Willamette is Set for NCAA West Regional in Southern California

Hannah Swanson (Sr., Seattle, WA/Roosevelt HS)
Hannah Swanson (Sr., Seattle, WA/Roosevelt HS)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

SALEM, Ore. -- The Willamette University men's and women's cross country teams are ready for this weekend's 2017 NCAA Division III West Region Cross Country Championships, set for the Pomona Campus Course in Claremont, California, on Saturday, Nov. 11. Action will get underway with the men's 8-kilometer race at 9 a.m. (PST). The women's 6-kilometer race will start at 10 a.m. (PST).

Although Occidental College (Calif.) is hosting the West Region Championships, Pomona-Pitzer (Calif.) and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (Calif.) may have the best claims to a home course advantage. Pomona-Pitzer and CMS are both located in Claremont, while Occidental is located in Los Angeles.

In the men's competition, Pomona-Pitzer enters the meet ranked #1 in the West Region. The Sagehens were listed at #5 in the most recent NCAA Division III Men's National Poll released by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) on Nov. 1. Pomoma-Pitzer secured this year's Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Championship.

Willamette's runners hope to provide strong opposition after winning their sixth consecutive Northwest Conference men's team championship on Oct. 28.

Andy Reischling of Pomoma-Pitzer is among the contenders for the West Region individual men's championship. He won the SCIAC individual title with a time of 25:33.71. Other top finishers at the SCIAC Meet were Julian Sandoval of Whittier College (Calif.) in second place at 25:44.55, Thomas D'Anier of CMS in third place at 25:49.59, and Keenan Leary from Occidental in fourth place at 26:00.61. Carter Strip of Pomona-Pitzer was fifth in 26:04.64.

The Northwest Conference will have several top runners of its own in the men's race. Brad Hodkinson won his second consecutive NWC individual title this fall, as he completed the championship race in 25:13.4. Keith Carlson (Jr., Bainbridge Island, WA/Bainbridge HS) of Willamette was second in 25:27.1, and Jeffrey Mullins of Lewis & Clark College took third in 25:33.2. Michael Montague (So., San Diego, CA/Canyon Crest Academy) from Willamette placed fourth in 25:43.9, while Ross Enlow (So., Unalaska, AK/Unalaska HS) followed for the Bearcats in fifth place at 26:00.1.

In the West Region men's rankings, Pomona-Pitzer is followed by Occidental at #2 and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at #3. University of California, Santa Cruz is #4 and Willamette is listed at #5. Other NWC teams in the rankings are Pacific Lutheran at #6 and Lewis & Clark at #7.

Claremont-Mudd-Scripps is the top ranked women's team in the West Region. The Athenas also are ranked #6 in the nation in NCAA Division III. CMS won the SCIAC team title.

Brynn McKillop of CMS recently won the SCIAC women's title in 22:36.55. She was followed by Julissa Tobias of Whittier in second place at 22:40.32. Lauren Hamilton from Pomona-Pitzer was third in 22:43.81, while Malea Martin of CMS took fourth in 23:16.93, and Helen Guo placed fifth in 23:18.00.

The top five runners in the women's race at the NWC Meet will be solid challengers for top finishes at the West Region Championships. Kayla Leland from Whitworth won the individual NWC title with a time of 21:56.0. Kaelia Neal from Linfield College was second in 22:23.4, and Hannah Swanson (Sr., Seattle, WA/Roosevelt HS) from Willamette was third in 22:29.6. Courtney Beard of Linfield placed fourth in 22:34.6 and Bailey Scott of Whitwroth was fifth in 22:39.1.

Following CMS at the top of the West Region women's rankings is Whitworth in the #2 spot. The Pirates won the NWC women's team championship. Linfield is ranked #3 and Colorado College is listed at #4. Colorado College placed second at the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) Championships, led by Allysa Warling, who took third place in 21:37.

In addition to Whitworth and Linfield, other NWC teams in the women's rankings are University of Puget Sound at #6, Whitman College at #9 and Willamette at #10.