Bearcats Sweep NWC Team Championships, as Freeby and Bennett win Titles

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

SPOKANE, WASH. -- Willamette University runners Michaela Freeby (Jr., Milwaukie, OR/Rex Putnam HS) and Parker Bennett (Sr., Sisters, OR/Sisters HS) won individual titles, and the Bearcats claimed both team titles, as the 2013 Northwest Conference Cross Country Championships were held on Saturday, Nov. 2 at the Downriver Golf Course.

Willamette Head Coach Matt McGuirk was named NWC Women's Coach of the Year and NWC Men's Coach of the Year.

Freeby claimed the women's title in the 6-kilometer race with a time of 21:42.19, as she won by 17.51 seconds. WU teammate Taylor Ostrander (So., Soldotna, AK/Kenai Central HS) finished second with a time of 21:59.70. Kathryn Flyte from the University of Puget Sound was third in 22:11.96.

Amanda Blankenship from Whitworth University placed fourth with a time of 22:19.10. Christina Williams of Whitworth crossed the finish line in fifth place at 22:31.29. Skye Pauly from Whitman took sixth at 22:41.17, while Olivia Mancl (Fr., Seattle, WA/Roosevelt HS) from Willamette was seventh in 22:42.72.

Freeby earned a top three finish for the second year in a row. She was third at the 2012 NWC Championships.

Bennett prevailed in the men's 8-kilometer race after completing the course in 24:30.62.

His time set a personal record, improving by about 18 seconds on his previous best time of 24:48.54, recorded at the 2012 West Regional. The time also moved Bennett into ninth place on Willamette's all-time list for 8K races.

On Saturday, Bennett won by 30.98 seconds over Tyler Shipley from Pacific University, who took second place at 25:01.60. David Santillan from Puget Sound was third in 25:13.98.

Fourth place was attained by Jarrod Nixon of Lewis & Clark College in 25:18.29. Jacob Shafi (So., Pleasanton, CA/Amador Valley HS) from Willamette followed in fifth place at 25:19.10. T.C. Heydon of Whitman was sixth with a time of 25:22.26 and Matt Wotipka of Whitman was seventh at 25:22.92.

It was Bennett's second consecutive NWC individual title. He won last year's title at the Sunset Grove Golf Course in Forest Grove, Ore.

First Team All-Northwest Conference honors went to the top seven runners in each race. Athletes finishing eighth through 14th received Second Team All-NWC recognition. Willamette's First Team selections were Freeby, Ostrander and Mancl from the women's team and Bennett and Shafi from the men's team.

For the Bearcat women, Second Team All-NWC honors went to Juliet Farnan (So., Lafayette, CA/Campolindo HS), as she took ninth place at 22:53.95. In the men's race, Yonny Castillo (So., Parkdale, OR/Hood River Valley HS) in 12th at 25:45.90 and Nathan Conrad (So., Bothell, WA/Bothell HS) in 13th at 25:48.35 received Second Team All-NWC honors for Willamette.

Also finishing in the top 20 for Willamette were Annette Marinello (Jr., Corvallis, OR/Philomath HS), who was 18th in the women's race, and Daniel Swanson (Jr., Seattle, WA/Roosevelt HS), who placed 18th in the men's race. Marinello's time was 23:15.19 for 6 kilometers. Swanson registered an 8-kilometer time of 26:08.36.

The Bearcats achieved the women's team title with a score of 37. Whitworth was second at 52 points and Whitman placed third at 101. Linfield College was fourth at 104, with Puget Sound in fifth at 112. Lewis & Clark held sixth place at 113, while Pacific Lutheran University was seventh at 207, George Fox University was eighth at 239 and Pacific was ninth at 255.

Willamette won the NWC women's championship for the ninth time since 2000. It was WU's first win since 2008, after taking second place in 2011 and 2012.

In the battle for the men's team title, Willamette took first place with a score of 49. Puget Sound finished second with 69 points, Whitman was third at 82, Lewis & Clark placed fourth at 111 and Linfield was fifth at 128. Whitworth followed in sixth place at 135, with George Fox in seventh at 147, Pacific in eighth at 210 and Pacific Lutheran in ninth at 224.

It was the 21st NWC title for the Bearcat men's cross country team. The Bearcats have won 10 conference titles since 2001.

Willamette will compete at the NCAA Division III West Regional on Saturday, Nov. 16 in Claremont, Calif. The first race is set to begin at 9 a.m. (PST).


Northwest Conference
Cross Country Championships
Nov. 2, 2013
Downriver Golf Course
Spokane, Wash.

Michaela Freeby took first place in the women's 6-kilometer race in 21:42.19.

Michaela Freeby took first place in the women's 6-kilometer race in 21:42.19.

Parker Bennett won the men's 8-kilometer race by nearly 31 seconds with a time of 24:30.62.

Parker Bennett won the men's 8-kilometer race by nearly 31 seconds with a time of 24:30.62.