/Casa Grande HS)
Cathy Monahan (Jr., La Grande, OR/La Grande HS)
Amanda Tamanaha (So., Honolulu, HI/Saint Andrews Priory)
Alisha Till (So., Richland, WA/Richland HS)
Phoebe Tollefson (So., Billings, MT/Billings HS)
Sally Venable (Jr., Ventura, CA/Foothill Technology HS)

Mattox is a returning First Team All-NWC selection. She took sixth place at the 2009 NWC Championships.

Kaitlin Greene (Jr., Pullman, WA/Pullman HS) also has been a strong runner for the Bearcats this season. She was third at the Grass Course meet, 13th at the Mike Hodges Invitational and 15th at Pier Park.

Leo Castillo earned First Team All-NWC honors last season.

Leo Castillo earned First Team All-NWC honors last season.

Kimber Mattox placed second at the Pier Park Invitational earlier this season.

Kimber Mattox placed second at the Pier Park Invitational earlier this season.