Thursday, October 9, 2014

THE WEEKEND AHEAD: WWU Viking Classic the top meet to watch this weekend...

Dani Eggleston of Central Washington was named the
GNAC Athlete of the Week for her efforts at the
Willamette Charles Bowles Invite (CWU Athletics photo)
All four of Washington's NCAA Division II schools--Western Washington, Seattle Pacific, Central Washington, and Saint Martin's are in action this Saturday.

With the GNAC Championship meet just three weeks away, the Falcons and the Wildcats will send their squads to Bellingham Saturday to compete in the 41st Viking Cross Country Classic at Lake Padden Park, hosted by Western Washington.

In the current USTFCCCA Division II poll, Alaska Anchorage (#7) and Western Washington (#25) are the two nationally ranked men's teams that are competing in Bellingham, while on the women's side, Simon Fraser (#8), and Western Washington (#23) are the two ranked teams racing.

In the women's 6k race, scheduled for 11 am, both Seattle Pacific and Central Washington will have an opportunity to prove that they can compete with Simon Fraser and Western Washington, who so far this season, have shown that they're the class of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.

Central Washington has so far been one of the pleasant surprises this season, especially after their fourth place finish at the Sundodger Invitational in Seattle last month, despite a bad race by All-American Connie Morgan.

Dani Eggleston, a junior from Longview,  has been the Wildcats' top runner so far this season, winning the season-opening CWU Invite, finishing in the top five at Sundodger, and taking second at the Willamette Charles Bowles Invitational.  Eggleston was named GNAC female athlete of the week for her efforts at Willamette last week.

The host team's top runner, Katelyn Steen, will be one of the favorites in the women's race.  The All-American steeplechaser won the Saint Martin's Invitational two weeks ago, and placed eighth in the invitational section of the Sundodger, running against Division I competition.

In the opening men's 10k at 10 am,  it will be a battle between old rivals Western Washington and Alaska Anchorage, as both teams have been the dominant squads in the GNAC.  Their dominance in the conference is stated by the fact that since 2008, one team has won the league title with the other finishing second.

Saint Martin's will travel to Newberg, Oregon to compete in the George Fox Invitational on Saturday.

NOTE:  The Great Northwest Athletic Conference, and the sports information offices of Seattle Pacific, Central Washington, and Western Washington University contributed to this report.

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