Bearcat Track and Field to Begin Season with Willamette Opener

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

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University track and field teams will begin the 2012 season by hosting the Willamette Opener on Saturday, March 3 at the Charles Bowles Track. Competition is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. (PST).

In addition to the Bearcats, teams participating in the Willamette Opener will be Whitworth University, Western Oregon University, New Hope Christian College and the University of Oregon Running Club.

Willamette enters the season with two returning athletes who competed at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships last year.

Leo Castillo (Sr., Parkdale, OR/Hood River Valley HS) placed 15th in the NCAA in the men's 10,000-meter run. His qualifying time of 30:38.01 to get to the NCAA Championships placed him second on Willamette's Top 10 list in the 10,000.

Brandi Miller (Sr., Grants Pass, OR/North Valley HS) earned a berth at the NCAA Championships in the heptathlon. She placed 18th overall. During the season, she recorded a score of 4,406 points in the heptathlon to rank third on WU's all-time list.

In addition to competing at the national level, Castillo won the Northwest Conference title in the 5,000-meter run and the 10,000-meter run last spring. He was chosen Men's Track Athlete of the Meet.

Other top returning runners on the men's team who won NWC championships last season are Ben Donovan (Sr., Minneapolis, MN/South HS) and Paul Winger (Sr., Bonney Lake, WA/Bonney Lake HS).

Donovan won the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the NWC Meet. He won the race by 8.20 seconds with an NCAA provisional time of 9:22.17. He just missed being selected for the NCAA Championships.

Winger earned titles in the 200-meter dash and the 400-meter dash, as he repeated as the champion in both events. Overall, he has won three championships in the 400 and two in the 200.

Another senior, Neal Howard (Seattle, WA/Ballard HS) ranks eighth all-time at WU in the 100-meter dash at 10.96 seconds.

Joining Miller as top athletes on the Willamette women's team are Jaela Dinsmore (Sr., Hines, OR/Burns HS) and Katie Mariman (So., Sherwood, OR/Sherwood HS). Dinsmore is the defending NWC champion in the 400-meter dash. She won the 2011 title with a time of 57.50 seconds. Mariman took second place in the NWC in the pole vault. She narrowly missed qualifying for the NCAA Championships.

In addition, experienced distance runners Theresa Edwards (Jr., Lake Tapps, WA/Bonney Lake HS) and Kaitlin Greene (Sr., Pullman, WA/Pullman HS) each earned First Team All-NWC honors in cross country as well as All-West Region recognition this past fall. Both competed for the WU women's cross country team at the 2011 NCAA Championships. Edwards also participated at the NCAA Meet in 2010.

The Bearcats also feature a group of talented freshmen who will challenge throughout the season in a number of events.

Willamette Head Coach Matt McGuirk is in his ninth year leading the Bearcat track and field teams and is in his 13th year on the coaching staff. McGuirk has been named Northwest Conference Women's Track and Field Coach of the Year seven times. He has been selected as the NWC Men's Track and Field Coach of the Year four times.

LIVE STATS

Willamette Opener
Saturday, March 3, 2012
At Charles Bowles Track

Leo Castillo competed in the 10,000-meter run at the NCAA Championships last season.

Leo Castillo competed in the 10,000-meter run at the NCAA Championships last season.