By Carrie Fox
The Bearcats won their sixth consecutive Northwest Conference men’s cross country title and earned three of the top five individual times at the 2017 NWC Cross Country Championships at Veterans Memorial Golf Course in Walla Walla, Washington this weekend.
Junior Keith Carlson took second place, sophomore Michael Montague placed fourth and sophomore Ross Enlow earned fifth place for the Bearcats.
“All I really have to say about the race is that it was a really well run race,” Montague said.“Our guys pulled through when we needed it the most. It was a really cool experience to be up in the front with Keith and Ross through the first 2k. Keith and I really fed off of each other and it helped us secure our position in the top group. Keith finished in front of me and cheered me into the finishing shoot, and I turned around and we immediately started cheering on Ross, who had an absolutely amazing kick. His kick was really clutch. All three of us cheered on the rest of the guys into the shoot.”
Willamette registered a winning score of 50 points with finishes of 1-4-5-16-23.
The Bearcat women’s team placed fifth out of nine with senior Hannah Swanson finishing in third place in the individual standings.
Willamette Head Coach Matt McGuirk was chosen as the NWC Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year for the sixth season in a row and the 13th time since 2001.
Carlson came in second in the eight-kilometer race with a time of 25:27.1, and Montague was the fourth runner to reach the finish line, clocking at 25:43.9. Enlow followed in fifth place at 26:00.1. The top seven finishers earned First Team All-NWC honors, including Carlson, Montague and Enlow for the Bearcats.
Willamette’s next two finishers contributed to the team score, as they provided the results needed to regain the team title. Junior Ricardo Castillo-Flores was 16th overall with a time of 26:48.5, and sophomore Kellen Bulger finished in 23rd place at 27:03.8. Also competing for the Bearcat men’s team were senior Jack Kobylka, junior Robbie Melhorn and freshman Max Frankel. Kobylka was timed at 27:46.5, while Melhorn reached the finish line in 27:54.0 and Frankel earned a time of 28:21.6.
In the women’s race, Swanson earned third place for Willamette in 22:29.6 and was also among the top seven runners named First Team All-NWC.
Sophomore Kyla Shade was the second Bearcat to reach the finish line in the women’s race and was 19th overall in 23:53.9. Junior Emily Evans placed 28th for Willamette in 24:17.8 and junior Hazel Carr was timed at 24:39.6 in 33rd place. Freshman Risa Schutz completed the race in 25:03.0, and sophomore Maggie Chapin came in at 26:02.9
The men’s team standings featured Willamette (50), Pacific Lutheran (57) and and Lewis & Clark (61) in the top three positions. Whitworth was fourth at 107, while Whitman College and George Fox University tied for fifth place at 133. Linfield was seventh at 196, with Pacific in eighth at 201, and Puget Sound in ninth at 232.
Whitworth’s score of 42 topped the women’s team standings. Linfield took second place at 61 and Puget Sound was third at 92. Whitman claimed fourth place at 111 and Willamette placed fifth at 129. George Fox was sixth at 136, while Lewis & Clark was seventh at 169. Pacific placed eighth at 204 and Pacific Lutheran finished ninth at 223.
“I thought we all really believed in each other, and everyone carried the team on their back which made our group effort so much easier. I’m really proud of everyone’s performance this weekend.” Montague said.
Up next for Willamette will be the 2017 NCAA Division III West Regional on Saturday, Nov. 11 in Claremont, California where Occidental College will host the meet on the Pomona Campus Course.The first race will start at 10 a.m. (PDT).