Washington's five NCAA Division I schools begin the road to Terre Haute this weekend as they head out compete at their conference cross country championship meets.
The University of Washington and Washington State University travel to Louisville, Colorado for the Pac-12 championship meet, hosted by the University of Colorado. The men's 8k race is scheduled for 9:40 am, PST, and the women's 6k is slated for 10:40 am.
While the majority of runners in the field may have done some altitude training at various points, there is a real possibility that racing at a mile-high distance could be troublesome to those not accustomed to it.
On the women's side, USTFCCCA #1 ranked Arizona looks like the clear favorite to win the team title, with Oregon, Stanford, Colorado, Stanford, and Arizona State looking to unseat the nation's number one team, after they convincingly won the Wisconsin adidas meet two weeks ago.
The Huskies will be led by 2011 conference champ Katie Flood (left/photo by Mike Scott), who showed flashes this season of retaining the form that made her one of the country's top collegiate runners.
Washington State will have Ruby Roberts leading the pack, along with Courtney Zalud.
USTFCCCA #1 ranked Colorado looks to defend their conference title at home, and make it a three-peat as Pac-12 champs. The Buffaloes are coming off a win at the Pre-Nationals meet in Terre Haute, led by Blake Theroux and Morgan Pearson.
#4Oregon, #13 Stanford, and the fast-rising #25 Washington Huskies are the teams with the best shot of unseating Colorado as Pac-12 champs.
Washington's Aaron Nelson has had a breakout season, after winning at Sundodger and the Dellinger Invitationals, and placing fourth at Wisconsin. He looks to lead a Husky squad that's nationally ranked for the first time since 2009, when they last made the NCAA championship meet.
It may be a battle for the Cougs to get out of the conference basement in this year's meet. They will, however, have 2012 NCAA cross country championship competitor Todd Wakefield leading the squad, though he's had an inconsistent season so far.
The Pac-12 championship meet will be televised on a delayed basis on the Pac-12 Networks on a delayed basis with the first airing on Monday, November 4 at 6:30pm.
Eastern Washington heads back to Bozeman, Montana for Saturday's Big Sky Conference meet at the Bridger Creek Golf Course, hosted by Montana State.
“This is a really exciting week we look forward to each year,” said head coach Chris Zeller, “It will be a real opportunity to see who can step up and push through.”
In last year's meet, the Eagles finished ninth in the men's race, and the women were 11th.
The women's 5k race begins at 9 am, and the men's 8k starts at 10 am.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs head to California to run in the West Coast Conference meet in Malibu at Alumni Park, hosted by Pepperdine University.
On the men's side, the Bulldogs will be heavy underdogs, as they face two of the country's top teams in BYU and defending conference champion Portland.
The women face nationally ranked San Francisco, the conference's four-time defending champion.
The men's 8k race gets underway at 9 am, with the women racing at 10 am.
The WCC meet will be webcast live via YouTube and TheW.tv.
Seattle University will host the Western Athletic Conference meet Saturday at Jefferson Park Golf Course on Beacon Hill, the same venue that hosted the Pac-10, USATF Club Cross Country, and NCAA West Regional championships.
According to Redhawk coach Trisha Steidl, “To be able to bring everyone over here to host this event, and to be the first team to host a WAC championship contest, is important to us. We want it to be great for the other schools, our campus community, and other supporters. Rain or shine, it will be an incredible meet, and it is a spectator-friendly course.”
In the conference pre-championship coaches' poll, SeattleU was picked to finish second in the men’s competition and third in the women’s event. Steidl believes that both teams are ready to go and will be competitive as long as they run like they are capable of.
The men's 8k race gets things started at 9am, with the women's 5k to follow at 10am.
Finally, the four Washington NCAA Division III schools--Pacific Lutheran, Puget Sound, Whitman, and Whitworth, compete in Spokane at the Northwest Conference championship meet at the Downriver Golf Course, with the women's 6k underway at 11am, and the men's 8k at noon.