By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. --The Willamette University Bearcats will start the track and field season by hosting the Willamette Opener on Saturday, March 2 at Charles Bowles Track. Field events will begin at 10 a.m. (PST), with running events starting at 11 a.m. All events will be contested at Charles Bowles Track, except for the men's and women's hammer throw, which will be held at Corban University.
Joining the Bearcats at the Willamette Opener will be athletes from University of Portland, Portland State University, Western Oregon University, and Corban, as well as several running clubs and a handful of unattached athletes.
Willamette begins the season with three athletes who have competed at the NCAA Championships in cross country and/or track and field. The returning Bearcats earned All-West Region honors last spring.
The three athletes with national championship experience are Hope Duenas (Jo., Covina, CA/Covina HS), Keith Carlson (Sr., Bainbridge Island, WA/Bainbridge HS), and Michael Montague (Jr., San Diego, CA/Canyon Crest Academy. Duenas, Saige Swan (Jr., Crescent City, CA/Del Norte HS), and Keaton Beckmann (Fr., Salem, OR/Sprague HS) were chosen All-West Region in track and field last year.
Duenas took 20th place in the discus throw at the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Earlier in the season, she won the Northwest Conference title in the discus at 136' 3". She ranks second on Willamette's all-time list with a career-best throw of 147' 2" last spring.
Carlson and Montague competed for the Bearcats at the NCAA Championships in cross country in 2017 and 2018. Carlson placed 47th out of 280 runners at the 2018 NCAA Championships.
Last spring, Carlson placed second in the men's 10,000-meter run at the 2018 NWC Championships with a personal record time of 31:51.99. Carlson took seventh place in the men's 5,000-meter run in 15:36.32. Montague earned second place in the NWC in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase last year with a time of 9:29.31 and was second in the men's 5,000-meter run at 15:29.77.
During the 2017 track and field season, Carlson was fourth and Montague took sixth place at the NWC Championships in the men's 5,000-meter run.
Swan won the NWC men's shot put championship in 2018 with a career-best throw of 49' 9.25". He ranked third in the West Region in the shot put. Swan also placed fourth in the NWC in the discus throw at 137' 2" and was eighth in the hammer throw with a personal record of 138' 2".
Beckmann placed third in the long jump with a season best of 22' 9", was third in the 400-meter dash with a season best of 49.60 seconds, and was fifth in the decathlon at the 2018 NWC Championships. He was chosen NWC Men's Track Freshman of the Year.
In addition, Beckman registered a career-best decathlon score of 6,236 points at the Portland Twilight on May 11-12 to rank fifth in the West Region. He finished the season 22nd on the NCAA Division III performance list in the decathlon, missing a bid to the NCAA OChampionships by just two spots.
Head Coach Matt McGuirk is in his 16th season as the head coach of Willamette's track and field teams. He is in his 20th year on the coaching staff.
Willamette is scheduled to host four track and field meets this spring. The Bearcats will host the Willamette vs. Corban Dual on Wednesday, March 13 and Thursday, March 14. The Willamette Invitational will be held at Charles Bowles Track on Saturday, March 23. Finally, Willamette will host the West Coast Invitational on Saturday, May 11.