Donovan and Freeby Win Steeplechase Titles on First Day of NWC Championships

Numerous Bearcats Advance to Finals

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

PARKLAND, WASH. -- Led by 3,000-meter steeplechase victories from Ben Donovan (Sr., Minneapolis, MN/South HS) and Michaela Freeby (Fr., Milwaukie, OR/Rex Putnam HS) the Willamette University track and field teams achieved a solid set of results on the first day of the 2012 Northwest Conference Championships on Friday, April 21 at Pacific Lutheran University.

Most events featured preliminary heats on Friday, but finals were held in the steeplechase, 10,000-meter run, long jump, discus throw and javelin throw, plus the women's pole vault and the men's high jump. Finals in all remaining events will take place on Saturday, April 21.

Donovan claimed his third consecutive NWC title in the steeplechase, as he achieved a time of 9:19.51 to win by just under four seconds after taking the lead at the start of the final lap. Tyler Dudley from Whitworth University was second in 9:23.34. Alex VanSlyke of Linfield College placed third in 9:32.24 and Brian Gnerre (Jr., Torrance, CA/Torrance HS) of Willamette was fourth at 9:42.71.

The time for Donovan was his best this season and moved him up to 12th on the NCAA Division III performance list. Gnerre registered a personal record time, reducing his best result by 4.39 seconds.

Freeby won the women's steeplechase to lead a 1-2-4 finish by the Bearcats. Freeby's time was 11:08.91. She was followed by teammate Sally Venable (Sr., Ventura, CA/Foothills Technology HS), who reached the finish line in 11:19.63 to take second place.

Emily Fagan from Lewis & Clark College was third in the steeplechase in 11:33.04 and Sarah McSweeney (Sr., Petaluma, CA/Casa Grande HS) of Willamette was fourth at 11:40.40. McSweeney lowered her personal-record time by 3.47 seconds.

Additional highlights from the women's finals held on Friday:

In the 10,000-meter run, Willamette's Amanda Tamanaha (Jr., Honolulu, HI/St. Andrews Priory School) took sixth place in a personal-best time of 40:05.64. She chopped more than two minutes from her previous top time of 42:17.74. Emily Thomas from Lewis & Clark won the 10,000 in 36:38.08.

Katie Mariman (So., Sherwood, OR/Sherwood HS) gained third place for Willamette in the pole vault. She cleared a top height of 10' 8.75". Catherine Street of Linfield broke the NCAA Division III national record to win the pole vault with a successful vault at 13' 9.75". The old NCAA record was 13' 8.25" by Anna Heim from Moravian College in 2010. Kelly Yelverton from Lewis & Clark matched Mariman at 10' 8.75", but took second place on fewer attempts.

Kaeleigh Thorp (Fr., San Leandro, CA/Encinal HS) of Willamette was eighth in the discus throw with a distance of 108' 11".

Other highlights in the men's finals held on Friday:

Willamette's Kevin Aubol (Jr., Ellensburg, WA/Ellensburg HS) placed third in the 10,000-meter run. He earned a time of 31:53.87 to lower his personal record from 32:38.32, a drop of 44.45 seconds. Matt Klein from the University of Puget Sound won the 10,000 in 31:36.91, while Scott Gage from Linfield achieved a time of 31:51.48 to edge out Aubol for second place.

In the high jump, Carson Kennedy (Fr., Forest Grove, OR/Forest Grove HS) provided the Bearcats with a seventh place finish. Kennedy and three other jumpers cleared 6' 0". Two needed fewer jumps and tied for fifth, while the remaining athlete needed more jumps than Kennedy and finished eighth. The high jump title went to Frank Lima of Whitworth with a top height of 6' 8".

Ray White (So., Corona, CA/Centennial HS) of Willamette finished sixth in the long jump with a leap of 20' 11.25". He was just 0.75 out of fifth place and only two inches out of fourth. Luke Mathews from Whitworth registered the top jump at 22' 2.50" to gain a narrow victory of 0.25" over Emanuell Sloan from Pacific Lutheran, who took second at 22' 2.25".

Wyatt Briggs (Jr., Scio, OR/Scio HS) was fourth in the discus throw. His top attempt covered 143' 9" to establish a personal record, surpassing his previous best of 140' 11", set earlier this year at the Willamette Invitational. The winner at the NWC Championships was Carter Comito of Whitworth with a top throw of 186' 9".

Team Standings

In the women's competition, George Fox held the lead at the end of the first day with 61 points. Willamette was in second place with 41 points, while Linfield was third with 39. Pacific Lutheran followed in fourth at 38 points, Whitworth was fifth with 35, Lewis & Clark was sixth at 32, Puget Sound was seventh at 15 and Pacific University held eighth place with 12 points.

The men's team standings were led by Whitworth with 121 points and Willamette was in second place at 39 points. Puget Sound was third at 39, Linfield was fourth at 31, Pacific Lutheran was fifth at 30.5, Pacific was sixth at 17.5, George Fox was seventh at 11 and Lewis & Clark did not score.

Advancing from Preliminaries (Women):

Jaela Dinsmore (Sr., Hines, OR/Burns HS) led the way for the Bearcats in the prelims, as she qualified for the finals in the 100-meter dash and the 200-meter dash with the top preliminary time in both events. Brandi Miller (Sr., Grants Pass, OR/North Valley HS) advanced into the finals with the top time in the 400-meter hurdles and also reached the finals in the 100-meter hurdles.

Theresa Edwards (Jr., Lake Tapps, WA/Bonney Lake HS) had the top time in the prelims of the 800-meter run while earning a personal record, as she led three Bearcats through to the finals.

100m dash - Jaela Dinsmore, 12.29.
200m dash -
Jaela Dinsmore, 25.84; Sam Nhim (Sr., Tigard, OR/Southridge HS), 26.36 (PR).
400m dash - Sam Nhim, 1:00.29; Stevie Gildehaus (Jr., Spokane Valley, WA/University HS), 1:03.01 (PR).
800m run - Theresa Edwards, 2:19.08 (PR); Kaitlin Greene (Jr., Pullman, WA/Pullman HS), 2:19.20 (PR); Erynn Rebol (Jr., Cottonwood, CA/Red Bluff Union HS), 2:19.61.
100m hurdles -
Brandi Miller, 15.84; Elisa Ahern, 16.03 (Fr., Lake Forest Park, WA/Shorecrest HS).
400m hurdles - Brandi Miller, 1:06.15.

Advancing from Preliminaries (Men):

Paul Winger (Sr., Bonney Lake, WA/Bonney Lake HS) reached the finals in the 200-meter dash and the 400-meter dash. He registered the top preliminary time in both events. Willamette advanced three athletes into the finals of the 800-meter run.

100m dash - Neal Howard (Sr., Seattle, WA/Ballard HS), 11.23.
200m dash - Paul Winger, 22.42.
400m dash - Paul Winger, 49.95.
800m run - Kit Kingstad (So., Beaverton, OR/Beaverton HS), 1:57.22; Bart Grabman (Sr., Anchorage, AK/Stellar HS), 1:57.36 (PR); Jeff Schreiner-McGraw (Fr., Philomath, OR/Philomath HS), 1:57:49 (PR).
110m hurdles - Carson Kennedy, 16:04.

Action Resumes:

Saturday, April 21, 10:30 a.m.


2012 NWC Track & Field Championships
At Pacific Lutheran University
Parkland, Wash.
April 20-21

Ben Donovan won the NWC steeplechase title for the third consecutive season. His earned a season-best time of 9:19.51.

Ben Donovan won the NWC steeplechase title for the third consecutive season. His earned a season-best time of 9:19.51.

Michaela Freeby won the women's steeplechase championship with a time of 11:08.91.

Michaela Freeby won the women's steeplechase championship with a time of 11:08.91.