SALEM, ORE. -- Over the next two days, more than 50 Willamette University athletes will compete at the 2012 Northwest Conference Track and Field Championships at Pacific Lutheran University in Parkland, Wash. The first events will be held on Friday, April 20 starting at 2 p.m. (PDT). Most of Friday's competition will be preliminary heats, with most of the finals held set for Saturday, April 21 starting at 10:30 a.m.
On Friday, prelims and finals will be held in the discus throw, javelin throw and long jump for both men's and women's competitors, as well as the women's pole vault and the men's high jump. In addition, finals will be held in the men's and women's 3,000-meter steeplechase and the men's and women's 10,000-meter run. Preliminary heats will be held in the dashes, hurdles and 800-meter events.
Saturday's schedule includes prelims and finals in the remaining field events, as well as finals in most of the events on the tack, including the 400-meter relay and the 1,600-meter relay.
The Willamette men's and women's track and field teams have a history of success in the NWC. Willamette has won 21 conference team titles in men's track and field and 13 NWC titles in women's track and field. Since 2002, the Bearcats have won nine of the 10 women's championships and six of the 10 men's titles.
Last year, the Bearcats finished in second place in both the men's and women's team standings. For the women, George Fox University won the championship with 219 points, while Willamette followed with 144 points and Whitworth University was third at 142 points. In the men's standings, Whitworth took first place with 242 points, Willamette was second with 188 points and George Fox finished third with 119 points.
This weekend, Willamette will be led by seven athletes who have a total of eight marks that would qualify them for the NCAA Championships this season if the national meet was held today. This year's national qualification does not involve automatic and provisional qualifying. Instead, the top 20 men in each event and the top 22 women in each event at the conclusion of the season with advance to the NCAA Championships.
Members of the WU men's team who are ranked in the top 20 are Ben Donovan (Sr., Minneapolis, MN/South HS) and Carson Kennedy (Fr., Forest Grove, OR/Forest Grove HS).
Donovan is ranked 19th in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 9:25.62. He is the two-time defending NWC champion in the steeplechase and owns a career-best time of 9:16.72, which he set last season. Kennedy is listed 20th in the decathlon with a top score of 5,732 points, which he accumulated while placing second at the NWC Multi-Event Championships on April 9-10.
Five athletes on the Bearcat women's squad have attained marks that are ranked in the top 22.
Leading the way is Jaela Dinsmore (Sr., Hines, OR/Burns HS), who is 13th in the 100-meter dash and 22nd in the 400-meter dash. Dinsmore's best time in the 100 this spring is 12.26 seconds, while her best time in the 400 is 57.54 seconds. Her time in the 100 is a personal record and her 400 time is just 0.04 off of her personal record.
Michael Freeby (Fr., Milwaukie, OR/Rex Putnam HS) is ranked ninth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Her fastest time in the event is 11:03.17. Sally Venable (Sr., Ventura, CA/Foothill Technology HS) is ranked 19th in the steeplechase at 11:15.66.
Theresa Edwards (Jr., Lake Tapps, WA/Bonney Lake HS) is listed 15th in the 1,500-meter run at 4:37.24 and Brandi Miller (Sr., Grants Pass, OR/North Valley HS) is 16th in the heptathlon with a score of 4,141 points.
Overall, Willamette has 16 athletes who have earned 19 marks this spring that are ranked in the top 50 nationally.
On the NWC performance list, Willamette has at least one athlete ranked in the top five in 14 of 19 individual women's events and in 11 of 19 individual men's events. The Bearcats are listed among the top three seed times in the men's 400-meter relay, the men's 1,600 meter relay and the women's 400-meter relay.
Willamette has four of the top five results in the men's 1,500-meter run and has three of the top five marks in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase and the women's 1,500-meter run.
Paul Winger (Sr., Bonney Lake, WA/Bonney Lake HS), who has won three NWC titles in the 400 and two NWC titles in the 200, is ranked in the top five in both events. Kit Kingstad (So., Beaverton, OR/Beaverton HS) is in the top five in both the 800-meter run and the 1,500-meter run.
For the Bearcat women's team, Dinsmore (Jr., Hines, OR/Burns HS) is ranked in the top five in the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash and 400-meter dash.Freeby is included in the top five in the 800, the 1,500 and the steeplechase.
Also listed in the top five in more than one event are Edwards and Kaitlin Greene (Sr., Pullman, WA/Pullman HS) in the 1,500 and the 5,000, as well as Sam Nhim (Sr., Tigard, OR/Southridge HS) in the 100 and the 200, and Miller in the 100-meter hurdles and the 400-meter hurdles. In addition, Miller placed fifth in the heptathlon during the NWC Multi-Event Championships.
Results from the NWC Multi-Event Championships have been recorded and will count toward the NWC team titles. In the men's competition, Whitworth has 14 points from the decathlon and is followed by the University of Puget Sound with 10 points, Willamette with 7 points, Pacific Lutheran with 4 points, Linfield College with 3 points and Pacific University with 1 point.
In the women's competition, George Fox earned 29 points from the heptathlon, while Willamette achieved 8 points and Pacific received 2 points.
2012 NWC Track & Field Championships
At Pacific Lutheran University