Courtesy: Spencer Farrin (Moscow, Idaho)
Emily Paradis
XC to Sundodger
Courtesy: Idaho Athletic Media Relations
          Release: 09/16/2011
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MOSCOW, Idaho – University of Idaho cross country was impressive in its season debut two weeks ago at the Inland Northwest Cross Country Classic, and this weekend, the Vandals will have their first big test at the Sundodger Invitational.

After opening the season with a pair of second-place finishes last weekend, Idaho head coach Wayne Phipps said he hopes the team can maintain that level against a step up in competition. Host-school Washington features a women’s team ranked 11th nationally and a men’s team that ranks sixth in the West Region.

“I expect a very good competition going against the University of Washington, but I feel like we’re very prepared,” Phipps said. “We might be a little fatigued coming off two really hard weeks, but everyone is really excited about competing at Sundodger, because it’s always a great meet.”

The Vandals have historically had success running at the Sundodger. Last season, Idaho’s women took second behind Hannah Kiser’s Idaho freshman-record 6k time of 21:30.79, while junior Barry Britt broke the Vandal men’s course record with a 24:12.58 over 8,000 meters and the team took third.

“We’re looking forward to comparing and seeing where we are relative to last year,” Phipps said. “It’s the same course every year, the weather is always pretty similar, and you’ll have a similar type of competition, so it’s important for us to get a statement of where we are this year and if any adjustments are necessary.”

Senior Markus Geiger was the team’s top finisher two weeks ago in Spokane, and he’ll be trying to improve upon last year’s 11th overall finish at this meet. Newcomer Stephane Colle, a senior, opened his career on a high note as the team’s second overall finisher last weekend.

Phipps said after the opener that he’d like to see the gap between his top three runners and the four-through-six runners tighten up. Seniors Jeremiah Dubie and Alex Brekke and junior Jeff Osborn all made significant time cuts at last year’s meet, so Phipps hopes to see a similar improvement this time around.

On the women’s side, Phipps said he’s been pleased with the summer improvements from Kiser and fellow sophomores Alycia Butterworth, Holly Stanton and Emily Paradis. Stanton was 26th at last year’s Sundodger as a freshman, while Butterworth was 43rd and Paradis finished 45th.

After Butterworth went ninth, Paradis took 14th and Stanton finished 17th two weeks ago, Phipps said he’d like to see that group continue to finish higher and complement a solid group of upperclassmen that includes seniors Julia Veseth, Anna Kalbrener and Lauren Schaffer, and junior Laurel Draper.

“I can’t say enough good things about what they’ve done over the past year and in the summer,” Phipps said of the younger runners. “They’re kind of the main group of our team, along with our seniors, so it’s really important for them to get some good race experience and go up against a very quality team like Washington.

“The more we can compete against teams like that, the less intimidating the conference meet is going to be.”

Idaho’s women will take part in the 6000m Invitational race, which starts at 11 a.m. (PDT). The men’s 8000m Invitational race follows at 11:35 a.m. The field includes teams from Washington, Oregon State, Western Washington, Eastern Washington and Seattle Pacific.

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