Bearcats to Begin Track and Field Season by Hosting Willamette Opener

Entries include athletes from WU, Western Oregon, Portland, and U of O Running Club

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

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University men's and women's track and field teams will begin the 2014 season by hosting the Willamette Opener on Saturday, March 1 at the Charles Bowles Track. Action is scheduled to start with the first field event, the discus throw, at 9:30 a.m. Running events will get underway at 11 a.m. with the 5,000-meter run.

Joining the Bearcats at the Willamette Opener will be Western Oregon University, the University of Portland and the University of Oregon Running Club.

Willamette enters the season with three athletes who have competed at the NCAA Division III Championships, including two runners who have qualified twice.

Michaela Freeby (Jr., Milwaukie, OR/Rex Putnam HS) took fourth place in the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase at the 2013 NCAA Championships. She achieved a personal record time of 10:33.34 in the finals. Freeby took 13th place in the steeplechase at the 2013 NCAA Championships.

Taylor Ostrander (So., Soldotna, AK/Kenai Central HS) also qualified for last year's NCAA Championships in the steeplechase. She placed 22nd overall with a time of 11:22.31. Her personal record in the steeplechase is 11:02.01, set at the Gregory Invitational in Napverville, Ill., on May 17, 2013.

Kit Kingstad (Sr., Beaverton, OR/Beaverton HS) ran at the 2013 NCAA Championships, as he competed in the men's 1,500-meter run for the second year in a row. He took 17th place and registered a time of 3:55.89. He finished 16th in the 1,500 at the 2012 NCAA Championships. Kingstad earned his career-best time of 3:48.53 at the 2013 West Coast Invitational.

In addition to runners with national championship experience, the Bearcats have several athletes who return this season after winning Northwest Conference titles in individual events or on relays last season, when both of Willamette's teams placed second in the final standings.

Freeby won the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the NWC Championships last spring, while Bekah Daniel (Jr., Silverdale, WA/Central Kitsap HS) took first place in the women's triple jump. Daniel's top distance at the NWC Meet was 37' 4". She set a personal record of 37' 6" about a week later at the Oregon Twilight on May 3, 2013.

The WU women's 4 x 400-meter relay team earned an NWC title in 4:00.39 in 2013. Two of the runners from that relay unit are back for the Bearcats. They are Bekah Daniel and Carmela Roberts (So., Santa Cruz, CA/Santa Cruz HS).

For the Willamette men's team, Tom Fiechtner (Sr., Poway, CA/Cathedral HS) returns after winning an individual NWC championship in the 200-meter dash. His registered a time of 22.10 seconds in the finals. He achieved a personal record time of 22.00 in the prelims.

In addition, Fiechtner ran the first leg on Willamette's 4 x 100-meter relay team, which took first place in the NWC. Following Fiechtner on the relay were Chris Luetjen (Sr., Lake Oswego, OR/Lake Oswego HS), Matt Paparella (So., Glendale, AZ/Ironwood HS) and Dylan Jones (So., Santa Maria, CA/Ernest Righetti HS), as Willamette won the finals in 42.06 seconds.

All four runners are back. Last year's NWC championship time placed them second on Willamette's all-time list, just .07 away from the school record of 41.99, set in 1992.

Overall, the Bearcats will host six meets this season. Highlighting the home schedule is the Willamette Invitational, which will be held on Saturday, March 29. WU will host the NWC Multi-Event Championships on April 14-15.


2014 Willamette Opener
Charles Bowles Track
Salem, Ore.
Saturday, March 1

Michaela Freeby took fourth place in the finals of the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase at the 2013 NCAA Division III Championships to earn All-America honors.

Michaela Freeby took fourth place in the finals of the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase at the 2013 NCAA Division III Championships to earn All-America honors.