Carlson Places 4th, Montague is 5th, in Men's Race at NCAA West Regional

Keith Carlson (Sr., Bainbridge Island, WA//Bainbridge HS)
Keith Carlson (Sr., Bainbridge Island, WA//Bainbridge HS)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Willamette University runner Keith Carlson (Sr.) took fourth place and teammate Michael Montague (Jr.) placed fifth in the men's 8-kilometer race at the NCAA Division III West Regional on Saturday, Nov. 10. Carlson and Montague both earned individual bids to the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships next weekend in Winneconne, Wisconsin. The West Regional was held at Veterans Memorial Golf Course.

In the women's 6-kilometer race, Willamette's Kyla Shade (Jr., Snohomish, WA/Snohomish HS) earned 20th place, while Hazel Carr (Sr., Seattle, WA/The Northwest School) of Willamette took 21st.

The Bearcats placed fifth in the women's team standings and finished 10th in the men's team standings. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (Calif.) won the women's team title with a score of 39, while Pomona-Pitzer (Calif.) was second at 93. Whitman College placed third at 153. Pomona-Pitzer claimed the men's team title in a close tie-breaker with CMS. Both teams registered a score of 54. University of California, Santa Cruz took third place at 76. The top two teams in each race automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships.

Carlson's time in the men's race was 25:05.4. He was just 1.3 seconds out of third place and only 16.4 seconds behind the winner, Andy Reischling of Pomona-Pitzer. Reischling completed the race in 24:49.2, and was followed by Benjamin White of Whittier College in second place at 25:01.2. Mile Christianson of CMS was third in 25:04.1. After Carlson crossed the finish line in fourth, Montague was fifth with a time of 25:09.6. Calrson and Montague repeated as All-West Region selections.

Also contributing to the team score for the Willamette men's team were Cayce Reese (So., Louisville, CO/Monarch HS), Alex Matteson (Fr., Seattle, WA/Nathan Hale HS), and Robbie Melhorn (Sr., Bangkok, Thailand/International School Bangkok). Reese was timed at 27:13.5. Matteson completed the race in 27:35.9 and Melhorn attained a time of 27:45.4.

Shade registered a time of 23:00.9 for the Bearcats in the women's race. Carr ran the course in nearly an identical time of 23:01.1. By placing 20th and 21st, respectively, both runners earned All-West Region honors.

Additonal runners who provided scoring for the Willamette women's team were Emily Evans (Sr., Anchorage, AK/South Anchorage HS), Audrey Piacsek (Fr., Ellensburg, WA/Ellensburg HS), and Maggie Chapin (Jr., Buffalo, WY/Buffalo HS). Evans registered a time of 23:29.6 to place 37th and was followed quickly by Piacsek in 38th place at 23:30.8. Chapin earned a time of 24:08.5.

The women's individual champion was Helen Guo of Pomona-Pitzher in 21:48.5. She won by 26.4 seconds. Marissa Mount from Whitworth University was second in 22:14.4. Lila Cardillo of Pomona-Pitzer placed third with a time of 22:18.6, while Courtney Beard of Linfield College was fourth at 22;23.4. Natalie Marsh from CMS achieved fifth place in 22:24.5.

Carlson and Montague Discuss Success and Return to NCAA Championships

Willamette's top two finishers in the men's race were thrilled with their individual and combined efforts.

"The race was good," Carlson recalled. "Lots of traffic in the early parts, but once things strung out it was nice to just find a spot, hang on and get the job done."

"I've had a different mindset about how to race this season and it's been paying off," Montague said. "I used it today and that's what really helped get me the results I wanted. For about the last 3k, I was in the chase pack trying to catch up to Keith's group. Coach Marissa Pariseau told me to make a move and commit to it, which I did. So, I broke away from the pack and I started to close the gap on Keith.

"It seemed as though every time I took a step closer, he would respond and maintain the distance between us," Montague continued. "In the long run it definitely helped us both go faster."

For Carlson, it was great to take fourth place and then have Montague cross the finish line next.

"It was great to have Michael so close," Carlson said. "I could 'feel' him behind me for most of the second half of the race. He gained a lot of ground. It definitely motivated me to keep it moving. It was great to finish so close to the front. The training we had prepared us well, and I was thankful to get to represent Willamette at the front of a big race with schools from all over the West."

Montague also appreciated having the chance to finish so close to another Bearcat runner.

"It's such an advantage to be able to race next to your teammate and one of your closest friends," Montague commented. "I know that any move he makes, I will cover, and any move I make, he will cover. It's great to have that bond of knowing we are going to push each other and help each other along in the grueling parts of the race."

Now Carlson and Montague will get to compete together at the NCAA Championships for the second year in a row.

"Going to back-to-back NCAA Championships means a lot because last year's experience is fresh in my mind," Carlson noted. "Nationals is a completely different type of race and atmosphere, and I'm glad I have a good idea of what to expect."

"It means a lot to go back to nationals together," Montague said. "I was in awe last year when I made it because I was just on the cusp of not making it, so finishing fifth this year meant that I knew I was going as soon as I crossed the line. I also knew that Keith was going  because he was one spot ahead of me ... I'm going to do everything I can to make sure he has a fantastic last cross country race as a Bearcat, and I couldn't be happier that I'm right there next to him, pushing him to be his best."

Keith Carlson (Sr., Bainbridge Island, WA/Bainbridge HS)

Big Moment of the Meet for Willamette

Willamette's Keith Carlson placed fourth in the men's
8-kilometer race and was able to immediately see
teammate Michael Montague cross the finish line in fifth
place. Both runners will be competing at the NCAA
Division III Cross Country Championships on Saturday,
Nov. 17 in Winneconne, Wisconsin.