Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cougars off to Griak Invite in Minnesota; Falcons to run at Stanford Invite...

The Washington State University cross country teams travel to Minneapolis, Minnesota, Saturday, September 26, for the Golden Gophers' Roy Griak Invitational at the University of Minnesota's golf course.

The Cougar men will compete against top teams, including No. 17 Minnesota, No. 25 Iowa State, Missouri, Duke, and Michigan State. The WSU women's team will be racing against No. 8 Minnesota, No. 28 Iowa State, Connecticut, and Oklahoma along with other top teams.

"As a team, and that's really what we are focusing on, we have been working quite hard and I expect the men to do quite well," WSU Coach Pete Julian said. "We may surprise a few people and I'd like to believe of the 30 teams we could potentially be in the top five. We may even do better than that. This is a very competitive invitational. We are not running Dominic (Smargiassi) and Peter (Miller), who are two of our top five, but we are deep and I'm trying to give other guys the opportunity to compete. Sam Ahlbeck (above/photo by Paul Merca) is not only our team captain but is running quite strong. Marl Moeller, David Hickerson and Andrew Kimpel are all capable of breaking into the top 10.

The women's team is not at full health right now although we are coming close and by Pac-10s we should be where we need to be as far as full health. But it is a tough group of women I expect the women's team to do quite well at Griak. Individually Lisa (Egami) and Chelsea (VanDeBrake) have been running quite well and I think they can run with anyone at this meet."

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The Cougars will send a group of redshirts and unattached runners to Spokane Valley for the Runner's Soul/Erik Anderson Invitational at the Plantes Ferry Complex Saturday. Gonzaga is expected to enter a full squad at that meet as well.

Meanwhile, Seattle Pacific will send a select group of women to Palo Alto for the annual Stanford Invitational, including reigning NCAA D2 champion Jessica Pixler and All-American Jane Larson.

The rest of the Falcon squad will run at the Pete Steilberg Cross Country Classic in Olympia, hosted by The Evergreen State College.

NOTE: The sports information offices of Washington State University, Seattle Pacific, Gonzaga & Evergreen State College all contributed to this report.

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