Willamette Runners are Set for 2017 NWC Cross Country Championships

Michael Montague (So., San Diego, CA/Canyon Crest Academy)
Michael Montague (So., San Diego, CA/Canyon Crest Academy)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

SALEM, Ore. -- Willamette University cross country runners will be competing at the 2017 Northwest Conference Cross Country Championships on Saturday, Oct. 28 at Veterans Memorial Golf Course in Walla Walla, Washington. Action gets underway with the men's 8-kilometer race at 10 a.m. (PDT). The women's 6-kilometer race will follow at 11 a.m.

Willamette's men have won five consecutive NWC titles and will be looking to this year's leaders to help the team win its sixth title in a row. Keith Carlson (Jr., Bainbridge Island, WA//Bainbridge HS) has provided several of Willamette's top times this season. He recently placed fifth out of 351 runners at the UW-Oshkosh Kollege Town Sports Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 14. Michael Montague (So., San Diego, CA/Canyon Crest Academy) also has performed well this fall. Montague took 14th place out of 155 runners in the Men's Cardinal 8-kilometer race at the Willamette Invitational on Sept. 30.

At last year's NWC Championship meet, Montague finished in sixth place with a time of 25:56.8 at Willamette Mission State Park. Carlson earned an eighth place finish in 26:06.1.

In the most recent West Region men's rankings, the Bearcats were listed at #7. Other NWC teams in the rankings were Lewis & Clark College at #4, Pacific Lutheran University at #5, and Whitworth University at #10.

Brad Hodkinson from Pacific Lutheran is the defending NWC men's individual champion. He won the 2016 title with a time of 24:56.3.

The Willamette women's team will be led by senior Hannah Swanson (Seattle, WA/Roosevelt HS) as the Bearcats run to finish among the team leaders. Last year, the Bearcat women's team took second place behind Whitworth University.

Swanson placed third in the women's 6-kilometer race at the 2016 NWC Championships in 22:11.4. This season, she has be a strong leader for the Bearcats. She finiished sixth out of 166 runners at the Willamette Invitational and took second place out of 353 runners at the UW-Oshkosh meet in Winneconne, Wisconsin.

In Wisconsin, Kyla Shade (So., Snohomish, WA/Snohomish HS) was 26th overall, Hazel Carr (Jr., Seattle, WA/The Northwest School) took 32nd, and Emily Evans (Jr., Anchorage, AK/South Anchorage HS) placed 37th. At last season's NWC meet, Shade was 23rd, Evans was 26th and Carr was 29th.

Olivia Mancl ('17) of Willamette won the 2016 NWC women's individual title for the Bearcats. Her winning time was 20.53.8. Mancl graduated this past spring, so the top returning finisher is Kayla Leland from Whitworth, who placed second a year ago.

The latest women's rankings for the West Region included Willamette at #9. Whitworth was ranked #2, with Linfield College at #3, University of Puget Sound at #6, and George Fox University at #10.