Bruins Aiming to Improve Upon ’11 Finishes in 2012 NWC Cross Country Championships
NEWBERG, Ore. – After disappointing ninth-place finishes in last year's Northwest Conference Cross Country Championships, both the George Fox University men's and women's teams under new head coach Randy Dalzell are decidedly optimistic about their chances for better results in this weekend's 2012 conference races.
Pacific University is the host for this year's NWC Championships, which are set for Saturday, Oct. 27, at the Sunset Grove Golf Course north of Forest Grove, Ore. The men's 8,000 meter race will begin at 11:00 a.m., followed by the women's 6,000 meter race at 12:00 noon.
Pacific has created an official NWC Championships website for the races, which may be found at www.goboxers.com/nwcxc. For additional information and to see the NWC Championships Program online, go to http://bit.ly/QE0irp.
The Bruins, who have popped in and out of the NCAA Division III West Region rankings this fall, will have a chance to make a mark on the conference race if Kate Freiheit is back in time from a leg injury that has hampered her season. In her absence, Courtney Hochstetler, Kelsey Prentice and Brooke Nolte have stepped up, Hochstetler leading the Bruins in two events this fall and Prentice and Nolte once each. The Bruins edged Pacific in their season-opening Pacific Dual meet and recorded a fourth-place finish in the Big Wave Invitational in Kane'ohe, Hawai'i, for their top performances.
Lewis & Clark College fended off hard challenges from Willamette University each of the last two years to claim conference titles and is the favorite to make it three in a row. The Pioneers enter the week ranked No. 22 in the USTFCCCA Division III national poll and are No. 2 in the West Region. Illana Livstrom of L&C is the defending NWC individual champion, but injuries have limited her to just one meet this season. The Pios' Emily Thomas appears to be the favorite to succeed Livstrom after placing fourth last year.
Willamette will have a lot to say in the race, entering the week ranked No. 32 nationally and No. 3 in the West Region. Linfield College is ranked No. 6 in the region, Whitworth is No. 7, and Whitman College is No. 9.
The much-improved Bruins have been regionally-ranked most of the season and currently hold down the No. 10 spot in the West, so they could have an impact on the conference championship race. Their best showings this fall have a been a win over Pacific in the season-opening Pacific Dual meet and a third-place finish in the Big Wave Invitational in Kane'ohe, Hawai'i. Joseph Pia had finished as the Bruins' top runner in all four of their races this year, but Kyle Dreibelbis and Kody Tarbell also give them a chance to challenge the conference leaders.
After finishing second to Whitworth each of the last two years, Willamette appears poised to claim the trophy in 2012, as the Bearcats enter the meet ranked No. 2 in the USTFCCCA West Region rankings. Puget Sound holds down the No. 3 West ranking and figures to be in the mix, along with No. 4 Whitworth and No. 9 Lewis & Clark. Individually, Pacific Lutheran University's Alan DenAdel is the top returner in the men's race, having finished fourth in the 2011 championship.