Oct. 13, 2011
RALEIGH, N.C. — This weekend represents the midpoint of the 2011 cross country season, and NC State will mark the occasion by running in the Wisconsin adidas Invitational on Friday at 2 p.m. EDT in Madison, Wisc.
The Wolfpack women will run in the 6k women’s race at 2 p.m. The ninth-ranked State men will compete in the men’s 8k race at 2:40 p.m.
Highlights from the Wisconsin adidas Invitational will be streamed on Flotrack.org. Official results will be posted on the cross country page of the University of Wisconsin’s athletics website and on GoPack.com, which will have postrace coverage.
For years, NC State’s big midseason cross country race was the NCAA Pre-Nationals, which usually features about 12-15 of the nation’s top 30 teams. For 2011, the Wolfpack switched to the race in Madison, and the field for the Wisconsin Invitational is even more stacked, with a full two-thirds of the top 30 teams in the latest USTFCCCA national poll.
“I guess the biggest difference between this race and Pre-Nationals is that they break Pre-Nationals into two races,” Wolfpack men’s head coach Rollie Geiger said. “There’s only one race for each side, men’s and women’s, at Wisconsin. There’ll be more athletes lining up for this race than there will be at nationals.”
Nationals would be the NCAA Championships, and the Wisconsin adidas Invitational could have significant implications for the field for the national championship races.
The top two finishers at each of the nine NCAA regional races automatically qualify for nationals. The remaining 13 teams in the 31-team fields, men and women, are chosen as at-large teams, and at-large bids are extended based on criteria points. A team earns criteria points by finishing ahead of other teams in regular-season races. The fields at Friday’s race in Wisconsin present plenty of opportunity for teams to accumulate criteria points.
Of the 39 teams in the men’s field, 20 are ranked, including the Nos. 2, 4, 6, 7, 9 and 10 teams in the most recent national poll. Of the 42 teams that will line up for the women’s race, 19 are ranked, including Nos. 1, 2, 7, 9 and 10.
“There are a lot of criteria points to be had this weekend,” Geiger said. “And gaining criteria points to nationals is a big part of why we’re running this race. Wisconsin did a great job of getting some of the best teams in the country to come to this race.”
Teams will line up seven athletes on Friday. Geiger and women’s head coach Laurie Henes are taking nine runners each and will choose their seven-athlete lineups prior to racetime.
Geiger is taking Patrick Campbell, Greg Dame, Ryan Hill, Adam Henken, Brian Himelright, Lewis McPherson, Bobby Moldovan, Matt Sonnenfeldt and Bryan Spreitzer. The men won the Roy Griak Invitational in Minneapolis three weeks ago.
“This race should be a great race, a very challenging race,” Geiger said. “We’ve trained well the last three weeks without giving them too much.”
Henes is taking Erika Alpeter, Tiayonna Blackmon, Andie Cozzarelli, Laura Hoer, Kenyetta Iyevbele, Jordan Jenkins, Erin Mercer, Samantha Norman and Joanna Thompson. The women finished 15th at the Roy Griak Invitational, but Henes is hopeful that her team will show marked improvement this weekend.
“We had several runners who ran their first 6k at Roy Griak,” Henes said. “That was a very difficult course and several of them were kind of overwhelmed by it. This course will not be as challenging, but the competition will be greater.”
Senior Andie Cozzarelli was battling a cold at Minneapolis, but is healthy now. Veterans Laura Hoer and Jordan Jenkins did not make the trip to Minnesota. Both should line up for Wisconsin.
“It’s nice to get people back into the lineup, but we have people who have lined up already who should be prepared to make a step up,” Henes said.
With close to 300 athletes participating in each race, Geiger and Henes both stressed that dealing with the traffic on the racecourse could be a factor in the outcome.
“It’s going to be a challenge to make sure we’re in a position where we don’t have to fight through groups of other athletes,” Geiger said. “This is a race where you don’t want to fall too far behind because it won’t be easy to make up ground.”
Wolfpack cross country athletes not making the trip to Madison will compete Saturday at the Tribe Open at William & Mary.
Following are the teams that will line up for the Wisconsin adidas Invitational:
College Men (39 teams)
#9 NC State
#13 Northern Arizona
#23 Arizona State
#25 New Mexico
#27 Texas A&M
#29 North Carolina
William & Mary
College Women (42 teams)
#7 New Mexico
#9 Iowa State
#13 North Carolina
#15 Michigan State
#25 Notre Dame
William & Mary