All five of Washington’s Division I schools are in action Friday and Saturday as the meat of the collegiate cross country season begins ramping up.
The 24th ranked Washington State Cougars, led by Michael Williams (left/photo by Paul Merca) heads to South Bend, Indiana for Friday’s Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational Blue Race at 11:45 am pacific time (2;45 eastern time), where they will try to pick up valuable points for NCAA championship meet consideration.
WSU will face a 28-team field that includes five nationally ranked teams that include, Eastern Kentucky (9), Mississippi (20), NC State (23), UTEP (18), and Wisconsin (12).
Besides Williams, the Cougs will run John Whelan, who competed unattached two weeks ago at the Sundodger Invitational in Seattle; Justin Janke; Sam Levora; Paul Ryan; Nathan Tadesse; Chandler Teigen, and Nathan Wadhwani.
Courtesy of WSU Athletics, here's WSU coach Wayne Phipps's press conference previewing the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational and the Washington Invite:
Both the Gonzaga men’s and women’s squads head to Missoula, Montana for Friday’ morning’s (9:30 am) Montana Invitational, where they will face host Montana and Montana State, plus a host of smaller schools and unattached runners.
Saturday, the University of Washington hosts the Washington Invitational at Jefferson Park Golf Course starting at 11 am with the women’s 6k race featuring #4 Oregon, with 2015 Gatorade national cross country runner of the year Katie Rainsberger, and the #12 Huskies.
Also in the field are Eastern Washington, with 2015 NCAA qualifier Sarah Reiter from Renton leading the charge for the Eagles; SeattleU; and teams from Colorado State, Grand Canyon, Harvard, and Idaho.
The men’s 8k, which starts at 11:45, features #3 Oregon, where reigning NCAA champion Edward Cheserek is expected to make his season debut.
Also in the field are Eastern Washington, SeattleU and the rest of the WSU men’s team not competing at Notre Dame, along with #29 Colorado State, Grand Canyon, and Idaho.
DIVISION II RANKINGS SHIFT SLIGHTLY
Western Washington’s trip to Minnesota for the Roy Griak Invitational, where they finished sixth in the women’s D2 race, and fifth in the men’s D2 race, dropped the Vikings in the national USTFCCCA rankings, which were released Wednesday.
The women’s team dropped from #8 nationally to #16, while the men’s team experienced a similar drop, falling to #21 from #14.
Seattle Pacific, which won the Saint Martin’s Open last week, dropped one spot in the national women’s poll to #19.
The top five women’s teams, according to the national poll are Grand Valley State, Adams State, Chico State, U-Mary, and Western State.
The Vikings and Falcons are the only two women’s squads from the GNAC ranked in the national top 25.
On the men’s side, the top five teams are Colorado Mines, Grand Valley State, Adams State, Chico State, and Cal Poly Pomona.
The only other men’s team from the GNAC besides Western Washington that is nationally ranked is defending conference champion Alaska Anchorage at #9.
This weekend, Central Washington and Saint Martin’s are the only two schools in Division II competing, as both schools will send athletes to Salem, Oregon for the Willamette Invitational.
NOTE: The USTFCCCA, University of Washington, Washington State University & University of Notre Dame contributed to this report.