Friday, October 7, 2011

Western Washington prepares to host WWU Invitational cross country meet...

BELLINGHAM--The nationally ranked Western Washington University men's and women's cross country teams complete the regular season in their only home appearance Saturday at the 38th annual Viking Invitational at Lake Padden Park.

The women's 6-kilometer race begins at 10 a.m., followed by the men's 10-kilometer run at 11 a.m.

The 11-team field is composed of Alaska Anchorage, British Columbia, Central Washington, Club Northwest, Eastside Track Club, Saint Martin's, Seattle Running Club, Simon Fraser, Trinity Western, Victoria and Western.

The Vikings are ranked No.21 in the men's division and No.15 in the women's division in the latest United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association NCAA Division II Top 25 polls. Alaska Anchorage, which is the defending WWU Invitational champion in both divisions, is #6 in the women's poll and #12 in the men's rating.

The WWU men, who had won six straight titles at their own invitational prior to last year, are led by Tyler Cannon who was the team's top finisher at both the Erik Anderson  Invitational (20th) two weeks ago and the Sundodger Invitational (seventh).

Pacing the Viking women are a pair of seniors in All-American Lauren Breihof (left/photo by Randy Miyazaki, and Rachael Johnson, who placed a team-best 20th in the Erik Anderson meet. Breihof was 23rd.

"It's going to be a good meet and a very competitive meet," said Western coach Pee Wee Halsell. "Alaska Anchorage is ranked ahead of us regionally and nationally, and that alone makes it a good test for us."

Following Saturday's meet, Western takes a week off before competing in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships on Oct. 22 at the Apple Valley Fields Course in Yakima.

NOTE: The sports information office at Western Washington contributed to this report.

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