Thursday, August 31, 2017

All five Washington D1 schools in action Friday in cross country season openers...

All five of Washington’s Division I schools will be in action on Friday at various meets around the Northwest as the 2017 collegiate cross country season opens.

In Seattle, the University of Washington will host the annual non-scoring meet against Seattle University at Warren G. Magnuson Park in the Sand Point neighborhood, just a few miles north of the UW campus, with the women starting at 4 pm, and the men going 30 minutes later.

The women will run two 1.5 mile loops (3 miles total) of a moderately flat course, with the only significant hill the famed Kite Hill about 800 meters into the loop, while the men run three loops (4.5 miles total). The course starts and finishes next to the swim beach on the east end of the park.

The Huskies, who assembled on campus on Monday, will run most of their upperclassmen in uniform, while their underclassmen, including prize freshman Shona McCullough (left/photo by Paul Merca), who won the Brooks PR meet in the two mile in 2016, and represented Canada at the IAAF world cross country championships this spring in the under-20 race, will compete unattached.

The Redhawks will counter with senior Johanna Erickson, their top returning finisher in last year’s WAC championships (she was 7th), and junior Olivia Stein, who was tenth in the WAC last fall.

On the men’s side, Washington’s Colby Gilbert leads the charge along with Andrew Gardner, and redshirt freshman Gavin Parpart, who represented the USA at the IAAF world cross country championships this spring in the under-20 race.

Most of their incoming freshman class will run unattached. The most significant runner running without a UW jersey Friday is 2016 NCAA competitor Fred Huxham.

The Redhawks will be led by Eli Boudouris, who was 11th at last year’s WAC championships at Jefferson Park, which SeattleU hosted.

Friday’s meet marks the debut of SeattleU head coach Kelly Sullivan, the former Oregon State mentor who replaced Trisha Steidl, and faces the challenge of energizing a program that had not qualified a single athlete in cross country, indoor, or outdoor track for the NCAA championships in the five years that it’s been a Division I school.

Adding some spice to the meet is a dual meet between Seattle Pacific and NAIA Northwest University of Kirkland, with the women’s race starting at 5, and the men’s race at 5:30.

The Falcon women will be led by senior Mary Charleson, an NCAA qualifier indoors and outdoors, while Northwest is led by NAIA cross country nationals qualifier Sarah Estabrook.

On the men’s side, Kyle Cole, who was 28th at the Cascade Conference championship meet, leads the Eagles, while senior Ben Halladay leads the Falcons.

In Missoula, Montana, both Gonzaga and Eastern Washington open their season at the Clash of the Inland Northwest meet at the University of Montana Golf course.

The women get things underway at 5 pm local time, with a 4k race, while the men go 45 minutes later over a 6 k course. The women will run two loops of 2k, while the men will traverse the course three times.

Besides host Montana, Gonzaga and Eastern Washington will be joined in the race by Idaho, Lewis-Clark State, and Whitworth.

In Colfax, Washington State opens with a low key meet with their alumni runners, with the men getting things going with a 6k race at 5 pm, and the women running 4k at 5:30 pm.

The Cougs will race on the Colfax Golf Course, which hosted the Pac-12 championships two years ago, and will host the 2019 NCAA West regionals.

ALLEN SET FOR DIAMOND LEAGUE FINALS IN BRUSSELS

Former Puget Sound resident Devon Allen will run in the men’s 110 hurdles Friday at the Ivo Van Damme Memorial meeting in Brussels, Belgium. 

The Van Damme Meeting is the final stop of the 14-city IAAF Diamond League tour that began in May in Doha, Qatar.

Entering the Van Damme meet, Allen finds himself in seventh place in the event with 11 points. Former world champion Sergey Shubenkov, who finished second at the recent London world championships, is the series leader with 29 points accumulated over six qualifying meets during the Diamond League circuit.

While Allen’s chances for a series top 3 finish are almost nil, a strong race could propel him to a possible fourth place series finish, as four athletes are within five points of Great Britain’s Andrew Pozzi’s 15 points. Pozzi is not in the field for this race.

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