HILLSBORO, Ore. -- For the third consecutive sports season, a Lewis & Clark Pioneers' student-athlete has been named Northwest Conference Freshman of the Year after Madeline Swanberg earned the honor following last Saturday's NWC Championships in Lakewood, Wash.
Sean Richardson and Miguel Haro Ruiz joined Swanberg as All-NWC selections, the conference office released on Tuesday. Richardson placed second overall in the men's race, and Haro Ruiz took ninth. Both racers set new personal records.
Swanberg was one of three freshmen to finish in the top seven of the conference meet. She's been the Pioneers top finisher consistently throughout the season and has four top-10 finishes in her first year. She set her top 6K time of the season at the PLU Invitational on Sept. 21 with a mark of 22:57.60, the fourth-fastest time by a freshman in school history.
"It's been really fun," Swanberg said. "There's been a lot of changes with running and school, but it's been a fun and exciting adventure. I'm super proud of how everyone is improving and working together. Over this season, we've seen all of us coming together as teammates."
Richardson was an All-West Region and All-NWC First-Team selection as a junior and, this year as a senior, has had his best season to date. He has placed in the top four in each of his last three races and was 1.9 seconds from the NWC title at the conference meet. He ran a personal best 24:37.4, which is the fourth-quickest time in school history and seven seconds off the all-time record.
"All season long, I've been running against Colin [Monaghan] from Puget Sound, who has been 14-15 seconds ahead of me every race," Richardson said. "This race, I decided I'd give it a shot. I knew I was pushing him, and we were neck-and-neck until about 20 meters to go. In the end he got me, but it was cool to be competing with him."
Similarly, Haro Ruiz has had his best cross country season this year. His 25:59.0 time at the NWC Championships is his all-time best by 10 seconds. He has improved in each of his last two races.
"Miguel is a great athlete, and he's really talented in track and field, but this year, he stepped up to train for a five-mile distance and has worked really hard," Richardson said of his only senior teammate. "He broke 26 minutes for the first time and that's a great accomplishment.
"Madeine looked really comfortable throughout the race and stayed up with the chase pack, and in the end, she managed to outkick a few people. To be all-conference as a freshman is amazing."
The Pioneers will send their full squads to the NCAA Division III West Regional on Nov. 16 at Pomona-Pitzer.
Going back to the winter sports season of 2018-19, Lewis & Clark now has four NWC Freshman of the Year: Swanberg (women's cross country), Kamryn Ford (women's golf), Rachael Rice (women's tennis) and Delsie Johnson (women's basketball).