Oct. 28, 2010
Stanford, Calif. - The No. 1 men's and No. 9 women's cross-country teams will travel to Seattle this Saturday to compete in the Pac-10 Championships. Both teams should contend for the conference championship, although the Pac-10 is widely considered to be among the top cross-country conferences in the nation. The women's race will begin at 10:00 a.m., while the men's gun will be at 11:00 a.m.
Washington is this year's host of the meet and has set the course at Jefferson Golf Course on Seattle's Beacon Hill. The municipal golf course will be set up with a 2,000-meter loop that will be run four times by the men and three times by the women. The weather calls for wet conditions, making the 8,000-meter men's course and 6,000-meter women's course a challenge.
The meet will be broadcast live on flotrack and a link is provided above.
Both the men's and women's team have had recent success at the Pac-10 Championships and 2010 is expected to be no different.
"We go there with a goal of winning on both sides," said head coach Jason Dunn. "I believe we have the personnel to do so, but both races should be extremely close."
The men's race is expected to be between the top-ranked Cardinal and No. 3 Oregon. Last season, Stanford won the conference title with just 28 points compared to 45 from Oregon. However, Oregon rebounded to finish as the national runner-up and has a lot of returning talent again this season.
"I think it will be really tight between the two teams, said Dunn. "Oregon is very good and we expect to have our hands full."
Defending Pac-10 champion Chris Derrick will lead the Cardinal, but don't expect him to be alone. Elliott Heath and Jacob Riley have run side-by-side with Derrick at every meet so far, including the trio's historic 1-2-3 finish at Pre-Nationals. Heath was third at last year's meet and is the top returner outside of Derrick.
Oregon will be led by Luke Puskedra who was fourth last year, but was the Pac-10 newcomer of the year ahead of Derrick in 2008. He will look to challenge for the individual title as will his teammate Matthew Centrowitz, who was fifth last year.
The key should be the depth, where the Cardinal are very strong.2009 Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year Miles Unterreiner and All-America steeplechaser J.T. Sullivan are among the candidates to fill out Stanford's top-5. Each team will be allowed to run 10 at the meet and Stanford will have the full 10 running with Dunn expecting any in the group to make a difference.
Other ranked teams include No. 22 California led by a potential individual challenger Michael Coe and No. 31 UCLA.
The women's race could be even more competitive than the men's with five ranked teams, including Stanford at No. 9. No. 2 Oregon is the favorite, but No. 6 Arizona is a young improved team, while No. 20 Washington is just two years removed from a national title and has several pieces remaining from that team, while No. 22 California will also be a factor.
"The race is probably going to come down to who can get its fifth girl in first," said Dunn. "It is really going to be that close."
Stanford is led by Kathy Kroeger who won the Stanford Invitational and placed third at Pre-Nationals. She did not compete at last year's meet, but should contend for the title this year. Stanford's top returner is Alex Gits who placed 10th last season, but with improved health this year will be looking to better that spot. Also returning is Stephanie Marcy who placed 11th last year and was Stanford's top runner at the national meet a year ago. Alex Dunne, Georgia Griffin and freshman Jessica Tonn are the others that should provide the scoring for Stanford, although the depth of the full squad could be utilized in the women's race as well.
Oregon carries its lofty ranking into the meet after placing second to Washington at the Pac-10 meet last year. The Ducks are led by sophomore Jordan Hasay who is the top returning runner after placing third last season. Teammate Alex Kosinki is also expected to be in the lead pack after finishing right with Hasay at the Bill Dellinger Invitational two weeks ago.
Arizona has rose through the rankings more than any other Pac-10 team with its impressive win at the Roy Griak Invitational in Minnesota earlier this season. The young Wildcats team was just sixth at last year's meet, but has shown a great pack this year that could result in getting its five runners in first.
Washington returns Mel Lawrence and Christine Babcock who were fourth and fifth last season. The Huskies have yet to showcase its full squad, which may be the reason for its ranking, but this is still the two-time defending conference champion and a team that placed third at the NCAA meet last year.
Finally, California is another improved team led by Deborah Maier, who is mentioned as one of the favorites for the individual title.
Overall, it will be an exciting weekend of racing in Seattle with several of the nation's top teams. Both Stanford teams are legitimate threats to win the conference title, something that has not happened since 2005.