After a low-key non-scoring meet against Seattle University at the end of August and a week-long training camp at Seabrook on the Washington coast, the University of Washington returns to action as they host the annual Sundodger Invitational race at Lincoln Park in West Seattle on Saturday.
Both Washington squads enter the Sundodger meet nationally ranked, with the men's team ranked 27th, and the women's team #14.
In the featured invitational 6k women's race, Washington faces teams from Fresno State, Hawaii, Seattle University, Trinity Western, and Washington State. The men's 8k features Fresno State, Seattle University, Washington State, and Club Northwest.
Defending men's champion Aaron Nelson (above, # 902/photo by Paul Merca) looks to add a second Sundodger title to his resume as he aims to return to Terre Haute in November, where he finished 20th and earned All-America honors.
Among those who could challenge Nelson are teammates Tyler King, the UW/SU Open winner, and Tim Cummings. Washington State's Richard Shroy, Forrest Shaffer, and John Whalan of Washington State could also contend, as could John Ricardi of Club Northwest.
With defending champ Katie Flood out of cross country eligibility, there will be a new champion crowned, with veterans Maddie Meyers, Kaylee Flanagan in the mix along with Washington State's Abby Regan and Ruby Roberts, who went 1-2 at the Clash of the Inland Northwest meet in Spokane on August 30th. Catie Arrigoni, an NCAA qualifier in the steeplechase from Eastern Washington, is entered as an unattached athlete and could be in the hunt assuming she's in the invitational field.
Anna Maxwell, the Huskies' outstanding freshman from California who won the UW/SU Open meet, is on the entry list. Both Amy-Eloise Neale and Katie Knight are missing from the Huskies' entries.
From a competitive standpoint, the women's open features several NCAA Division II and III squads led by GNAC co-pre season favorites Seattle Pacific and Simon Fraser, along with conference member Central Washington and defending NAIA champion University of British Columbia.
The runners to watch include UBC's Maria Bernard, a Canadian internationalist, NCAA D2 All-American Connie Morgan of Central Washington, and her teammate Dani Eggleston; Seattle Pacific's Lynelle Decker and Anna Patti; Annie Wade of Western Oregon, and Emma Chadsey of Simon Fraser. Western Washington's steeplechase All-American Katelyn Steen is entered as an individual, but it's unknown whether or not she'll run in the open or invitational section.
Many of the same teams are entered in the men's open races, but who might be the individual champion is up for grabs. Will Cliff of British Columbia, Rudy Spencer of Central Washington, and unattached runners Nathan McLaughlin and Nathan Wadhwani could be in the mix.
Also on the schedule at the Sundodger are both boys and girls varsity and junior varsity races, with the boy's varsity the feature prep race matching up last year's Washington 4A champ and Nike Cross Nationals winner Gig Harbor against Portland's Central Catholic, who is #7 in Flotrack's national boy's high school rankings so far in this young season.
The meet schedule:
9:00 am - Women's 6000m Open
9:40 am - Men's 8000m Open
10:25 am - High School Girls 5000m Varsity
11:00 am - Women's 6000m Invitational
11:35 am - Men's 8000m Invitational
12:20 pm - High School Boys 5000m Varsity
12:50 pm - High School Girls 5000m Junior Varsity
1:30 pm - High School Boys 5000m Junior Varsity