Thursday, September 22, 2011

Huskies off to Minnesota for Roy Griak Invite; rest of state's teams in Spokane for Anderson Invite...

One week after winning its own Sundodger Invitational, the University of Washington cross country teams travel to Minnesota for Saturday's Roy Griak Invitational at the Les Bolstad Golf Course, just outside of Minneapolis.

The men will run in the invitational 8k Gold race at 10:20 am, pacific time, while the women will run in the invitational 6k Gold race at 11:10 am.

Competition will be especially fierce on the women's side, where eight ranked teams, including the 11th-ranked Huskies, will toe the line. Ranked opposition includes No. 8 Iowa State, No. 10 Arizona, No. 18 Penn State, No. 21 North Carolina State, No. 23 BYU, No. 26 Michigan State, and No. 30 Minnesota. Along with Arizona, the Huskies will also see Pac-12 rivals Arizona State and California. Arizona took the title a year ago.

The men's race also has a large and very competitive field, led by 10th-ranked Portland, 11th-ranked North Carolina State, and No. 24 Minnesota. Arizona, Arizona State, and Cal will give UW an early indication of how they stack up against some Pac-12 rivals, and the Big 12 and Big Ten will be well represented with the likes of Iowa, Iowa State, Penn State, Kansas, Kansas State, and Michigan State.

For the Washington women, they will be led into battle by senior Christine Babcock--the only remaining runner from the 2008 national championship team--along with junior Lindsay Flanagan, and sophomores Justine Johnson and Megan Goethals. The Dawgs will also run true freshman Eleanor Fulton, the team's top finisher at the Sundodger last week.

Sundodger champ Max O'Donoghue-McDonald leads the men along with fellow senior Cameron Quackenbush. Junior Joey Bywater got his season off well with a fifth-place Sundodger finish. Sophomores Taylor Carlson and Michael Miller Jr. will be ready to run, and Gareth Gilna makes his fall debut as well.

The University of Washington release is available here.

Most of the state's other Division I & II schools will head to Spokane for the Erik Anderson Memorial, hosted by Spokane Community College, at the Plantes Ferry Park in the Spokane Valley, the same course which hosted the 2010 USA Cross Country Championships.

For the Division II schools, this race is particularly important, as they will be previewing the NCAA Division II championship course, which will be held on November 19th, and again two years later.

Washington State will run its women's squad, led by sophomore Ruby Roberts (left/photo by Paul Merca) from Kingston, while it will sit out its men's team, with the exception of a few individuals, who will run unattached.

Here is a conversation with Roberts and Justin Englund of the Cougars.

Washington State coach Pete Julian previewed the Anderson Invitational during his weekly press conference:

Eastern Washington, which ran its full squads last week at Sundodger, will run essentially a B women's squad at the Anderson, and sit out its men's team.

Seattle Pacific, Western Washington, St. Martin's, Whitman, and Whitworth will also have squads at the Anderson.

A complete list of teams competing is available here.

Seattle University has the weekend off, as they prepare to host the Emerald City Open next week at Lower Woodland Park in Seattle.

NOTE--The sports information offices of the University of Washington, Washington State University, Eastern Washington University, and the Spokane Sports Commission contributed to this report.

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