Aggies Gear Up for Big Races in Wisconsin, Indiana

alycia Cridebring

Oct. 18, 2013

DAVIS, Calif. - The cross country postseason is coming up quickly and this weekend will help the UC Davis men's and women's teams the opportunity to gauge their optimism and preparation when they travel to large and important meets at Indiana State University and the University of Wisconsin.

Closer to home, the Aggies will also send a contingent of runners to Santa Clara for the Bronco Invitational, the largest west coast regional meet scheduled for this weekend.

The top flight of Aggie men are headed Saturday to the 2013 Indiana State Pre-National Invitational which brings together 75 of the top collegiate teams for an opportunity to race on the site of this year's national championship while also providing key points for at-large consideration to the NCAA Finals.

Trevor Halsted, Grayson Hough, Will Melton, Eric Neill, Cody Nguyen, Brandon Pugh, Nick Ratto, Jordon Rushing and Nathan Strum will comprise the Aggie team that will be competing at Indiana State. UC Davis is ranked 10th in the most recent regional rankings.

"The opportunity to take a top-10 ranking into Terre Haute and square off against a large and deep field will give us a good measure of where we stand in our final test before championship month begins on Nov. 2 with the Big West Conference meet," said Aggie head coach Drew Wartenburg. "Though we saw some good things two weeks ago in the west regional preview meet in Sacramento, we also feel as though we enter this week's race a better team than we were at that point, and both the size of the Pre-Nats race and the challenging nature of the course will require our men to execute a patient and complete race plan in order to produce the best effort possible. 

"For a majority of the group racing in Terre Haute, this trip will provide the first look at the La Vern Gibson course, a place that has emerged one of the most prominent competitive venues in our sport over the past 10-12 years," he added.

The Indiana State course will host the NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Cross Country Championships on Nov. 23.

Defending NCAA champion Oklahoma State will be among the leading teams on Saturday and will be challenged by fourth-ranked Oregon and second-ranked Colorado. UC Davis will race at 8 a.m. (Pacific).

The Aggies' top women runners will also head east for the Wisconsin adidas Invitational, a meet that has grown into one of the most prestigious competitions despite being in just its fifth year of existence.

Thirty-seven women's teams will converge on the Thomas Zimmer Championship Cross Country Course for the 6k race that starts at 10 a.m. (Pacific). Top-ranked Providence will help headline the ultra-competitive 37-team field that also includes No. 3 Arizona, No. 4 Washington, No. 7 New Mexico, No. 8 Arkansas, No. 9 Michigan State and No. 10 University of San Francisco.

"For better or worse, access to the Wisconsin meet has recently cornered the market on teams' access to the majority of the coveted points necessary for at-large national berths at season's end, making it a 'can't miss' event on many schedules," said Wartenburg. "Although our women continue to experience some difficulty putting all the desired bodies on the starting line we feel as though the travel squad heading to Madison this weekend possesses the necessary chemistry to come home with a successful result."

Erika Barr, Alycia Cridebring, Katie Fry, Shannon Harcus, Christine Hoffmann, Hannah Kirkegaard, Raquel Lambdin, Sarah Sumpter, Hilary Teaford and Anna Welsh will make up the UC Davis contingent at Wisconsin. The Aggies enter the meet ranked ninth in the most recent west region poll.

"Like the men, we saw some bright spots and identified some areas of focus coming off the race at Haggin Oaks two weeks ago, and the women have had a good training cycle over the course of the past few weeks to bring us to this point." Wartenburg said.

Much of the rest of the team will head to Santa Clara for the eighth annual Bronco Invitational which will be held at Baylands Park in Sunnyvale. Competition starts with the men's race at 10:30 a.m.

"With a number of schools sending fully loaded squads to Bronco, the Aggie men's and women's teams will have all the competitive challenge we could ask for in this meet," said Wartenburg. "Bronco always provides the opportunity for athletes to rise to the occasion and emerge as potential conference contributors as we approach the postseason.

This weekend's meets provide the final competitions for UC Davis which will then turn its attention to the Big West Championships at Cal Poly on Nov. 2.