|WWU's Taylor Guenther|
(photo courtesy WWU)
In what may be a preview of the GNAC cross country championships in two weeks, many of its member teams will converge upon Lake Padden Park for Saturday’s Western Washington Classic in Bellingham, hosted by the Vikings.
For many of the schools competing, this is an opportunity to see the course that the GNAC championship meet will be contested, but more importantly, Saturday’s showdown in Bellingham will give those teams an idea on where they stand in what is essentially the last meet before the conference championship.
On the men’s side, the field is led by Alaska Anchorage, which is ranked #5 in the most recent USTFCCCA national Division II coaches’ poll. They’ll be joined by #12 Simon Fraser and the host Vikings, who are ranked #18.
The women’s field is led by the Seawolves of Alaska Anchorage, ranked #7 in the country, along with Western Washington, which is ranked #10. The field also includes 2014 NCAA qualifiers Central Washington and their All-American Dani Eggleston, who were ranked nationally early in the season, but fell out of the top 25 after a poor showing at the Sundodger Invitational in Seattle last month.
With the great majority of GNAC schools in the field, the most notable team that will not compete at the Western Washington Classic is Seattle Pacific, whose women’s team moved up two spots in the national rankings to #17 after a third place finish at last weekend’s Charles Bowles Invitational in Salem, Oregon behind only Portland State and the University of Portland.
With the chances to do some damage in the championship part of the season, SPU head coach Karl Lerum is opting for quality over quantity. He has pulled the Falcons out of appearances at the Western Washington Invitational on Saturday and at the Emerald City Classic on October 17. The team will not race again until the GNAC Championships.