Monday, September 15, 2008

Cross country preview: SEATTLE PACIFIC UNIVERSITY's cross country series previewing this state's top college and university cross country teams continues, as we stay in Seattle.

Today's cross country preview features the Seattle Pacific University Falcons, coached by Erica Daligcon, the first year head coach who was promoted to replace long time Northwest coaching and running legend Doris Heritage.

Daligcon's Falcons are ranked #2 in the NCAA Division II women's team rankings, thanks to a strong showing at the St. Martin's Invitational a week ago. The Falcons will get a severe test this Saturday at the Sundodger Invitational in West Seattle, featuring all five of Washington's Division I teams.

The 2008 season marks the beginning of the Erika Daligcon era, as the former SPU runner takes over the helm of the Falcons from Northwest running and coaching legend Doris Brown Heritage.

The women’s team enters 2008 with a very large target on their backs, as the defending Great Northwest Athletic Conference champs and NCAA Division II runners-up enter the season ranked #2 in the USTFCCCA pre-season polls behind defending champion Adams State.

Heritage didn’t leave the Falcons’ cupboard bare, returning junior NCAA D-II harrier champ Jessica Pixler, and junior Jane Larson, the 2007 GNAC runner-up, and an All-American in the steeplechase. Senior Suzie Strickler, junior Kate Harline and junior Lisa Anderberg are back after finishing fourth, 10th and 16th, respectively, in last year’s conference race.

In contrast, depth may pose a problem for the Falcons’ men’s squad as they are relying on a bevy of young runners. However, the Falcons return their top runner from 2007, Chad Meis from Renton, and Brian Cronrath, who according to their web site, returns after being red-shirted last season.

The Falcons have added three freshmen seeing significant action so far this season, in the form of Daniel Hamilton (Missoula, MT., Sentinel HS) , Andrew Hamilton (Seattle, WA., Ballard HS) & Tom McKay (Oakland, OR., Oakland HS).

Seattle Pacific finished fourth in the Apple Ridge Invitational in Yakima on Saturday, and their women's squad, which was missing several of their front-line athletes, took third.

NOTE: The sports information office at Seattle Pacific University contributed to this report.

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