Thursday, October 30, 2008

Eastern Washington heads to Portland for Big Sky Conference meet; Gonzaga to WCC meet...

Almost lost in the shuffle of Friday's titanic Pac-10 meet in Springfield is the Big Sky Conference championships in Portland on Saturday, where the Eastern Washington Eagles will travel.

The women will begin at 10 a.m. Pacific time on a 5,000-meter course while the men will start its 8,000-meter race at 11 a.m. The top 10 individual finishers in both races will earn All-Big Sky Conference Honors. Last year, the women finished a best-ever fourth place while the men finished seventh.

However, Eastern’s men are hoping for its best-ever finish, having placed fourth in 2005. Led by the one-two punch of senior Paul Limpf (left/courtesy EWU sports information) and sophomore Alex Smyth, head cross country coach Chris Zeller thinks this is the best Eastern men’s team since the Eagles joined the Big Sky Conference in 1987.

"If we all run what we're capable of, this should be the best team finish since EWU joined NCAA Division I," said Zeller. "We're excited to test ourselves against our Conference competition."

The men are currently ranked ninth in the west in the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Regional Rankings. Washington State and Washington are ranked seventh and eighth, respectively. In the mountain region, Big Sky member Northern Arizona University is currently first, with Montana and Montana State ranked 13th and 14th, respectively.

"Our women's team is really young, but there are definitely some teams we expect to be competitive with," said Zeller. " It will also be a great experience for our freshmen for down the road. This is Amber Nickelson's last championship in cross country, so she'll be looking to go out on top with all-conference honors.

"The race is at Blue Lake Park, which is flat and mostly all grass," added Zeller. "The forecast is for rain on Friday and Saturday. If it's dry it will be a real fast course. A wet course will slow it down considerably and make it more of a strength course."

Here's a link to a story on Paul Limpf, courtesy of the Eastern Washington athletic web site...

To read EWU's weekly press release on the Big Sky meet, click here...

Meanwhile, the Gonzaga Bulldogs will travel to Crystal Springs, California to compete in the West Coast Conference championship meet, led by senior Colby Litzenberger and junior Brett Withers on the men's side, and soph Laura Volcheff on the women's side.

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