Courtesy: Spencer Farrin (Pullman, Wash.)
|Vandals to run at Dellinger|
MOSCOW, Idaho – For a second consecutive meet, Idaho men’s and women’s cross country will face competition on a national scale and this weekend, the schedule takes the Vandals to the Dellinger Invitational, hosted by the University of Oregon.
The men’s 8000m race features No. 3 BYU and No. 23 Oregon, while the women’s race features No. 3 Oregon and both competitions feature regionally-ranked competition, so there’s no question about the level of talent the Vandals will face in their third race of the season.
“Oregon is ranked really well, so we know their girls are really good and they’re going to be on their ‘A’ game,” Idaho junior Hannah Kiser said on Thursday. “This meet has good competition every year, so we’re definitely going to have to run fast to do as well as we did last year.”
Kiser is no stranger to the race and she showed that she’s not intimidated by the stage last season when she pulled off a bit of an upset to out-sprint a group of All-Americans and NCAA qualifiers for the individual women’s victory.
That race was first big result in a year that included an individual NCAA Cross Country Championships bid for the junior and included a Second-Team All-America accolade during the indoor track and field season to go along with her three Western Athletic Conference records, three individual WAC titles and four First-Team All-WAC honors.
“I’ve only had one race so far this, so I’m still trying to get to the point where I have a really good feel for things,” Kiser said – but that doesn’t mean she’s not aiming for a repeat. “I’m definitely going to go in knowing that I can do well, since I did in the past and I’m in even better shape now.”
The task for Kiser and the Vandal women will be to improve upon their fifth-place finish from last season’s meet. With the competition being held on a relatively even golf course surface, as well as being just a 5000-meter race, Kiser said she and the team are excited for a quicker pace against the strong field.
Vandal senior Barry Britt was Idaho’s second finisher at this race last year at 17th overall, and he said the prospect of running against several of the nation’s top runners has each member of the young men’s team excited.
That excitement is good to have, Britt said, but it can also be troublesome once the race begins. He said it’s important for the younger runners not to get caught up in the moment and forget their race strategy. At the same time, he said that being at these big races against high levels of competition helped to keep him focused on loftier goals.
“They’re probably not going to win – they’ll be in the middle of the pack, but it’s good for them to be in that level of competition and hopefully it gives them a renewed sense of work ethic,” Britt said of the young runners. “It shows you what’s out there and how far you have to go to reach that level of being the best.”
The same goes for Idaho’s freshmen on the women’s side. With juniors Holly Browning (Stanton) and Emily Paradis under the weather two weeks ago at the Sundodger Invitational, Vandal freshman scored in the third, fourth and fifth positions for Idaho. Kiser said that experience was good for their development and that the most important thing is for the young runners to maintain that focus and take another step forward.
“The job of the veterans is to make sure everyone is calm, because it can be very intimidating,” Kiser said of the environment. “All of a sudden you’re competing with big, nationally-ranked teams, so it’s important to make sure the freshman know they deserve to be here and they just need to run their own race.
“I hope we make some more good progress this weekend so we can have a lot of momentum going into our next big meet in two weeks at Pre-Nationals.”
The meet will be held at the Springfield Golf Course and Country Club at Springfield, Ore. The women’s 5k race starts at 10:30 a.m. (PT), while the men’s 8k competition will follow at 11:15 a.m.