|Washington State makes its first appearance at the|
Sundodger Invitational since 2008 (WSU photo)
For the first time in quite a while, all nine Washington NCAA Division I and II schools will run at this Saturday's Sundodger Invitational cross country meet at Lincoln Park, hosted by the University of Washington.
Action gets underway at 9 am with the women's open 6k race, featuring all four Washington NCAA D2 schools--Seattle Pacific, Western Washington, Central Washington, and Saint Martin's, with the Falcons coming off an impressive showing in Alaska last weekend, led by McKayla Fricker, who won both races in Fairbanks.
Western Washington will counter with veteran Katelyn Steen and newcomer Lillianna Stelling, who won last week's Central Washington Apple Ridge Invitational. Lindsey Butterworth from Simon Fraser will also have something to say. Simon Fraser, which is ranked #13 in the USTFCCCA pre-season national poll, along with Seattle Pacific and Western Washington, are the teams to watch in this race, though some post-collegiate teams may have a say (entries were not posted on the host UW web site as of this writing).
Following the women's open, the men's open 8k race takes place, featuring #16 Western Washington, led by senior All American Dak Riek, and Chip Jackson. On paper, the Vikings are the class of the field.
After the high school girls varsity 5k race at 10:25, the women's invitational 6k gets underway featuring the #5 ranked Washington Huskies, along with the other four Washington NCAA D1 schools--Washington State, Gonzaga, SeattleU, and Eastern Washington, with Oregon State and Idaho thrown in the fire as well.
UW coach Greg Metcalf announced on his Facebook page that he will run both All-Americans Katie Flood and Megan Goethals in uniform, along with North Central HS grad Katie Knight in her UW debut, but will hold out his outstanding freshman Amy-Eloise Neale.
For the Cougars of WSU, this meet marks their first appearance at the Sundodger since 2008.
University of British Columbia's Maria Bernard, who ran for Canada at the world cross country championships, along with Idaho's Hannah Kiser from Wenatchee, Washington State's Ruby Roberts, and SeattleU's Hannah Mittlestaedt are among those who could contend for top individual honors. Gonzaga may be the sleeper team to watch after their performance two weeks ago in Spokane, though a fast improving Oregon State squad may have something to say.
At 11:35, the men's 8k invitational toes the line, with the team battle expected to be between the Huskies and Washington State, featuring NCAA cross country championships competitor Todd Wakefield for the Cougs, along with veterans Andrew Gonzales and Lee George. WSU's Drew Jordan is being held out of the meet.
The Dawgs are expected to counter with Tyler King, Aaron Beattie, Aaron Nelson, and Meron Simon on the front line, though freshman Andrew Gardner is projected to wear a UW uniform. Many of the Husky newcomers will run in the race, but compete unattached. Like their women's squad, coach Pat Tyson's Gonzaga Bulldogs is a rapidly improving team and could make some noise.
The boy's high school varsity race goes off at 12:20, followed by the girls' and boys' JV races at 12:50 and 1:30.