FOREST GROVE, Ore. – Joe Gladow shrugged off the elements to record his highest career finish at the Northwest Conference Championships, earning first team all-league honors on a wet Saturday morning at the Sunset Golf Course.
As a team, the Linfield men placed two runners in the top 20 to place six of nine teams. Willamette crushed the field, totaling 50 fewer points than the runner-up, to win its first conference championship in three years.
Gladow completed the four loops that comprised the eight-kilometer course in 26 minutes, 31 seconds. Calvin Howell missed out on second team all-league honors – awarded to the top 14 runners – as he was 18th in 26:59.
Veteran Jason Hight improved more than 30 positions from where he finished last season, taking 32nd this year in 27 minutes, 31 seconds.
Competing in their first conference championship race, freshmen Alex Mangan (Jr., Klamath Falls, Ore.) and Frankie Moncada rounded out the scoring runners for the Wildcats. Mangan was 38th (27:49) and Moncada took 48th (28:07).
Willamette junior Parker Bennett claimed the individual championship, clocking a time of 25:58 to top the field of 84 runners by 15 seconds. The Bearcats scored 40 points, and were followed by Lewis & Clark (90), Puget Sound (96), Whitworth (113), George Fox (128), Linfield (143), Whitman (162), Pacific (181) and Pacific Lutheran (205).
Brooke Niemann (Sr., Bellevue, Wash.) paced the Wildcat women, who took fourth overall. The sophomore finished as Linfield’s No. 1 for the second time this year, and earned second team all-conference honors by finishing 12th overall in the 82-competitor field. At a pace of 6 minutes, 20 seconds, she finished the six-kilometer course in 23:34.
Siena Noe and Audrey Lichten (Sr., Sequim, Wash.) just snuck into the top 20, finishing back-to-back in 18th and 20th place, respectively and in identical times of 24 minutes, 2 seconds.
Claire Hann placed 23rd in 24:06 and Katie Skinner took 32nd in 24:21.
Lewis & Clark, led individual champion Emily Thomas, placed all five of its scoring runners in the top eight to secure a “three-peat.” The Pioneers totaled 21 points, outdistancing Willamette (48), Whitworth (97), Linfield (104), Whitman (107), Puget Sound (187), Pacific (196), George Fox (200) and Pacific Lutheran (247).
Both Wildcat squads placed lower than they did in 2011, when they each took third in the team standings.
“I am disappointed in how we finished on both sides and feel like we left a lot out on the course,” said head coach Travis Olson. “The only thing for us to do at this point is put this one behind us and get ready for Regionals.”
NEXT: Willamette hosts the NCAA Division III West Regional in two weeks, Saturday, Nov. 10.