WOU lands NCAA West Regionals

Polk County Itemizer-Observer

MONMOUTH — The NCAA awarded the 2015 and 2017 Division II women’s and men’s cross-country West Regional Championships to Western Oregon University and the cities of Monmouth and Independence.

The decision was announced last week on a live video stream on NCAA.com.

Western’s Ash Creek Preserve Course is one of a handful of university courses that is entirely on campus.

The course has to meet all the same criteria as the ones used for national championships, said Mike Johnson, WOU cross-country head coach. One of those is a wide starting line.

“When it comes to meet time, you need to have a start line that’s capable of holding over 200 people,” Johnson said. “It has to be at least 80 meters long. That’s a big, wide start line.”

To get an idea of size, he compared it to a football field.

“That’s 90 yards,” he said.

Johnson said the course cannot be narrower than 10 meters.

“It’s as wide as an outdoor track at its narrowest point,” he said. Some spots on the course will need to be cleaned up and trimmed before the Nov. 7, 2015, meet.

The only thing the area doesn’t have enough of is hotel space, Johnson said

“We’ll use Salem or Corvallis for visiting teams,” he said. “We’ll have meet headquarters on campus.”

People tend to start arriving on Thursday or Friday before the Saturday meet, and WOU will host invitationals before the regional competitions, Johnson said.

Independence City Manager David Clyne said he hopes to help with the hotel situation by attracting a signature hotel to the city. He listed it as one of his many New Year’s resolutions for next year.

The regional competitions will attract 32 teams from 11 states and one Canadian providence, a combined 400 competitors and coaches, plus family and fans.

Monmouth City Manager Scott McClure said he is excited about the regional championships being held in the area.

“Having that many people in town will be great for business,” he said. “I know that WOU, the cities and our business associations will work very hard to lay out the welcome mat.”

Both cities are already experienced at hosting large groups of athletes, McClure said, through events such as Cycle Oregon.

“We continue to hone our efforts to welcome visitors,” he said.

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