Bearcats to Compete at Northwest Conference Championships

Event Set for Willamette Mission State Park on Saturday, Oct. 29

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

WHEATLAND, ORE. -- The Willamette University cross country teams will compete at the 2011 Northwest Conference Cross Country Championships on Saturday, Oct. 29 at Willamette Mission State Park. The NWC men's and women's individual and team championships will be on the line, with the women's 6-kilometer race starting at 10 a.m. (PDT), followed by the men's 8-kilometer race at 11 a.m.

Led by seniors Leo Castillo (Parkdale, OR/Hood River Valley HS) and Ben Donovan (Minneapolis, MN/South HS), as well as junior Kevin Aubol (Ellensburg, WA/Ellensburg HS), the Bearcats are among the contenders to win the men's team title. Willamette is ranked #4 in the West Region of NCAA Division III, giving the Bearcats the highest position of the NWC teams included in the Regional Rankings.

Whitworth University is ranked #5 in the West Region Men's Rankings, while Linfield College is ranked #6. Lewis & Clark College is ranked #8 in the West Region and Whitman College is listed at #9.

The Willamette women's team, with senior Kaitlin Greene (Pullman, WA/Pullman HS), junior Theresa Edwards (Lake Tapps, WA/Bonney Lake HS) and freshman Michaela Freeby (Milwaukie, OR/Rex Putnam HS), could surprise the favorites with a strong showing.

The highest-ranked NWC team in the West Region Women's Rankings is Lewis & Clark at #2. Whitman is ranked #3, while Willamette holds the #5 ranking. Also listed in the Top 10 are Linfield at #6 and Whitworth at #8.

Castillo is the defending NWC men's champion. He won last year's race at Fort Steilacoom in Lakewood, Wash., with a time of 25:18.66 over the 8-kilometer course. He also earned First Team All-NWC honors. Other All-NWC runners for the Willamette men's team in 2010 were Stefan Redfield (Sr. in 2010-11) who placed second overall for a spot on the First Team, plus Aubol and Ryan McLaughlin (Sr. in 2010-11) on the Second Team. Aubol took eighth and McLaughlin finished 10th.

The women's champion in 2010 was Kimber Mattox of Willamette, who is now competing as a graduate student at the University of Oregon. Mattox won the race with a time of 22:09.51 on the 6-kilometer course. Mattox was First Team All-NWC, while Edwards earned Second Team All-NWC recognition after placing 12th.

DIRECTIONS:  To get to Willamette Mission State Park from Salem, go North on I-5 until Exit 263 for Brooks/Gervais. At the end of the exit ramp, make a left to go West on Brooklake Road NE. After about 1.9 miles the road creates a "T" with Wheatland Road. Take a right to go North on Wheatland Road. After about 2.4 miles Willamette Mission State Park will be on the left.

Leo Castillo won the Northwest Conference individual men's championship in 2010.

Leo Castillo won the Northwest Conference individual men's championship in 2010.