Bearcats Earn Rankings on NCAA National Performance List

Division III Championships are Set for May 23-25 in La Crosse, Wis.

By Brandon Chinn, Athletics Communications Writer

SALEM, ORE. -- With the NCAA Division III Championships rapidly approaching, members of the Willamette University track and field teams have recorded results this season that are nationally ranked on the NCAA Division III Performance List. The Bearcats currently have four athletes that own a qualifying mark high enough for the NCAA Championships, while there are seven other marks near the current cutoff.

Qualifying for the NCAA Division III Championships is based on the performance rankings. Men who are ranked in the top 20 in each event this spring, as well as women who have earned the top 22 marks in each event, will qualify for the NCAA Championships, set for May 23-25 at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

While the current performance list provides athletes with an idea of who will be competing in the NCAA Championships, nothing is finalized until the final national performance list is generated later this month. Until that time, Willamette athletes, as well as others around the nation, will be working to improve their times and distances to solidify their positioning among the top competitors in their respective events.

The four Willamette athletes who currently rank among the likely qualifying group are Michaela Freeby (So., Milwaukie, OR/Rex Putnam HS), Wyatt Briggs (Sr., Scio, OR/Scio HS), Meka Townsend (Fr., Okanogan, WA/Okanogan HS) and Carson Kennedy (So., Forest Grove, OR/Forest Grove HS).

Freeby is currently ranked 15th in the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 11:06:01 after finishing first in that event at the Northwest Conference Championships last week.

Although still hoping to improve his mark, Briggs ranks 18th in the men's hammer throw with a distance of 182'3". Competing in the women's javelin, Townsend ranks 19th with a distance of 134'1" set at the NWC Championships. Kennedy is the only other current Bearcat ranked above the current qualifying mark, boasting an impressive 11th place ranking in the decathlon with a score of 6,190 points.

While there are only four athletes currently within the qualifying ranks, several other Bearcats will look to solidify a spot to the NCAA Championships within the next couple of weeks. Currently, Willamette has seven different competitors who lie just outside the qualifying range.

Tom Fiechtner (Jr., Poway, CA/Cathedral HS), who finished in first place with a time of 22.00 seconds in the 200-meter dash at the NWC Championships last week, currently sits at #30 in the rankings. 

Erynn Rebol (Sr., Cottonwood, CA/Red Bluff Union HS), in her final season as a collegiate athlete, stands at 27th in the women's 800-meter run with a time of 2:15:31. Kit Kingstad (Jr., Beaverton, OR/Beaverton HS) barely missed the top 20 on the current performance list and is ranked 21st in the men's 1,500-meter run after recording a time of 3:53:64 at the Willamette Invitational back on April 6.

The men's 4 x 100-meter relay team is also looking to earn a trip to nationals after winning the Northwest Conference championship with a time of 42.06 seconds last weekend. Currently ranked 25th, members of the team are Fiechtner, Chris Luetjen (Jr. Lake Oswego, OR/Lake Oswego HS), Matt Paparella (Fr., Glendale, AZ/Ironwood HS) and Dylan Jones (Fr., Santa Maria, CA/Ernest Righetti HS).

Two Bearcats are fighting for entry into the women's triple jump after being ranked in the top 30. Bekah Daniel (So., Silverdale, WA/Central Kitsap HS) ranks 24th with a distance of 37' 6" while Elisa Ahern (So., Lake Forest Park, WA/Shorecrest HS) follows closely behind at 28th after setting a mark of 37' 3.75".

Along with triple jump, Daniel also is attempting to qualify in the heptathlon. She currently ranks 25th after notching a score of 4,178 at the 2013 Bearcat Invitational Multi.

At the moment, Willamette athletes will have two final chances to improve their scores in hopes of making the qualifying cut for nationals.

The Oregon Twilight will begin tomorrow (Friday, May 3) at 3:40 p.m. (PDT) at Hayward Field on the University of Oregon's campus. After that, the final opportunity to compete prior to nationals is on May 10-11 at the West Coast Invitational, which the Bearcats will be hosting at the Charles Bowles Track.

Sophomore Michaela Freeby looks to return to the NCAA Championships for the second consecutive year in the women's 3,000-meter Steeplechase. She is currently ranked 15th on the NCAA Division III performance list.

Sophomore Michaela Freeby looks to return to the NCAA Championships for the second consecutive year in the women's 3,000-meter Steeplechase. She is currently ranked 15th on the NCAA Division III performance list.