Western plays host to 32nd annual Viking Invitational
Oct. 5, 2005
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - The Western Washington University men's and women's cross country teams are both looking to return to the top of the podium Saturday at the 32nd annual WWU Invitational meet at Lake Padden Park.
The women's 6-kilometer run begins at 10:30 a.m., and the men's 10-kilometer race starts at 11:15 a.m.
The nationally ranked Viking men finished second at last year's invitational, winning team titles three of the past five seasons. The women, who took Western's only title in 2002, have placed fourth the past two years.
"(This meet) is a major emphasis for us," said Western head coach Pee Wee Halsell. "We're definitely not peaking for this meet. But being at home, our runners are going to be giving their best and putting it on the line, whereas some weeks we back off."
In addition to Western, four other schools make up this year's collegiate field. They are fellow Great Northwest Athletic Conference schools Central Washington, Seattle Pacific and Seattle U. and West Region competitor San Francisco State.
Also competing are runners from Club Northwest, Seattle Runners and Northwest Indian College. In all, the field will feature 193 competitors - 98 women and 95 men.
Both the men's and women's collegiate fields are loaded with ranked teams. In the latest American Cross Country Coaches Association/NCAA II men's poll, Western is ranked No.21 nationally and No.4 in the West Region. Seattle Pacific is No.7 regionally and Seattle U. is No.8.
Seattle Pacific won last year's invitational by placing five runners among the top 15 collegiate competitors.
"Our men should be the top collegiate team," Halsell said. "It has so much depth - far more than we've ever had."
Sam Brancheau (Jr., Edmonds/Edmonds-Woodway), the team MVP last season, has been among Western's top two in the two races he has run this fall. He placed fourth at the Emerald City Open on Sept. 10 and 39th at the Sundodger Invitational on Sept. 17.
In the women's poll, Seattle Pacific is rated No.13 nationally and No.3 in the region. Seattle U., Central and Western rank No.4, No.5 and No.10, respectively, in the region.
"Seattle Pacific and Central are probably your top women's squads," Halsell said. "You can look at the regional rankings and that would probably be pretty close to the order as far as favorites go."
Central took last year's invitational crown, with Seattle Pacific second and Seattle U. third.
Leading Western is two-time All-American Laura Trevellyan (Sr., Vashon), who was the runner-up individually last year after taking top honors in 2003.
"Laura should be in the front of the pack and in the mix of things," Halsell said. "Having Club Northwest there will push her. Seattle Pacific also has a really good runner in Meredith Crane, who will probably be right there with her."
Trevellyan (Sr., Vashon) has been Western's top runner in all three meets this season, including the Emerald City Open, where she placed second. Crane won the 5K Saint Martin' Invitational on Sept. 24.
Halsell said he expects this meet to be an important step toward the GNAC Championships that Western will host on Oct. 22 at Lake Padden Park.
"(This meet) could be significant for the team's competing, and it could hurt some of them that aren't," he said. "But most teams know (Lake Padden) because it was the regional course last year."
The Western men have won the WWU Invitational eight times.
"Being at home is always a fun thing because you have your home course that most of our people are familiar with," Halsell said. "(This race) will pretty much determine the top 10 runners for our teams at the conference championships."
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