Bearcat Track & Field Teams are Prepared for Competition

Season Starts with Willamette Opener on Saturday, March 5

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

SALEM, ORE. -- For quite some time, the Willamette University track and field teams have been among the best in the Northwest Conference. Since the 2002 season, the Bearcats have won six NWC men's team championships and have claimed nine consecutive NWC women's team titles. Over the same period, Willamette has sent numerous athletes to the NCAA Division III national championships.

The Bearcats will seek to continue their success during the 2011 season, which gets underway with the Willamette Opener on Saturday, March 5. Joining the Bearcats at the Willamette Opener will be Whitworth University and Western Oregon University, as well as a number of unattached athletes.

Leading the Willamette teams are two athletes who competed at the 2010 NCAA National Championships. They are men's decathlete Evin Colignon (Sr., Poulsbo, WA/Charles Wright Academy) and women's distance runner Kimber Mattox (Jr., Bend, OR/Bend HS/Cornell Univ.).

Mattox finished ninth at the NCAA meet in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 10:48.16. It was her second trip to the NCAA Championships. She placed sixth in the steeplechase in 2009 to earn All-America honors.

Earlier in the 2010 season, Mattox won the steeplechase at the Oregon Relays in 10:41.78 to qualify for nationals. Mattox also won individual Northwest Conference titles in 2010 in the steeplechase and the 1,500-meter run. She achieved an NCAA provisional qualifying time of 4:36.06 in the 1,500 at the Oregon Twilight.

Colignon placed 13th in the decathlon at the 2010 NCAA National Championships with 6,126 points. He achieved a second place finish in the decathlon shot put with a toss of 43'8". His top score of the season was 6,472 points as he took second place at the NWC Multi-Event Championships.

Mattox also earned All-America honors in the fall of 2010 by placing 35th at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships. She won the NWC individual title earlier in the season.

Returning women's thrower Katie Peterson (Jr., Independence, OR/Central HS) recorded an NCAA provisional mark of 134'1" in the javelin at the Willamette Opener last spring. She suffered an injury later in the year.

In addition to Colignon, five other returning members of the Bearcat men's team registered NCAA provisional qualifying marks last season.

Stefan Redfield (Sr., Sisters, OR/Sisters HS) earned provisional times in two events. He recorded a time of 14:42.26 in the 5,000-meter run at the Oregon Relays and achieved a time of 3:53.30 in the 1,500-meter run at the WU Last Chance. He placed second in the NWC in the 1,500.

Ben Donovan (Jr., Minneapolis, MN/South HS) and Nick Rebol (Sr., Cottonwood, CA/Red Bluff Union HS) each earned provisional times in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Donovan's top time was 9:21.80 at the Oregon Relays and Rebol's best time was 9:24.29 at the NWC Championships. Donovan won the NWC title in the steeplechase, while Rebol placed second.

In the field events, Josh Clothier (Sr., Walla Walla, WA/Walla Walla HS) and Brandt Nevin (Sr., Eagle Point, OR/Eagle Point HS) produced NCAA provisional marks. Clothier earned his mark of 50'10.25" in the shot put at the WU Quad, while Nevin achieved a javelin throw of 194'4" during the decathlon at the Charles Bowles Spring Break Classic.

For the WU women's team, other top returning athletes are Theresa Edwards (So., Lake Tapps, WA/Bonney Lake HS), Jaela Dinsmore (Jr., Hines, OR/Burns HS), Erynn Rebol (So., Cottonwood, CA/Red Bluff Union HS) and Brandi Miller (Jr., Grants Pass, OR/North Valley HS).

Edwards competed at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships this past fall after placing 13th at the NCAA West Regional. In track and field last spring, she took second place in the NWC in the 800-meter run and was third in the 1,500 meter run.

Dinsmore won an NWC title as part of WU's 4 x 400-meter relay team in 2010. The Bearcats won the race with a time of 4:01.88.

Erynn Rebol won the 800-meter run at the NWC Meet by completing the race in 2:22.34. Rebol also contributed to Willamette's victory in the 4 x 400-meter relay.

Miller placed sixth in the NWC in the heptathlon as a sophomore last year. Her score was 3,926 points.

Additional top athletes returning for the Willamette men's team are Paul Winger (Jr., Bonney Lake, WA/Bonney Lake HS), Leo Castillo (Jr., Parkdale, OR/Hood River Valley HS), Neal Howard (Jr., Seattle, WA/Ballard HS), Steven Collins (Sr., Zillah, WA/Zillah HS) and David Oppat (Sr., Beaverton, OR/Southridge HS).

Winger won two Northwest Conference individual championships last spring, as he took first place in the 200-meter dash in 21.98 seconds and finished first in the 400-meter dash with a time of 48.98 seconds. It was his second consecutive NWC title in the 400.

Winger also competed for Willamette on two conference championship relay teams in 2010. He helped WU claim first place in the 4 x 100-meter relay at 42.11 seconds and ran a leg on the 4 x 400-meter relay team which clocked in at 3:20.03.

Castillo won an NWC individual championship in cross country this past fall. He also was one of several WU track and field athletes who ran for the Bearcat cross country team at the NCAA Division III National Championships. Last spring, Castillo placed third in the NWC in both the 1,500-meter run and the 5,000-meter run.

Howard achieved an NWC title in track and field last season as a member of WU's 4 x 100-meter relay team. He also placed third in the conference in the 100-meter dash and the 200-meter dash.

Collins registered a top hammer throw last year of 169'2", moving him within about three feet of the provisional qualifying standard. Oppat recorded his best career distances in the shot put (50'6.75"), discus throw (154'0") and hammer throw (151'10").

The Willamette track and field coaching staff has several freshmen on the men's and women's squads who will have opportunities to contribute this season. The freshmen provide the Bearcats with important depth both on the track and in the field events.

WU Head Coach Matt McGuirk is in his eighth year leading the Bearcat track and field teams and is in his 12th year on the coaching staff. He has been named NWC Women's Track and Field Coach of the Year seven times, including last season. He has been selected as the NWC Men's Track and Field Coach of the Year four times.

Kimber Mattox placed ninth at the NCAA Championships in the steeplechase last year.

Kimber Mattox placed ninth at the NCAA Championships in the steeplechase last year.

Evin Colignon finished 13th in the decathlon at the 2010 NCAA Championships.

Evin Colignon finished 13th in the decathlon at the 2010 NCAA Championships.