For the nationally ranked Washington State men's and Washington women's cross country squads, this weekend's meets marks the first major test for their squads as they eye a return to the national championships in Louisville in November.
Washington State, led by Andrew Kimpel (left/photo by Paul Merca), heads to South Bend, Indiana for Friday's Notre Dame Invitational against 10 nationally-ranked and 19 regionally-ranked teams in the five-mile Blue race.
The Notre Dame meet was the jumping off point for Wazzu's run to the national championships, as they came away with a surprising fifth place finish in South Bend last year.
The Cougar men have only raced once this season, at the Clash of the Inland Northwest 6k, which Kimpel won in 18:25, though he competed unattached.
Washington State's women, led by Caroline Austin, will also race at Notre Dame, where the Cougs look to improve on their 17th place finish last year.
Courtesy of WSU Athletics, Cougar coach Tim Riley talks about the Notre Dame meet:
Meanwhile, the #1 ranked Washington women will face their first major test of the season at the Greater Louisville Classic 5k against #8 Vanderbilt, #10 Arkansas, #12 Arizona, #14 Michigan State, #17 Penn State & #29 Wisconsin.
Reigning Pac-12 champ Katie Flood will make her season debut Saturday, as will veterans Lindsay Flanagan, Justine Johnson & Liberty Miller. UW coach Greg Metcalf is holding out All-American Megan Goethals, who has not raced so far this season, according to the UW release.
The Washington men head to Springfield, Oregon for Saturday morning's Bill Dellinger Invitational, hosted by the University of Oregon, where they'll see two nationally ranked teams in #3 BYU and #23 Oregon, along with Gonzaga and SeattleU.
Gonzaga's women's team, which could make waves in the West Coast Conference meet at the end of October, is also entered in the Dellinger meet, as well as SeattleU.
Eastern Washington's men's and women's teams heads east to Missoula, Montana for Friday's Montana Invitational.
The women kick off the meet with the 5,000 starting at 5:15 p.m. with the men to follow in the 8,000 at 5:45 p.m. (MST). For Eastern, both the men’s and women’s teams finished fourth at the same meet last year with the men scoring 90 points and the women finishing with 103.
NOTE: The sports information offices of Washington State, University of Washington, and Eastern Washington contributed to this report.