Cross Country weekend preview!
Even though it's almost October, the true collegiate cross country season kicks off this weekend with six major invitationals. On Friday, September 28th, teams from around the country will compete at the Paul Short XC Invitational in Bethlehem, PA and at the Notre Dame Invitational in South Bend, IN. Saturday, September 29th features four more competitive races, which includes the Bill Dellinger Invitational in Eugene, OR, the Stanford Invitational in Palo Alto, CA, the Greater Louisville Classic in Louisville, KY, and the Roy Griak Invitational in Minneapolis, MN.
Roy Griak Invitational
2012 Roy Invitational coverage page
Flotrack will be LIVE streaming the Roy Griak Invitational from Minneapolis, MN. On the men's side, the race will feature #16 Minnesota, #36 Iowa State, and #37 Weber State. Top returners include Regina's Kelly Wiebe (finished 19th last year) and Minnesota's Pieter Gagnon. The Gophers return six of their top eleven finishers from 2011.
The women's side features #5 Iowa State, #16 Weber State, and #31-T Minnesota. The women's Gold Race will also feature #1 DII powerhouse Augustana. Iowa State should be the favorite as they are lead by Betsy Saina and Meaghan Nelson, who finished seventh and eleventh at NCAA Nationals.
Weber State returns their top seven from their 2011 NCAA Championship appearance. The squad is lead by Amber Henry, who finished 31st at Nationals last fall. The only other top-10 finisher to return from the 2011 Roy Griak Invitational is Lauren Sara from Connecticut. Sara also finished 53rd at NCAA Nationals.
The Greater Louisville Classic gets a boost in competition this year as the NCAA Nationals moves from Indiana State University to Louisville. Both the men's and women's fields include nationally ranked teams as well as some of the top individual runners in the country.
The men's side features four nationally ranked squads. This includes #6 Texas, #8 Iona, #28 Columbia, and #31 Georgia. The Longhorns will be lead by sophomore Craig Lutz who finished 33rd at NCAA Nationals last fall. Ryan Dohner and Columbia transfer Kyle Merber, two of the Longhorns top runners, will not compete this weekend.
The Georgia men may surprise other teams this weekend as they rested the majority of their top runners at the Georgia Invitational.
This race will also feature three of the top individual men in the NCAA this season in Lawi Lalang (Arizona), Stephen Sambu (Arizona), and Paul Chelimo (UNC-Greensboro).
The top women teams are looking to get a preview of the Louisville course before they have their potential runs at NCAA Nationals. Eight nationally ranked women's side will race in Kentucky, which includes #1 Washington, #8 Vanderbilt, #10 Arkansas, #12 Arizona, #14 Michigan State, #17 Pennsylvania State University, #24 Columbia, and #29 Wisconsin.
The Washington women return six of their top from their second place finish at NCAA Nationals last fall. Katie Flood (7th last year) and Megan Goethals (18th last year) will lead the way for the Huskies.
One of the biggest surprises from last season was the Vanderbilt women as the Commodores finished sixth at NCAA Nationals. The squad will be lead by junior Liz Anderson, who is returning to her hometown of Louisville, KY to compete.
This meet will feature more of a duel between two of the top ranked men's teams in #3 BYU and #5 Portland. After being showcased in an impressive Workout Wednesday, Jared Ward (58th last year at NCAAs) and Rex Shields (21st last year) look to lead the squad against tough competition.
Even with the loss of Trevor Dunbar to the Bill Dellinger host school #23 Oregon, Portland looks to continue their success at the NCAA Nationals as they've finished in the top 20 in each of the last seven years. The Pilots are lead by Scott Fauble, David Perry, and Lars Erik Malde.
The #3 Oregon women will look to take their home meet title against Gonzaga, Idaho, Nevada, Seattle U., Southern Utah, UC Riverside, and the University of Washington "B" squad.
2012 Stanford Invitational coverage page
Flotrack will also be covering the Stanford Invitational this weekend. Check out the preview for the meet here
Check the Flotrack homepage for live results, meet recaps, interviews from Stanford and Notre Dame, and LIVE STREAMING coverage of the Minnesota Roy Griak Invitational!