Oct 30, 2010

NWC CHAMPIONSHIP: Bruins Pleasantly Surprise with 5th-Place Finish in NWC 8K

A Winning Tradition

  • Eight NAIA Men's National Meets (5 Top 10 finishes)
  • Five NAIA District Men's Championships (1977, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992)
  • One NCCAA Women's National Championship (1988)
  • Nine NAIA Women's National Meets (6 Top 10 finishes)
  • Six NAIA Women's District Championships (1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993)
  • One Cascade Conference Women's Championship (1994)
  • Two NAIA Region Coaches of the Year
  • 10 Conference / District Coaches of the Year
  • 23 All-Americans (6 men, 17 women)
  • 53 Academic All-Americans (18 men, 35 women)

LAKEWOOD, Wash. - A strong finishing kick by Austin Morrell carried him past several runners near the finish line and the George Fox University Bruins into fifth place in  the Northwest Conference Men's 8K Cross Country Championship, hosted by the University of Puget Sound, on a rainy Saturday morning at Ft. Steilacoom Park.

The Bruins were led by a trio of freshmen.  Joseph Pia posted a time of 26:39.94 to finish 23rd overall and for team scoring, Dylan Arana ran a 27:02.16 to finish 29th overall and 27th for team scoring, and Kyle Dreibelbis was 33rd overall and 31st for scoring with a 27:05.83.  Also counting for the Bruins were Allen Cassel with a 27:17.77 (37th/34th) and Morrell with a 27:45.24 (51st/45th).  Completing the field for George Fox were Chad Sutfin with a 27:56.15 (58th), Tyler Magill with a 28:05.91 (63rd), Aaron Molstad with a 28:15.90 (68th), and Mike Calavan with a 29:01.80 (80th).

"Coming into the race, I think most coaches might have picked us ninth, but every single runner left it all out on the course," said George Fox distance coach Jeff Larson.  "After the meet, I had several coaches come up and tell me their hats were off to us for competing so well today.  I think every guy who scored today either had a personal record or were right at it. 

"We had three freshmen right at the top, including Dylan, who had not competed since our first race in Hawai'i due to injury.  Allen ran his best race ever, and Austin turned it on going into the last mile - that is what pulled us up to fifth at the end.  Mike ran a gutsy race despite some injuries, and Austin gave it his all despite feeling pretty lousy.  No question, this was the best meet we have run in the three years I have been associated with the program."

The Bruin men collected a team total of 160 points, two points ahead of sixth-place Whitman.  Whitworth University edged Willamette University 33 to 36 for the conference title.  Lewis & Clark College took third with 66 points, followed by Linfield College with 116 George Fox, Whitman, Pacific University with 185, the University of Puget Sound with 202, and Pacific Lutheran University with 240.

Kate Freiheit ran a personal best by over a minute in posting the top mark for George Fox University, but the Bruins as a team finished ninth in the Northwest Conference Women's  6K Cross Country Championship, hosted by the University of Puget Sound, on a rainy Saturday morning here at Ft. Steilacoom Park.

Freiheit, a transfer from the University of Wisconsin-Stout, ran a 24:05.95 to finish 28th overall and 27th for team scoring.  Also counting for the Bruins were Lizzy Alaimo with a 24:16.69 (34th/33rd), Chelsea Sowards with a 25:05.90 (53rd/49th), Alyssa Turner with a 26:10.07 (71st/57th), and Alicia Haresnape with a 26:10.71 (73rd/58th).  Other Bruin runners were Anja Harder (26:52.23, 78th), Melissa Kristovich (27:20.53, 79th), and Anna Thomas (29:51.44, 81st).

The Bruins had a team total of 224 points, only eight behind Pacific University's 216.  Lewis & Clark College won the race with 43 points, followed by Whitworth University with 73, Willamette University with 94, Whitman College with 100, Linfield College with 113, Pacific Lutheran University with 137, Puget Sound with 194, Pacific, and George Fox.

"Although we finished ninth, this marked a huge turnaround for us in that we had a full team competing for the first time in two years," noted George Fox distance coach Jeff Larson.  "Our girls did all they could, and we were only eight points out of eighth, so everyone is pretty upbeat about the future.

"Kate had a big day and proved to be an excellent team leader today.  We've had to bring her along slowly this fall, but she was ready for a very challenging course.  Lizzy had a solid day.  I know Chelsea was looking for a higher finish and a better time, but she just never did get untracked.  We will run our three top finishers in the regional meet in two weeks, and I expect Chelsea will have a better race then."

Kimber Mattox of Willamette was the individual winner with a time of 22:09.52, over 10 seconds ahead of runner-up Joy Shufeldt of Whitworth, who ran a 22:19.93. 

The top seven runners in the race were named First Team All-Conference, and the next seven were Second Team All-Conference.  The NWC Women's Coach of the Year was Keith Woodard of Lewis & Clark for leading the Pioneers to their first ever conference women's cross country championship.  The NWC Men's Coach of the Year was Toby Schwarz of Whitworth.

Complete results of the Northwest Conference Championship, courtesy of the Puget Sound sports information office, are available on line at the George Fox men's cross country web site at http://athletics.georgefox.edu/sports/xc/2010-11/stats/1030.htm.

NEXT: George Fox will send its top seven finishers in the NWC Championship, the maximum allowable  - Pia, Arana, Dreibelbis, Cassel, Morrell, Sutfin, and Magill - to the NCAA Division III West Regional hosted by Willamette University on Saturday, Nov. 13, at Bush's Pasture Park in Salem, Ore.  Kate Freiheit, Lizzy Alaimo, and Chelsea Sowards will compete for the women.  The men's 8K race will begin at 11:00 a.m., followed by the women's 6K race at 12:00 noon.