Friday, September 21, 2012

Gonzaga, WSU & most of the state's D2 schools in harrier action Saturday...

Most of the state's Division I and II teams are back in action Saturday, as Gonzaga, Washington State, and Central Washington compete in the Erik Anderson Memorial Invitational at Plantes Ferry Park in the Spokane Valley, while Western Washington, Seattle Pacific, and Central will run in the Saint Martin's Invitational in Lacey, hosted by Saint Martin's University.

The Cougars (left/photo courtesy Washington State University) will run a small group of women Saturday, and will sit out their #28 ranked men's squad as they prepare for next Friday's Notre Dame Invitational in South Bend, Indiana.

Courtesy of Washington State, here's Cougar cross country coach Tim Riley's assessment of last week's WCC Preview meet in Portland, as well as his thoughts on Saturday's meet in Spokane Valley.

Gonzaga, which is coming off a strong performance at last week's WCC Preview meet in Portland, will not run their top ten runners on both sides, as they will be running in next week's Bill Dellinger Invitational in Springfield, Oregon.

Though they saw each other in last week's Sundodger Invitational in Seattle, both nationally ranked Western Washington and Seattle Pacific squads will face off at Saturday's Saint Martin's Invitational, as they run against conference rivals Central Washington, Alaska Fairbanks, and the host Saints. 

Western's men's squad comes in at #10 in the USTFCCCA national poll, while SPU is #29. In the national women's poll, Western Washington is ranked #15, dropping two spots from the pre season poll, while Seattle Pacific moves up 12 spots from their pre-season ranking of #30 to #18.

Even though she is bringing just a small group to Saint Martin's, coach Erika Daligcon isn't bringing small expectations. “I think we can do some pretty good things,” she said. “After Willamette (next weekend's Charles Bowles Invite), we'll be packed up until conference. It will be fun to see what this group can do.”

The Falcons also announced that former All-American Jane Larson will serve as an assistant coach to the team. Larson was part of SPU's string of three consecutive NCAA trophies from 2007 (second place), 2008 (fourth) and 2009 (fourth). She was an All-American as a sophomore in 2007 (ninth place at nationals) and again as a junior in 2008 (12th place).


On the pro circuit, Washington State hall of famer Bernard Lagat ends 2012 where he started, as the 37-year old veteran competes in the Fifth Avenue Mile on the streets of New York City.

Lagat, who finished fourth in the Olympic 5000 meter finals in London, began the 2012 season back in January with a mile race at fabled Madison Square Garden.

In the pro races, 15 men and 13 women will vie for $60,000 in prize money, with the top man and woman each taking home $5,000.

Lagat, the defending champion, goes against fellow US Olympians Leo Manzano, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist at 1500 meters; and Matthew Centrowitz, the 2011 IAAF World Championships bronze medalist at 1500 meters.

Also in the field is Auburn/Riverside alum Jordan McNamara, who was third in last week's Great NorthCity Games mile race in Newcastle/Gateshead, UK, which Lagat won.

In the lead-up to Saturday's Fifth Avenue Mile, Lagat talked to the Wall Street Journal about his plans for the next five weeks until November 1st, as well as to Joe Battaglia about next season and beyond. 

The field for Saturday's Fifth Avenue Mile is listed here. 

NOTE: The sports information offices of Washington State University, Seattle Pacific, and St. Martin's University, along with the New York Road Runners, contributed to this report.

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