Friday, September 2, 2011

While we're here in Daegu, the 2011 collegiate cross country season's under way...

While the focus for this web site has been on the happenings of the IAAF World Track & Field Championships here in Daegu, for many of the area's colleges, this weekend marks the opening of the 2011 cross country season.

Seattle Pacific opened on Thursday with the Alaska Nanook Invitational Long Course meet in Fairbanks, winning the men's team competition with a low score of 27 points over Montana State-Billings and host Alaska Fairbanks, led by Jacob Wahlenmaier's (left/photo courtesy Seattle Pacific University) second place finish in 26:37 over an 8k distance.

In the women's 6k, Falcon senior Natty Plunkett won her second straight Nanook Invitational title, running 22:59, as the Falcons finished second with 42 points behind Alaska Fairbanks (33), but ahead of Montana State Billings (51).

Saturday, the Falcons race the same two teams again on the 4k short course distance at 11 am pacific time.

The Seattle Pacific release is available here.

In Seattle, the Washington Huskies, ranked #11 in the pre season USTFCCCA women's national poll run a low-key open meet Friday against cross town rival SeattleU at Magnuson Park.

But in order to comply with schedule restrictions and be able to head to the team's annual fall camp next week, Washington still needed an official race at the start of September. Low-key will be the reality of Friday's run and the results should not be expected to provide any real insight on the season to come.

"Generally we would go to Magnuson Park and do a tempo run, so we decided to have a meet there and bring in Seattle U. so those are the reasons for it," says Metcalf. "We'll put five people in uniform and make sure that it counts, but other than that it's just to cross a box off our schedule, and we'll really debut at the Sundodger Invitational on September 17."

Across town, SeattleU just returned from its preseason camp as they get ready to race the Huskies.

Redhawk coach Trisha Steidl is pleased that her team will maintain a normal routine for the first month, as they are in town for the meet against the Dawgs, along with the Sundodger Invite in two weeks at Lincoln Park, and their own Emerald City Open on October 1st at Lower Woodland.

"The team is going to be all together for the first three races, which we have never done in the past, so I think that will help bring in this huge group of freshmen that we have. When we get that bonding, it won't be just for team cohesiveness, but it will also put the team in a competitive atmosphere. We'll take advantage of getting good recovery after these races because we're not going to be traveling," she said.

The UW's release is here, while SeattleU's release is here.

Across the state, Washington State, Eastern Washington, Gonzaga, and Idaho will race in the Clash of the Inland Northwest meet on Saturday at Mead HS in Spokane over a 6200 meter course for men, and a 4200m women's course.

"Idaho will definitely be a challenge to us... probably more of a challenge than we would welcome at this time of the year. They have a really strong women's team. Their women were WAC champions last year. And they have more or less everyone back. So I think that will be a good test for our women to see if we can run with them. I'm kind of curious to see where we are, just because they are more of an experienced team," said Cougar coach Pete Julian

"On the men's side, Idaho has two really strong men up front, whereas we have maybe ten strong men - but maybe not the two front-type runners. I think for us to win on the men's side will be quite a challenge."

Julian's Eagle counterpart Chris Zeller, who has a large group of freshmen on his squad, said, "I’m excited to see the freshman compete,” he said. “More than anything they need to just get out there for some college racing experience. Once they have that, there is less anxiety, they have a better feel for a collegiate race and they get some of the kinks worked out.”

In Spokane, Gonzaga coach Pat Tyson took a different approach with his team in preparation for the season ahead, especially with his pre-season training camp.

"Camp was a little more select. We decided to have an invitation only camp - 18 men and 18 women - and our goal was to indoctrinate them with getting away from just being satisfied, just being here at Gonzaga," Tyson said on the eve of the season opener. "Our goal was to create an accountability of high expectations. One of those is the no bar scene, another was adequate rest which can be a challenge when you are multi-tasking high academics and the last one was a disciplined summer, what are you doing during the summer, what are you doing to build a strong base. Those are the things we need to do as a foundation, then let's go and chase some dreams. We focused on acing the classroom and being the best runner you can be."

Washington State's release is here; Eastern Washington's release is here; and, Gonzaga's release is here.

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

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