BROOKS, Ore. - The Northwest Conference Cross Country Championships return to Willamette Mission State Park for the first time since 2007. Race times for the one-day meet on Saturday, Oct. 29 are set for 10 a.m. for the women and 11 a.m. for the men.
After claiming its first conference championship in program history last season, the Lewis & Clark women’s squad looks to defend its title in 2011, and is in good position to do so. The Pioneers return all five of their scoring runners from the championship squad, led by junior Illana Livstrom, who finished fourth overall in 2010. Also heavily favored is Whitman, which last claimed the team championship in 1999. Junior Emilie Gilbert is the top competitor for the Missionaries; she was a top-10 finisher a season ago.
Whitworth’s Joy Shufeldt is the top overall returner from last year’s meet. She and newcomer Christina Anderson lead a talented Pirate squad that can certainly challenge the Pioneers for the league crown. And one should never count out Willamette, which won seven consecutive titles from 2002-2008. This year, the Bearcats are led by Michaela Freeby and Theresa Edwards.
Other runners to keep an eye on include Katie Freiheit and Courtney Hochstetler (George Fox), Mimi Seeley (Jr., Redmond, Ore.) and Nelly Evans (Linfield), Rachel Schreiber and Jilinda Franklin (Pacific), Katie Gebert and Suzy Olsen (Pacific Lutheran), and Carrie Keith and Molly Bradbury (Puget Sound).
Lewis & Clark and Whitman are ranked second and third, respectively, in the West Region according to the latest poll by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. Willamette is ranked fifth, Linfield sixth and Whitworth eighth. Lewis & Clark is also ranked No. 18 in the national poll; Whitman holds the No. 25 spot.
On the men’s side, Whitworth pursues its third team crown in four seasons. The Pirates return three of their top five runners from last year’s championship squad, including Trevor Berrian, Tyler Dudley and Aaron Jenkins. Willamette’s Leo Castillo is the defending individual champion, and, along with Ben Donovan and Parker Bennett, could lead the Bearcats to their 20th team championship, the most of any program in the Northwest Conference.
Linfield could also contend for a team title. The Wildcats feature a talented and interchangeable trio of runners in Arian Anderson, Scott Gage and Joe Gladow (Jr., Shoreline, Wash.).
Other runners to keep an eye on include Joseph Pia (George Fox), Andrew LeDonne (Lewis & Clark), Dan Flora and Joseph Deardorff (Pacific), Alan DenAdel (Pacific Lutheran), Joshua Seekatz (Puget Sound) and Colin Domonoske (Whitman).
Willamette, Whitworth and Linfield are ranked 4-5-6 in the latest USTFCCCA West Region poll. Lewis & Clark is ranked eighth, followed immediately by Whitman. No team is currently ranked in the national polls, although Willamette is listed as “receiving votes.”
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