Bearcats Prepare for 37th Annual Charles Bowles Willamette Invitational

Teams from 41 Colleges and Running Clubs will Compete on Saturday

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University hosts one of the largest college cross country meets on the West Coast each year. This sizable running event has become as much a part of Salem as rain in the winter, dry weather in the summer and the Oregon State Fair from mid-August into early September. This year, it's the 37th Annual Charles Bowles Willamette Invitational that will continue the tradition on Saturday, Oct. 1.

It's hard to believe that this annual meet held in Bush's Pasture Park started when Gerald Ford was President of the United States and Robert Lisensky was president at Willamette. And Charles Bowles was coaching Willamette's cross country teams.

Although Bowles passed away in 2005, this weekend's meet will continue his legacy of success, integrity and commitment to the sport. What was once known as the Willamette Invitational now bears his name.

This year, the Charles Bowles Willamette Invitational is a major event once again, with more than 900 entries. Teams are arriving in Salem from five states and one Canadian province. Competitors represent teams from Oregon, Arizona, California, Idaho, Washington and British Columbia.

A total of 39 college teams from all three NCAA divisions, the NAIA and the NJCAA will be competing, along with two club teams and a number of unattached athletes. The list of participating teams includes 20 teams that are nationally ranked or received votes in this week's polls.

Competition will begin with the Men's Cardinal 8-kilometer race, featuring teams and runners from NCAA Division I, NCAA Division II and NCAA Division III, at 9:30 a.m. (PDT). The Women's Cardinal 5-kilometer race, also with runners from all three divisions of the NCAA, will follow at 10:15 a.m.

The Men's Gold 8-kilometer race, with runners from the NAIA, junior colleges and club teams, plus unattached runners, is set to begin at 10:50 a.m. The Women's Gold 5-kilometer race, which also will include NAIA, junior college and non-collegiate runners, is slated to get underway at 11:35 a.m.

Willamette President Stephen Thorsett will be the honorary starter for the Cardinal Races.

The Men's Gold 8-kilometer race, with runners from the NAIA, junior colleges and club teams, plus unattached runners, is set to begin at 10:50 a.m. The Women's Gold 5-kilometer race, which also will include NAIA, junior college and non-collegiate runners, is slated to get underway at 11:35 a.m.

The Men’s Cardinal 8-kilometer race will include four teams that are nationally ranked or received votes. The University of Portland is ranked #11 in NCAA Division I, while Chico State (Calif.) is ranked #5 in NCAA Division II. Willamette and Linfield College each received votes in this weeks poll.

Top runners for Willamette are Leo Castillo (Jr., Parkdale, OR/Hood River Valley HS), Ben Donovan (Sr., Minneapolis, MN/South HS) and Kevin Aubol (Jr., Ellensburg, WA/Ellensburg HS). Castillo won the Northwest Conference individual men’s championship last season, while Aubol placed eighth and Donovan was 15th. All three ran for Willamette at the NCAA Championships, helping the Bearcats place 23rd in the nation.

The Men’s Gold 8-kilometer race will feature six nationally ranked NAIA teams. They are the University of British Columbia, ranked #4, Concordia University (Ore.), ranked #5, Southern Oregon University, ranked #8, Lewis-Clark State College (Idaho), ranked #10, Biola University (Calif.), ranked #17, and Eastern Oregon University, ranked #23.

Two nationally ranked teams will participate in the Women’s Cardinal 5-kilometer race. Chico State is ranked #2 in NCAA Division II and Whitman College is ranked #35 in NCAA Division III.

The Willamette women’s team features top returning runners in Theresa Edwards (Jr., Lake Tapps, WA/Bonney Lake HS) and Kaitlin Greene (Sr., Pullman, WA/Pullman HS). Edwards competed at the NCAA Championships this past season.

In the Women’s Gold 5-kilometer race there will be eight NAIA teams that are nationally ranked or received votes in this week’s poll. The list of ranked teams includes Biola, ranked #3, Northwest Christian University (Ore.), ranked #5, British Columbia, ranked #6, Southern Oregon University, ranked #15, Lewis-Clark State, ranked #19. Teams receiving votes are Eastern Oregon University, Northwest University (Wash.) and Point Loma Nazarene University (Calif.).

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.

37th Annual Charles Bowles Invitational
Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011
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

Leo Castillo was the Northwest Conference men's champion last season.

Leo Castillo was the Northwest Conference men's champion last season.