By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- The Willamette University cross country teams will compete at the 2019 Northwest Conference Cross Country Championships on Saturday, Nov. 2 at Fort Steilacoom Park in Lakewood, Washington. Action will get underway with the men's 8-kilometer race at 10 a.m. (PDT). The women's 6-kilometer race is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.
Leading the way for the Willamette men's team will be Michael Montague (Sr., San Diego, CA/Canyon Crest Academy). Last year, Montague took third in the men's race at the NWC Championships. He went on to place fifth at the NCAA West Regional in 25:09.6 and competed at the NCAA Division III Championships, where he placed 124th out of 280 runners. He was named All-West Region.
The top returning runner for WU in the women's competition will be Kyla Shade (Sr., Snohomish, WA/Snohomish HS) who placed sixth in the women's race at the 2018 NWC Championships with a time of 23:29.6. Shade earned All-West Region honors by placing 20th at the NCAA West Regional.
In the NWC Preseason Poll, the Bearcats were picked to finish second in women's cross country and fourth in men's cross country. Willamette has won 11 NWC women's team championships and 25 men's team championships. Each team has claimed a championship in the past two years, as the Bearcat men's team won in 2017 despite injuries and the women's team won in 2018 with a strong overall performance.
Colin Monaghan from the University of Puget Sound is the men's individual favorite after winning the 2018 NWC title in 25:39.1. Other top returning runners from last season are Montague (3rd in 2018), Eli Fournier of Whitman College (4th), Sean Richardson from Lewis & Clark College (5th), Dillon Rising of George Fox University (7th), and Riley Stewart of Pacific University (10th).
The highest finisher in the 2018 NWC women's race who is returning this year is Krystal Roberts from Whitworth University, who took fourth place last fall in 23:16.6. Shade (6th in 2018) heads the list of other top runners who are back this season. Also returning are Ellie Shoop of Whitworth (8th) and Sam Schaffer from Puget Sound (10th).
Willamette won last year's NWC Championship in women's cross country with a score of 53 (5-6-13-14-15). Whitworth was second at 60. Pacific Lutheran University and George Fox tied for the NWC Championship in men's cross country last season with scores of 74. PLU runners placed 6-9-12-19-28, while GFU runners finished 7-11-17-18-21.