For those squads hoping to qualify for the NCAA championships in Terre Haute, Indiana next month, a strong showing is needed at one of the two big invitationals this weekend, and the squads from Washington, Washington State, and Gonzaga are traveling east to test their chops against the best teams in the country.
Friday, the Huskies and the Cougars head to Madison, Wisconsin for the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational hosted by the University of Wisconsin.
The Husky men’s team, ranked #23 in the current USTFCCCA national poll, and the Cougars, who are sitting outside the national top 30, will face the nation’s top three teams in #1 Northern Arizona, #2 Syracuse, and #3 BYU, as they race over 8k. All-American Colby Gilbert (left/photo by Paul Merca) leads the Huskies into battle in Madison.
Additionally, #7 Portland, and #8 Iona are in the field of 30+ teams as they jockey for points that will help those squads qualify as at-large selections for the national championships, especially in regions like the West with a host of nationally-ranked teams.
Meanwhile, Washington’s women’s squad, ranked #4 in the USTFCCCA poll, goes up against a field that includes #1 Providence, #3 NC State, #6 Michigan State, #10 Boise State with Gig Harbor’s Brenna Peloquin, the #11 ranked defending national champions from New Mexico, plus several other teams in the national top-30. as they run 6k.
The Huskies will run Washington Invitational champ Charlotte Prouse, along with Katie Knight, Amy-Eloise Neale, Anna Maxwell, Kaitlyn Neal, Kaylee Flanagan, and Nikki Zielinski.
The WSU women will race in the B section of the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational, which kicks off the four races in Madison at 9 am, pacific time.
The Huskies will also run five women in the B section—Izzi Batt-Doyle, Joey Bosserman, Grace Hodge, Emily Hamlin, and Katherine Penner, as UW coach Greg Metcalf evaluates the athletes looking to make the travel squad for the Pac-12 championships in two weeks in Tucson, Arizona.
The championship races will conclude the meet, beginning with the women's six-kilometer at 10:30 a.m. Pacific and ending with the men's eight-kilometer at 11:20 a.m.
Media partner Flotrack will provide a live stream of the races for those with a Flotrack Pro subscription.
The following day, defending WCC women’s champs Gonzaga heads to Terre Haute, Indiana for the other major invitational, the adidas Pre-Nationals, hosted by Indiana State University at the site of this year’s NCAA Championship meet.
The Zags will be led on the women’s side by Jordan Thurston and Max Kaderabek on the men’s team. They were the top runners on the team at its last meet two weeks ago in Missoula, Montana at the Montana Invitational.
The men’s 8k gets underway at 8:35 am pacific, and the women’s 6k at 9:15 am. Flotrack will provide a live stream of the races for those with a Flotrack Pro subscription.
Eastern Washington will stay close to home and compete at the Inland Empire Classic in Lewiston, Idaho, hosted by Lewis-Clark State. They’ll face Washington State, Gonzaga, Montana, Idaho State, plus a number of smaller schools.
The Inland Empire Classic starts at 11 am with the women’s 5k, while the men’s 8k goes off at 11:45 am.
SeattleU hosts the Emerald City Open Saturday at Lower Woodland Park starting at 10 am, featuring local schools, plus club and unattached runners.
NOTE: The sports information offices of the University of Washington, Washington State, Gonzaga, Wisconsin, Lewis-Clark State, and Indiana State contributed to this report.