Friday, October 3, 2008

Huskies at Auburn Invitational; Eastern @ Notre Dame; Gonzaga & WSU @ Montana...

The cross country season gains momentum this weekend as the Husky men and womn travel to Auburn, Alabama to comepte in the Tiger Invitational held at the Indian Pines Golf Course.

The second-ranked Husky women will be faced with an early-season showdown with third-ranked Florida State, who the Huskies leapfrogged in this week's rankings. Also among the fray on the women's side will be No. 27 Iowa, Georgia, Purdue, Clemson, LSU, and the host Auburn Tigers.

The Husky men face a similar group of competitors with No. 21 Auburn heading the pack. The meet will be a homecoming of sorts for Husky head coach Greg Metcalf, who attended graduate school at Auburn and headed the Auburn cross country program from 1996-97 before returning to Washington.

Washington is coming off team titles for both the men and women at the Sundodger Invitational back on Sept. 20. Several key Huskies who did not run in the season-opener are expected to make their debuts this Saturday, including All-American junior Katie Follett, senior Amanda Miller, and freshman Christine Babcock. 2007 Team MVP Jon Harding should also make his season debut for the men.

In addition, the Huskies will be sending teams to compete in the Emerald City Open hosted by Seattle U. at Lower Woodland Park in Seattle. The meet takes the place of the Willamette Invite, previously on the schedule.

The Eastern Washington University cross country teams will split this weekend with five male athletes competing at the Notre Dame Invitational in South Bend, Ind., Friday (Oct. 3). The rest of Eastern’s team will head to the Montana Invitational in Missoula, Mont., Saturday (Oct. 4).

"We're very excited about the opportunity to run at Notre Dame," said head cross country coach Chris Zeller of the 25-team field. "There is a regionally-ranked team from every region on the starting list. We'd love to get some points towards going to the NCAA Championships out of it."

Paul Limpf, Alex Smyth, Bowe Ebding, Kyle King and Tyler Justus will compete in the 8,000-meter race at 2 p.m. in the Blue Division at the Notre Dame Invitational.

The men are currently ranked ninth in the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association for the west. Washington State and Washington are ranked seventh and eighth, respectively.

"Paul and Alex will be up front leading the way, but how our other three runners do will be very important," added Zeller.

The Washington State women's cross country team will travel to Missoula, Montana, Oct. 4, when the Grizzlies host the Montana Invitational at the UM Golf Course. The women's five-kilometer race starts at 10 a.m.

WSU will face off against Montana State, Gonzaga, Eastern Washington, Carroll, MSU-Billings and Rocky Mountain College. The Washington State women will send a team of 12 runners to the event led by junior captain Sara Trané and junior Lisa Egami. Chelsea VanDeBrake and Egami are the two lone returners to the Montana Invitational from the Cougars last visit in 2006.

"I am pretty excited about this weekend," WSU Head Coach Jason Drake said. "We really want to break it down and focus on the individual battles of can our No. 1 beat their No. 1, and can our No. 2 beat their No. 2? We really want to work on breaking it down so that everyone will have someone that they are trying to beat and focus on competing against."

Eastern coach Chris Zeller says about his team, "Stephanie Dye had a big race at Sundodger and looks to repeat that performance. Amber Nickelson is feeling better and should be mixing it up with the front UM and MSU girls. This is always a fun and competitive race so we're looking forward to it."

Seattle University will host the Emerald City Open at Lower Woodland Park Saturday, featuring a number of club and community college teams, plus limited squads from Central Washington, University of Washington, and Seattle Pacific, with the women’s race starting at 10:30 am, and the men’s race starting at 11:15 am.

NOTE: The sports information offices of Eastern Washington, Gonzaga University, Seattle University, University of Washington, and Washington State University all contributed to this report.

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