By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director
PARKLAND, Wash. -- The Willamette University men's cross country team won its fourth consecutive team title at the 2015 Northwest Conference Championships on Saturday, Oct. 31 on the Pacific Lutheran University campus. The Bearcats claimed their 23rd NWC title overall and their 12th since 2001.
Willamette earned a team score of 31. The top finisher for the Bearcats in the men's 8-kilometer race was Nathan Conrad (Sr., Bothell, WA/Bothell HS), who took third place with a time of 26:12. Yonny Castillo (Sr., Parkdale, OR/Hood River Valley HS) was fifth in 26:35 and Jacob Shafi (Sr., Pleasanton, CA/Amador Valley HS) placed sixth at 26:42.
Patrick Loftus (So., Healdsburg, CA/Sonoma Academy) of Willamette was seventh, as he crossed the finish line in 26:47. Keith Carlson (Fr., Bainbridge Island, WA/Bainbridge HS) achieved 10th place for the Bearcats in 27:04.
Willamette Head Coach Matt McGuirk was named NWC Men's Cross Country Coach of the Year. He has received the award 11 times since 2001, including each of the past four seasons (2012-15).
The top seven finishers at this year's NWC Championships earned First Team All-NWC accolades. In addition to Conrad, Castillo, Shafi and Loftus, other First Team All-NWC runners were Tyler Shipley and Geremia Lizier-Zmudzinski from University of Puget Sound, and Brad Hodkinson from Pacific Lutheran University.
Shipley won the men's individual championship by recording a time of 25:48 over the PLU South Park course. Lizier-Zmudzinski placed second in 26:04. Hodkinson was fourth with a time of 26:26.
It was the second NWC title in as many seasons for Shipley. He won the 2014 title as a runner for Pacific University before transferring to Puget Sound.
Carlson of Willamette received Second Team All-NWC honors with his 10th place finish. Hunter Mathies (Sr., Moran, WY/Jackson Hole HS) placed 21st for the Bearcats in 27:36. Jack Kobylka (So., Napa, CA/Vintage HS) took 26th place in 27:48.
Willamette score of 31 was followed by Puget Sound in second place with a score of 77. Whitman College was third at 94 and Whitworth University was fourth at 118. Pacific Lutheran placed fifth at 139, George Fox University was sixth at 144, Linfield College took seventh at 148, Lewis & Clark College was eighth at 176 and Pacific placed ninth at 243.
The Bearcats will compete at the NCAA Division III West Regional in Claremont, California, on Saturday, Nov. 14. Occidental College will host the meet on the Pomona College campus.