Bearcat Men's Cross Country Team is Ranked #28 in NCAA Division III

Willamette Men are #2 in West Region and Bearcat Women are #4

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

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University men's cross country team heads into the 2012 season ranked #28 in the nation in the NCAA Division III Preseason Poll released by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). In addition, the Willamette men's team is ranked #2 in the West Region, while the Bearcat women's team is ranked #4 in the West Region.

Last year, the Bearcat men took second place in the Northwest Conference and were fourth at the West Regional. Two runners, Leo Castillo '12 (Parkdale, OR/Hood River Valley HS) and Kevin Aubol (Ellensburg, WA/Ellensburg HS) competed at the 2011 NCAA Cross Country Championships. Aubol returns for his senior season this fall.

The Willamette women's team placed 29th at the 2011 NCAA Championships. WU received an automatic bid into the national meet by placing second at the West Regional. The Bearcat women's team also earned second place at the NWC Championships.

Top returning runners for the WU women's team are Theresa Edwards (Sr., Lake Tapps, WA/Bonney Lake HS) and Michaela Freeby (So., Milwaukie, OR/Rex Putnam HS). Edwards placed third at the NWC Championships last fall, while Freeby earned fifth place. Freeby was ninth and Edwards was 15th during the West Regional.

At the top of this year's national Preseason Poll in men's cross country was North Central College (Ill.), which received all eight first place votes and 280 points in the poll. North Central won the 2011 NCAA Championship.

Haverford College (Pa.) was ranked #2 with 268 points in the poll, while Geneseo State (N.Y.) was ranked #3 with 247 points. Geneseo narrowly edged out Washington University (Mo.), which received 246 points and was listed at #4. Wheaton College (Ill.) held the #5 spot in the poll with 244 points.

In the men's West Region Rankings, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (Calif.) owned the #1 spot. Willamette was listed at #2, while Pomona-Pitzer (Calif.) was #3. Occidental College (Calif.) was ranked #4 and Whitman College was ranked #5. Joining Willamette and Whitman in the Regional Rankings for the NWC was Pacific University at #7.

The #1 team in the women's national Preseason Poll was Middlebury College (Vt.) with seven of eight first place votes and 279 points. Middlebury placed second at the 2011 NCAA Championships.

Williams College (Mass.) was ranked #2 in the nation with 267 points in the poll. Geneseo State followed at #3 with 253 points. Washington University, the defending NCAA champion, was ranked #4 with one first place vote and 251 points. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps was #5 with 245 points.

CMS received the top spot in the women's West Region Rankings. Occidental was ranked #2, Lewis & Clark College held #3 and Willamette was ranked #4. Whitman gained the #5 position.

A total of four NWC teams were included on the women's West Region list. Lewis & Clark, Willamette and Whitman were joined by Linfield College, which was ranked #6.

Willamette is scheduled to open the 2012 season by hosting the Oak Knoll Loop Run on Saturday, Sept. 15. The event will be held at the Oak Knoll Golf Course, located between Salem and Independence, Ore.

USTFCCCA Cross Country Preseason Polls/Rankings

National Polls
NCAA Division III

Regional Rankings

NCAA Division III

Kevin Aubol competed at the 2010 and 2011 NCAA Cross Country Championships.

Kevin Aubol competed at the 2010 and 2011 NCAA Cross Country Championships.