Loftus Finishes First in 3,000-meter Steeplechase at NWC Championships

Patrick Loftus (Jr., Santa Rosa, CA/Sonoma Academy)
Patrick Loftus (Jr., Santa Rosa, CA/Sonoma Academy)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Patrick Loftus (Jr., Santa Rosa, CA/Sonoma Academy) of Willamette University won the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase during the first day of the Northwest Conference Track and Field Championships on Friday, April 21 at Boppell Track. It was his second top two finish in the NWC steeplechase after taking second place last season.

The win by Loftus highlighted a solid day for the Bearcats that included five team-scoring efforts by four athletes in field events, five scoring performances by athletes in the steeplechase events, and 11 other athletes qualifying for finals in eight events on the track.

In addition, Jack Wellman (Jr., Alameda, CA/Alameda HS) will compete in the final of the men's 400-meter dash, which did not have preliminary heats. Also, no peliminary heats were held in the the 1,500-meter and 5,000-meter events.

Finals in the 1,500 and 5,000, as well as most of the other running events plus eight field events, will be on Saturday, April 22 on the final day of the meet. Action will get underway at 10:30 a.m. (PDT) for field events and at 12 p.m. for track events.

Loftus won the steeplechase with a time of 9:26.64. He took first by 8.06 seconds over Kyle Rapacz of Pacific Lutheran University, who placed second in 9:34.70.

Willamette also grabbed sixth and seventh place in the men's steeplechase. Ross Enlow (Fr., Unalaska, AK/Unalaska HS) finished sixth in 9:59.90 and Keith Carlson (So., Bainbridge Island, WA//Bainbridge HS) was seventh in 9:59.94. 

In the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase, Ami Boucher (Sr., Concord, CA/Northgate HS) of Willamette placed second and teammate Emily Evans (So., Anchorage, AK/South Anchorage HS) finished third. Boucher's time was 11:40.11, while Evans completed the race in 12:00.56. Frances Swanson from Lewis & Clark College won the steeplechase in 11:30.99.

Jewell Sparks (Jr., San Francisco, CA/Lick Wilmerding HS) of Willamette set a personal record and moved from 10th place into fifth place on Willamette's all-time list during the preliminary heats in the women's 400-meter hurdles. Sparks' time of 1:03.37 was just over two seconds faster than her previous personal record of 1:05.40, set earlier this year at the Willamette Invitational.

Jewell Sparks (Jr., San Francisco, CA/Lick Wilmerding HS) Saige Swan (Fr., Crescent City, CA/Del Norte HS) placed fourth and Josh Martin (Fr., Medford, OR/St. Mary's School) was fifth for the Bearcats in the finals of the men's shot put. Swan registered a top distance of 46' 3.25", while Martin earned a mark of 45' 8.50". Lucas Hatton of Pacific Lutheran won the shot put with a toss of 51' 2.75".

Both Swan and Martin broke personal records in the shot put that were set at the John Knight Twilight on April 7. Swan improved from 45' 9" and Martin advanced from 44' 7.50".

In the women's hammer throw, Angie Turpen (Sr., Alsea, OR/Alsea HS) of Willamette was fourth with a distance of 141' 7". Hope Duenas (Fr., Covina, CA/Covina HS) placed seventh for WU with a top throw of 124' 6".

Martin took seventh place for the Bearcats in the men's hammer throw. He earned a top distance of 140' 11". It was a personal record by more than four feet over his previous top throw of 136' 7" at the John Knight Twilight.

Advancing to Finals for the Willamette Women's Team:

In addition to Sparks in the 400-meter hurdles, several other Bearcats qualified for the finals in women's events.

Teneah Rushen (Jr., Portland, OR/Franklin HS), 100-meter dash, 12.69 seconds.

Melissa Scott (Fr., Tustin, CA/Beckman HS), 100-meter hurdles, 16.03 seconds.

Sallie Tucker (Fr., Buena Vista, CO/Buena Vista HS), 400-meter hurdles, 1:08.37 (PR by 0.18).

Maura Forbush (Sr., Hollister, CA/San Benito HS), 400-meter dash, 59.76 seconds.

Hannah Swanson (Jr., Seattle, WA/Roosevelt HS), 800-meter run, 2:18.69.

Advancing to Finals for the Bearcat Men's Team:

RoShaan Rogers (Jr., Roseville, CA/Woodcreek HS), 110-meter hurdles, 15.87 seconds.

Brian Peck (Fr., Reno, NV/Reno HS), 110-meter hurdles, 16.22 seconds (PR by 0.32).

Connor Giannini (Fr., Veradale, WA/Gonzaga Prep.), 200-meter dash, 22.88 seconds.

Jack Kobylka (Jr., Napa, CA/Vintage HS), 800-meter run, 1:57.40.

Robbie Melhorn (So., Bangkok,Thailand/International School Bangkok), 800-meter run, 1:58.09 PR by 1.28).

Team Scores

George Fox University led the women's team standings with 86.50 points. Whitworth University was second with 49.50 points. Linfield College held third place at 35 points, with Pacific Lutheran in fourth at 31, Pacific University in fifth at 30, Willamette in sixth with 21, Lewis & Clark in seventh at 16, and University of Puget Sound in eighth with 4 points.

The Bruins of George Fox also topped the men's team standings with 87 points. Pacific Lutheran was second with 38 points, while Willamette and Whitworth were tied for third place, just one point behind the Lutes at 37. Pacific was fifth with 31 points, with Linfield in sixth at 23, Lewis & Clark in seventh at 15, and Puget Sound in eighth with 5 points.